The Brehon is a modern hotel in a great location, though in fairness, Killarney itself is a great location, if geography is the measure. Inside the foyer is impressive, rising three stories up and filled with comfortable sofas and beautifully finished wooden features. There is a large bar on the right, which serves food all day, while the Danu restaurant on the left, and it was here I was heading during a recent overnight trip.
The hotel and restaurant is about six years old now and originally the restaurant was going for the fine dining end of the market. The décor reflects this. The large room is long, with tables running all the way down, and several smaller spaces off too the front, breaking the space into one large and other smaller dining areas. I was shown to a table in the first of these, with great views out to the mountains.
The focus of the restaurant has changed with the prevailing climate and the menu is now more bistro style, but very much at the upper end in terms of the choice. Two courses are €25 or three courses for €35 are on offer. Starters include Carpaccio of beef, wild rabbit terrine, pan fried bream or pan fried scallops with a trio of cauliflower, while main courses offer seafood casserole, cider braised pork, free range chicken with bean and sausage stew and roast halibut.
The wine list still has a lot of interesting choices and the sommelier is still in situ, offering great advice on the list. After much deliberation I decided on the scallops, followed by the pork, with a glass of the Italian Araldica D’Aria sec with the scallops and a glass of the Australian |Stickleback to accompany the pork. A bottle of sparkling water completed the order and I enjoyed a selection of breads, including an excellent curry one while I waited.
The starter is a firm favourite of mine, and one I have cooked in various ways many times. Danu’s version saw the scallops sliced atop a piece of Sneem black pudding, with a swipe of cauliflower puree, and small florets – curried and plain-dotted around the plate. The scallops were perfect, and the flavours of the cauliflower and slightly spicy pudding balanced the dish really well. As I said this is a favourite of mine anyway, but in fairness it is a long time since I have ordered pork, but the main course has reminded me just how good it can be. The cider braised Killorglin pork – with serious crackling – was served atop creamy mash, with a lentil and smoked bacon casserole around, and apple chutney on top. This was one of the tastiest dishes I have had in a long time, the flavours exploded in the mouth and I was reminded of the sensation of space dust we used to love as kids which popped on the tongue.
My taste for pork duly re-instated, there was only room for a taste of their chocolate pudding with an Americano before a walk into town beckoned. The meal was excellent, perfect scallops followed by a very memorable main course that showed flair, imagination and great execution. If a trip to Killarney is on the cards, the Brehon combines luxury with some great special offers and a restaurant that can stand on its own two feet in any company.