A fresh Autumnal Sunday calls for a decent walk by the sea, preferably followed by very decent feed. I spent many a Sunday when my kids were younger sitting on the wall across from Beshoffs fighting off a few pesky seagulls for the remnants of my salt and vinegar laden fish and chips.
Nowadays my Sunday lunches are a far more leisurely activity, don’t get me wrong I am still very partial to a few chips on the pier but these days (old age creeping in) I much rather the comfort of a cosy room and a good glass of wine.
Last Sunday was one of those crisp days where you wake up and think yes today I will be active, hike, explore and then reward myself with a mini feast. Howth ticks a lot of boxes, beautiful sea views, tasty, fresh seafood, and a plethora of delicious entries to explore. After trapsing around to the end of Howth Harbour and almost freezing to death we finally reached our lunch destination – King Sitric a local stalwart, a nautical institution you could say.
Astonishingly set up over 40 years ago by husband and wife team; Aidan and Joan MacManus, King Sitric is one of the few Howth restaurants to survive boom and bust and comes out trumps. Still thriving today as a favourite both the locals as well as the hoards of tourists that flock here every weekend.
We arrived early enough and got a wonderful window seat with a 180 degree angle view of Howth Head, perfectly poised to take in all the people watching you could ever desire.
I’m not gonna lie I’m not a huge fan of brunch, give me a lazy Sunday lunch any day. Unsurprisingly the menu is heavily seafood laden, with fresh fish from the harbour daily, Kellys Oysters from Galway Lobster from their own fishermen in Balscadden Bay and Dublin Bay Prawns.
Local provenance runs through every course listed on the menu, if you are looking for fresh off the boat, in season produce King Sitric is hard to beat on paper. However the proof would be in the pudding, in this case Rudds’s black pudding which accompanied our first starter of Seared Scallops perfectly cooked with a homemade tomato chutney.
On the other side of the table was a generous helping of creamy Balscadden Bay Crab, served on a gluten free toast (good coeliac options and the team are well versed with allergens and suggesting alternatives) and a three divine dollops of home-made mayo.
If there is one fish I utterly adore it is Ray Wing, when we were kids if Ray wing made an appearance there would be fights over the table. Don’t consume this with your run of the mill ray you might get from your local chipper.
This was fall apart at the slightest tickle of the fork fresh, served as any good fish dish should be with lashings of butter, herbs and capers and a squeeze of lemon. They threw in a few chickpeas for good measure too, let me tell there is a fair bit of eating on this fish, I wish more restaurants served it like this in its purest form.
Our second main was never going to outdo the ray wing. Lobster is usually a solid safe bet and it is also one of the dishes King Sitric is very well known for. On this instance and in retrospect we ordered badly, the lobster meat was faultless and would have been absolute perfection as a Thermidor however I was lured by the whiskey and opted for a a sauce that just didn’t not work as a whiskey butter, ah well at least we were adventurous. Next time Lobster Thermidor all the way.
Dessert – a Crème Brûlée with a wonderful crack to it and a little shortbread was faultless and beyond satisfying.
We polished off the remainder of our wonderful half bottle (love the fact they offer some very good quality half options, particularly if you are driving) of E.Guigal Cote de Rhone 2015 with a little cheese board of superb Irish cheeses whilst watching the world go by.
A leisurely lunch, in a beautiful setting, with some of the finest produce our little shores have to offer came to €92 including wine and water.
King Sitric has remained a favourite and award winning restaurant for over 25 years for a very good reason, what they do they do exceptionally well. For food of this calibre in the idyllic location of Howth Harbour is it simply a must visit.
T: +353 1-8325235