'It is my version of a simple Turkish country salad," says Ahmet Dede. "Tomatoes, bread, cheese, a few onions, herbs..."
The description is disingenuous. There's a lot more to it than that. The whole cherry tomatoes, the first of the season from Lisheen Organics, are skinned perfectly (can you imagine the work involved in that one process alone?) before being marinated in aromatics and combined with local whipped ricotta, three types of basil - green, Thai and purple - grown on Cape Clear, topped with a Turkish take on gazpacho and dusted with spices.
It's a stunning combination and one that's already a contender for my dish of the year.
It wouldn't be the first time I gave that accolade to the chef from Ankara. Two years ago, before he gained a Michelin star at Mews, located next door to Dede, I ate a dish of steamed cod with - from memory - seven types of seaweed that was almost a religious experience. It was my dish of 2018.
Mews closed before the end of the season last year and will not reopen. Ahmet has since joined forces with businesswoman Maria Archer, new owner of The Customs House, to open Dede (pronounced "dayday").
What a year to open a restaurant.
When Covid hit, Ahmet and Maria reassessed their plans for tasting menus and fine dining, opened a delicatessen selling freshly baked sourdough bread and good things from small local producers, and have spent lockdown providing a takeaway meal service for locals.
At the start of the month, to launch the restaurant proper, Ahmet persuaded his old boss, Mickael Viljanen of the two-Michelin-star Greenhouse in Dublin, to come down for a few days and put on a four-hands, 10-course, €250-a-plate fine-dining menu. They sold out both nights and had a waiting list.
"At first we were a bit slow, out of practice, after months away from that kind of service," says Ahmet. "But we soon got back into it."
We've asked to sit in the garden, and our luck is in because it's the first fine evening in weeks. We have it to ourselves - we are under cover and there's a chiminea burning fragrant wood to keep us warm - but the dining room inside is full.
There's a three-course, no-choice set menu. To begin, tranches of sourdough baguette with dips, one of red peppers and preserved lemon dusted with sumac, another of smoked albacore tuna from Sally Barnes' wonderful Woodcock Smokery nearby. And butter, glorious yellow butter, from Gloun Cross Dairy in Dunmanway.
An extra course - a skewer of barbecued lobster on a small cumin flatbread cooked over charcoal with wild watercress, preserved lemon and sumac - follows the tomatoes. You slide the meat off, wrap the bread around it and eat it with your fingers; it's messy and sublime.
Our main course is seven-week-aged Limousin striploin from Walsh's butchers in Skibbereen, which has its own farm and abattoir. Three slices, cooked on the barbecue, full of flavour, served with aubergine, mint, spiced shallots and slivers of radish for crunch. Potatoes with cumin and paprika are cooked in rendered beef fat so luscious that we think it's butter.
To finish, there are Union Hall strawberries macerated in organic pomegranate and cranberry molasses, with Turkish mulberry ice-cream and a brown butter crisp. It's both beautiful to look at and perfectly balanced, barely sweet.
From a short list, we choose the Verónica Ortega Quite 2018, made from old Mencia vines in Castilla y León, an easy-drinking red that's full of fruit.
Whatever about what Dede may become in the future, Ahmet says that this year "is all about cooking nice food and making people happy". It's working.
The bill comes to €146 before service.
ON A BUDGET
There's a breakfast and lunch barbecue offering, plus a delicatessen and takeaway.
ON A BLOW-OUT
The three-course set dinner, which changes weekly, is priced at €50.
THE HIGH POINT
Ahmet Dede brings a Turkish sensibility to outstanding West Cork ingredients; the results are brilliant.
THE LOW POINT
We didn't have time to go back for lunch the next day to try the barbecue.