At the Dublin end of Main Street, just across from the gates into Carton House and its beautiful tree-lined avenue, Robert and Bronagh Kennedy’s two-storey restaurant has earned a loyal following.
With a strong team, including head chef John Cole who has been here since opening in 2007, and a reputation for great food and service at reasonable prices, it is deservedly one of the most popular eating places in Maynooth.
Although located in an old house, it has been stylishly updated and happily the building has retained its character. The addition of a covered outdoor eating area now makes a welcoming entrance; once inside, it’s busy and buzzy, so diners of all ages will enjoy the great atmosphere that makes it equally attractive to families or groups of friends having a night out. The bar, which is a relatively new addition, has provided a welcome place to relax beforeor after a meal - and also makes a pleasant spot to drop in to at any time for a light bite.
The upstairs space is perhaps slightly more formal, with dark brown tables and chairs and leather banquettes along one wall, and window tables overlook the street and the baskets of flowers hanging outside.
The cooking style is modern smart-casual, with a healthy respect for Irish producers (suppliers are credited), and special diets can be accommodated on request. A speciality of the house is the Avenue Burger Station,which is available at all times. The 100% Irish beef burgers are produced in-house and can be plain char-grilled or ordered with a choice of additions - red onion marmalade and blue cheese, perhaps, or mozzarella pesto and vine tomato; pork, chicken or vegetarian variations are also available.
There's a great selection of wraps, paninis, gourmet sandwiches, omelettes and salads at lunchtime (try the lunch special: soup, panini or wrap, tea or coffee for just €10), and the excellent value Early Bird dinner menu is also available through lunch too. Favourite starters include Caesar salad, fresh and smoked salmon and herb-crumbed mushrooms and there’s a good choice of mains. Ever popular fish and chips is given a twist with Wrights natural smoked haddock in crispy beer batter, and braised organic lamb from Connemara is offered alongside local producer Jane Russell’s handmade pork sausages with creamy mash, red onion marmalade and red wine jus.
The main dinner menu's starters overlap with the early one but offers extra choices - steamed Bantry Bay mussels in a garlic, shallot and white wine reduction, for example, which is served with homemade brown bread, and the always reliable Clonakilty black pudding, here accompanied by tomatoes, onions and a mustard dressing, and finished with a poached egg.
Mains include a spicy fish stew that combines chorizo with a selection of Wrights fresh and smoked fish, but you’ll also find simpler fish like pan-fried sea bass, hearty meat dishes such as confit of Irish pork belly, served with wholegrain mustard, braised cabbage and a glazed apple cider reduction, and a Butchers Block selection of steaks.
Desserts are definitely of the finger-lickin’ variety, so why not finish with a comforting treat like warm sticky toffee pudding, profiteroles and fresh cream, Avenue meringue mess or apple and raisin crumble tart.
Children are made very welcome, with a very nice menu and fun packs offered, and there are themed evenings like a special Ladies Night menu (€21/€26), which includes a complimentary glass of wine...
A shortish but well-balanced wine list favours Europe and will easily complement your meal, with a range of house wines available by the glass (regular or large), carafe or bottle, and a wine of the month among the choices. There’s also a range of beers including a gluten free lager and Erdinger non alcoholic.
Great service too - customers clearly come first here, and they think of everything.