Familial fare in County Mayo

Flanney's Bistro markets itself well — almost everything about it is enticing: the bright, attractive fascade on Ballinrobe's village square, the hearty menu by the entrance, the charming front bar that greets patrons upon entry, the warm, homely interior.

The décor is casual and inoffesnive –— a light, neutral pallette describes the main dining area and historical photos of the surrounding area decorate the walls. Tables are set in three open, adjoining spaces. The seating is sturdy, upholstered and comfortable.

The staff (two middle-aged Europeans on this visit) extended courtesy in the right measure — sociably yet efficiently and not at all overbearing. In the background, proprietor Regina Houlihan (nee Flannery) mingled with customers as they enjoyed a Friday evening drink before dinner.

The food is delicious, wholesome and locally sourced. Deliveries of fresh fish arrive several times a week from Kilalla, County Mayo; shellfish comes from Co Donegal. John Feerick, a local butcher, cuts and supplies farm-traceable meats. Duck and poultry are also provided by local suppliers, Costello McDermott. The A la carte menu on this weekend visit listed fresh crayfish, prawns, mussels, monkfish, haddock, salmon, hake, duck, chicken, fillet and sirloin of beef, lamb shank. Vegetarian options were available but limited.

From another table we spotted an impressive presentation of fresh prawms topped with a whole crayfish, a seafood cocktail and salad to the side. This proved too tempting to miss. Two spring rolls arrived inch-thick and jam-packed with shredded duck meat, the plate drizzled in Hoi Sin sauce. The main courses were tender sliced chicken breast served on an asparagus and creamy potato base; mouth-watering haddock gratain with vegetables served on the side – absolutely delicious.

Flannery's provides a pleasant environment to enjoy fine food, and a great pride is taken in the business. An insight into Flannery's history and Regina Houlihan's own fondness for the restaurant trade explains this pride. For 20 years Regina Houlihan ran The Vintage bistro in Moydow, Co Longford. After a break of five years from the trade, Flannery's, the pub her family owned for 100 years, was put on sale and rumored to be in the sights of property developer. Regina Houlihan took the opportunity to keep the premises in the family and redevelop it not as townhouses, but as a bistro. She says loves "every minute of it". It shows.

Starters: €8.50 – 9
Mains: €mid-20 range
Salads: approx. €12
Specials: approx. €15

Flannery's Bistro
Ballinrobe, Co Mayo
094 9541724