Sunday, August 18, 2019

Berehaven Lodge Restaurant - Grilled to Perfection

As an American, I take grilling meals on an open fire very seriously. Back in 1982, when I moved here, few people understood the pleasures of throwing a steak on a BBQ. Ah, the aroma! The taste! The fun of standing near an open fire, beer in hand, hoping you're not burning that evening's steak or chicken or hamburger to cinders!

In those days I had to search high and low to purchase a BBQ. When, in 1984, I finally found one in Tesco - a local supermarket chain - I couldn't believe my luck. I didn't bat an eye at the fact I had to spend twice what it would have cost me in the States. Made no difference. Finally, I could grill my meat in style.  

Of course, my Irish neighbours thought I was out of my mind. "What's that pyre of smoke coming from Richards's place?" they'd ask. "He must've murdered someone and is getting rid of the evidence."

Possibly true, of course, but unlikely.

Fortunately for Irish people everywhere, the fine art of grilling meat over an open fire has become de rigueur. And nowhere is that more true than in Beara Peninsula's own Berehaven Lodge Restaurant.

Friday is the Day for Grilled Gastronomic Treats

Founded by owners Grace and Mark (Grace works front of house; Chef Mark handles the
Grace and Mark - fabulous people impassioned by food
cooking), the restaurant is open most days. On any other day except Friday, they stick to a standard menu (go here to have a view of what's on offer - everything is fresh; everything sourced locally; everything divine). 


Walk into the open, airy rooms - all freshly painted, I might add, courtesy of good friend Frank McQuaid - and get a friendly greeting you won't soon forget. Have a drink at the well stocked bar (the wine list is extensive and reasonably priced), sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride as you consider what to order.

Or if it's sunny and warm, have your meal on the recently expanded outdoor deck. Overlooking Bantry Bay, you can enjoy your sumptuous local crab claws while wondering which trawler, steaming down the sun-lit waters, caught 'em. And yes, the food at Berehaven is that local and that fresh. 

But - if you're very, very lucky, you'll arrive on a Friday. Friday is "Everything is Grilled" day, and the results are to die for.

Mark is South African and takes grilling even more seriously than I do. Working at a huge outdoor grill fired by local wood chunks and charcoal, the pleasure he takes in cooking for his guests is instantly transmitted to the food we eat. 

Just this past Friday, Gorgeous One and I finally had a chance to sample  the passion of Mark's fine art of grilling. And oh! It was beyond even my demanding American-grill-for-life palate. So let's get started!

From Start to Finish, a Taste of Heaven

Aisling and Gorgeous One
As we consider the extensive Friday Menu, Gorgeous One is instantly served a glass of Pinot Grigio by lovely Aisling, our waitress for the evening. Starters form an extensive list, making it difficult to choose. Open Fire Mussels? Fire Grilled Asparagus Spears? The Seafood Potjikos, a warmly spiced South African favourite? 

She decides on the Grilled King Scallops. Because I'm having fish for my main course, I choose the Chicken & Port Liver Pate. Both are (almost) beyond description.

"Look at these lovely little fellows!" Gorgeous One exhales as Aisling serves them up. Grilled to perfection by Mark, the scallops are presented on a long plate accompanied by crispy Parma Ham and an onion puree that is out of this world (I asked Grace and it turns out the onions are first grilled then pureed. I want that recipe!) 

I had to beg Gorgeous One for a scallop, almost losing a hand when I reached before asking permission.

The Pate was...honestly, it was the best pate I've had in an age. Served with pickled cucumber and apple chutney, I took real pleasure in forking the above onto sour dough bread, doing my best to make it all last as long as possible.  And no, Gorgeous One never had one bite.

The Main Dishes. Oh the main dishes! I must admit it took us awhile to choose because everything on offer sounded fabulous. Do we go for the fresh-out-of-the-sea Monkfish Parcels, or the 12oz Cowboy Steak? The local Castletownbere Black Sole, or the West Cork Summer Lamb Rump?  

At the end of it, Gorgeous One chose the 10oz Hereford Beef Ribeye Steak. I dived for the Surf n Turf: a 10oz, 40 day aged Hereford Fillet Steak accompanied by Grilled Prawns served with a bearnaise sauce. 

The steaks were grilled to perfection. Gorgeous One's Ribeye was the biggest sample of such a cut I've ever seen; the taste (and yes, she gave me a bite) a rich mouthful of wonder. My Fillet was as smooth as butter; the Prawns a reminder of how lucky we are to have such local shellfish available, right off the trawler. 

These succulent grilled delights were served up with a huge bowl of grilled veggies: corn on the cob, tomatoes, immense onion halves, and much more. All roasted over Mark's grill until pieces of heaven. 

We had so much we took some home. The next day, all of it ended up on my grill in the back garden of our Eyeries Village Home, allowing us to enjoy Mark and Grace's efforts twice.

We were so full following our grilled meal, dessert wasn't possible. 

The bill for all of the above worked out at just short of €90, excluding tip. And it was worth every last penny.

Book Early

The Friday Grill at Berehaven Lodge Restaurant has become a 'go to' celebration by locals
who enjoy Mark's passion. For that reason I suggest you book early (and often). 

Where is it? About 4 miles east of Castletownbere, County Cork, on the seaside of the main Glengarriff Road.

For more information, go to their website: https://www.berehavenlodge.com/dining-castletownbere.html, or phone: +353 27 71464.

Opening hours vary on the season that's in it. 


Want to learn more? A Survivor's Guide to Ireland 2019 edition is Now Available.

     This travel memoir of about 80,000 words follows this erst-while American who has lived in Ireland since 1982. If you want to know more about what you can do to get a work permit, get a job, buy a house, and otherwise live and enjoy life like the Irish, I hope you'll have a look at A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland. Happy Trail - Tom 


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