Whenever I hear of restaurant openings, my ears are set to high alert and I get excited – the prospect of good food does that to me.
One of these openings was Heather at Moriarty’s in Gap of Dunloe. I have to admit, I don’t venture out much into Kerry (a big mistake, I know) so I was intrigued to see what Heather is all about and thanks to their PR company, Fuzion, I received an invite to the opening (big thank you for that).
Heather is located on the road that leads to the Gap and with a great advantage, it is one of the first premises you will see when you drive up the road. The building itself smooths in nicely with the rugged surrounds of the Kerry countryside. Tim Austen of RTE’s Super Garden (previous) has designed the gardens and considering that it has only been finished recently, you can already see how he took the local flora and incorporated it to create an interactive gardens that will invite bees, butterflies and other wildlife to the area.
Staying with growing, 2 large poly tunnels provide a wide array of salads, herbs and vegetables. Across the grounds 130 fruit bushes have been planted – it doesn’t get fresher than that.
Michael & Margaret Moriarty established the souvenir shop in 1964 and have quickly gained a reputation for high quality. Son Denis and his wife Ailish are running the business now and Denis told us in his opening speech how his father used to collect local heather, bound it into nice bunches and sold it to passing tourists. An entrepreneur after my liking – so the name of the restaurant is in honour of Michael who passed away. Mother Margaret is still involved in the business and you could see how proud she was of Denis who has visions for the future.
Restaurant manager Jennifer Dowling is working hard to transform this vision into reality and is very open when asked about ethos of the restaurant etc. The food is sourced within a 25km area if not grown on the premises. The Moriarties are working closely with local producers who were invited to meet future customers and talk about their products and I had the great pleasure of meeting the amazing Peter Ireson of Knocknatee Cheese. His cheddar and blue cheese were simply outstanding – high quality cheese that will be in my top 10 cheese list. Peter himself is a character who you simply have to like.
The restaurant will be open 7 days a week until 7pm but private parties can be booked. The menu highlights local produce and the ethos is, let the food and its quality speak for itself. Mains include Ring of Kerry Lamb Chops with Braised Lentils, Buttered Bay Carrots and Sage Jus, Glenbeigh Cockles and Mussels cooked in White Wine, Garlic and Chill. Brunch is served Saturday and Sundays from 11am.