I cringe when I think that visitors to my country have to experience what Cable O'Learys in Ballinskelligs DON'T have to offer. This place couldn't be further from the Irish welcome that should be expected in any irish food and drink establishment. Unfortunately in Ballinskelligs there are not many pubs and restaurants and therefore Cable O'Learys would seem to have a monopoly on food and drink in the immediate area. Someone needs to kick them up the a$$ and here is mine:
Location: The location couldn't be nicer and the rear of the pub faces Ballinskelligs harbour and the views are beautiful
The building itself is a large 'super pub' type place with a very uninviting and ugly car park to the front.
Inside is once again 'super pub' decor with horrible standard dark pub grub tables most of which are not cleaned properly, and finished plates left on the table for an inordinate amount of time. The overall sense when you walk in is that the place is 'sticky' and shabby.
For the whole time I was there I felt completey unwelcome, unwanted and just plain like I was an inconvenience to the sullen poe faced staff.
I and two others ate there twice recently. After the first time, I gave the place the benefit of the doubt, after the second time, I vowed I would never go back. There is a chipper van across the road, next time, I'll be going there. On both occasions the pub was not overly busy with diners. (Now, I know why)
On the two occasions we were there, one of the gormless waiters brought my daughter the incorrect dish.The fist time she said nothing, the second time she ate it, but we complained and did not have to pay for it. We could have asked for the correct dish to be brought, but that would have meant that we were half way through our "meal" when she was only starting hers.
The other (Mostly female) staff are grumpy and sullen too. There is a manager there with a face on him like someone had just murdered his mother. He is possibly the reason why the staff are so terrible. It also appeared to me that apart from their attitude, the staff have never been given even a basic course in waiting tables.
I guess the training session goes like this "Here's your apron, now go and see how many customers you can really pi$$ off, so that they will never come back again - good man"
The first time we ate there, I left a tip. I have no idea why, I still regret ti and wish I hadn't. It was thoroughly undeserved and yes, I am an idiot for giving it. I want my tip back
Now to the food. The menu is failry imited. 4 starters, 2 sandwiches (the toasted special €7.95 - who are they kidding? This is Ballinskelligs, not 5th Avenue), 3 chicken dishes, one pasta dish 3 steak dishes, and a selection of desserts. There is also a specials board. Yes the same one that my daughter ordered her meal from and has yet to get to taste it.
I and my wife had the Beer Battered fish of the day with tartare sauce. The batter was greasy, and the teaspoon of tartare sauce which accompanied was from a jar and not half enough for me. If you asked me if the fish was fresh local or 'Donegal Catch', I really wouldn't be able to say for sure. The chips however were good (imagine that!). Maybe they bought them from the chip van across the road. It was also accompanied with a mediocre glump of salad.
My unfortunate daughter had Tomatoe Penne Pasta. If I had a cat at home, s/he would make a better attempt at this simple dish. At Cable O'Learys, they serve it with Laziness on the side. She left half of the dish after her, and pasta is one of her favourite foods. Says a lot, doesn't it?
We didn't dare have desserts, for two reasons (a) it is doubtful that they would have been any good at all (b) I was certainly not going to increase Mr O'Learys profit margin by one more of my hard earned cents.
On the first occasion, when I went to pay by debit card, the grumpy manager said to me "the machine isn't working". No excuse, no apology for this inconvenience. Stupidly I jumped through hoops to gather the cash from my wife and daughter and even more stupidly - I left a tip. I still can't believe I did that.
I admit on the second occasion the gormless waiter who had twice brought us the incorrect dishe did apologise for his mistake, but I'm sorry, I just wasn't impressed. It was too late and he was far too unfriendly to forgive.
In summary Cable O'Learys is less than mediocre, the staff are sullen, bordering on hostile, and the food is overpriced and really not that good for what is offered.
I adore County Kerry, I loved my time in Ballinskelligs, but Cable O'Learys is a disgrace on so many levels - shame on it's owners, who obviously are not acquainted with the words hospitality or service (among others).
Save yourself a lot of grief, drive right by Cable O'Learys and keep going to Portmagee(another 30 minutes) where there is a fine pub and restaurant.
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