Solas is shining brightly in delightful Dingle

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Solas has risen out of the box to shine a light in Ireland’s food culture: this Dingle newbie is one of the few Irish restaurant that gets small plates food service exactly right.

The key element of what they get right is the simple excellence of the plates because the Solas food offer is red-hot-good: the prawns with chickpeas; the stunning chowder croquette; pork belly with an apple and lime tartare that is worth the trip to Dingle all on its own.

But Anne and Nicky also get another key element of small plates right: the food arrives in a congregation of plates, pretty much all at the same time, after you have begun dinner with excellent Bacus breads and wowee! good olives. Small plates are all about sharing, and you need a congregation of tastes and textures, rather than a procession of flavours. Timing, and tastes, all work together in Solas, and the impact is simply stunning: everyone wants to be in this room.

Nicky’s cooking pays due respect to the Spanish foundations of the small plates – octopus; chorizo and manchego; beetroot with sherry and orange; monkfish with romesco – but it’s his swerves with the traditions that yield the true gold: a toffee parsnip purée with pork; that magnificent seafood chowder croquette; Dingle gin marinated fennel with tomato and ricotta. It’s enlightening also to see how well local foods integrate into the concept of these plates: Bacus breads; West Kerry striploin; Maharees potatoes and beetroot; local greens.

The room itself is simple, energised, and Ann and her crew have that Dingle work ethic that makes your heart sing. Excellent wines; excellent value, and don’t even think of going to Other Voices in December without having your table booked.