Dingle is a small fishing village located on the Dingle Peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean in County Kerry. With its seaside setting, fishing is at the heart of local cuisine – a bonus for some but a hurdle for others.
With little choice for those with vegan or vegetarian diets in the Dingle district, eating out can be a subtle challenge. Or, that was until Solas Tapas opened.
Set in the heart of Dingle town, Solas may have been considered to be a curious addition to the some 35 local pubs of the district, with its exotic local-inspired Spanish-Portuguese tapas menu. Yet with its burning creativity and gourmet level cuisine, Solas has firmly established itself as the leading restaurant in Dingle.
Solas was founded and is directed by head chef Nicky Foley, who is intrinsically involved in every aspect of the restaurant, offering a unique connection between customers, chef, food and experience, seldom seen in restaurants today.
A long, narrow restaurant with warm wooden panelling, exposed brick and candlelight offers a Mediterranean dining experience in the heart of Dingle.
Minimal décor and raw wood furnishings allow for accent elements, such as Dingle Crystal water glasses and candle holders, to pop.
High seating and standard table seating offer alternative styles of dining depending on group size and the occasion.
The crowd consists of locals and travellers, couples and groups of friends catching up, providing a wholly unpretentious, all-inclusive environment.
A concise but varied menu of Spanish-Portuguese tapas is presented at Solas. The offering is as weighty in terms of fish and meat dishes as it is for vegetarians and vegans.
Nearly all of the ingredients are sourced locally, using community-based suppliers and vendors. Original dishes that nod to Dingle’s seaside charm – such as the wild Atlantic seaweed and mushroom croquettes – do not go amiss and pay homage to the community’s unique identity.
An extensive wine menu compliments creative dishes all designed and made in-house by the Nicky Foley and the Solas team.
What We Had
Upon arrival, we were greeted with homemade houmous served alongside freshly baked sourdough bread and green olives imported from a small Spanish supplier.
The beauty of tapas is that menus are not broken into starters, mains and desserts; instead, dishes are share-style and smaller in portion-size, allowing guests to order multiple plates and try more of the offering.
To start, we had the wild Atlantic seaweed and mushroom croquettes. Next, we ordered a selection of dishes for the table including the sautéed maharees potatoes, wild mushrooms, chilli and garlic, the braised chickpeas, spinach and Moroccan spices, the Dingle gin-marinated fennel, tomato, almond and ricotta, chorizo sausages, red wine and onion ketchup and the fried hake filet with crumbled jamon.
For drinks, we ordered a bottle of the Códice aged Tempranillo for a very affordable price of €27.50.
How Was It
Houmous: without question, this is one of the finest homemade dips we have experienced in any restaurant. The chickpeas were cooked and blended to perfection with fragrant spices and rich extra virgin olive drizzled on top. Freshly baked sourdough accompanied this.
Olives: the olives deserve a commendation alone; falling away from the stone, succulent and bursting with flavour, these Spanish-imported olives are a reason in itself to visit Dingle.
Croquettes: a crispy, fried outer layer combined with an aromatic wild mushroom and Atlantic Ocean seaweed centre, foraged locally, provides the ultimate textural delight.
Potato and Mushroom: fluffy, cooked-to-perfected potatoes accompany whole king oyster mushrooms with hints of chilli and garlic to bring this dish together.
Chickpeas: presented in a copper pot, this dish was a showstopper. With aromas of the Mediterranean resonating throughout, the dish can simply be considered rich but light, herby and aromatic.
Fennel: a perfect accompaniment to any dish on the menu. Light, fragrant and summery with a soothing blend of Dingle-gin marinated fennel alongside smooth local ricotta and sliced almonds.
Chorizo: crispy on the outside, melt on your mouth within. Served alongside a rich red wine and onion ketchup.
Hake: the potential winner. The hake offered fall apart in your mouth and cooked to perfection qualities, served on a bed of Romesco roasted pepper sauce.
Overall, Solas tapas would not be considered cheap, but it is affordable and very competitive in comparison to other local restaurants. Solas offers creative, locally produced dishes to gourmet standards, and with that in mind, Solas is fairly priced.
Without any hesitation, it is safe to say the service was to perfection. Solas consists of a small team who work together with passion and vision, and this is what made this dining experience so unique and memorable.
Overall, dining at Solas was a five-star experience. Attention to detail runs in the veins of this restaurant, whether that be down to its suppliers, menu, serving style or service.
Address: Unit 1, Strand St, Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Phone: +353 (066) 915 0766