“Welcome to Bantry”. That was another customer, as we took our seats at the polished wooden bar - there being no seats left at any of the tables. It is Friday night, and we’re in The Snug, or The Schnug, as it’s called round here.
And why would you not sit at the bar in The Snug? That’s where all the craic is.
“Ya-mockin’ bitch!” said the same gent to the kindly lady behind the bar. She’d moved the flowers “so I can see your beautiful faces”.
“But why did you put them in front of these ladies!” came the gesturing reply. And, suddenly, we were transported from the cold drizzly square in Bantry town outside, into this gleaming, polished, wood’n’stucco, friendly hostelry with its delightful staff and delighted customers. We were welcomed and involved. Imagine how we’d have felt if we were real visitors. We’d have been so totally charmed and bowled over at finding ourselves in a living, breathing example of that that world beacon of hospitality. A genuine Irish pub.
“We’re busy for a schpelleen” said someone, describing the current work conditions over a pint of Maiwady. Between the five of us turning the corner at the bar you could see most of what was on offer on the menu. Our builder neighbours had plaice with mushroom sauce, a cheese burger and sirloin and gravy. And for us ladies, it was baked haddock for me and a minute steak for Connie on our girl’s night out. Under discussion was Cheltenham, Sunderland Vs Norwich and the drugs find over the Chinese in nearby Skibbereen.
The Snug isn’t trendy. There are no craft brews (yet), no wraps or ciabatta (ever). What there is is nightlight candles lit at the bar, polished glasses, a proprietress who calls everybody pet, water with ice and lemon without having to order it, black uniformed staff, and more polishing of glasses. Mother’s Day is the busiest day of their year.
Our only disappointment in the night was that they’d sold out of rhubarb crumble with custard. But the vegetables that came with the fish made up for it. Real, buttery mashed potato, long cooked and mashed carrots, green beans with peppers and cauliflower in a white sauce. The fish was perfection, a huge piece of haddock. (Chef Maurice has great contacts, and the seafood is a star attraction). Connie’s steak was as juicy and as tasty as you want a steak to be. Everyone has chips, of course, you have to.
What can we say? Heartwarming, delicious and delightful.