Ireland is a country of many quirks, from its mystical landmarks to its lively pubs. But while it is a place of wonder, food isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when planning out a visit. This sentiment doesn’t mean, however, that it doesn’t carry any culinary gems – the country itself is home to 11 Michelin-starred restaurants and 26 Bib Gourmand titlists.
Rarely, however, does a pub get into this list – that is, until now. For 2018, the Wild Honey Inn makes its Michelin star debut after holding the Bib Gourmand for around nine years. This recognition makes it the first Irish pub to win the prestigious award, and for the right reasons – bringing in a combination of good food, a comfy atmosphere, and some of the best views of County Clare. We take a look at what makes the Wild Honey Inn deserving of that accolade:
In between homey and gourmet
One of Wild Honey Inn’s more outstanding feats is finding the midpoint between the familiar and high-brow with its cuisine. Much of this is thanks to Chef Aidan McGrath, who co-owns and operates the place with partner Kate Sweeney. Having been awarded Chef of the Year 2012 by the Ireland Guide, Chef Aidan is no stranger to five-star cuisine. Having worked in/ L’Escargot and The Dorchester in London, Chef Aidan brings in the same rigorous discipline and dedication to the kitchen while maintaining a sense of the usual heartiness in the cuisine.
The Wild Honey Inn’s menu makes use of the county’s bounteous produce, whether it’s the best harvest from the Burren National Park or the choicest catch from the nearby Clare Island. A good portion of the offerings are organic, and as some of the ingredients are seasonal, the dishes offered change from time to time. Nonetheless, they are still served with the same precision and exquisite plating, bringing together a mix of elegance and rustic charm. While the inn no longer serves a la carte, check their set menus for the terrine and the available risotto to get a glimpse into what it has to offer.
Quaint and comfortable
Aside from Chef Aidan’s creations, part of what makes the Wild Honey Inn tick is its atmosphere. The makings of an Irish pub, after all, often require a particular mixture of comfort, joy, and warmth. And the inn provides a right amount of each, but with an added spaciousness afforded by its location.
If Chef Aidan helms the kitchen, it is Kate who oversees the front-of-house hospitality; ensuring that the pieces fall together. The pub itself is located at the Kincora House in Lisdoonvarna, County Clare, a building whose history dates all the way back to 1860. It continued to serve as an inn up until its refurbishing in 2009 when Aidan and Kate revamped the whole area. The interiors are primarily inspired by the beauty of the Burren, blending in quite well with the establishment’s countryside in aesthetic. So despite its roominess, the space doesn’t appear overly structured or too clinical; instead, it captures the same warm informality of a bistro in a way that complements the dishes.
Notable facets of the inn include the fireplace – fully functional and open – as well as the conservatory, which offers an ample amount of sunlight and enough of an allowance to see the rest of Lisdoonvarna.
A view to die for
But of course, beyond the interiors and food, one of the Wild Honey Inn’s most significant selling points is its location. It’s one the inn utilizes wholeheartedly, with almost all aspects of the inn integrate the Burren in its design or creation, whether it’s a particular dish or a design decision. And with the area’s brand of charm and beauty, it’s not hard to see why.
With swells of green, rocky pastures and elegantly craggy cliffs, the Burren provides an alternative landscape that is at once stunning and tranquil. As a UNESCO Geopark, it hosts a variety of historical rock formations which date back to the Carboniferous age as well as a bounty of local produce. That said, it provides many an opportunity for guests and visitors to revel in its beauty and to explore what it has to offer. And with the Wild Honey Inn’s loving tribute to it within its existence, guests can do that in the comfort of their lodging.
Grab a bite and head to the Wild Honey Inn now
If you’re looking to experience all the comforts of country cooking with a side of Guinness and a great meal, Wild Honey Inn seems like the perfect spot for you. And with Jettly, you can head there with none of the hassles. Submit a flight request now.