Ciara McQuillan chooses five fabulous restaurants perfect for those post-swim cravings
Main Image; www.thisisgalway.ie
OLIVETO AT HADDINGTON HOUSE, CO DUBLIN
COOL OFF No list of sea swimming spots would be complete without The Forty Foot, one of the best-known bathing spots in Dublin. A men-only locale until the 1970s, it’s suitable for swimmers of all ages and levels and the transport links to the city make it a popular choice on a sunny day. WARM UP In nearby Dun Laoghaire, smartly restored Haddington House is the ideal place to warm up after a dip. Italian restaurant Oliveto is a very pretty space – and you can also eat in the elevated sea-facing garden. ON THE PLATE Oliveto is an “Italian-inspired neighbourhood restaurant” but this really doesn’t do it justice. Dishes like homemade sourdough focaccia with whipped ricotta, peas, broad beans and mint or Amalfi lemon pasta are dishes worth returning for, post-swim or not. Haddington House, 9-12 Haddington Terrace, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, 01 280 1810; www.haddingtonhouse.ie.
BLACKROCK COTTAGE, SALTHILL, CO GALWAY
COOL OFF The iconic Blackrock Diving Tower on the Salthill promenade is just minutes from Galway city. The yellow walls of Salthill were built at various angles to create shelter from the wind and are home to a community of swimmers from all walks of life. Once men only, it has been a mixed bathing place since the 1970s. WARM UP Chef Martin O’Donnell’s Blackrock Cottage, beside the tower, is a fitting location for post-swim nourishment should you be lucky enough to nab a table. The restaurant itself has the original cottage to the front, a cosy room with exposed brick walls and a woodburning stove, and a modern glass extension to the rear. If drying off in the sun appeals, there is outdoor seating aplenty. ON THE PLATE The menu features lots of warming dishes such as chowder, steamed mussels and a doorstep sanger of grilled cheese with smoked pulled ham hock. Those with appetites sharpened by a swim would do well with the crispy chicken schnitzel with smoked almond, black garlic and dilisk fries. Blackrock Cottage, Salthill Promenade, Galway; www.blackrockcottage.ie.
BEACH HOUSE, TRAMORE, CO WATERFORD
COOL OFF Guillamene and Newtown Coves in Tramore are regarded of two of the most sheltered swim spots in Ireland, suitable for swimmers of all abilities. The more adventurous can enjoy a diving board and deep waters and can traverse the coast in a westerly direction, away from Tramore. WARM UP Beach House in Tramore is a serene spot for a postswim lunch, its oceanic theme reflected on the plate. Open for lunch only, the restaurant, in a Victorian townhouse, is refreshingly simple and pared back. It’s the perfect place to enjoy dishes such as fried pollock with tartare sauce or grilled Dublin Bay prawns, and on a warm day, the garden is an idyllic space in which to dine. ON THE PLATE The everchanging menu at Beach House is handwritten daily and based on available produce, with a mixture of smaller plates and larger plates to choose from. The entire menu is seafood-based (apart from desserts!). Beach House, Turkey Road, Tramore, Co Waterford, 051 338270; www.beachhousetramore.ie.
O’HERLIHY’S CAFÉ, KINSALE, CO CORK
COOL OFF In Kinsale, serene Sandycove is is a beautiful cove popular for wild swimming with a breathtakingly beautiful cliff walk. Sandycove Island Swimmers group has no fewer than 20 English Channel solo swimmers among its number, but less experienced swimmers are welcome too. WARM UP O’Herlihy’s Café in Kinsale began life as a tiny pub in 1864 and has been passed down through five generations of the same family since. Today, the eye-catching bright pink exterior is just as colourful as the menu in this buzzy café. ON THE PLATE The food in O’Herlihy’s suits the light, bright, pretty aesthetic. Hot coffee or refreshing Brazilian limeade accompanies Macroom oats with vanilla and cardamom poached pear and apple treacle or spicy nduja and whipped Toonsbridge ricotta on house brioche. A peaches and cream doughnut sounds like the obvious way to finish. O’Herlihy’s, The Glen, Kinsale; www.oherlihyskinsale.com.
HOLLY’S CAFÉ, KILKEE, CO CLARE
COOL OFF At the mouth of Kilkee’s horseshoe bay, The Pollock Holes are natural sea pools uncovered when the tide is out. Swimmers would do well to take a snorkel to explore the sea life in these natural pools, reputed to be 320 million years in the making, which can warm to up to 20oC in summer. To take advantage, be sure to arrive two hours either side of low tide. WARM UP Co-owners of Holly’s Café, Holly Kelliher and Jon Butler, have combined experience that includes stints at The Ritz in London and the Michelin-starred Oak Room at Adare Manor, so it’s safe to assume they know a thing or two about creating beautiful pâtisserie. All French-style pastries are handmade daily using Valrhona, Cocoa Atelier and Callebaut Belgian chocolate, and Ponthier fruit purées. ON THE PLATE Treats include passionfruit and white chocolate delight with coconut sablé, and a decadent triple chocolate brownie topped with cream cheese frosting and tangy raspberry. Savoury-loving swimmers will enjoy superfood salads, flaky sausage rolls and the open smoked salmon sandwich with lemon crème fraîche and trout caviar. Holly’s Café, 39 O’Curry Street, Kilkee, 065 906 0655; www.facebook.com/hollyscafekilkee.