Located at the end of Main Street, handy to the university, railway station and harbour, the large picture windows of this appealing restaurant look out onto the side of the historic Maynooth Castle.
At the front, smart canopies protect outdoor diners from the weather while providing a pleasant outlook along the street – and next door they have an informal daytime café, which also offers some deli products.
Inside there are two rooms and the atmosphere is cosy and intimate, with friendly staff who are quick to greet arriving customers and make them feel welcome. Booths providing privacy and comfort in the first, more casual, area and there’s a distinctly French ambience throughout, especially in the inner room with its bentwood chairs, banquettes around the walls, subdued lighting and soft music – and a collection of framed photos of Parisian scenes which owner Alan Morrissey brought back from France and now adorn the back wall.
As befits a restaurant in a university town, menus are wide ranging and accessible to all, offering sharing platters, inexpensive pasta dishes, salads and children’s choices as well as more expensive dishe like steaks and prime fish.
Depending on the time of day or evening, there is a menu to suit. Brunch offerings include traditional porridge, American-style pancakes and a variety of egg dishes – Benedict or Florentine and quail eggs with Parma ham. Lunch ranges from pastas and pizzas to a wholesome Irish Stew and a choice of salads including unusual combinations like calamari with lime dressing, or duck and plum.
On the main evening à la carte, you might whet your appetite with nibbles – a plate of marinated cherry tomatoes, stuffed green olives and roasted nuts and seeds, perhaps - and pick from starter choices that lean towards fish. Pan-fried scallops with rhubarb compote and rocket pesto or crab claws served with garlic mayo and dough balls are just two possibilities from a good choice.
Mains offer a choice of fish, perhaps including salmon wellington (salmon fillet and spinach in pastry) pan-fried turbot and monkfish on lemongrass skewers. Other excellent choices include steaks, duck and rack of lamb, also risotto, pasta and salad dishes providing lighter and less expensive choices, and everything is well cooked, attractively persented – and very tasty.
Sweet-toothed diners will find the desserts tempting - white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake, hazelnut & sticky toffee pavlova, hot chocolate brownie – especially when accompanied by a good Americano or espresso.
The wine list is short and includes some specials – a de Pellerins Muscadet or perhaps Le Altanza crianza – and offers plenty by the glass.
This is a lovely restaurant with long opening hours, offering good food served by well-informed and friendly staff and at fair prices. A very useful place to know about.