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