There are 2 restaurants at Castlemartyr Resort – the fine dining restaurant, The Bell Tower and a casual Italian eatery, Franchini’s. During our stay at Castlemartyr, we dined at Franchini’s twice and The Bell Tower on one occasion.
Starting with fine dining, The Bell Tower is located in the old Manor House part of the hotel. The room is formal and elegant, and overlooks the gardens of the resort. It is the same room as breakfast is served in and has a serene ambience, it feels like a nice place to stay a while and enjoy good food and wine.
The menu has a number of choices for both starters and mains with about 8 in each. To start I chose the tuna (€13.95) and followed this with chicken (€21.95). While he began with scallops (€14.95) and steak (€29.95) for main course.
The starters were really excellent, the tuna nicoise, a modern take on a traditional dish, with quail egg and green beans. Perfectly rare tuna atop crunchy green beans, with all the focus of the plate on the tuna, as it should be. Three large pan fried scallops served with a salt cod mousse and courgette and almond butter. It was very hard to fault either of these plates of food, a great start to our dining experience at The Bell Tower.
For main courses, my roast chicken with a slow cooked wing, potato gnocchi and a truffle jus was wonderful, balanced and flavoursome. His dish of filet of beef, spinach and garlic puree, slow cooked turnip, beef cheek beignet, red wine jus equally good and cooked exactly as ordered.
While very good, neither of the main courses were particularly special, nice ingredients, good cooking, well presented. We enjoyed everything we ate here including the cheese plate for dessert!
The food menu is clearly good, variety, good quality ingredients, mostly based on Irish cuisine with twists and touches of others. The wine menu is another matter entirely, probably the most extortionately priced wine list I’ve seen in a long time. I was shocked when I read through it.
Lets start with sparkling, a bottle of Prosecco – €61 (yes Prosecco not Champagne!). There’s a selection of 5 house whites and 5 house reds, ranging from €32.50 – €39. The house wines are way over priced for what they are, they appear on other menus in the early – mid 20 price range. There’s a 2011 Paper Road Pinot Noir from New Zealand, priced at €68. This is a popular wine in restaurants in Dublin but generally priced around €40-€45. There’s a 2012 Fleurie priced at €51 that appears on other menus at €36… you get the idea. I don’t mind paying a bit more for the setting or the restaurant I’m in but I resent paying this level of over pricing. And it took the shine off what is a lovely restaurant setting serving great food.
Franchini’s is located in the modern part of the hotel, coming from reception, past the spa and pool before you get to the guestrooms. Entering through double glass rooms, the space is ornate but comfortable, purple colours and dark woods. There’s a lovely terrace area and I can imagine in the Summer this is very popular. The menu at Franchini’s is Italian, antipasti, bruschetta, pasta, pizza… traditional in a lot of ways but nice choices at reasonably prices.
We decided to share the Franchini’s Sharing Platter (€14.95) to start and follow this with Franchinis Foot Long Sharing Pizza (€24.95) which comes with 2 sides also.
The starter was excellent, a board piled high with tasty things – the risotto balls were to die for! The endive salad with poached pears made a nice contract to this and the rest of the board – prosciutto and salamis and warm bread.
The foot long pizza though is wow! A great base, lots of toppings (we had ham and mushrooms), perfect sharing size and the 2 sides – we chose the Potato wedges, truffle oil mayonnaise & parmesan and Rocket & parmesan salad, 18 month old balsamic dressing.
With all of this lovely Italian food, we had a couple of glasses of Pinot Grigio (€6.75 a glass) and a bottle of Barbera D’Asti (€27.50). The wine list is far more reasonable here in Franchini’s that elsewhere in the hotel!
It is nice having a choice of dining style when in a hotel, you can go fancy with The Bell Tower or casual with Franchini’s. We enjoyed our experience at both. The wine in The Bell Tower was the real sticking point and would influence the decision for us to go back there despite the food and setting which we liked.
Castlemartyr Resort | Castlemartyr, Co. Cork, Ireland | Tel. +353 21 421 9000 | firstname.lastname@example.org