With a culinary background rooted in Paul Rankin’s Roscoff in Belfast, along with One Pico and Chapter One in Dublin, you know you’re looking for something good when Stephen McArdle is in the kitchen. With a keen eye for detail, this man has no shortcuts. Add sommelier Morgan VanderKamer – President of the Association of Irish Sommeliers – and you have an alliance made in heaven.
When you can gather, I’ve eaten McArdle’s food on multiple occasions – in Dublin, when he had The Arch Bistro in Churchtown, followed by Stanley’s of St Andrew’s Street. Then with rising rents in a city dominated by big boyshe went to the country, initially moved next door River Barrow in Graiguenamanagh, before finding its ideal spot in Thomastown.
Barrows Keep is housed in a spacious, airy building near the back entrance of Mount Juliet Estate. This space was once the home of Hudson, which I reviewed in 2003, remarking that house wine is expensive at 24€! With a bar in the front room and a bright, conservatory style room with an open kitchen in the back, this is a very comfortable place.
We came for Sunday lunch feeling really hungry and wanted everything on the menu. The wonderful sandwiches – black olive focaccia with olive oil and divine treacle with sea salted butter – arrived just in time to keep us in while we made more realistic decisions about the menu.
‘In The Beginning’ features duck rolls with apple butter and buttermilk rice paper, while organic purple broccoli and baby radishes are paired with goat cheese and hazelnuts.
We had the Atlantic shrimp (12€) in a fragrant spice escape with jalapeños, while plump, delicious, golf ball-sized Duncannon crab cakes (€12) are served on a base of sweet corn and aioli, and sprinkled with special caviar from nearby GoatsbridgeTrout’s GoatsbridgeTrout Farm. Mag Kirwan.
‘And Then’ (€21-€24) includes cod fillet with purple broccoli and organic leeks, while duck breast is paired with charred carrots, spinach and pepper sauce. Mary has the gnocchi (€21), Morgan tells us, hand-rolled by Stephen. The owner’s hand has created a wonderful dish that combines wild mushrooms and January king cabbage in a tarragon sauce. Tarragon is something you don’t see widely used today. It’s a lovely herb – one that I used to have in my garden.
I ate the beef rib (€24), and, let me tell you, my mouth watered as I looked through the open kitchen window and at the large linkage carved into wide scrolls cobble. Absolutely amazing, it’s rare and tender as can be. I’m not a fan of Yorkshire pudding, but it was there, as were delicious organic roasted sweet carrots, purple leeks and broccoli, baked potatoes, gravy and horseradish.
‘An Ending’ (€7 / €8) consists of warm chocolate macaroons with vanilla ice cream, honeycomb and caramel sauce; a choice of sorbets; and crème brûlée with pistachio shortbread. There’s also a cheese board with quince and crackers (€14) but we shared a battered brownie ice cream, served with some Baileys for pouring (8€).
We’re driving, so we can’t be fair to Morgan’s excellent wine list. Her range of wines by bottle is €25, with a wide range of wines available in the glass, along with some Expert advice. So for just one glass of Galician Via Arxentea Treixadura y Godello (8.50€), bottled water (4.50€) and two coffees (5.40€), our bill, with translation service, went up to 104.94 €.
By the way, Via Arxentea translated as ‘silver road’, for anyone interested in Camino de Santiago to Santiago de Compostela, is the local name for the pilgrimage. You’ll also find this wine in Whelehans Wines on the N11 in Loughlinstown, where a new tasting bar is open all the time. weekend.
Tel: (056) 772-4728
https://www.independent.ie/life/food-drink/food-reviews/lucinda-osullivans-restaurant-review-absolutely-superb-chef-stephen-mcardles-kilkenny-venture-barrows-keep-41399044.html Lucinda O’Sullivan’s Restaurant Review: ‘Absolutely Amazing’ – Chef Stephen McArdle’s Kilkenny Venture, Barrows Keep