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Ireland’s inland waterways are nothing short of a national treasure yet, for most people, they’re very much an adventure waiting to happen. Since 1999 GCGuides has produced an independent A Taste of the Waterways guide which, with the support of Waterways Ireland in recent years, has developed to include accommodation and Things To Do Along The Way as well as the best places to eat and drink. Presenting the waterways as an amenity for all to enjoy and not just boating folk, the A Taste of the Waterways Award highlights one of the best from the current selection each year.
This terrific little restaurant and wine bar is in a traditional terrace beside the Grand Canal, only half an hour from Dublin. The scenic location, overlooking the boats moored in the harbour, would be reason enough to come here - and many people do head out of the city just for the pleasure of fishing, or walk along the towpath.
But it's not just the setting that has people flocking to this charming spot, it’s also the exceptional food and outstanding value for money that Two Cooks offers. Opened recently by Josef Zammit and Nicola Curran - a well known couple with a following among Kildare diners - it was designed with affordable quality for the lucky locals in mind.
The compact two storey premises somehow manages to offer something for all ages and occasions in a small space, and to do it with style - both in a simple yet atmospheric ground floor wine bar offering a blackboard tapas menu, and a larger restaurant up the narrow stairs. With cottagey windows overlooking the canal - and some tables giving a glimpse into the busy kitchen - it offers a relaxed ‘fine dining without the fuss’ experience.
Menus are confidently short and very seasonal, well versed serving staff explain each dish in detail and the cooking is outstanding. But perhaps the best part is the bill which, for food and service of this calibre, is extremely reasonable making this the perfect neighbourhood restaurant.
This canalside gem is well worth exploring.