September 26, 2012

Dining in Killarney: The Smokehouse, Pay as You Please and Murphy's Icecream

During our holiday in Kerry we ate out quite a bit. This is unusual for us as we enjoy buying local products and cooking with them. Kerry is such a big county to get through though and there are so many lovely walks to do that you would collapse with the hunger by the time you get round to making dinner. Well that’s the excuse I’m sticking too anyway!!

I found Killarney quite different to Kenmare. It is bigger and has a much more touristy vibe to it which might explain the high prices of some of the restaurants there. Some of them seemed to be stuck in Celtic Tiger times. After wandering through Killarney for a while we settled on The Smokehouse. The place was packed at nine in the evening and after our phone number was duly taken we were sent over to the opposite pub to have a drink while waiting. Having to wait in a pub is no hard task in Kerry as the music and craic are mighty as the locals might say! Though you have to be a fan of trad music as it spills out of the pubs and onto the pavements and follows you everywhere!! 

Tralee Crab Claws

The Smokehouse itself has a very laid back atmosphere to it and the clientele were a mix of ages, some dressed up for a night on the town, others like ourselves slightly ruffled from walking up mountains all day!! For starters the boyfriend got Honey Glazed Chicken Wings while I choose Tralee Crab Claws with Garlic and Herb butter. Both starters were lovely and quite large; indeed we hadn’t finished eating them when our main course arrived!! This is one of my pet hates but we were almost done so we got her to put them down rather than send them back to the kitchen.
For the mains we both ordered a Rib Eye steak which came with a baked spud, sour cream & chives and local leaves. The steak was done perfectly to order and the accompaniments made it a good value meal. 

Then it was on to dessert which had been teasing me since we arrived and I had seen six desserts being brought out to a table! So even though I was fairly full, curiosity got the better of me. Our waitress brought all of them to our table which I thought was a really good idea as instead of sharing one like we would normally do we both decided to get one each because they looked so good! The choices were mandarin cheesecake, double chocolate mousse, pannacotta, tiramisu and parfait. The last dessert was sold out. He got the tiramisu and I got the double chocolate mousse. Both desserts were light and not too sweet which can be quite difficult to achieve with both of these desserts. We did find out that the desserts were made by a local hotel but we couldn’t find out which one!


Murphy’s Ice cream offers lots of different and unusual flavours such as Brown Bread, Peanut and Sea Salt. I got myself a giant scoop of sea salt while he went for the more normal flavour of honeycomb. All the ice cream is made from scratch and a huge amount of effort goes into making the flavours such as in the Sea Salt flavour where Dingle sea water is collected and boiled down to make the ice cream. All the hard work pays off with a wonderful creamy and flavourful ice cream but it also comes with a hefty price tag. Two one scoop cones cost us €7 which is a big difference from Kenmare Ice cream. They are  worth a go though and are the ultimate treat.

As our last place to visit Pay as you Please has to be, without doubt, one of the most unique dining concepts I have ever encountered. Here customers pay what they believe is a fair price for their food. The venue is down a laneway and it one of those trendy, quirky places that if it was in Dublin would be full of hipsters. It has mismatched chairs and a toilet cubicle covered in comics. Here though it was filled with families and tourists. 

The menu is short and filled with a range of items including pizza, soup, salads and bruschetta. One of the only things that annoyed me was that the brunch menu was only available on a Sunday. We had chosen the dishes we wanted only to be told that we couldn’t get them even though it was Saturday! Even with this blip we were left with a lot of choices. Between us we ordered Butternut Squash and Curry Soup (in a bread bowl or a jar), Mushroom Bruschetta & Roasted Tomato and Goats Cheese Bruschetta. The food was simple but fresh, tasty and very moreish. 

Butternut Squash and Curry soup
Roasted Tomato & Goats Cheese
Mushroom Bruschetta
We couldn’t leave without trying some cake and we were given a massive piece of lemon and poppy seed cake to share. It was moist and had a wonderful lemony tang. 

Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake
No scrounging on the tea and coffee here!!
The concept of paying what you wanted led us to a good discussion of what we thought the food was worth. We could have left anything we wanted as all you do is put the money in a box and walk away. I think though (or I hope) that no one ever just walks away as the food is too good and the effort the owners put in is very apparent. So whatever your budget this is one place you can definitely afford! And just in case you are wondering we left them €30!

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