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Robbie and Elaine are mining the creative spirit of West Cork in their beautiful new Ballydehob destination, Restaurant Chestnut.

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Robbie Krawczyk has always been good at reimagining things.
Years ago, when he was setting out on his cheffing career, we gave him an award in a competition for a dish where he reimagined a seafood dish as a day at the beach.
When Aoife Cox enjoyed his cooking at Tankardstown House, she described how “Rob makes his ingredients work hard – they come to the diners’ table in occasionally surprising guises...”
In The Chestnut, his new venture in pretty Ballydehob, West Cork, run with his partner, Elaine, Mr Krawczyk is still reimagining things, and delivering surprises with every plate.
Well, not quite every plate: his sourdough bread is made with spelt, but is otherwise unremarkable, save for being remarkably wonderful.
But what is surprising is the butter, which has gold leaf arrayed through the sea salt that crowns the little quenelle.
Gold salt. Now, that’s a surprise.
And sweet surprises is what you get in The Chestnut. A crisp orb of brandade topped with a squidge of mustard, served on a set of sea stones; crisp sourdough crackers with roe and parsley; fresh cheese hidden in the thinnest gauze of celeriac.
Crisp, seared baby gem lettuce comes with scallops, whilst fine asparagus is paired with potato and yogurt. The matches are masterly: perfect jerusalem artichoke purée with pink duck; john dory with mussels and squid ink. And as you enjoy the serene balance of these dishes, you realise that Mr Krawczyk’s ability to re-imagine dishes is based on an imperious, faultless culinary technique: the guy could cook anything you give him.
The only dissonant note was the fermented vegetables served with the cheese course, a pairing that didn’t make sense. Otherwise, Chestnut food is polished, artful, decisive and original and, best of all, it has a West Cork wit and style about it that means it is the right food in the right room in the right village.

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