Renowned worldwide as a classically beautiful Irish property, the Park Kenmare availed of recent lockdowns to renovate not only their dining rooms but the entire kitchen space within the hotel. Under the guidance of Head Chef, James Coffey the Park currently offers a stunning set menu steeped in Chef James’ love for authentic Irish ingredients.
The newly renovated dining space is a haven of tranquility awash with delicate shades of blue and pink. The fact that the space has huge windows and overlooks the magnificent gardens is simply the icing on the cake.
Seated by the window we were treated to a little amuse bouche trio which set the scene for a perfectly splendid evening. The first to tickle our tastebuds was a gazpacho made with cucumber, almond, fennel and dill and it proved to be a delicious start to the evening. This was followed by a smoked eel with cabbage and beetroot tart – the tiniest tart with the biggest flavour! The third little bite was an aged Knockatee churrio with onion and truffle. The presentation of the tart and churrio was outstanding and only matched by the incredible flavour and texture of each of these bites.
First up on the menu was Kelly’s oyster with scallop, allium oil and yuzu. The tangy citrus flavour of the yuzu uplifted this dish beautifully and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
The flavours from the sea didn’t end there with the next dish featuring delicious Dingle crab meat with kohl rabi, radish, apple and dill. Food for the soul if your soul thrives on local bounty.
The final seafood offering was wild turbot with brassicas, lemon and pine nut. The meat was translucent and flaky and packed with amazing flavour. A must for all the die-hard pescatarians out there.
Next up was a velouté of carrot baked over coals, with black garlic, pink grapefruit, sunflower seeds and shoots. This was actually my favourite dish – sumptuous, savoury, velvety and simply everything a velouté should be and more.
Then came the beef feather blade served with celeriac, charred onions and bone marrow jus. The feather blade was both tender and succulent and the presentation was delightful.
The first of the sweet treats was a raspberry mille-feuille, and such was my excitement, that I tucked in without even thinking of taking a photo, something that has never happened me before! If you could taste it, you would understand. The pastry was divine and I adore raspberries, so for me, this was the perfect sweet treat.
And finally we were treated to a chocolate ganache and mousse. Now this is truly a dish for the chocolate lovers out there.
Just when we thought we were finished, the most delightful petit fours arrived at the table. You know the type that you feel guilty about even moving on the plate, never mind eating them, such is their beauty? In the best interests of my readers, we tucked in and were mightily glad that we did. Each and every one was a work of art and so delicious.
We had the pleasure of meeting Chef James while our sweet courses were being prepared and you would be hard pushed to find a Chef as passionate about sourcing local, foraged and wild ingredients as this man. His passion and dedication is written all over every plate that leaves his kitchen, and I believe that while we have Chefs like James, the future of Irish food is in safe hands.
On a final note, it would be remiss of me not to mention our wonderful Server, our Sommelier and all the staff at The Park, Kenmare who made our visit truly delightful. Irish hospitality is alive and well in Kenmare.
WRITTEN BY FIONA DILLON