Taking great pride in serving excellent food, Kerrin and Michael Relja's delightful restaurant, Casino House, located just a few miles west of Kinsale, has earned itself a well-deserved reputation as one of the best in an area.
The couple's cool continental style makes a pleasing contrast to their lovely old house, and the warmth of Kerrin's hospitality is consistently matched by the excellence of Michael's food. He cooks with verve and confidence, offering imaginative, wide-ranging menus based on the finest seasonal ingredients - and with clear respect for local produce.
Ummera smoked organic salmon, for example, is produced nearby and appears regularly - in a tomato with a salmon tartar stuffing, perhaps - and fresh seafood from nearby fishing ports features in many dishes including a wonderful speciality lobster risotto which is offered as a starter but a variation with mixed seafood is also available as a main course. Local duck is another speciality and appears in many forms - roast breast of Ballydehob duck may be served on a lentil potato cake with a honey & port sauce (house style is rare - ask if you prefer it cooked longer), and Michael uses all the rest of the duck in another house speciality, a starter dish of four variations of duck.
Vegetarian dishes are tempting and often listed ahead of the other main courses - spaghetti with basil oil, lamb's lettuce & feta cheese is typical - and nightly specials will include extra seafood dishes, all with individual vegetable garnishes and deliciously simple seasonal side vegetables. Variations on classic desserts are delicious (a delectable rhubarb trifle served with home-made vanilla ice cream, for example) and local cheeses are always tempting in this area - and here they are handled with particular respect (winning the Guide's Farmhouse Cheese Award in 1999).
This is a lovely restaurant and - while the style is constant, cooking consistently excellent and hospitality genuine - it never stands still: somehow, there is always something about it, which is even better on each visit. When the weather is kind, an al fresco early summer dinner, or Sunday lunch, can be an especially memorable experience here. GC
Text by Georgina Campbell, reproduced with kind permission.
Visit her website on http://www.ireland-guide.com/