This popular summer season café and weekend bistro opposite the Greens Berry Farm Shop (and sharing its large car park) is exactly what it says it is and, while it’s undeniably basic and its agricultural origins are very obvious, the fact that it hasn’t been gentrified too much is the secret of its charm.
In summer it’s open all day as a café, serving light meals (including a good breakfast), snacks and tea or coffee with some of the home bakes that are laid out temptingly just inside the door. Depending on your mood and the weather, you can sit in one of the two cowshed rooms set up with oilcloth covered tables and country kitchen chairs or, on fine days, at tables on a sunny decked area beside the door.
On Friday and Saturday evenings in high season, the daytime Cowhouse Café turns into a casual bistro serving modern Irish cooking, cooked with confidence.
A fairly short and simple menu offers fresh, seasonal and flavoursome dishes, with starters such as a plate of goat cheese and beetroot with freshly picked salad leaves, or a generous portion of crab claws in garlic butter. The accompanying brown bread is excellent and, although served with butter in foil wrapped pats, it is Irish.
Tasty main courses might include a perfectly cooked supreme of chicken wrapped in bacon with a black pudding stuffing, or perhaps a generous piece of angler fish in a well flavoured wine and cream sauce.
Accompanying vegetables are unusually varied - potatoes in garlic and cream, mixed roast vegetables, lovely, fresh and very tasty red cabbage, baby turnip and broccoli are all typical - and perfectly cooked.
Desserts chalked up on the blackboard include old favourites like lemon meringue, chocolate cheesecake, bread and butter pudding and a fresh apple and berry crumble ‘home-style’ – simple and appropriate, they go down a treat.
The only downside is that it’s unlicensed and, even though no wine is offered, there’s a corkage charge of €5 for BYO which seems a bit unfair. You can buy wine in the shop, however, and it’s very popular so booking ahead is essential for evening meals.