Since opening on O’Connell Street in 2006, owner-chef Ken Stembridge’s contemporary city centre restaurant soon became one of the most popular in Limerick – and the move to this attractive location on Georges Quay in the autumn of 2010 has built on that success.
The new premises enjoys a prime riverside location in an interesting area of the city – just around the corner from the Hunt Museum - and has plenty of outside seating as well as a bar, where you might enjoy a cocktail before dinner.
With exposed brickwork, dark beams, painted panels and good lighting making a pleasing setting for Ken’s good food, the relaxed interior has casual style – bare table tops, paper napkins – subtly emphasising that you’re not paying for unnecessary extras.
The wide ranging menus have been designed with hard-pressed customers in mind and offer exceptional value for money - especially on the all-night three-course ‘Value’ menu, which offers half a dozen choices on each course for a very keen price; and even on the à la carte, where you will find more exciting dishes to choose from, any three dishes can be combined to make a 3-course meal at a modest set price.
Blackboard specials are offered in addition to the printed menu and there’s a tendency to favour fish and seafood - the signature dish is Azur Hot Seafood Platter, which includes a selection of seven different fish and seafood (and attracts a small supplement on set menu prices).
Meat lovers and vegetarians are treated equally well, however, and each dish is thoughtfully constructed to offer complementary texture and flavour combinations that lift popular ingredients out of the ordinary.
Good starters from a summer menu include Warm lobster salad with a prawn, lime & tomato salsa (simply presented and with a very good dressing), and a well-made Prawn and green pea risotto with fresh basil and mint – and there are perennial favourites including Homemade chicken liver paté (with toasted brioche and berry compôte), and upbeat vegetarian options such as a tempting Organic leaf salad with buffalo mozzarella, peach, pomegranate & parma ham with fresh mint.
A vegetarian dish also tops the list of main courses, which is unusual, but the emphasis here is on meats – 24hour roasted belly of pork, steaks (sirloin, surf’n’turf) and rack of lamb – and seafood, which stars in a number of very well executed dishes such as a Trio of monkfish, cod and scallops with a chive baby potato and sauce vierge, or tasty and perfectly cooked Sea Bass with roasted fennel and lobster bisque.
Good cooking and simple presentation make a confident partnership, and side dishes match up well – as do desserts which, if you are lucky, will include an unusual lemon posset with rhubarb and orange, which makes a lovely refreshing ending to a good meal.
A sensibly short wine list has good tasting notes and includes some cocktails, beers, and spirits along with just 7 red and 7 white wines; house wines (3 red and 3 white) € 19.95; by the glass €5.50.
Staff are friendly and chatty at quiet times but also well able to provide good service to all tables as the restaurant fills up – another sign of focused attention in this well run and pocket-friendly restaurant.