Fishworks Café Bar is located on the ground floor of the Atlantic Coast Hotel overlooking Westport Quays. There is an impressive stone façade on what was originally a grain store back in the 1800’s and more recently O’ Gorman’s paper mills. The hotel opened its doors in 1999 and Fishworks was born three years ago, and has become a popular destination for locals, families and visitors.
The restaurant and bar share the same space; however they are cleverly divided with panelling. A bright open space with large picture windows overlooks the street, and makes it the perfect spot to sit and watch the world pass you by. Oak timber floors, cream painted wooden tables and chairs are dotted on the main floor, and banquette seating on a raised area create a chic, bistro style environment. Blue painted walls complete the casual chic and the nautical theme is very appropriate to Westport, while an open working kitchen provides some action and you can watch chefs Mike Stugel and Marios Chanewski create some very impressive dishes.
An early bird menu allows you to choose two courses plus a glass of wine Monday to Saturday from 1-7pm for €19.95. The main menu is divided between starters from €4.95 for their soup of the day to €8.95 for a super salad. Mains were further broken out to choose from seafood, best of the land or vegetarian options. Prices range from €12.95 for Irish beef burger to €24.50 for surf & turf, and other dishes included herb crusted fish bake and Padraig’s shells, steamed Clew Bay mussels or Barbary duck leg. Specials are presented on a separate sheet and this evening included Clew Bay clams and pan fried fillet of sea trout.
The wine list is priced by the glass, carafe and bottle and offers a selection of seven whites and the same of red starting in price from €23.50 for a Chilean sauvignon Blanc to €30 for the Chateau Les Millaux Bordeaux. We went for the South African Hope Bay Chenin Blanc, priced at €27, a nice wine we have had before.
To start I had the herb crumbed fish cakes; two cakes golden fried and served with lemon pepper yoghurt while Fred had the seafood chowder, which he thoroughly enjoyed - a thick soup full of seafood, it was almost a meal in itself. To follow on I ordered the special of grilled halibut; a generous piece of fish served on a bed of beans and courgette and drizzled with oyster cream. This was a great dish, and the beans replacing the more traditional mash made it a low carb option to boot.
Fred enjoyed the surf & turf; a thick sirloin with two skewers of tiger prawns fried in lemon butter. It was served with mushrooms, onion rings and chips. This was definitely a man sized portion, but he bravely made his way through, and came out a happy camper. Notwithstanding his fine steak, the dish of the evening for me was the halibut, which won out on all counts; freshness, preparation and presentation
All the desserts are freshly made and exceptionally tempting and we decided to share the apple pie and fresh cream. An oldie but a goodie, it was a classic finish, and we had it with a tea for myself, while Fred had a cappuccino.
The atmosphere is Fishworks is busy and buzzy, and with live music regularly in the bar you have the added advantage of enjoying that too. The fish here is good- it’s already in the name - and given that you are in the one of the best locations in the country to have the freshest of seafood, follow my lead, and go fish all the way.