Throughout the endless lockdowns of the past two years, we’ve all dreamed of where we would go and what we would do when the nightmare was over. For some, it was long-haul trips to exotic locations or laying by a pool in a European hotspot. On my post-pandemic bucket list, however, the only thing I want to do abroad is our annual September ferry trip to wine sales in northern France, where for years Brendan and I Drove around looking for another place to stay and eat each night, and come back to tell you all about it. Many of you have even contacted me over the years to tell me how much you have enjoyed following in our footsteps, which honestly has been a great joy for me.
ne dude wrote to me How? ‘Or’ What, when his wife read my article on Normandy one Sunday morning, she put the newspaper in front of him and said, “That’s what we need.” She had undergone chemotherapy but, having obtained permission from her specialist, they left at the last minute and he said it was the best thing they had ever done.
Closer to home, a return visit to the fabulous Seaview House Hotel in Ballylickey, West Cork was also on my rather long bucket list. I first discovered Seaview – a wonderful small castlestylish house with beautiful gardens, overlooking Bantry Bay – about 20 years ago.
It belonged then to the legendary Miss Kathleen O’Sullivan, whose high standards on all fronts tolerated no argument. Kathleen retired a few years ago, passing the reins to the fourth generation of the family at Seaview – her nephew, Ronan O’Sullivan and his wife Suzanne. While preserving the original charm of the house, they have brought in new energy and ideas, such as their cool Bathhouse & Spa, which has proven to be so successful that the Swedish-style spa project is now underway. ‘expanding, embracing all that their glorious, lush, subtropical gardens have to offer.
The area naturally benefits from the warmth of the Gulf Stream, and by adding discrete individual “patio” areas amongst sublime shrubbery, they have greatly enhanced guests’ ability to soak up the sun and make the most of the glorious surroundings. After settling into our lovely room overlooking the front gardens, we descended to dine on the fabulous round veranda of the large dining room.
Starters (€11.50-€15) included a Wild Atlantic Way seafood chowder; prawn cocktail; and Chicken Liver Pâté with Cumberland Sauce and Melba Toast. Mary had a divine dumpling of Bantry Bay crab salad (€14.50) with seasoned leaves, pickled cucumber and Marie Rose sauce, lightly dusted with chilli and decorated with a filigree crisp. I tasted pan-fried Dunmanus scallops (€15) with black pudding from Clonakilty on a mashed pea.
Entrances (27€-38€) included Rack of Irish lamb from West Cork, dressed à la française, with garlic potato and rosemary jus; while the roasted Skeaghanore half duck was accompanied by roasted figs and port juice. Baked hake or roasted Castletownbere monkfish are also in the spotlight.
Mary’s tender and rare 8oz Irish beef tenderloin (€35) was served French style with shallots and a red wine sauce. During this time, I savored a beautiful perfectly pan-fried black sole on the bone (€38) with lemon and whiskey butter. This was served with a mixture of asparagus, zucchini, peppers, carrots and broccoli on the side.
Despite being full, you had to try the desserts (€8) — a fabulous fresh lemon meringue pie for me, and, for Mary, a huge buttermilk pancake with strawberries and vanilla ice cream. We slept like tops, as they say, and enjoyed an excellent breakfast the next morning.
We had dinner included, room and breakfast at €330 and a bottle of Trimbach Riesling 2019 (€39), brought our bill, with service, to €399. By the way, those of you with furry friends will be delighted to know that they have excellent pet-friendly ground floor rooms with access to the gardens.
Seaview House Hotel
Tel: (027) 50073