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