It’s almost twenty years since the word Gastropub was used to describe The Eagle Pub in London’s Farringdon Road. Over the initial years there were many pale attempts to do the same thing both in the U.K. and in Ireland. However, Barry and Georgina O’Sullivan were one of the first here to really get what it was all about – that is really good food – in a really lovely relaxed atmosphere – which is defined at their fantastic Cafe Bar, The Ballymore Inn in Co. Kildare.
I always maintain that if the food is good enough, and the ambiance right, people will travel anywhere – just as they do in remote regions of France. That is certainly the case with The Ballymore Inn – it is destination dining at its best – people flock to it all year round for the best of local and seasonal produce cooked and presented with heart and spirit. They were amongst the first in the industry to realize that great food was all about carefully sourced local produce beautifully cooked, and elegantly presented, without pretension. They also have their own kitchen garden producing fruit and vegetables, their breads are divine, nothing is left to chance here.
The décor at The Ballymore Inn is chic and understated, with food available either in the Restaurant or more casually in the Back Bar. Starters include Clonakilty black pudding with warm haricot beans, cherry tomatoes and aged Balsamic, whilst Ardsallagh goat’s cheese is bruschetta style with toasted hazelnuts, redcurrant and rocket salad. Chicken liver pate comes with their own tomato chutney, whilst Duncannon cold smoked trout is with avocado, pink grapefruit and Compsey crème fraiche, which is made in Tipperary. Their 28-day dry aged premium beef is sourced from West Cork and it is absolutely superb – try their fantastic sirloin with green peppercorn sauce. Lamb cutlets are cooked with roast garlic and smoked paprika, which always adds that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’. It is one of those great culinary secrets. Their fish comes from Duncannon and you might find monkfish has a Swedish touch with hot cucumber and dill sauce, or salmon with crispy courgettes and lemon. Quail is another of my favourite things at The Ballymore Inn, being stuffed, roasted, and served with grapes and tarragon sauce. At lunchtime in the restaurant mains include dry aged steak sandwich on homemade bread with grilled onions; chargrilled chicken salad with nuts, dates and mango dressing; Dunlavin pork stirfry with Wexford wild mushrooms, chilli, Pak Choy, and black bean sauce. They also serve their great homemade pizzas, in two sizes, with a variety of top-notch toppings such as lamb Greek style with yoghurt and mint, or potato, baby spinach, roasted garlic and Asiago cheese.
The Back Bar serves pizzas, salads and starters, and casual mains including spicy lamb Bolognese with garlic bread; Thai green chicken curry; chargrilled homemade Irish beef burger, and posh fish and chips. They also have a great enticing children’s menu, which will have even the most difficult child smiling! On top of that they will make up a Baby Bowl of soup of the day and potato at no charge.
I defy anyone not to love The Ballymore Inn – it is one of Ireland’s best eateries.