A cut above

Posted on: 9th June, 2017

Category: Food & Wine

Contributor: West Cork People

According to Julia Child, the famous American cook, author, and television personality “The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”It’s a statement that Alistair Lanigan-O’Keeffe of The Steakhouse in Kinsale would certainly have no ‘beef’ with! “My idea of a salad is four different types of steak,” he says laughing.

Alistair and Gwen Lanigan-O’Keeffe are living their dream. The couple, who opened The Steakhouse together in 2014, are passionate not only about food but the entire eating out experience. ‘We live upstairs so this is our home,” says Gwen. “The staff, most of whom have been with us from the outset, are like family, we have great fun together and we really do enjoy welcoming people into our sitting room. And we love steak!”Steakhouse Kinsale pic

“We both love entertaining. It can get quite raucous here on a Friday night,” says Alistair laughing. Alistair grew up in the surrounds of his grandfather’s hotel Ballylickey Manor House with a Michelin Star chef cooking him pudding and of course lots of entertaining. “I wouldn’t be the best chef in the world but I learned to appreciate good food and ingredients from a young age,” he says.

Alistair and Gwen met and married while tahey were both working in the industry in Baltimore. The couple, who have a nine-year-old son, spent five years searching before finding the perfect location for their steakhouse.

The 350-year-old building on Lower O’Connell Street in Kinsale was aptly home to a butcher in the late 1800s. Since then stories of Russian mafia, hit men, money laundering and casinos have all lent an air of mystery and intrigue to the character of this great old building. “It was a den of inequity at one time. We love retelling these stories to our customers…they get a great kick out it, especially the Americans,” says Gwen smiling.

“And what better place to open a steakhouse than in Kinsale, a fish town,” says Alistair.

SH2“Most people told us we were mad to be opening a restaurant in a recession but I think that in this industry you reach a point where you either go out on your own or change careers,” says Gwen. The couple chose to heed the advice of a neighbour of Gwen’s family, who opened a successful bakery in the recession of the 80s. ‘He told us that if you open a business in a recession and can keep going, you’ll survive anything.”

And never a truer word was spoken. After opening the restaurant on a shoestring budget, Alistair and Gwen very quickly earned the respect of food critics and locals but one year later the kitchen burned to the ground and their dream was at risk of going up in smoke with it. However failure was not an option and after five months of hard graft and tears, this determined partnership had the 36-seater restaurant up and running and busier than ever.

Although the menu naturally enough is beef-focused, there is also chicken, fish and more than one vegetarian option. “And there’s the wine list for the vegans,” says Alistair joking.

Steaks come in all shapes and sizes, including fillet, striploin, New York strip, ribeye, porterhouse t-bone, the Fred Flintstone and Dexter ribeye. The Fred Flintstone is fearsome piece of meat, a 28oz ribeye on the bone. The Chateaubriand, the whole head of the fillet, is a meal for two, even though one has managed it!

The Steakhouse specialises in Dexter beef, which Alistair describes with passion. “The ‘spider’ marbling inside this meat is unique. The fat disperses throughout the meat, giving it that exquisite nutty flavour it’s known for.”

All of the sauces are created in-house by head chef Robert Platten, with some input from Alistair’s grandfather.

After steak comes pudding and oh what a pudding! The Steakhouse rich and gooey Chocolate Indulgence deserves a mention, as does The After Steak dessert, which combines a choc chip and honeycomb base with minted mascarpone, chocolate ganesh, after eight icecream and chocolate sauce. Banoffee Crème Brûlée and Chocolate and Caramel Fondant are also up there. Julia Child would be in heaven at this table.

Wine is also a passion for Alistair, who has selected a very special 72 labels for The Steakhouse wine list, with 40 available by the glass.

With the help of a fine team of staff, Alistair and Gwen have created an atmospheric and relaxed fine dining experience that makes for a wonderful night out…with great flavour!

The Early Bird menu starts at €20 for two courses.

The Steakhouse, Lower Connell Street, Kinsale is open from 5.30pm, seven days a week. Pre-booking is advisable.Email: thesteakhousekinsale@gmail.com to make a
reservation online or call
021 4709850.
www.thesteakhouse.ie.

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