Crookhaven in West Cork lies just off the Mizen Head Drive. Wild terrain. Mountains and ocean mix magnificently. The sleepy village is tucked into rocky headland, near Cockle Beach where Emma Jepson remembers picking cockles with her sister when they were kids. And trekking across it as a young teenager with cheeses for her dad, Chris. Chris Jepson was one of the original artisan fish smokers of the area, producing wild smoked salmon here for many years. He taught a very young Fingal Ferguson, now of Gubbeen Smokehouse, the technicalities of smoking cheese. Another star was born.
Emma still lives in Crookhaven, with her husband, Swedish born Freddie Olsen, They have their own young family. The Jepson/Olsen brood are enjoying a similar simple childhood to Emma’s in this beautiful part of the world. Emma and Freddie have been running The Crookhaven Inn for 19 years. Food is Freddie’s passion. His cooking in national service days in Sweden were his introduction. Then spells in several restaurants abroad, where South East Asian influences still resonate in some of his dishes.
The Crookhaven Inn has a cosy interior, fire in the stove, and outdoor seating beside the waterfront. A perfect platform for Freddie’s food made from local produce. Bantry Bay fish, Barley Cove beef and mountain lamb from the butcher in nearby Goleen, Skeaghanore Duck from Ballydehob, Durrus cheese, Gubbeen chorizos, smoked hams and bacon lardons are just some of the ingredients he works with. Freddie’s own home cured Gravlax is made to a traditional Swedish recipe. Chris Jepson’s smoked salmon is no longer. Replaced by Burren Smokehouse fish, which Emma says comes closest in taste and textures to her father’s. Lunch is a concise list of well priced offerings. Soups, sandwiches and mains, with blackboard specials daily. Dinner is more sophisticated, but still with prices to suit all pockets. Emma and Freddie are well aware of today’s budget constraints when eating out. This is a place you’ll want to visit regularly when you are in the area – a place time seems to have forgotten. The clock stands still and idyllic surroundings make their mark. As does the pure and simple cooking reflecting it’s origins and the traditional seaside village pub atmosphere which prevails. (Open from Easter to late November)