Warren Gillen has a well-earned following in the South-East ,and many happy diners with fond memories of good meals past make a point of heading straight to this modest restaurant whenever they are in Wexford Town.
A long, narrow premises on several levels separated by a few steps, it's a simple little place with nothing wasted on the decor - pastel coloured oil cloths brighten the tables (but good glassware and china) - and the focus is very firmly on excellent food, pleasant, attentive service and good value.
Reception is friendly and prompt - Warren greets his customers himself and later checks on them at each table, as has always been his way – and new arrivals immediately feel at home.
Warren is a great supporter of local and artisan producers; his short, interesting menus have a sense of place - and promise contemporary Irish food with a Gillen twist. His is an Irish restaurant, and proud of it. The fish is from Kilmore Quay, the meat from the nearby butchers, Doyle’s, greens and veg are grown locally, and the goats cheese is from Newtownshandrum in North Cork. Beers come from White Gypsy in Tipperary and the local Cleverman - and even the wine is supplied by a Wexford producer, albeit produced in the Languedoc.
A speciality of Doyle’s Lamb Cutlets, local greens, home-fries, red wine and rosemary, will warm an autumn or winter’s evening - or, for a summer lunch, why not try a Salad of rabbit braised in beer (local, of course), curry oil, pickles and brie fritter.
Fish cooking is deceptively simple in the hands of this accomplished chef and, whatever he is cooking – Kilmore hake, with spiced mash and apple gel, almonds, lime and apple velouté, perhaps - his skill is in producing dishes that are richly layered with flavours yet always enhance the delicious seasonal (and, often, less expensive) ingredients he has so carefully selected, and never seeks to overpower.
This small restaurant is serving the best of contemporary Irish food prepared by a gifted chef who enthusiastically promotes local ingredients, and merits wider recognition.
With an outstanding kitchen backed up by well-informed and pleasant staff, and offering great value for money, the world will surely beat a path to his door.
Wine is supplied by Jim Neville of Wellingtonbridge, Co Wexford, whose brother Pat has a vineyard in Languedoc, Domaine Aonghusa. The list is quite short but very adequate.