I got a call from a reader a few weeks ago to tell me that as "a proud Castleisland man" I should look up a report on the Chef Gerard Restaurant which appeared on a travel blog. I did and was delighted to find that the report was glowing about the yet to celebrate-its-first-birthday-restaurant.
I can assure readers that it wasn't anyone associated with Chef Gerard or Browne's Bar itself who tipped me off about the review. And, to deflect any suggestion of nepotism, the good chef and myself are not at all related. The review reads a bit like someone who'd kick you in the groin and then give you a hand up and dust you off. But overall it's a glowing report on the place. It reads as follows:
"Browne's Bar in Castleisland is probably not the first place you would think of as a destination restaurant. It is a traditional Irish pub in every sense, grey stone floor, dark wood, and locals crouched over their pints at the bar watching TV. The last time I was there was during an Irish music festival and it honestly felt like God's waiting room.
However, it has changed and in the back there's a hell of a surprise....
Gerard Reidy, an 'Island native and previously a chef at the Five Flies in Capetown, has transformed the rear of this Guinness-dark market pub. There is a refreshing clash of old and new with bright flashes of ochre, blues and whites together with lustrous antique country furniture and a farmhouse dresser heaving with homemade preserves and granola.
Passionate about his local produce from the rich green pastures and (sometimes) azure-blue seas, this Kerry man has taken ingredients that we all know and love and injected his talent, travel experience and colour to challenge our familiar foods and flavours.
The carpaccio of best Kerry sirloin, home cured by Gerard was light and perfectly flavoured, the "Five-Mile-Town" (Scartaglin I suppose?) goat cheese came a close second. However the black pudding rolled in pork fillet wrapped in prosciutto with a bright pink rhubarb sauce was the absolute star.
There is a small but solid wine list which is very good value and well suited to the food. The desserts were good and interesting and beautifully presented although I would opt for the chocolate rather than the tarte-tatin next time.
The staff are friendly but could do with some training - but to be fair it had only been open for two weeks.
Great value at about €160.00 for four people including two bottles of wine!
Gerard tells us that he is looking forward to the stalking season in Killarney and the chance to serve wild venison. We will certainly be back to see and taste what he does with it.
This place is an absolute pearl, don't pass it."