To wild Ballycotton, for an early bird deal that’s almost too good to share
Imagine if you could run away.
Just for a night. Before things get truly hectic; before you’re elbow deep in sausage stuffing… before the extended family arrives on your doorstep for Christmas… imagine if you could escape, just the two of you.
There’s just something so appealing about running off to the seaside for a sneaky getaway, walking on a frosty beach, sipping wine by a roaring fire in a quiet, cosy pub.
The kind of romantic B&B they escape to in the movies, perched on the rugged edge of Ballycotton, Pier 26 is the last stop before the road gives way to the wild grey Atlantic. Oh and it’s got another trick up its sleeve too; an early bird menu that visitors are raving about.
In short, the food is superb. So good we’d rather keep it a secret. So good it’s a spot we’d recommend for a final blowout meal of 2019, a last goodbye to the twenty-teens before we usher in a new decade.
Using the best of local produce from the lush land and the surrounding sea, head chef Dan Guerin has created a rich and decadent winter menu to rival any trending Irish restaurant (for a fraction of the price if you book between 5pm and 7pm).
The best of Ballycotton
To start there’s a delicate dill cured salmon served with beetroot, apple, walnut and organic yogurt.
Take it from us; heaven is a crispy free range East Ferry Farm egg served with smoked haddock, or the pressed ham hock, artfully festooned with tarragon mayo, pickled mushrooms and caramelised walnuts.
This is not a place for the small-of-appetite, by the way.
It’s meaty in a ‘more is more’ kind of way. The crispy pork belly is served with a festive apple and red wine chutney and elderberry jus, the glazed beef cheek comes atop a shallot pureé with lentils and roast carrot.
The ingredients speak for themselves. John Kennefick’s Ballycotton potatoes are whipped into a buttery mash that our table of carbohydrate addicts could happily have ordered as a main course.
Everything is considered; each piece of sustainably caught fish delivered by the fishermen whose trawlers you can see bobbing in the harbour outside; the warm sourdough, baked in-house by Dan each evening; the organic salad leaves, freshly plucked in nearby Leamlara.
The best bit? The early bird menu at Pier 26 is €28 for two courses, €33 for three. Naturally, we recommend the latter.
Collect your room key at the bar (tip; ask if Room 1 is available and watch the waves crash on the rocks below Ballycotton Lighthouse from your bed, pictured below), deposit your weekend bag and head off on a brisk cliff walk for uninterrupted sea views.
After dinner (the early bird is perfectly timed to squeeze in a post-dessert nap too) grab a candlelit table in the cosy bar for a nightcap or stroll through the silent, moonlit village for a pint in The Blackbird or The Schooner.
The next morning, head down to the working pier for freezing lungfuls of fresh salty air before breakfast; creamy scrambled eggs on crisp sourdough toast, golden sausages, pudding, rashers and litres of milky tea or Golden Bean coffee from Ballymaloe.
Just 40 minutes from Cork City, you can be back at home and prepping a turkey for the oven before anyone noticed you were missing.
The Pier 26 Early Bird Menu is available from 5pm-7pm, Monday through to Sunday and rooms are available at €95 for a double. If you live in the surrounding countryside, they even offer a courtesy car to bring you home. Just let them know when you book your table on 021 464 6768 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.