When it comes to providing good food, great service and highlighting local produce Richy Virahsawmy means business. At Richy's Restaurant and R Cafe, the Clonakilty based premises where he plies his trade in the name of culinary genius, it's all about local. And why not? Clonakilty is at the heart of West Cork gourmet heritage. It's fitting this Mauritian Londoner, who has made his home here, should focus on the foods of the region, in an establishment located in the epicentre of artisan Ireland.
Richy, an experienced chef who learned to cook in his mum's kitchen was originally recruited to these shores to work for a brand new hotel on the West Cork coast. But the offer of a position as Head Chef with the British Department of Trade and Industry lured him back to the English capital some while later. West Cork remained firmly on his mind though, so when the opportunity to return and open his own place presented itself, he jumped in with both feet. Since opening in 2002, he and his team have created a lively, vibrant bistro style restaurant and cafe, with a menu based solely on seasonality, availability and locality.
Suppliers are proudly named on the menu, along with a glossary explaining various terms and references used throughout, and a list of seasonal fruits and vegetables in current use in the kitchen. Eating here is about arousing the palate and broadening the mind - in equal measure. During the day, local residents and workers in Clonakilty are happy to gather in R Cafe, a bright and cheerful spot adjoining the main restaurant. Scones and baking fresh from the oven are served each morning with a variety of other breakfast dishes. At lunch, attention to detail and local produce offering is evident on a well priced menu which includes main courses, sandwiches and wraps.
Richy's mother's recipe for Mauritian Beef Curry is a longstanding favourite dish at Richy's - featured since the premises opened in 2002. Regulars would complain seriously if it were to be removed from the menu! Local beef in his blend of spices, served with basmati rice and poppadom is now somewhat of a house speciality. Cafe menu also includes a section for your 'Little People'. Thoughtfully put together to include all their favourites made fresh in house each day. A considerate note on the menu offers diners the opportunity to charge up mobile phones while enjoying a bite to eat.
The evening restaurant at Richy's is an intimate space - a mix of dark wood tables, modern artwork, banquette seating. All menus are seasonal, with daily specials. Its not many restaurants can boast the choice of a bowl of mussels, gathered that very day from the Atlantic waters of nearby Bantry Bay. Fresh means fresh here. Culinary magic weaving itself around you like a well executed Harry Potter spell. You can see the chefs at work through a small opening to the side of the main dining room. Watch Richy and his team creating your food as you wait in anticipation!
All desserts are made in house - even the biscotti you will get with your coffee comes out of the kitchen here. A fine display of house baking on the counter in the cafe is enough to tempt even the most diet conscious of us. Wine lists also change seasonally, chosen to match the style and 'weight' of dishes as the year unfolds in produce and climate terms.
A nod tipped to all aspects of seasonality at this charming restaurant and cafe, whose owner is firmly committed to the produce of his local area.