- a blog about food and value

Devouring Kinsale

Chowder at Fishy Fishy Cafe

I’ve recently returned from my annual food pilgrimage to Kinsale in Co. Cork, a Mecca for Irish food-lovers. I had some amazing meals this trip so instead of bombarding you with several different reviews I’m going to condense them all into one. I headed down with a friend and my sister, we had it all planned out that we would spend the majority of our time eating, all in the name of research of course! A word of warning though, it’s tough to find a cheap eat in Kinsale, but the quality of food is generally really high so I find it’s worth splashing out for.

Kinsale is a beautiful town, if you’ve never been there I demand you rectify this post-haste! Only 20 minutes from Cork city, it feels like a world away. It’s a bustling town but remains tranquil and picturesque despite the hordes of summer tourists. We’ve been traveling there en famille for 18 years now and I will never tire of it. I have many happy memories of long walks to Charles Fort, eating the greatest seafood in Ireland, and wild nights in The White Lady.

We arrived on Sunday afternoon and headed straight for Fishy Fishy Cafe where we ate the nicest Fish (haddock) and Chips, €18.95, I’ve ever had in my life. The light airy batter and homemade tartare sauce made it close to perfection. Fishy Fishy also do a fantastic chowder, €5.95 for a very filling cup. It was a little heavy on the tarragon this visit but I still really enjoyed it. We finished our wine on their terrace watching the funfair across the road, a delightful way to while away the afternoon. It’s not cheap, but it’s a Kinsale institution for a reason and definitely worth a visit.

Croque Madame at The Lemon Leaf

The next morning, nursing hangovers, we were in dire need of a big feed so we made a beeline for The Lemon Leaf Cafe, a new-ish addition to Kinsale’s formidable restaurant line-up but one which stands up well. It’s a really lovely, bright space and I’ve yet to have a negative experience after several visits this summer and last. They only open for breakfast and lunch so make time to get in for the nicest Croque Madame, €7, you’ll get outside of France. I’m a sucker for hot chocolate and they do a great one here, €2.80, with marshmallow and homemade shortbread included.

That evening, still feeling slightly groggy, we nipped down to Stolen Pizza, which I was keen to check out after Kat from The Purple Page mentioned it as one to visit in her guest post here. This was probably our only disappointing meal of the trip. My fellow diners, both pizza aficionados, were none too impressed with the thickness of the base and the blandness of the tomato sauce. That said, while they were not great pizzas, they were still good. They range in price from €9.95 to €14.95, with excellent toppings and are big enough to share.

On our last night we decided to really break the bank and go for a slap-up seafood dinner in Crackpots. It was the best meal I’ve ever had in Kinsale, perhaps Ireland. I won’t bore you to tears with the finer details but if you are ever in Kinsale make this restaurant your priority. There was chowder, giant crab claws, mussels au gratin, rack of lamb, scallops and John Dory, all washed down with a lovely bottle of Chenin Blanc and plenty of sparkling water. Everything we ate was spectacular, the staff were wonderful and there is a great atmosphere. A real pleasure. Our bill came to €135 between three of us.

My lovely sister eating oysters at The Bulman

We woke up on our last day to our first bit of glorious sunshine so we decided to hold off on the drive back and take a walk out to Summercove, a pleasant 30 min stroll along the stunning shoreline. We meandered to The Bulman, a pub famous for its seafood. We snared a coveted al fresco seat so we spent the next couple of hours sunning ourselves and eating more fantastic food. I had half a lobster with salad for €16.50. I was nervous that it would come out and be the size of a prawn, but, no, it was half of a generous sized lobster and was priced reasonably. What the what?! Days later, I’m still reeling. I could have cried with happiness when I took my first bite. My friend had mild seafood fatigue at this point so she ordered a burger and chips, €12.50, and was very happy with it. My sister had 1/2 dozen oysters, €11.50, and a generous bowl of crab claws, €12.50. The Bulman is worth the walk out from Kinsale, though the staff were a little scatty during our visit.

And so we waddled on back to Kinsale and reluctantly hit the M8 back to Dublin, where, surprise surprise, it was grey and raining. I can’t wait to go back!


  1. Oh Rebecca that’s so disappointing I had heard lots of good things about Stolen Pizza. It was on my to eat list along with Paulie’s Pizza and La Cucina such a shame it didn’t live up to the talk.

  2. I have to take issue with your comments on the prices in Kinsale. Kinsale is absolutely cheaper than Dublin for eating out, you even contradict yourself by remarking on how reasonable the lobster was.

    @Kat, you have to try Uncle Petes in Cork too.

  3. Hi Claire, I understand why you took issue but if I didn’t have some sort of caveat there’d likely be someone else saying the meals we had weren’t “cheap eats”. I personally find a lot of the restaurants to be reasonable *because* the food is so great but I think others might find it to be on the expensive side. Either way, if you’re into food you’ll find no better spot! Can’t say enough good about Kinsale.

    Kat, it is a shame about Stolen Pizza but like I said the topping were lovely and it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t great either. I’m dying to check out Paulie’s and some of your other recommendations though!

  4. I think what Rebecca was saying was that it was hard to find a ‘cheap eat’ there, which it is, because there are so many high-end restaurants there. I think she and the girls did a good job seek out excellent and reasonable food, proving it can be done and still can be shared on this website. Well written Rebecca – have you also tried Cucina?

  5. Oh thanks Claire will do and I will still give Stolen Pizza a go next time I am there just so I know myself :). I think, like Rebecca was saying, that while Kinsale may not have the cheapest restaurants in the country the quality of food you get is second to none take Fishy Fishy for example, it’s not a cheap eat but it will probably be one of the most amazing fish meals you will ever have. That was def the case for me anyway and I would recommend Kinsale as a foodie destination to anyone who ever wishes to ask!!

  6. I still disagree that it is “tough to find a cheap eat in Kinsale.” Crackpots has a three course early bird menu every night for €25, as do many of the restaurants in Kinsale. Even Fishy Fish has a cheaper cafe that is open lunchtimes for better value.