Water­ford’s new wave

In­no­va­tive chef Keith Boyle is no stranger to the Water­ford din­ing scene, says Lucinda O’Sul­li­van, and his new ven­ture, The Bay Tree on Mer­chants Quay, is a fan­tas­tic three-floor un­der­tak­ing that’s sure to make a big splash

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - LEADER OF THE PACK -

No sooner has the clock chimed mid­night on the last day of Jan­uary each year than the feel­ing grips me. So, one fresh spring Wednes­day morn­ing, hav­ing gulped his por­ridge, Bren­dan found him­self head­ing for Water­ford!

The new Bay Tree Restau­rant on Mer­chants Quay was the ob­ject of my at­ten­tion. Lo­cated at the bridge end of the quay, it’s the ven­ture of Chef Pa­tron Keith Boyle and his wife, Carmel. Boyle is not new to Water­ford, hav­ing been at the Athenaeum House Ho­tel, be­fore open­ing over a pub in nearby Bally­bricken. He has now taken a leap of faith with three floors of a vast prop­erty — a lit­tle bar at ground level, the first-floor oak­beamed restau­rant, and above that, a planned art gallery. He’s am­bi­tious when it comes to his cui­sine too, in­tent on bring­ing a con­tem­po­rary fine-din­ing el­e­ment to the city and, from our ex­pe­ri­ence, he is cer­tainly on the right track. The op­er­a­tive menu that night was a 2/3 course “pre-din­ner menu” €23/€28 (all even­ing, Tues­day to Thurs­day; 5pm to 6.30pm, Fri­day and Satur­day); but he’s also added a new for­mat of three cour­ses at €35; and five cour­ses at €45, both menus to in­clude mid-course treats.

The afore­men­tioned treats ar­rived in the form of amuse­bouches and breads: di­vine black olive and three-seed breads, with cracked black pep­per and sea salt, sun-dried tomato and smoky ba­con but­ters; soon fol­lowed by canapes of tem­pura scal­lop on pur­ple potato crisps, and pork and ap­ple on parsnip crisps. I im­me­di­ately perked up when I saw the chef hadn’t used the prized, yet ubiq­ui­tous, scal­lop it­self, but the much more in­ter­est­ing roe, which is gen­er­ally just thrown away.

With the en­su­ing starters, the small touches made all the dif­fer­ence. Bren­dan’s silky chicken liver and smoked pancetta par­fait was piped in three rosettes, in­ter­spersed with caramelised red onion and pick­led cour­gette. I had black Tiger prawns style,

speir amuigh faoin pil pil GOURMET FOOD PAR­LOUR

Unit 3 Har­bour Square, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. Tel: (01) 280-5670 gourmet­food­par­lour.com Lor­raine He­skin and Lor­raine Byrne have just in­tro­duced a new ta­pas menu at their vi­brant, buzzy Dun Laoghaire branch. With their fin­gers ever on the pulse of cur­rent din­ing trends, choices in­clude beef short-rib cros­tini with Philly cheese and scal­lions; or try prawn, tomato and chilli risotto. . Price: €3.50-€26 Try: Wal­nut and Gor­gonzola ravi­oli with pesto cream and crushed pine nuts, €8 Drinks: Bub­bles, cock­tails Main Street, Oughter­ard, Co. Gal­way. Tel: (091) 866-645 con­nemara­green­way­cafe.com When trav­el­ling west, John­nie and Maria Be­g­ley’s de­light­ful cafe restau­rant is an oa­sis for break­fast, lunch or all-day cakes, scones, lo­cal char­cu­terie and su­per sal­ads. They also open for din­ner to­wards the end of the week. Think beef and Guin­ness stew; lasagne; striploin steak; and a knock­out chowder. Price: €2-€21.95 Try: Pan-grilled fish of the day with herby but­ter, sea­sonal veg­eta­bles and baby pota­toes, €15.95 Drinks: Wine, craft beer Leona Robin­son and Dee De­lany’s chic lit­tle eatery is a gem. Think con­tem­po­rary Ir­ish food with an eclec­tic twist, Mid­dle Eastern hal­loumi sal­ads, spiced beef carpac­cio or an aubergine sch­nitzel dur­ing the day, while steaks and fish fea­ture on the end of the week nights. You can even ‘sleep over’. Price: €3-€24.50 Try: Billy’s spiced beef bap, served with slaw, leaves and skinny fries, €11.95 Drinks: Wine which were also de­li­cious, and were served in a lit­tle pan with mango, pineap­ple, co­rian­der and fo­cac­cia.

Mains in­cluded had­dock with a three-bean ser­rano, tem­pura mus­sels and poached egg; while chicken was paired with chorizo, goat’s cheese, and sun-dried toma­toes. Bren­dan’s ex­cel­lent 8oz Here­ford sir­loin (€4 sup­ple­ment) was served on a chest­nut mush­room and caramelised onion pie, while I had a per­fectly pitched black sole on the bone (€7 sup­ple­ment), with a mus­sel and shal­lot sauce and de­li­cious gratin pota­toes.

To fin­ish, we shared a se­lec­tion of home-made ice-creams in a brandy snap bas­ket, which were fol­lowed by home-made

— choco­late, jelly and fudge! With a de­li­cious round, fruity bot­tle of Crego e Mon­aguillo Godello Mon­ter­rei 2015 (€27), a grape I rather like, and bot­tled wa­ter (€4.50), our bill, with ex­cep­tional ser­vice, came to €103.50. “We’re not at the best end of the quay,” Keith Boyle re­marked on our de­par­ture. But I think his be­ing there will at­tract other good eater­ies and cafes to what is a great wa­ter­front lo­ca­tion.

We strolled back along the quay to the Granville Ho­tel, with its ma­jes­tic canopy. It’s a bas­tion of old-world charm, with friendly, at­ten­tive staff and very com­fort­able ac­com­mo­da­tion. Break­fast in their el­e­gant restau­rant was su­perb, with a tremen­dous dis­play of ham, cheese, fruits, fresh straw­ber­ry­topped gra­nola yo­ghurt pots, nuts, hon­eys, scones, gluten-free sun­dried tomato and ba­nana breads. Bren­dan was per­suaded by the in­es­timable Mary to have a drop of Mul­doon whiskey on his por­ridge, which he fol­lowed up with a ful­lIr­ish, while I had de­li­cious eggs Royale on Water­ford blaa. B&B was €100.

Fan­tas­tic all round.

fours bouil­l­abaisse,

The Bay Tree Bistro, 16 Mer­chants Quay, Water­ford. Tel: (051) 858-517 the­baytree­bistro.com

lu­cin­dao­sul­li­van.com pe­tits

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