McKennas Guides experience Yew Tree Restaurant Muckross Park Hotel & Spa
We are absolutely delighted that John & Sally McKenna had the opportunity to experience the culinary skills of Scott Kapitan, Senior Head Chef at Yew Tree Restaurant.
John & Sally McKenna are award-winning authors, having written many guide books to the food culture and the celebration of food and culture around the world. See below for what they had to say about their dining experience at Yew Tree Restaurant Muckross Park Hotel & Spa.
Scott Kapitan’s menus in Killarney’s Muckross Park Hotel & Spa don’t reveal the chef’s subversive streak. All the 5-star finery you would expect is there: the quail; the scallops; the chicken and foie gras ravioli; the Kerry lamb; the turbot; the Angus beef. Yes, he has prime cuts at his disposal, but it’s Kapitan’s clear-eyed and unequivocal confidence in transforming those ingredients that makes the hotel’s Yew Tree Restaurant a class act.
Kapitan’s style is to build a strong supporting cast around those iconic ingredients. Turbot, for instance, is cooked to toothsome perfection. But it is the support of black trumpet mushrooms, spears of samphire, a scatter of almonds and a brown butter hollandaise, all of them framing and amplifying the main ingredient, that transforms the dish into a true event.
The turbot is also a fine example of Kapitan’s culinary judgement: just enough, not too much, a light touch, let the ingredients shine. The loin of Kerry lamb is blushingly pink, adorned with a green fine herb crust, and bolstered with kalamata olive tapenade and mint lamb jus and sweet, oven-dried tomato, a beautifully clean iteration of a classic mix. He likes intrigue in his combinations, so there are coffee scented carrots served with the fillet of beef and a tangle of beef cheek, with a cep mushroom sauce anchoring the dish with wild, woody notes. It’s playful, but also precise and mature.
The dinner menus trace a perfect three-course arc, so having Dingle crab and poached cod before the lamb, and strawberry rhubarb meringue for dessert, makes for an ideal dinner. The kitchen team organise a flawless theatre on the plates, though we wonder if serving an ice cold sorbet before main courses should still be a thing in 2023. Whilst the cooking is beautifully delivered, the setting could benefit from being more relaxed, and playing some interesting music. At €78 for three courses, dinner is decent value, but the wine list is tilted squarely at the billionaire, asset-owning class. These niggles are easily solved, and Scott Kapitan’s cooking deserves the best supporting cast Killarney can offer.