The Lighthouse Seafood Restaurant is on the South Quay in Wicklow town. It is quite charming and an extension of Alan Hegarty's Fishman fish shop that Paolo so liked last year. It has a very enviable location, looking onto the river Vartry estuary, with all the little boats tied up along the quay. For south Dubliners who have just realised there is no waterfront fish restaurant south of Howth, the Lighthouse is nearer, and prettier.
The dining room is very pleasing inside as well; smart wooden floors, comfy leather-seated wooden chairs, with marine ropes, fishing nets hanging from the ceiling and maritime pictures on the walls complete a perfectly judged maritime feel.
The menu is short, which I like in a specialised restaurant. There are half a dozen starters and about the same of mains, with four specials added. It's mostly fish thank God, but there are chicken wings and a steak for the committed carnivore. For the rest of us there's ray wing, monkfish, sea bream, cod and hake or haddock.
To start the food scientist daughter had a parcel of local smoked salmon and goats cheese, which was big and nicely presented on a picture of a plate with extra pieces of salmon dotted around the edge and a little leaf garnish. She was happy and munched her way through the generous portion, while sipping her glass of Chilean Sauv. Blanc.
My starter came for slightly further afield; Nigerian King prawns were served halved and grilled, so they came out of the shell with just a little encouragement. There was a lime salsa, and the flavours were fresh and tangy. I really enjoyed the way they were cooked, still in the shell and getting the flavour from it, but without the need for painful and messy de-shelling.
Main courses brought Abigail sea bream fillets on a bed of mash, with spinach and crispy kale. The fish was perfectly cooked and the portion was more than generous. I took the plunge with my first ray wing, which was as good as everyone had said. This one was pan fried and came with a sun dried tomato sauce, with some potato gratin, and more of the spinach and kale. It was delicious, and I managed to clear the plate.
Dessert was a shared experience; a perfect dome of chocolate mousse with fab chocolate ice cream was more than enough for the two of us, and we finished with good coffee.
On the way out we passed through the Fishman shop next door and noticed the display cabinet of artisan food products. Alan explained that as well as the food products they do cookery demos every Saturday which attract a big crowd, and then there is Sammy the Seal.
He lives across the road in the estuary and comes across the road to the shop three times every day, at 9am, 1pm and 4pm for his meals! His punctuality is spot on, and they have set up a pedestrian crossing on the road to keep him safe. Brilliant!
The Lighthouse is a little gem; I just wish it was in Sandymount or Blackrock. Instead the good people of Wicklow town have a fish restaurant with excellent food and a view to die for. Good luck to them and Sammy of course.