Head chef Alan Foley (formerly of Chapter One) is turning this family-run hotel into a gourmet destination, about an hour’s drive from Dublin and two from Cork. In the tiny village of Borris, the Step House Hotel is owned and operated by Cait and James Coady. The Cellar Restaurant, in the old vaulted kitchens of the house, is the main draw, with a French table d’hote menu offering two and three courses for ¤36/¤40 – including air-dried beef with onion cream, and a pithiver of local free range pork from Salter’s farm in nearby Fenagh, Co Carlow, served with piccalilli and apricots.
In fact, much of the menu focuses on meat: wild sikka deer, haunch of venison, Breckland duck, shoulder of milk-fed veal and Hereford beef all feature in the autumn line-up, while local fish comes from Goatsbridge Trout Farm, just across the border in Co Kilkenny. Desserts are decidedly French, with a black fig tart, a thick, creamy orange chocolate bavarois, fruit parfait, and cheeses – although the selection is Irish, and includes Cashel Blue, Milleens
Kilkenny Design Centre, Castle Yard, Kilkenny, 056-772 2118, kilkennydesign.com ¤¤ Anocht has one of the best locations in Kilkenny city, perched on top of Kilkenny Design Centre in the old stable buildings that once housed the horses of the Earl of Ormonde, who lived across the road in Kilkenny Castle. Today, in the oak-beamed, white-washed 250-year-old dining room, you can see the castle to the front, and the National Craft Gallery to the back. The restaurant opens on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Bank Holiday Sunday nights. The menu is seasonal, with lots of local producers, including Highbank Orchards, Knockdrinna cheeses and Mileeven honey. Starters include a delicious foie gras with wild mushrooms and Inistioge marrow (¤8.50) and leek and butternut croguettes with a blue-cheese sauce (¤7.50). Mains are simple but tasty, with beef short rib (¤21.50), duck breast glazed with Jameson and Mileeven honey (¤23) and a