A FOODIE friend was coming down from Cork to take part in the excellent Food 4 Thought event at Tralee IT last week (congratulations to all concerned), so I texted around to get a few restaurant recommendations for dinner and Cassidy's was the suggestion that came back.
I have had several good meals in Cassidy's over the years, and, given the night that was in it – wet and windy – I knew that its cosy atmosphere, and night-time soft lighting was also the perfect ambience for good conversation.
I arrived first, just before 8 o'clock on a Tuesday night, and the place was buzzing. I wondered what else was going on in Tralee to merit the crowd, but talking to people at the little bar area where I waited for my guest, it all appeared to be random. There were salesmen staying in Castleisland, a group of Americans breaking their journey in Tralee, local ladies on a night out and of course ourselves. It's great to see a place busy like this mid-week, and a good omen for the evening ahead.
My guest is a red wine drinker, so we went for a smooth, medium-bodied red Tempranillo ( La Leuga Tinto Joven, Rioja (€23.50 per bottle) that would go with both meat and fish. It wasn't the best example of this varietal, but was pleasant enough and very drinkable. The wine list at Cassidy's is good and while most of the wine is reasonably priced, there are also several serious bottles to choose from if the occasion merits a splash.
To start with we ordered Creamy Shellfish & Seafood Chowder (€5.50) for him and Symphony of Atlantic Shellfish (€12.95) for me. The chowder was thick and creamy and full of chunky pieces of fish, and was pronounced delicious. My dish was a generous bowl of very tasty crab claws, mussels and prawns in a red pepper and basil cream. My only criticism is that the seafood was cooked separately from the sauce so it needed more of the latter to really taste the flavour combinations.
With two robust starters inside us, we decided to share a main course of Roast Rack of Kerry Lamb with Mint Crumb (€23.95). While the lamb was not as pink as it should have been, it was absolutely delicious, and we had more than enough each. The lamb was served with a selection of crunchy vegetables, potato dauphinoise and a light gravy, and the mint crumb really added an extra zing to the dish.
For dessert we shared the pepper grilled pineapple with homemade coconut ice cream and a raspberry coulis, which was delightful.
All of this was at a very leisurely pace, which suited us down to the ground as we were in no rush to move on, but the service might have been a little slow for some.
It was a lovely evening; Cassidy's is a snug as a bug, and the staff are very friendly. An interior touch-up is definitely required if the décor is to stand up to scrutiny during the day time and, with just a little more attention to detail in the kitchen, this restaurant would be elevated to a different level.
Cassidy's Restaurant, 16 Abbey Street, Tralee. Tel: 066 712 8835
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