Last night, a friend took me out for dinner to celebrate the end of my degree. I hadn’t been to a restaurant for ages (work excluded!), and I had been looking forward to do my first mini-review on this blog. Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera with me! Anyway, I decided to go ahead, but there won’t be any photos for you, sorry!

As it wasn’t planned, we decided to go somewhere close, there are only three restaurants, which include a Chinese, in Cloyne. We picked up Harty’s for its choice of fish: gratin of cod, poached monkfish, pan-fried plaice, pan-fried black sole, and raywing. Cloyne being only a few kilometers from the fishing village of Ballycotton, the chances are the fish is fresh!

The restaurant itself is quite big. It is a long and wide room with a few windows on the side. A couch is sitting at the entrance across from the desk and there’s a fire (fake) at the end of the room. The room is quite rural, unfortunately it looks empty. The walls, painted white and dark red, are bare except for a couple of paintings and some mirrors – too many; the room is big enough as it is! There are a few nice pieces of furniture, but there are empty, why not put some books on the shelves for instance? As a result, the room lacks atmosphere and intimacy, it could be much more cosy with only a few changes. And why, oh why, those white table cloths? I hate them, and they seem to be everywhere around here! It seems to be saying: ‘Look! we have table cloths, we are a high standard restaurant’!

Foodwise, it was good, nothing too fancy, and the prices were reasonable-ish. For starter, I had Shanagarry smoked salmon served with a salad (green leaves, tomatoes, and the usual pickle cucumbers, they seem quite popular around here also!) and a chive crème fraiche. I must say, as smoked salmon goes, it was very tasty. For main course, my friend ordered the poached monkfish with a red pepper sauce, and I ordered the pan-fried black sole with a herb butter sauce. We were both a bit disappointed. His sauce was actually the same as mine with a couple of red pepper dice, and my sole was breaded and a tiny bit over-cooked. However, it was still tasty. Both were served with a selection of veg: carrots, broccoli, and mash. I skipped on the dessert, but my friend had a warm apple sponge cake, which was quite nice.

The wine list was extensive enough for a village restaurant, and there was a bit of variety. I only had a glass of the house wine, French, and it was quite decent for a house wine, fresh and crispy.

The restaurant was quiet enough, and there was only one waitress, but she gave us an excellent service. The only major irritation was that we were under the speakers that churned out the same album three times in a row, and it wasn’t the best choice of music for us, it was like a wedding gig rather than restaurant music…

Overall, it was good but not impressive. I would go back because I live close, but wouldn’t go out of my way for it. It wasn’t that cheap that you could say ‘let’s go for some good value grub at Harty’s!’.