The road to Bunclody isn’t the most attractive of drives but after reading that Clonegal meaning “meadow of the stranger “ had just won “tidiest village “ there as a sauntered along in my vintage banger I spotted the sign without a breath we turned and began the winding lane to Clonegal . Out in the arse end of nowhere is this absolutely beautiful little village of Clonegal
As I entered the restaurant through the big grand door to the left of me is a nice waiting area for pre-dinner drinks ahead of me just under the stairs is a small reception and through the door on the right is a dining room we are greeted by the host who we later find out is Stephanie the owner and asked if we have a booking sadly we don’t … with a quick peruse though the bookings diary we could get a table in 45 mins now normally I don’t wait but already I get the sense that this is somewhere special . It’s the sort of feel that hits you just get it!!! You understand what they’re doing here…so as we head to the handy little pub next door. the pub is fantastically old with remnants of everything old naturally bottle warped shelves and dare I say it a log burner in the middle of the bar which if it hadn’t been put there centuries ago would never be allowed in these modern times but I guess that’s the great thing about history and heritage its run by the romantics and not the pencil pushers in councils after a superb pint of Guinness and craic with some of the locals we head back to shoo aa
Again on entry we are greeted with a big warm welcome from a member of staff and taken to our table. The restaurant was humming and it was clear to see how the other diners were enjoying there evening. As I sat there and read the menu immediately I was in a complete state of relax and immediately commented on making a real night of it.
Kir royals ordered and sipped we seriously perused the menu trying to decide on which of the starters to take personally I couldn’t decide between two so thought bollocks I will order both
First were beetroot gnocchi and the second a paupiette of sole with king prawns Mrs Foodpunk orders minced lamb kebabs
For the mains I go for the beef fillet with braised cheek and she goes for the pan fried cod with curry noodles
Quickly after ordering some wonderful homemade warm bread roll arrive and I am told that everything is made in house by harry chef patron and to enjoy and enjoy we did they were perfect crisp soft in the middle and fecking great start to the meal
As our starters arrive the waitress looked a little perplexed as we had three and we were only two once we juggled the table around a bit all the plates fitted ,the style of the food is clean crisp in design and as I bit in to the gnocchi wow wow wow they were like little pillows any duck down pillow maker would have been proud of seasoned to perfection beetroot al dente and goat cheese whipped to a light almost soufflé texture her starter kept her quiet for the whole eating process with the odd murmur of mmm and wow . My second starter was equally good king prawns wrapped in two separate fillets with a lovely buttery beurre blanc really really delicious and we almost finished the excellent bottle of sauvignon Blanc. What really enhanced the experience was we were asked if we would like a little break rather than having to ask …. Still ticking the boxes
After a little nose around if find a lovely little terrace in the back which on a sunny day would be great for some alfresco dining and with a side view of the kitchen you would never be bored for something to watch
Our mains arrive and mine is clearly cooked with confidence I loved the fact that my fillet was med rare and how it should be (what makes it great is they never asked its just how it’s done) the cheek is soft tender and braised to perfection our sides are trickily peeled baby ratte pots and again with great confidence the veg is leek gratin most restaurant nowadays take the safe option which consider the great seasonal stuff available is pretty much a cop out but not here..
Her cod is really well cooked with a lovely light brown colour and sat on some vermicelli noodles with an almost Singapore style sauce both our dishes were eating clean plates and wiped with a cheekily asked portion of warm rolls the robust red wine I was recommended was perfect with the beef … I think I had fallen in love again.
Now I know that in big restaurants established restaurants staff are always pushed trained cajoled into selling dessert but here is different when asked what the y recommended we were told by the waitress who had worked here ever since it opened that there were two desserts that had never left the menu and the day they did was the day she would leave blackmail no I don’t think so we order then first a chocolate ganache and second a peanut butter ensemble (now for the record I hate peanut butter with a passion )
I get a glass of dessert wine it’s no tokaji but very nice nevertheless our desserts arrive and they are picture perfect but rich really rich I think this course takes us the longest to eat but eat it we do and again the plates are spotless
We get our bill and its 145.00 for the meal it’s worth every cent in our experience. I have cooked at the highest level and had restaurants myself for the past 20 years and from the moment I arrived here I just got it … this is defiantly the best meal by a long mile that I have eaten since moving to Kilkenny and out of Dublin all I can say is when can I make the next visit because it’s worth the drive..
Written by foodpunk @followfoodpunk