Our last Irish farm-to-table experience in Ireland was not spectacular. We were both feeling a little ill, which didn’t help. But, it seemed that the chef was trying too hard, to put too many ingredients and flavors onto one plate. It was like he had something to prove. I was hoping that we wouldn’t have the same experience at the Global Village Restaurant in Dingle.
It was a little warm when we arrived, the sun suddenly surprising us that day, allowing the restaurant to heat up. We were a little tired from the drive out from Limerick, and had already stopped for two pints of Irish craft beer at the Dingle Brewing Company. I was starting to get flashbacks to the aforementioned Irish restaurant experience and became skeptical. After all, most of our meals in Ireland have been meat and potatoes, or potatoes and meat. Throw in an occasional order of fish and chips or a battered sausage, and that’s what Irish cuisine is.
The Global Village Restaurant – One Incredibly Creative Menu
I scanned the very ambitious menu, and wondered, could they execute these dishes?
The thing is, I have never placed the Irish culinary world at the forefront of the international dining scene. I feel that Ireland tends to be a little slow to adapt to many trends, even ones that are firmly established in Continental Europe. It is why Ireland has so much charm – because it’s still possible to find thatched roof houses, and the smell of burning peat, when driving past farms of spray painted sheep, and hearty cows.
But, at the Global Village Restaurant starters included Ox Tongue and Cheek Croquettes, with white onion gel, garden vegetable relish, and rocket salad or Skeaghanore Duck liver parfait, home smoked Duck breast, confit Duck leg rillette, garden greens, and spiced apple chutney. One of the main courses included Paupiettes of Lemon sole with shellfish mousse, cockles, green beens, duck fat potatoes, and tomato and parsley broth. Whoah. That’s a long list of ingredients for one dish, including shellfish mouse and cockles? Does it make sense? Are they doing too much?
The Global Village Restaurant – One Incredibly Local Menu
In addition to creativity, the Global Village Restaurant also prides itself on sourcing locally. The inside cover of the menu listed where many of the restaurant’s ingredients were from, with great detail.
The lobster and crab was from Richard Sheehy in Venty, The fish and prawns were from Dingle Bay and provided by Gary Brosnan. I’ve never seen that much accountability in a menu before, offering the specific name of the person who provides the food item. Their beef and lamb were also sourced locally, using only grass fed animals.
There was even a chalk board near us which listed 30 or more produce items that they sourced from their own garden. The menu also included a disclaimer stating they attempt to use as many locally sourced ingredients as they can, but some items they just can’t source locally, providing polenta and wine as examples. Fair enough.
The question remained: could they deliver?
The Global Village Restaurant Tasting Menu
Despite my skepticism, and feeling a little tired, we decided to go all-in, working from the 5 course tasting menu. And, as much as the regular menu included detailed descriptions of each of the courses, both starters and mains, the tasting menu included six words: scallops, pollock, John Dory, lamb, desserts. The tasting menu items were versions of the dishes on the main menu, with some slight variations.
Each of the five courses on the tasting menu was, as I said, ambitious. The menu laid out multiple ingredients, each of which sounded amazing. Ingredients like slow cooked hen’s egg, cucumber relish, smoked pollock, and ruby chard. Could these ingredients be pulled together seamlessly, while keeping true to the Global Village Restaurant’s promise to source locally?
Our bright red haired, freckle-skinned server delivered each course, explaining each and every ingredient and element on our plates. I tried to catch all of what she shared, but failed miserably at the attempt. It was just too much to capture, and with each additional element, I continued to skeptically wonder “will this work?”
The Crispy Bantry Bay Scallops were served with a potato cake, a slow cooked hen’s egg, cucumber relish, beets, a sashimi carrot, and hollandaise. The presentation was beautiful and artistic, but at first there seemed to be too many elements on the plate.
Until I started to eat each of the elements, dipping them into the hollandaise, or the warm egg yolk, adding a dollop of cucumber relish. It was all fresh, crisp, and had a coherence that I did not expect from a starter plated like this.
Smoked fish is a very traditional food in Ireland, and not one that I’ve had much exposure to. The smoked Pollock was served with rub chard, Dingle Bay Prawns, and a crisp polenta cake. The presentation was almost too pretty to eat, with an edible yellow flower, and a delicately placed langoustine smiling up at us. There was a shot glass filled with some type of fish broth. Again skeptical.
And, again, I was entirely pleased. At first hesitant to dip anything into a multilayered fish broth, I ended practically licked the glass. The smoked pollock was also tender and sweet, but not as smokey or fishy as I anticipated.
The John Dory was nestled under a young leek, and served with a single crab claw, a slice of Castlegregory chorizo, and a small clam. The fish was perfectly cooked, and I was pleased to find the stone crab claw, something we were hoping for as crab is well known in the region.
West Kerry Lamb
This was the only dish we ate where I had a slight issue with the execution. The lamb dish included five preparation of West Kerry lamb. That was an important part, that it was West Kerry lamb, not from the east, not from County Clare across the Shannon River, but West Kerry lamb. The lamb has a particular taste to it because the sheep live on the mountains that separate Dingle from, what seems like, the rest of the world. Because of the effects of being close to the sea, the lamb takes on a somewhat salty taste. This I didn’t mind in the least.
The dish included slow cooked lamb rump, crisp lamb belly, neck fillet, sautéed liver, and a little glass filled with lamb shepherd’s pie. My only issue was that each of the lamb preparations were small, only meant to be a couple of bites. This was certainly not being cheap in anyway. The tasting menu portions are smaller, and I was happy for it. This was our fourth course, and I was having difficulty finishing it anyway. Eric had to finish my shepherd’s pie because I was ready to cry mercy.
I managed to catch a glimpse of the full-sized menu item, which looked absolutely amazing, with a perfectly cooked lamb rump. The smaller portions were perhaps too difficult to cook perfectly. The liver was cooked well, and the rump was nice. I just think it’s hard to cook meat portions that small really well. But, that said, this was the only thing even close to a complaint during the entire meal.
By the time our dessert platter arrived, I was impressed already. Whatever they provided us would be great, and I knew it. I watched as servers delivered a few desserts to other tables, and knew tasty was on the way.
And, as much as I asked our server, twice, to walk through each of the desserts, there were so many, I couldn’t really keep track. Each of them was a bite of amazing. We ate a bit of white fudge, a dark chocolate covered hazelnut nougat, a bit of honeycomb, a vanilla marshmallow, brown bread and bourbon ice cream, and something called a little munchie.
I was stuffed for sure. And, realized we just consumed a remarkable five course menu of traditional Irish dishes, with modern touches, with plates full of locally sourced food. What I loved about the meal as well was the inclusion of non-traditional Irish flavors, without touching on fusion. There was no Asian-inspired this or that, no attempt to make Japanese food with Irish ingredients. Instead, these were modern interpretations of traditional, local Irish ingredients. Keeping that in mind, I though the Global Village Restaurant hit it out of the park.
The Global Village Restaurant Dingle
Chef Martin Bealin’s five course tasting menu at the Global Village Restaurant is 50 Euros per person, not including wine. The main menu includes starters ranging from 5-12 Euros and entrees from 19-32 Euros.
We were hosted by Failte Ireland during our food tour of the Wild Atlantic Way, but all opinions are my own.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new Food and Drink Destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.