Original ‘Gangsters’ To Create Something Special In Town With New Restaurant ‘Croí’

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Paul Cotter, Kevin O’Connor and Noel Keane in Croí which opens this Friday in town. Photo by Dermot Crean

A NEW restaurant opens in the heart of Tralee on Friday night and promises to create incredible  dishes with all the ingredients sourced entirely from Tralee and the surrounding area.

Three members of the well known ‘Tralee Culinary Gangsters’, famous for their blogging and cookery demos around the county, are behind ‘Croí’ which will open in The Square, where The Stonehouse restaurant operated.

Award-winning chef Noel Keane will be joined in the kitchen by the talented Paul Cotter, while Kevin O’Connor will be front-of-house making diners feel welcome.

All three lads know each other for donkey’s years and have a wealth of culinary and hospitality experience under their belts.

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Noel has worked all around the world, but more recently in Darcys on Barrack Lane before moving to Eabha Johns in Listowel  about two years ago.

Paul Cotter is coming from the famous Nick’s of Killorglin while, in true ‘Troy McClure’ style, you may recognise Kevin’s friendly and professional attitude from stints in The Daily Grind, The Ashe Hotel and Quinlan’s Fish, whom he helped out in setting up their Kenmare outlet.

“The idea of Croí is based on local, seasonal, wild and artisan food. If we can’t get it locally, we’re not interested,” Noel Keane told me when I called in during the week.

The lads will be using meat from The Well Bred Butcher in Ardfert among other suppliers and  it will all be reared locally. They will grow their own vegetables and herbs, use fish and shellfish from Kerry harbours, the beer will come from Kerry micro-breweries. The wine, however, will come from outside Kerry!

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Because of this policy of supporting local, they’re hoping people will support them in the venture.

Using seasonal ingredients means a constantly changing menu which will appeal to foodies. The restaurant will open seven  nights a week from this Friday night and in a couple of weeks they’ll be opening daily for lunch.

While all three have been involved in the beginning of other people’s ventures, it’s the first time any of the three men have gone into business for themselves, which is making it even more exciting that they are realising their own vision of what a restaurant should be.

As for that name, while ‘Croí’ is the Irish word for heart, Noel says they chose it because of its old Irish meaning.

“It actually means ‘the essence of’ in old Irish. That’s what we want this restaurant to be about – the essence of the land, the food at the heart of it.” For reservations, call 066-7185583. Check out their Facebook page here

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