Imaginatively converting an old pub, forge and cow byre – and focusing on freshness, flavour and simplicity in the kitchen – put Dublin publican Trevor O’Shea’s latest venture firmly on the map from the get-go.
“While it may be very simple, there’s a strong Ballymaloe-influenced kitchen team in place and the mainly local and seasonal food that they offer is oh-so-delicious,” according to the Guide, “With a few indoor seats in the old bar and more in the courtyard and at waterside tables beside the Inagh River, it’s a delightful place to relax and enjoy this tasty fare – and to relish the drink, of course, which has an equal emphasis on local (or at least Irish) provenance.
“But, charming as that is, there’s even more to Pot Duggans than an old world pub and beer garden – the converted outbuildings also make it a wonderfully atmospheric venue for private parties and events including live music of course and also a regular craft fair and a Wine & Cheese festival among others. Another great pub for County Clare.”
Other winners on the day included The Strawberry Tree at BrookLodge & Macreddin Village in County Wicklow which won the Best Restaurant award.
Representatives of the very best in Irish hospitality had gathered at Bord Bia in Dublin for the announcement of the Awards, the annual celebration of excellence associated with the Georgina Campbell’s Ireland independent hospitality guides and Ireland’s independent hospitality and travel website www.ireland-guide.com. These are Ireland’s longest-running independent food and hospitality awards and highly respected by the industry.
Anonymous assessments undertaken by Georgina Campbell and her team of experienced assessors are the foundation of these awards and have been since the early 1990s when Georgina established them for the famously independent Egon Ronay Guides for whom she was Ireland Editor at the time. Following its closure in 1997, she continued the Ireland Guide under her own name and this year marks its 20th anniversary under the Georgina Campbell brand.
“Whatever the age or type of business, what we have always looked for is not perfection but real food and hospitality with real heart and we’re finding it more and more in clusters of excellence all over the country,” stated Georgina in commenting on the lead-up to the Awards.
“We’ve had some especially good experiences in areas where communities co-operate to promote quality and bring different elements of hospitality together,” she said.
“The European Region of Gastronomy 2018 designation for Galway-West of Ireland was a huge achievement for Galway and the region and we have a special three-in-one Spirit of the European Region of Gastronomy Award this year to illustrate the value of different types of business working together.
“Regional destinations – notably the Wild Atlantic Way and increasingly Ireland’s Ancient East – are seeing the benefits of energetic marketing and hopefully the new Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands brand will do the same for the undervalued midlands and waterways areas where many businesses are struggling. Islands are hot destinations again as stressed-out city folk seek peace and simplicity and accessible activities for all ages on Greenways and Blueways – notably the very successful new Waterford Greenway between Dungarvan and Waterford city – are introducing visitors to less visited areas.”
She also commented on the huge popularity of casual dining in all its variety.
“As we have often said, there are times when something special is needed and our best classically-trained chefs are well able to deliver superb contemporary ‘fine dining without the fuss’ – increasingly (and excitingly), this is morphing into a refined gastro-pub experience.
“The biggest trend continues to be in drinks, however, and – while welcome – with new craft breweries and independent distilleries still continuing to open on an almost weekly basis, it is time to take stock,” she warned.