Chef Robbie McCauley opened a new restaurant in late June called Homestead Cottage on the road between Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher. It’s a wonderful place to eat and the acclaim is rolling in. The Irish Times review was absolutely gushing.
We got to know Robbie and his cooking during his long stint at Gregan’s Castle Hotel restaurant. He put on quite a show with his flashy tasting menus there. Local meats, cheeses and fish and produce from his own gardens were featured. But since it’s a luxury hotel, the chef’s duties included an elaborate breakfast buffet, afternoon teas and regular lunches.
But Robbie’s situation changed when he married another Gregan’s employee named Sophie and the two of them became parents. The demands of a hotel kitchen couldn’t be reconciled with a healthy family life. So now, the whole gang can be found working in the family restaurant. The first time I stopped by there was a 3-week old in a babyseat in the kitchen.
The atmosphere at Homestead Cottage is relaxed and informal, as you might expect. The stone walls of the interior center on a giant fireplace that is decorated with bunches of drying herbs hanging from the mantle. There are serving pieces and bottles of preserves lining the wooden shelves.
The menu is refreshing–no chowder, no chips, none of the local culinary cliches.
Instead it’s a new spin on the familiar favorites. Instead of fish & chips, there are fingers of buttermilk-battered plaice fried to tender perfection served with a new potato salad. Instead of a burger, there is minced local lamb, seasoned with herbs, seared into a kofta and served on a salad with bulgur and flatbread on the side.
The restaurant overlooks the Atlantic and there are always several fish dishes on 0ffer. Along with the fried plaice there was organic sea trout with beets, new potatoes, horseradish and brown bread the first time I stopped in for lunch. There was also a smoky BBQ sardine dish with fennel salad I just had to order–it sounded wonderful and I wasn’t disappointed.
The food here is stellar. All the ingredients are top-notch, the produce is grown in Robbie’s polytunnel and in the gardens of serious organic producers. The fish is same-day fresh. Best of all, the presentations are gorgeous, without being too precious.
Lunch dishes are 16 to 18 euros, the 3-course dinner is 75 euros. There’s a smart and reasonable wine list and a selection of a half dozen exceptional beers.
The restaurant is open Wednesday to Sunday, we suggest you make a booking right away.