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  • Writer's pictureGregory Besterman

Some of Our Favourite Experiences for Food lovers in West Cork

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Is there any better way to discover a new place than through its food? Combine a hearty meal with a long walk, a wild swim, or even just a quiet day by the fire, and you’ve got a recipe made in heaven.

From its country pubs to its local farmer’s markets that showcase all the freshest ingredients to bring back to Gortadrohid’s well-appointed kitchen, West Cork is simply brimming with places to get your fill of fabulous food.

Here are just a few of our favourites, all conveniently located within driving distance of our luxury holiday home in West Cork.

Casey’s of Baltimore

Travel time: barely a 10-minute drive from Gortadrohid, making it the perfect go-to for a nourishing meal during your busier days in West Cork.

Starting very close to home, Casey’s of Baltimore is a tried-and-true favourite for locals and visitors alike. Combine beautiful views of Church Strand Bay and Mount Gabriel and fresh, seasonal ingredients – many of which are grown within their own gardens, which are free from pesticides and harsh chemicals – paired with some of the freshest seafood you could ask for and fresh spring water from their on-site well, Casey’s is not to be missed.

And why would you when it’s barely a stone’s throw from Gortadrohid’s front door? Whether you’re stopping by for a light lunch, a sweet bite, or a dinner that nourishes mind, body, and soul, Casey’s of Baltimore has just the thing.

Expect the best of everything at this West Cork gem. From the simplest ingredients – carrots, potatoes, marrows and onions – to the very best catches of the day, you’ve never sampled anything like this before.

It should come as no surprise that Casey’s dining room fills up fast, so don’t forget to book well in advance!

Special Recommendations: don’t let the chance of sampling their mussels, sourced fresh from Roaringwater Bay, pass you by.

West Cork Distillers

Travel time: around twenty minutes by car – just remember to bring your designated driver!

If there’s one perfect accompaniment to a foodie’s dream Irish break, it’s a sip or two of local whiskey crafted by master distillers.

In operation for around two decades, after being founded by friends John, Ger, and Denis. What started as a small operation run from home, the company has expanded gradually over time to become an award-winning and internationally recognised distillery covering 12.5 acres in Skibbereen.

A tour of the distillery will walk you through the entire process of crafting some of the best whiskey in the world, from the humble grains at the beginning of it all to the ageing process. It’s a multisensory experience made vibrant by the smells, sounds, and tastes of life in the distillery.

Special Recommendations: don’t return home without a bottle of the Black Cask. Pair with West Cork Coffee for the perfect Irish pick-me-up.

The Baltimore Seafood Festival

Travel time: again, for anyone staying in Gortadrohid, Baltimore is just ten minutes away by car. There are many walks around the village, so set aside a whole day if you’re lucky enough to be in the area during the Seafood Festival.

There are always things to do around West Cork but, for three days of the year, Baltimore is brought to life as the county’s fishing fleet gathers to show locals and visitors the very best of fresh fish, shellfish, and other locally sourced ingredients. The festival occurs alongside the Wooden Boat Festival, which creates an incredible, celebratory atmosphere throughout Baltimore’s bustling streets.

The date of the festival is subject to change, but it generally falls between March and May, so keep a close eye out for updates.

Special recommendations: keep an eye out for fresh cod, lobster, and crab. The Atlantic supplies the area with an incredible variety of seafood, so it’s hard to shrink that list down to a couple of recommendations.

Dede at the Customs House

Travel time: just under 15 minutes by car. Funnily enough, Customs House is just a stone’s throw across the bay – mouth-wateringly close, particularly when you know what’s on the menu.

The ingenuity, passion, skill and zest for nature’s very best suffuses every moment and morsel at Dede, and that’s precisely what earned it 2 Michelin stars. Head chef Ahmet Dede introduces diners to his Turkish heritage through the very finest and freshest ingredients the area has to offer, and each dish is the product of the day’s very best vegetables, fish, dairy – along with the magic at Chef Dede’s fingertips.

The room itself offers a fabulous atmosphere. Quaint and cosy with a tangible frisson of excitement for every plate that makes its way out of the kitchen, this is the perfect place to make a lasting memory.

Special Recommendations: everything depends on what catches Chef Dede’s eye and imagination that day. Make a reservation for dinner (long in advance, to avoid disappointment) and opt for their Works of Art menu for the most memorable experience possible.

Restaurant Chestnut

Travel time: about thirty minutes by car – the perfect amount of time to work up an appetite.

How could we compile a list of foodie experiences in West Cork without mentioning Restaurant Chestnut? Awarded a Michelin Star in 2019 and accompanied by countless glowing reviews from critics – including Katy McGuinness at the Irish Independent, who proclaimed that even the bread and butter is its own event.

Restaurant Chestnut is an experience like no other. Celebrating locally sourced ingredients, and with an ever-changing menu that reflects head chef Rob’s Irish and Polish heritage – and his love of nature and sustainability – every night at Restaurant Chestnut is a celebration – not just service as usual.

Special Recommendations: the signature tasting menu is the very best way to get to know Restaurant Chestnut’s unique philosophy for creating incredible meals. Everything is built around what’s in season, and what’s inspired Rob and his team.

Manning’s Emporium

Travel time: under an hour by car, and the journey can be combined with a visit to Bantry House – or Bantry Bay Golf Club if you fancy stretching your legs.

Inarguably one of the best possible destinations for stocking up the pantry with some of West Cork’s finest staples (and treats), Manning’s has stood the Wild Atlantic Way for more than 70 years. The same philosophy for incredible flavours and local sourcing has been passed through generations of the Mannings family.

Along with Irish must-haves like Durrus and Coolea Farmhouse cheeses, sundries, preserves, breads, crackers, cereals and wine, Manning’s also offers a range of heat-at-home meals. This isn’t your usual microwaveable fare, either – these dishes are emblematic of what it means to get warm and cosy at home in West Cork or put on an al fresco spread on the sun-soaked patio.

If you’ve just landed in Ireland and want to stock up before you start exploring, then Manning’s Emporium should be at the very top of your list.

Special recommendations: there’s too much joy to be found in pouring over the shelves in Manning’s Emporium for us to give the game away just yet – but, if you happen to arrive in time for a fresh-out-the-oven sausage roll, don’t be a fool.

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