This is one of my favourite restaurants in the world and I absolutely love dining here. I know it has some flaws and foibles but the food is always excellent. From the outside it doesn’t look like much as it is composed of a series of small buildings, sheds and a lean-to. But do not let this put you off because, if you like fish, you will love the food here. The restaurant serves fish only (and no! I don’t mean that you have to be a fish!). Committed carnivores might prefer to dine elsewhere.
We dined there recently and I was fortunate to be sitting in the one seat where you can really see what was happening in the kitchen. I can tell you that the chef, Jean Marie Vaireaux, was so relaxed and comfortable with his work that one wonders why we have an image of chefs being pressured and stressed.
The menu is written up daily on a blackboard and depends on what fish has been landed locally. It is an awkward method of doing things. The waitress has to drag a vacant chair to your table and then prop up the blackboard which measures about two feet by three feet. On our latest visit here the menu board was almost behind my back and I had to perform contortions in order to read it. I settled on a starter of squid with chilli and ginger followed by scallops flambéed in Calvados with beurre blanc. Mr W chose the seafood chowder and a duo of sea bass and john dory. The meals at OOTB (as it is often called) are served with a selection of salads/vegetables and potatoes on the plate so there are no hidden extra charges.
The waitress brought us some bread and a bottle of water and we didn’t have long to wait for our starters. My squid was lightly breaded and fried, sprinkled with very finely chopped ginger and chillis and came with a dressed side salad and a minted cucumber raita. It was a generous portion, there was probably twenty or more squid rings and they were extremely tender. This was probably the best starter I’ve had in a long time. Full marks all round! The flavour was so wonderful that I declined to taste the chowder because I didn’t want to compromise my squid experience.
My scallop dish arrived, apologies for not having photographed it, and it was laid out tastefully (pardon the pun) on the plate. Scallops around the edge alternated with servings of grated carrots, lentil salad, grated celeriac and red cabbage. Oddly (Oh my! I am on a roll with the puns) there were five scallops but only four side dishes – so, aesthetically, it was unbalanced. In the centre of the plate there was a leafy salad with a lovely light dressing. Most of the scallops came with the coral attached. They were cooked perfectly.
I usually don’t eat desserts but I succumbed when I saw that Iles Flottantes were being offered. This is a delightful dessert composed of poached meringue floating on a bed of creme anglaise. It is a lovely dish with which to end a meal as it is so light. In this instance the dessert was chilled but it can also be served warm. The custard was a perfect consistency and the ‘islands’ were delightfully light. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Himself ordered Dutch apple tart (or was it pie?) which I didn’t taste but I am told it was very good.
The bill, with wine, came to €111.50. Out Of The Blue is not cheap but the food is absolutely wonderful. I am delighted to see that they have been awarded the title of Best Restaurant in Kerry (2011) by the Restaurant Association of Ireland.