I was going to keep it a secret. I wasn’t going to tell a soul! You see, this little gem is one of my favourites in West Cork and I don’t want to have to share it with anyone. However, there is something so utterly ‘Hygge‘ about this spot, I just need people to experience it for themselves as no words could do it justice. Monk’s Lane is a small bar in the middle of Timoleague village. It has the finest selection of gins and tonic waters, wines and special brew beers that you could find in a quaint West Cork village.This menu hits all the high notes, from Sunday dinner roast beef with all the trimmings to crab claws. It also features goats cheese, fish and vegetarian dishes to cover all tastes.
There are 4 main areas to this venue. Each area creates a different vibe. This makes each visit something interesting and new depending on where you choose to sit. I should also add that whether you are eating or not, the bar and its high stools offer a comfortable area for sampling the many different speciality gins that feature on the menu.
Main Dining Area
The back section of the venue in bright and airy and is filled with benches covered in cushions and heavy wooden tables. This is the perfect area for Sunday lunches or mid week early dinners during the summer. The low lighting in the evenings makes it a comfortable venue for a warm, cosy dinner.
There is a beautiful sheltered area out the back with benches and tables, surrounded by baskets of flowers, candles and fairy lights. During the summer, this area is simply magical and the kids will find something of wonder in every nook and cranny.
There is a separate room across the courtyard with a private bar. This is what makes the venue perfect for small, intimate gatherings and perhaps the odd surprise party.
The Front Bar
The front bar is just delicious. It has a cosy snug on the right as you walk in the front door – perfect for avoiding the paparazzi (I, of course, use it all the time ).This is where the bar is located and it is the perfect spot for a cold wet evening in the middle of winter with a book and a glass of red wine. Realistically, you will only ever discover this delight if you get a babysitter! Quiet winter nights and glasses of red wine rarely go hand in hand with a bout of the 7 O’Clock ‘mads’**.
Feeding kids. That phrase deserves a sentence all of its own. What can I say – You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make it drink? My crew are generally good, but there are times when even the water tastes wrong to them. That being said, they have never turned down a meal in Monk’s Lane. Sunday dinners are an automatic ‘Yes’ without even knowing what is on the menu. The kid’s menu covers all angles for fussy eaters, but realistically, anything on the main menu can be made to suit the kids.
My crew just love steak and I usually just order one steak between two with an extra portion of chips or potato. The steak is always cooked to perfection and there is never a scrap left on the plate. I should also mention that the chips here are particularly good.
For the Grown Ups
For the grown ups, the selection is so varied, it nearly makes it difficult to choose. The food seems almost casual with burgers or vegetarian burgers in pitta on the menu. However, the tastes are anything but casual. The burger is a speciality ‘Wagyu’ beef (there is also a standard option).
I rarely eat deep fried food, but one of my favourite meals when I go out is simple fish and chips. The portion of fish is pure perfection (I rarely need to finish my chips) and the salad is far from ‘run of the mill’. Homemade tartare sauce is one of my barometers for a good restaurant. This sauce is an absolute winner.
These mains are perfect if you have older kids who fancy something a little more grown up. Again, splitting the fish in 2 or cutting the burger in half will not leave them feeling hungry. These options are great for the kids or the adults. There were other delicious options like hake and chicken dishes, but we made our choices this time based on the fact that we were all sharing around the table.
Ok, so maybe I’m doing things a little back to front, or maybe I was saving the best for last? I’m a sucker for a good starter. Given the choice, I would rather another starter than a dessert but I never have the room (thankfully). We had a few starters between us and they were nothing short of wonderful.
These lamb quesadillas also come as a large portion, but I would recommend sharing that between three as the lamb is particularly filling. However, I would likely keep it all to myself as a main course because the flavour is simply out of this world.
Our final starter was a salad of mozzarella, green leaves and tomatoes. It was simple. The dressing was light and it was not heavy enough to ruin appetites for the ample main courses.
The food is presented in such a lovely way that the kids often ask for a taste of what we are eating. This is always a plus as it expands their tastes and encourages them to try new things.
This is always a consideration when bringing the kids out for food. We left Monk’s Lane feeling like we truly got value for money. There were no surprises. The kids ate all their food. Everyone was full and satisfied with what they ate. Value is the name of the game, right?
So now that you know, go check it out for yourselves. It’s best to ring ahead and if you want to check out the full menu before you go, just click here for all the information you need. But one word of warning….Don’t tell anyone else about it, ok! Otherwise, next thing we know, there will be no chance of getting a table!
Please let me know if you visit. Leave a comment below and fill us all in on your experience. If you would like to check out some other great places to eat good food in West Cork, head over to Hayes’ Bar in Glandore or the Lifeboat Inn, Courtmacsherry.
** “The 7 O’Clock mad’s”….This is a phenomenon that all parents know about. Its that time of the evening where your child turns from that fluffy little pet to the gremlin thing that has been fed after midnight. Murder may not be involved, but exorcism type head turning certainly features. Unfortunately, there is no cure.