Review by John McKenna
Would it surprise you to learn that we think the hotel with the best cooking in Kenmare, County Kerry, is the Brook Lane Hotel?
Kenmare has lots of distinguished places to stay, of course. The Brook Lane isn’t amongst the best known addresses in town, but Una and Dermot Brennan have been doing the good thing quietly and efficiently here for many years now.
We didn’t make it easy for them to show their best in Casey’s bar and restaurant. We were a group of seven for dinner, with one guest turning up late, and we arrived just as they had been hit by two different, very large parties.
Then, the following morning, we made it down for breakfast in different dribs and drabs – an early two, then another two, with a final three coming in just before breakfast stopped serving.
Both breakfast and dinner showed a kitchen that not only cooked fine food, but cooked some outstanding food. My braised rib of Hereford beef was worthy of Dublin’s Chapter One or Kilkenny’s Campagne, super savoury cooking that had both finesse and elan, with colcannon offsetting the beef and crispy leeks and a purée of parsnip haloing the superb meat. It was even better than a starter of Kenmare smoked salmon with Billy Clifford’s organic leaves and a blood orange and caper salad, which is saying something.
In truth, the kitchen didn’t put a foot wrong, and offered great tastes with Sneem black pudding, with Mr Brennan’s own rare-breed pork which came with a lovely cider reduction, with tasty chicken wings and an excellent St Tola goat’s cheese tart.
Breakfast is served in their dining room, and we particularly enjoyed the kitchen’s own rare-breed pork sausages, the superb Kenmare Select smoked salmon and some more of that lovely, spicy Sneem black pudding.
The team at front of house and in the restaurant are true Kenmare professionals – witty, warm and welcoming. All seven of us will be back to the Brook Lane at the drop of a hat.