Always on the look out for new and exciting places to visit, The Potting Sheds at Dromquinna Manor are so much more than we expected. Despite having stayed in the Glamping Tents previously and also experiencing the grandeur of Park Hotel Kenmare, we knew the Brennan Brothers were not people to do things by half but the care and attention that has been bestowed on the regeneration of The Potting Sheds is really quite special.
Check in was a swift affair whereby we were directed to drive our car to our Shed, we stayed in Number 3. Once unpacked you are advised to park back in the designated parking zone which makes perfect sense as the serenity of this beautiful place deserves to remain unspoilt. Blessed with a beautiful day we were eager to get rid of the car and return to our gorgeous little patio for an alfresco aperitif.
The interior design of The Potting Sheds is outstanding. Stepping through French Doors the first thing that catches your eye is an extra large King Size Bed which takes centre stage, each side adorned by low hanging industrial light fittings. A large and extremely comfortable sofa and coffee table provide the perfect little refuelling station. A Nespresso Machine is on hand for that much needed caffeine fix. Ensuite bathroom is cleverly concealed behind a sliding wooden door and speaking of cleverly concealed…there is even a set of bunk beds when you open up what appears from the outside, as large wardrobe doors.
An enjoyable hour, it may have been two, soaking up the sun on the patio and we were ready to make our way to dinner. The Boathouse Bistro is so beautifully located on the waterfront in an original boathouse from the 1800’s. This striking blue building is full of cosy candlelit corners. We were very lucky to be seated at a table looking right out over Kenmare Bay. Music filtering through from Shutters On The Pier next door where a wedding party were hosting day two of their celebrations. A lively mix of jovial families, couples enjoying a romantic date night and groups of friends catching up filled the tables. Every element of this restaurant holds true to its aquatic marine surroundings. Interiors of washed pine, fresh white and blues, there is definitely something of a Hamptons vibe about this idyllic spot.
Starting off with a couple of refreshing Gin & Tonics, Dingle Gin being our choice of the night, paying homage to the beautiful county we were residing in. An uncomplicated menu that from the time you start reading it you rest assured you are going to be very well fed. Opting for the Artisan Platter For 2 which was exceptional value at €22.90. We were two very happy campers, chowing down on deeply rich delights such as Gubeen Sausage, Cured Meats, a selection of Cheese, sensational Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade, Marinated Green & Black Olives and the lightest and freshest Crab Mayonnaise. All of this with warm, freshly baked Sourdough and a bottle of one of our all time favourite wines Cakebread – California – Sauvignon Blanc €86.00. Not ones to go crazy when ordering our wines, as it can become a fools game trying to out do yourself spending endlessly on a beverage that is to be enjoyed and hopefully compliment your food but instead can become a ‘Must order the most expensive bottle to look like I know what I am doing’ sort of thing! Cakebread however is one of our exceptions and when the occasion calls for it we have no hesitation in treating ourselves to a bottle.
Happily satiated after our superb starters we were afforded a nice little break before our main courses arrived. As important as an efficient service is to the running of a restaurant, it is so nice to be afforded time to digest each course. As fish lovers we were never going to order anything else when we were this close to the water. A generous Roast Cajun Salmon Fillet with Lemon and Corriander Cous Cous, Garden Salad €20.90. Straightforward proper food. Fantastically Fresh Salmon roasted just to the point of having its full flavour deepened and its texture that bit more meaty than when its poached. Cous Cous is always one of those lovely sides that we don’t see enough of on menus.
Both of our dishes were great choices however I couldn’t help but feel a little pang of jealousy when Medallions Of Monkfish With Tiger Prawns, Green Curry, Jasmine Rice €27.90 landed on the opposite side of the table. With the Salmon immediately catching my eye I actually didn’t even read the description of how the Monkfish was to be served so I was more than surprised when a dish appeared looking far more interesting that I had imagined. Generous rounds of Monkfish and thick juicy prawns, both had a carmamelised outter, the prawns succulent and tender, the monkfish decidedly delicate with that trademark flakiness. A gently spiced Thai Green Curry sauce luridly enhancing the overall flavour to epic proportions. Jasmine Rice & shards of crisp popadoms for scooping that delicious sauce. A tremendous plate of beautifully cooked food.
When we were declining dessert our charming waiter for the night insisted we try one dessert to share and considering we were in no rush to be anywhere, we succomed and went with his recommendation of Banoffee Pie Cheesecake and oh my God was this recommendation spot one. Layers of buttery, crumbled biscuits, rich caramel & banana all topped off with an intensely moreish caramel flavoured cheesecake layer. Safe to say the two spoons clattered right through to the bottom of the dessert glass in record time. A fantastic end to a wonderful evenings eating.
Strolling back to our lodgings for the night, it is easy to see that Dromquinna is a place that has captured that elusive holiday feeling within its grounds. Visitors here are relaxed, the atmosphere holds its guests in high spirits.
Dromquinna engulfs you in an unavoidable sense of tranquillity. One of the most important things we take away from anywhere that we stay is how that place makes you feel. Despite the trials and tribulations going on in the outside world, a trip to Dromquinna will help you refocus and recharge and we can’t think of anything better to take away from an Irish Coastal stay. We highly advocate all that Dromquinna has to offer and encourage you to experience it for yourself.
REVIEW BY: Keith Mahon