MEAL TICKET

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS | EATING OUT -

The Bula Bus Billy Byrne’s 39 John Street Kilkenny billy­byrnes.com

When I’m not writ­ing about food, I host a sing-along party called the Sing Along So­cial. It’s a ze­ro­com­mit­ment choir, where crowds of friends and strangers gather to sin­ga­long to some fa­mil­iar favourites. As part of the Al­ter­na­tive Kil kenny Arts Fringe Fes­ti­val, I was tasked with bring­ing the Sing Along So­cial to the mar­ble city, and found my­self in the cov­ered beer gar­den of Billy Byrne’s Barona Sun­day even­ing.

Billy Byrne’s is a fam­ily-run bar that has been trad­ing since 1954, and the warm feel­ing of a fam­ily wel­come is what I ex­pe­ri­ence over a 24-hour pe­riod in their care. Asa per­former, I get put up in­one of the Billy Byrne’ s Guest house rooms, a small col­lec­tion of cozy rooms above the pub. My room is clean, the bed is comfy and the decor is taste­fully sim­ple. The­bar’s in­te­rior has been given a quirky make over in the past decade. The front bar is sim­ple and modern, with plenty of light wood tones, whereas the cov­ered ter­race and the beer gar­den are crammed with mis matched vin­tage fur­ni­ture, cre­at­ing an en­dear­ingly cobb led-to­gether aes­thetic. The gar­dens host in­ti­mate mu­si­cal per­for­mances, from es­tab­lished favourites such as Andy Irvine to up-and-com­ing bands like BARQ.

Be­fore I kick off a Sing Along So­cial, there’ s the ques­tion of din­ner, and I take full ad­van­tage of The Bula Bus, ag ra fit ti- splat­tered dou­ble decker parked out­side the back of Billy Byrne’ s in the afore­men­tioned cov­ered beer­gar­den.

Podge Me ad is the Head Chef at Billy Byrne’s, which serves break­fast and lunch ev­ery­day from 9.30am to 4pm, in­clud­ing brunch on a Sun­day from 12 pm to 4 pm. The B ula Bus close son Mon days, but is open from 6 pm dur­ing the week, and from 4 pm on the week­ends. Bill Healey helps out in The Bula Bus too, and the vibe is street food witha multi-na­tional flavour.

I’ m too late for the Spicy Korean Chicken Wings (¤5 as a starter por­tion ,¤7.50 asama in) which have run out be­fore I rock upto or­der at the side of the bus, but the Chicken Pin cu it o’ s (¤7.50)make up for my loss. Chunks of chicken are doused in a spicy dry-rub and fried un­til crispy. A tasty le­mon a io lib rings some mois­ture, and I re­ally like the­house-made flat bread, which re­minds me tex­tu­rally of the Moroc­can­m­sem­men­crepe.My din­ner dates en­joy their tofu and roast veg bur­rito(¤7), an enor­mous par­cel of beans rice and salsa the size of a small baby, anda lambk of ta burger (¤7.50), a petite burger served on a house made bun.

A plate of cro­quettes (¤3)is the only part of our street food sup­per that doesn’ t blow us away. They are nicely crispy, and a good hunk of corned beef has been mixed with soft spuds to make up their fill­ing, but they are lack­ing the char­ac­ter­is­tic com­fort of a cheeky cro­quette, and the amount of spuds ren­der them a lit­tle stodgy. It might seem like a lazy ap­proach but per­haps the ad­di­tion of some molten cheese could jazz up their im­pact? An ac­com­pa­ny­ing blue cheese sauce is de­li­cious in its own­right, but it over pow­ers the cro­quettes, so per­haps a milder cheese is what’ s needed here.

The sweet po­tato fri es (¤3), on the other hand, are so good that we are com­pelled to or­der a sec­ond batch. They’ re de­li­cious ly crispy with­out be­ing a tall oily. Per­haps they’ re baked and then given a flashin the deep-fryer? I shall en­deav­our on my next visit to fig­ure out their se­cret.

The B ula Bus hosts Ta co Tues days weekly, and you can in­dulge in two tacos for ¤6and three for ¤8. Pre­vi­ous in­car­na­tions of this night fea­tured shred­ded pork with Cal­i­for­nia coleslaw, B ula Bus’ s pick­les and their house-made ha­banero­hot sauce. On Wed­nes­day nights, they fire up their wood-fired pizza oven to make piz­zas for the movie night hosted in the pub. The B ula Bush as been in the back gar­den for four years now, and this bu­sis show­ing no signs of go­ing any­where. Keep them in mind for an in­for­mal speedy sup­per on your next trip to Kil kenny. AMcE

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