Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pay as You Please, Killarney

Petty thievery in Ireland...If something isn't nailed down, there's a fair chance that some light-fingered kleptomaniac will pop it into their handbag or pocket and take it home. And to be quite honest, this will probably happen even if the item is nailed down. 

This rather "socialist" view of property (i.e. belongs to all equally) was accepted behaviour in the student years when having the coolest road sign or beer glass collection was a sign of a true die-hard student. What is perhaps more worrying is that this tendancy never quite goes away. Irish people like "free" things. Recently, Stoneybatter gastropub L. Mulligan wrote a blog post pleading with punters to return pilfered items. Treasured childhood editions of Beatrix Potter books, old novels and even  a wall painting have gone missing from the pub, which have lead the Mulligan team to placing an amnesty box on the bar counter. (It remains to be seen how successful this initiative will be.)

Given this rather free and liberal characteristic of Irish people, then why would anyone open as a "Pay As You Please" restaurant in Ireland? Fedora-loving Rob O'Reilly and Barry Bride have taken this bold step in  the most touristy of towns, Killarney and business has been going well. Clever use of Facebook and Tripadvisor have raised the profile of this unnamed and unconventional restuarant. And it always helps that one of your chefs has trained at Ballymaloe Cookery School.

Located on New Market Lane, off High Street, the cafe is located in an old warehouse.  As we enter, a tasty looking selection of cakes sit under net covers. Mismatched furniture and shabby retro chic are the order of the day here, matching the relaxed vibe emanating from the owners. On the day we visited, a silent black & white Elvis film was projected onto the rear wall, to the soundtrack of a mix of cool jazz & blues music.

Stitch and Bear - Pick and Mix interior at Pay As You Pay Killarney
Bohemian, relaxed interior at Pay As You Please
The menu is simple, presented on colourful plastic clipboards and feature a short selection of dishes. Hearty warm soups come in a bread bowl, or alternatively in a jar. Looking around, Tripadvisor is clearly working for the business as plenty of American tourists were tucking in. Tap water and glasses were provided without asking.
Stitch and Bear - Daily menu at Pay As You Pay Killarney
The changing daily menu at Pay As You Please
I dillied between the salad and dish of the day. The smoked mackarel fishcakes with beetroot salsa sounded delicious, but I really wanted a light lunch, so instead I chose the Nicoise salad, with tuna, potatoes, olives, egg and green beans. I received a punchy, well-dressed salad served on a retro enamelled plate. with the bright yellow yolk of the perfectly hard-boiled eggs shining like jewels on the plate rim.

Stitch and Bear - Nicoise salad at Pay As You Pay Killarney
Nicoise salad at Pay As You Please
Himself chose one of the pizza options, going for a classic prosciutto, parmesan and rocket. The pizza arrived on a wooden breadboard, along with a pizza cutter (genius idea- I really don't understand why more restaurants don't provide pizza cutters to diners). The pizza is cooked with all the toppings in the middle, allowing the outside edge to puff up while baking. The dough was light and crispy, with a lovely basil flavour shining through.
Stitch and Bear - Prosciutto pizza at Pay As You Pay Killarney
Prosciutto pizza at Pay As You Please
The only bad aspect to our meal at this little bijoux venue was the coffee quality. I'm not sure what brand was used, but it had a liqourice flavour that I dislike in coffee and came served in a French press. While living in Amsterdam, lots of restaurants used to serve Nespresso-type coffee via machines, which meant that it was possible to obtain high-quality cups of coffee in most venues. This could be an avenue for the cheeky chappies at Pay As You Please to explore.

Overall, very good cafe-style food. It's also worth mentioning that the cafe operates a BYO policy, meaking it an affordable spot for nighttime dining on Fridays and Saturdays. And how much did we pay? Well, we left behind €25 (broken down at €10 per main course and €2.50 each per coffee). I'd love to know what others think. Was this a fair price?

Pay As You Please, New Market Lane, Killarney, Co. Kerry
Tel: +353 (0)86 306 8253
Facebook: Pay As You Please


Colette said...

I like this concept, but sadly, some may see it as an opportunity to pay as little as possible for a meal. I think you paid very fairly, for what was offered. The food looked and sounded very good indeed. I do wonder if this type of restaurant makes a profit with such an idea.

WiseMóna said...

You paid the right amount. It looked gorgeous - the pizza and the salad. I am sure that they were happy with that. I would guess that more restaurants do not supply the pizza wheel/cutter because, like Mulligans, they would be walking out the door!
I like the concept and do think they are brave to do it.

CarolineO said...

I've been meaning to pop over there some weekend but sadly haven't done so yet, what you got looks lovely and the price you paid sounds fair enough.

dudara said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. I would dearly love to know how the financials of the restaurant work, what is the average take per diner etc. Another question that occurred to me is how they pay VAT. But that's a whole other story.

Móna - you're probably right about the pizza cutters. I hadn't actually considered that, despite the whole Mulligan bit at the start of the post. But even so, I believe that many restaurants just don't think about their customers' requirements. Providing a pizza cutter with a whole pizza just makes so much sense.

@Caroline - well make sure that you do get over there sometime. It definitely deserves some support.

Anonymous said...

"The only bad aspect to our meal at this little bijoux venue was the quality." was this sentence intended to read the way it does?

dudara said...

Good spot - and no, that was not how I meant that sentence to be. I was referring to the coffee, and I've now gone back and updated the post.

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