Delicious. Delightful. Extremely friendly.
Petronella Restaurant-Café, Butterslip Lane, Kilkenny City – Cookie FM rating: 5/5
After arriving into Kilkenny City, we had quite the hunger pangs from the drive down and thankfully we were booked into Petronella. A local hotspot, the decor of this restaurant reflects the history behind the name with the original beams and exposed stone walls still standing, decorated with a lot of red and honey-coloured wood. Owner Frank Curren explained how the name refers to the first woman to be burnt at the stake in Europe. Situated around the corner from where Petronilla de Meath met her end, after being accused of witchcraft, the restaurant proudly serves lunch and dinner in the 400 year old building.
The lunch menu at Petronella has a great variety of light bites and hearty dishes, of which I opted for the Lemon Sole Goujons. Six pieces of thin fresh fish in a crunchy batter were served drizzled with basil mayonnaise, a side salad and a bowl of hand cut chips. And it was delicious! A glass of Chilean Valdemoro Sauvignon Blanc complimented this dish perfectly too, and altogether it was a flavoursome and much-needed refuel.
Lorna opted for the Pappardelle with Smoked Bacon and Forest Mushrooms that was served in a garlic and parmesan cream.
Harpers Restaurant, Kilkenny Hibernian Hotel, 1 Ormonde Street, Kilkenny City – Cookie FM rating: 5/5
Having discovered a few of the beautiful boutiques on St. Kieran’s Street during the day, as well as going on the Smithwick’s Experience Tour (read more below), and after checking into our hotel, Lorna and I were starting to get very, very hungry. For dinner we had a reservation at Harpers Restaurant in the Kilkenny Hibernian Hotel, which is just off the main crossroads. A very busy restaurant, it was full of groups celebrating birthdays, hen dos and stags, adding to the Saturday atmosphere.
Their dinner menu boasts Irish cuisine at its finest, from fish & seafood to their signature main of Slow Cooked Shoulder of Lamb. For this meal, I started with the restaurant’s signature Potted Prawn & Crabmeat Cocktail, which was served with olive oil-drenched sourdough toast, lime gel and a side salad. The flavour of this starter was beautiful, with contrasting textures of the fish and toast and not overly filling. A very fresh kick off to my meal!
As a main course, I opted for the Pan Fried Sea Bass, which was one of the most colourful dishes I’ve seen and truly delivered on taste. I was delighted that the Spring vegetables were aplenty, but the sea bass just blew me away. It was beautifully cooked, with a crisp skin and succulent meat that, when combined with the fluffy mashed potatoes and vegetables, had me making all of the oohs and aahs! The lobster sauce was an excellent accompaniment, though I would have loved even more of it. I’m actually still dreaming of this fish dish, it was one of the best I’ve had in a long time.
Lorna opted for the 8oz Sirloin Steak with Pepper Sauce that was served with roast shallots, cherry tomatoes, spring onion and hand cut chips.
To end the night on a high, myself and Lorna shared the Lemon, Chestnut & Honey Baked Alaska for dessert. The combination of these three flavours intrigued me, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked together. It was a sweet dish without being sickly sweet, hidden under the torched Italian meringue top that revealed a layered dessert and the traditional scoop of ice cream within – a truly well executed Baked Alaska.
Our meal at Harpers was wonderful and enjoyable from start to finish, plus our bottle of French J. Moreau & Fils Merlot 2016 was smooth, strong and all gone by the end of our night! After 10pm, a resident pianist serenades diners with his jazz-style music, that was very welcomed by the two of us and all the guests that evening. A big thank you to managers James and Alan who were true gentlemen and very accommodating despite how off their feet they were!
Truffles Restaurant & Wine Bar, 22 William Street, Kilkenny City – Cookie FM rating: 5/5
For Sunday lunch, after a productive morning of discovering more boutiques, we headed to William Street for lunch at Truffles. The friendly service and beautiful decor were one of the things that really struck me, with their muted and calming colour palette and the natural light beaming in. Husband and wife team Milko & Zori Mihaylov were extremely welcoming, professional and full of chat, who run a beautiful restaurant that was a very popular weekend lunch spot.
Lorna and I decided to share the Fire Roasted Tomato Hummus to start, and the chef very kindly split this onto two plates for us. Such a small act goes a long way. This tasty little starter was served with a spicy chick pea & tomato relish and a fried pita bread on the side, that was perfect for eating with the hummus. It was a very refreshing beginning to our meal, and once all the crisp fried pita was gone, we polished our plates with the complimentary sourdough bread.
For my main course, I opted for the Special of the Day, which was Oven Roasted Pork Belly with a Herb Crust, that was beautifully presented alongside Spring vegetables and finished with a port jus. The smells from this dish had me salivating, and the ease of cutting through the pork belly confirmed how well the meat was cooked – it fell apart on the plate then went straight into my mouth! It had such a strong flavour to it, which complimented the cauliflower, runner beans, sweet potatoes and carrots and was enhanced by the reduction. Although delicious, it was a very large piece of pork belly that I did struggle to finish…but I somehow managed to eat every last bit!
Lorna opted for the Catch of the Day, which was Oven Baked Cod Fillet that was served with an array of Spring vegetables and hand cut chips.
We were verging on exploding from our delicious two courses, but no lunch meal is complete without a cheeky dessert. Again, we decided to share and ordered the Raspberry & Coconut Parfait. Presented on a glass plate, the triple-stacked dessert consisted of a raspberry jelly layer in between two raspberry & coconut parfait layers. Accompanied by a crisp meringue, cream dots and raspberry sauce, it was a lovely sweet treat that we enjoyed. During lunch, we sipped on a generous glass of Italian Il Roccolo Trebianno D’Abruzzo.
Royal Spice Indian Restaurant, 2 Water Gate, Kilkenny City – Cookie FM rating: 3.5/5
For our last evening in Kilkenny, we visited Royal Spice Indian Restaurant, which I was excited for as I’m a lover of Indian cuisine. The family friendly restaurant had a quiet atmosphere, with pretty floral decorations in the window and dim lighting despite the natural light flooding in from the front. Sanjay was very friendly and full of banter, explaining the busyness of the restaurant when it comes to hen parties as well as their successful takeaway business.
The menu has plenty to choose from making it slightly hard to choose just one starter and main course, though I opted for the Tandoori Prawns to start, which arrived shortly after the complimentary poppadoms & dips. The portion size was very small, two jumbo prawns butterfly cut, though the combination of spices and the oven-smoked flavour was very nice.
As my main course, I ordered the Chicken Biriani and Garlic Naan Bread. In comparison to the starter, the biryani was a very generous portion and was served with a vegetable curry on the side. The flavours of cumin and cinnamon, came through, but the spice level was more mild than I expected. There were large chunks of perfectly succulent chicken, and with the vegetable curry of cauliflower, runner beans and potatoes, it was a coherent main dish.
I did feel this lacked something, perhaps more spices or chilli – in hindsight, I should have ordered a different dish, and followed my original choice. I struggled to finish my main course as it really was so big! We also ordered bottle of Italian Sangiovese Merlot that complimented our dinner very well. The service of Royal Spice Indian was friendly, and I thoroughly enjoyed the complimentary shot of Baileys at the end of our meal too – thank you!
Lorna opted for the Samosa as her starter, and the Chicken Korma with Pilau Rice and Garlic Naan Bread, the latter of which I tried and was suitably impressed by.
Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny Tour, 44 Parliament Street, Kilkenny City – Cookie FM rating: 4/5
One of the coolest activities I enjoy are brewery tours, and, if you didn’t already know: Kilkenny is home to Smithwick’s. I was excited to learn all about the history behind the ale, which actually dates back to 1710.
Our tour guide Simon was a bubbly young man, who really knew his stuff and took our group through the three different sections of the Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny tour, which starts with the foundation of the brewery, then moves to the ‘how it’s made’ section, before ending with the pints, and explaining the difference between the three. There were really cool interactive videos, activities and the smells throughout the tour were heavenly.
At the end of the tour, we opted for the Tasting Trio Paddle, that included three half pints of the Original Red Ale, the Pale Ale and the Atlantic Golden Ale. I may not be the biggest beer drinker, (even though I drank many a Maß beer while at Oktoberfest in Munich), but I did quite enjoy tasting the different ales on offer. It’s safe to say that the Pale Ale was definitely my favourite of the three.
Cheers to you John Smithwick!
Kilkenny River Court Hotel, The Bridge, John street, Collegepark, Kilkenny City – Cookie FM rating: 5/5
For our trip, we stayed at the Kilkenny River Court Hotel, which was perfectly located on the river, making for many a picturesque moment. Our room was spacious with a king size bed, two armchairs and a table, a writing desk and chair as well as a large wardrobe. The bathroom featured the usual bath/shower with white marble walls, plenty of towels and toiletries. The natural light came flooding in, plus we had a balcony and a view of Kilkenny Castle.
We were also surprised with a bottle of bubbly on ice and chocolates in our room, which was such a lovely welcoming, that we totally enjoyed in our robes before dinner! The breakfast buffet was very nice, (served between 8.30-10.30am), with some special orders available and a variety of hot and cold food – plus the breakfast staff were extremely friendly. We also enjoyed a gin & tonic nightcap in the Riverview Bar, where a live musician was entertaining guests. The bar is a great size and was still very busy after midnight.
While in Kilkenny, Lorna and I also went for a wondrous walk around Kilkenny Castle along the River Nore (moments after I dropped and smashed my phone!), discovered the city’s commissioned graffiti artwork, and even saw a mother duck and her fluffy ducklings swimming on the river! On Sunday night we also visited The Left Bank and Rive Gauche, where in the latter, we had a few very tasty cocktails.
A big thank you to Kilkenny Tourism for this wonderful experience*!
Read all about the fashion boutiques over on Killer Fashion
Check out Lorna’s blog Fashion Boss to read more about Kilkenny
Images © Nirina Plunkett & Lorna Duffy
*This press trip experience was free of charge, however this does not influence my opinion