McKenna’s Ireland Review

March 2024

Setting the South East on Fire

Chris Fullam has had the most meteoric rise of any Irish chef. One year ago, he assumed control of he elegant glass box
that is The Sea Rooms, adjacent to Kelly’s Hotel in Rosslare.

A year on, and Chris Fullam is cooking some of the finest contemporary food in the country. The Sunny South East has been crying our for a destination restaurant for year. With the Sea Rooms, that destination has been delivered. Fullam’s secret weapon is his Smokin’ Soul live-fire set-up. He uses smoked and embers to give his dishes a mantilla of flavours that drives the organoleptic riches of his ingredients to new heights

A starter dish of crabmeat has lightly smoked baby navet on the plate, and it is the aura of smoke emanating from the vegetable that teases our the complexity of the linseed cracker, the Goatsbridge trout roe and the smoked egg yolk that complete the dish. It’s a riot of a dish where all the flavours huddle, but then break out from the ruck. Its demon.

With braised ham hock, it’s the minuscule mirepoix of pickled apple, cornichon and mustard seeds that’s gasps of appreciation, with every piece of identical size. But it is the scallion sabayon that really sets the flavours of the ham on fire. The subtlety of lightly smoked cod with ay smoked cauliflower shows Fullam playing diminuendo with his volatile smoky flavours, and the control of his medium here is outstanding; everything just right, nothing out of balance.

Barbecued beef short-rib will make weekend grill masters weep, the beef so finessed yet so deep with flavour, and the smoked grey oyster mushrooms are the new must-have ingredient. And then he shows how smoking and embers are not just for meat cookery, with smoked potato gnocchi and ember and salt-baked celeriac offering a magnificent vegetarian creation that has all the volatile elements of smoked under firm control.

Pudding are a blast, not least the Sea Rooms Cinema, where the team have fun with popcorn, cola crumb, toffee, vanilla ice cream and chocolate disassembling all the elements of cinema grazing into a triumph of creative sparkle.

Nicole the manageress and her team are as on top of the game as the kitchen crew. Your destination in the Sunny South East has arrived!

John & Sally McKenna – Mckenna’s Ireland

Barbecued beef short-rib with smoked grey oysters, smoked embers
The Sea Rooms Cinema