Ashes Bar and Restaurant is in the centre of Dingle on Main Street. The pub has been here since 1849 when it opened as a drapery store, with a drinks license. The name over the door is one James G Ashe, who married the publican’s daughter in 1929, and ran the bar for many years. His grandson Thomas and wife Sinead run the bar today, so it’s still a family affair.
Ashes' has an old charm that is largely absent today. Inside the bar dates to the sixties with a Formica counter and a type of tongue and groove on the front. Tables and chairs are well spaced in the front bar, while in the back room, a one hundred year old settee lines one wall, reflected in a photograph on another, but with Gregory Peck sitting on it in a photo taken sometime in the sixties. Mr Peck is a cousin, and has visited several times, and the Hollywood connection continued when the cast of Ryan’s Daughter made Ashes the un-official base while filming in Dingle.
It’s still one of the most popular places in town, and now that Sinead is in situ, the food side of the business has had a make-over, with a new menu that’s heavy on seafood and choice and light on the pocket. There’s plenty of choice, for a light lunch enjoy a bowl of chowder with some homemade brown bread, or push the boat out a bit and have the locally plucked scallops served with a nicely dressed salad, or there are the home made crab and prawns dumplings, which are delicious, come with a salad and are more filling than you imagine. There’s also a beef and Guinness stew which is always on the menu, and it’s a local staple.
In the evenings the small kitchen stretches itself a little more and the menu expands. There are two dining options in the evening, an early bird that offers two courses for €21.50, or three for €26. There is also the A la Carte, where prices are reasonable, with starters between €5 and €10, and main courses range from €15 to €25.
Seafood again features heavily, and half a dozen oysters, which we had for lunch, vie for your attention with a shellfish risotto, local crab and pink grapefruit salad or Pecan crusted Goat’s cheese. Main courses feature 21 day dry aged steak, scallops and pork belly, some very fresh locally caught Pollock and a knockout Ventry lobster, cooked to order, and at only €26 for 500gr, this has to be the best value in Ireland.
Ashes are aiming quite high with a menu more at home in a good fish restaurant, but the quality and flavour is here, and in a charming authentic setting they are onto a winner. There is a decent vegetarian menu available also, and the desserts are homemade and delicious. We liked it a lot, and it’s now a regular stop off point; if Hollywood royalty made it their home from home, who are we to argue.
If down Dingle way, make sure to visit.