The Bayview Hotel in Ballycotton perches above the harbour, offering unrivalled views of the east Cork coastline. It's a lovely spot to base yourself while exploring east Cork, and with cosy rooms, a friendly bar and the beautiful village of Ballycotton around the hotel, there is no lack of amenities for even the most enthuasiastic guest.
We explored the village during the day and wandered about the shop and down to the harbour before venturing out along the cliff walk from above Ballycotton to Inch. It's about 10k with fabulous scenery and we made it in about 2 hours. For lunch we took ourselves up to nearby Ballymaloe for a Sapanish omelette and a look at their art exhibition, before heading over to Stephen Pearce pottery where Deirdre picked up a vase.
After our day of exertions it was back to the hotel for dinner, which we had in the main dining room, and was full on this October Saturday. There are changes taking place in the Bayview. It closes at the end of October for the winter and when it re opens the restaurant will have been re decorated in a more contemporary style, with a casual dining theme. For now on a cold winters evening the white linen was still in place, and it looked very smart indeed.
Chef Ciaran Scully has two menus on the go here. The bar menu across reception, and the set dinner option in the restaurant, which offers two courses for €30 or three for €35.
There was a choice for five starters and the same of main courses, with an equal split between land and sea, and a vegetarian option. The fish here comes from the day boats that fish out of Ballycotton harbour not 50 meters away, so the choices change daily depending on what the boats have caught on any given day. Personally I can't think of a better way to serve fish but immediately fresh from a local boat.
Starters included pan fried scallops, a cheek of bacon, Bluebell Falls goats cheese and local smoked salmon from Shanagarry. Main courses offered roast lamb two ways, a fillet of beef, Barbary duck breast, roast quail and a fish special of pan fried hake.
We decided to split our choices between land and sea; Deirdre had the scallops flowed by the hake, while I ordered the bacon cheek and followed with the quail.
As we waited we nibbled on some good homemade breads and sipped our wines; Albarinho for the lady while I had a French Pinot Noir. Our starters soon arrived and Deirdres scallops looked like a picture on plate; this was very beautiful presentation indeed. Cauliflower purée provided a cushion for the silky smooth scallops, and little florets of pickled cauliflower were dotted around the plate. The scallops with perfectly cooked, just beyond translucent, and the cauliflower puree was a perfect foil.
While not quite as pretty as the scallops, the cheek of bacon was absolutely wonderful. A simple dish, there was a slice of check, impossible tender, and a roasted piece as well, which was like all the best sticky roast hams you've ever had.
Main courses brought Deirdre a big solid fillet of hake, on a bed of lemon and wild garlic risotto. This was an excellent dish, and the fish was as fresh as could be, having been landed earlier in the day. My quail was very good, it was served off the bone, each piece expertly carved and place strategically around the plate with sculptured carrots, morsels of potato and a rich jus that brought the dish together beautifully.
We managed to share a dessert of Autumn plums on a thick sticky rice pudding and some good coffee. We made our way into the bar afterwards, where one of Ireland's best choral groups were enjoying an outing, singing and playing some really fine music.
The cliffside Bayview Hotel is a gem of a place. Unpretentious, friendly, with some very superior food and views to die for, it's a lovely place to visit on any east Cork odyssey.