Kilkenny Design Centre, Kilkenny City
Castle Yard, Kilkenny, Ireland.
Located in the heart of Kilkenny city, directly opposite the historic castle is the Kilkenny Design Centre. The building is remarkable; once the stables of the castle, its large picture windows open the building to the outside and the effect is striking. There’s a gift shop and newly opened food hall on the lower level, with a less casual restaurant above over looking the courtyard.
The food hall is the ideal location for a quick snack on the run, or to take something wonderful home. Upstairs the restaurant is a large area broken into two sections with the food counter and coffee area in the centre. Timber floors, original beams, exposed brickwork and a large selection of tables and round windows the length of the restaurant gives an open, airy feeling.
From the main food counter there is a large selection of salads and cold plates as well as a hot food area with all the specials written clearly on the blackboards overhead. Everything is freshly made in the kitchens by a dedicated team, and Edward Hayden playing a large role behind the scenes from designing menus and creations to writing the recipes for the team to prepare. Most of the staff have been there for years, some for the past 20 years, and this continuity is evident.
There was seafood chowder which they are very proud of and I felt it would be rude not to sample it; I have to say it was definitely one of the best chowders I have had; their pride is not misplaced. It was chunky chowder, full of various fish including smoked haddock, cod and loads more, and very creamy, with just the right consistency.
We loved Moroccan lamb with rice, which was full of flavor and spices and a very generous serving. The darnes of salmon where simple and fresh and a fish pie was fishy and creamy and polished off. There was a large selection of fish inside, and each one could be tasted individually, all topped with mashed potato and a salad on the side.
I dare you not to try the desserts; they all look so great it is hard to pass them by. All prepared earlier that morning by Joan, who has been with the craft centre the past 20 years. The selection went from warm chocolate brownies to a chocolate cloud cake, apple pie, and a baileys cheese cake which was so light you didn’t feel like too much damage was being done. I tried the chocolate cloud cake which again was very light; although I am sure my theory of not too much damage is wishful thinking.
There is a concise selection of well chosen wines, seven which are available both by the bottle or ½ bottles. There is also a great choice if teas, herbal teas and coffees which will work very well with your chosen dessert.
From June of this year the restaurant will be opening 3 evenings a week, and I am sure the area will be transformed into a totally new space, more refined and intimate for the evening.. A definite watch this space.