The Heron Gallery, West Cork

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Sally McKenna finds a sanctuary of beauty and beautiful food in deepest West Cork.

The Heron Gallery Cafe is one of those places that give West Cork its quirky gourmet reputation. The cafe is part of a shop and gallery curated and owned by artist Annabel Langrish and her husband Klaus. You have to go way west, past Ahakista, and up a hillside road to find it. It’s a culinary destination where the journey itself is full of fun, through characterful West Cork villages, only a breath away from the sea and Dunmanus Bay.

The garden at the back of the cafe - don’t miss! - makes reference to its seaside location, as does a lot of Annabel’s art, especially her “Big Fish”, made from beach-combed ingredients.

Then there’s the cooking, the point at which many a tourism destination stumbles. Here, it’s wholesome and fresh, and a lot of ingredients come from the garden. The menu serves pasties, bean burgers, fishcakes, and falafels, all embellished with their homegrown salads. There’s a super range of desserts - rhubarb compote, sticky toffee pudding, brown sugar meringues with summer berries.

And everywhere your eye falls in the restaurant, from the colourful plates of food, to the tables, the flowers, the paintings and the seaside garden, you will find beauty and sanctuary, a basilica of good taste and wholesomeness. It lifts your heart to journey here.