The arrival of well known chef, Jacques Carerra, at this unusual location brought a new dining experience to Wexford .
The daytime café Sidetracks has been located in this building on the corner of Custom House Quay for a good few years - and (yes, this is a little confusing) it is still there. However, since November 2012, the same premises has opened in the evening as Jacques Seafood Restaurant.
The name Sidetracks relates to a unique feature of Wexford Town, ie that the Rosslare train passes along the quay right in front of the building five times a day. If you call during the day, you will find the Sidetracks café menu on display, serving snacks, sandwiches, cakes, and hot dishes to a very different clientèle.
In the evening the attractive L-shaped room overlooking the harbour is transformed into Jacques Seafood Restaurant and the polished wooden tables are set up welcomingly with white linen napkins, nightlight, good quality glassware and china. Owner Fergie Keogh is front of house to welcome guests, who are promptly offered water, olives and bread along with the menus
Specials at market prices are listed on a blackboard and explained on arrival, while the well presented menus offer plenty of carefully thought out choices and highlight Jacques’ Euro-Toques membership (the plaque is also on display).
While seafood is very much the speciaility, meat eaters should also be pleased with choices that not only include favourites like steak, duck and chicken but also game, such as pheasant, in season.
The quality of cooking is very professional and seafood lovers will relish appealing starters like delicately flavoured fresh crab salad with coriander mayonnaise and citrus dressing, or Dublin Bay prawns in filo with a very good mint, mango and black pepper coulis.
Attractively presented main dishes may include monkfish with alightly curried mussel sauce and lovely king scallops served in the shells, served with simple but flavoursome side vegetables.
Desserts include variations on well-made classics like crème brulee and pavlova.
To accompany this good food, a well presented predominately French wine list with very good tasting notes, offers a moderately priced selection of 8 red and 8 white wines (€22/35), two reds and whites by the glass ( €5.50/ 6.50) and bottle (€22/ 25), some champagne and sparkling wines and two half bottles.
Service by the owner, Fergie, is very relaxed but confident and after the meal he introduces Chef Jacques to all the evening diners. That is something that you don’t see very often these days, and it is a nice touch.