Cross over the newest bridge in Ennis town centre, Harmony Bridge, and you’ll find yourself at the Rowan Tree. It is a hostel as well as a café and bar, and has a number of outside tables overlooking the water in this attractive market town.
The Rowan Tree’s premises used to be a club, and while the high ceilings and fine black marble fireplace speak of old-time grandeur, the place is spacious, light, all-welcoming and not at all exclusive.
Open seven days a week, the Rowan Tree offers every class of refreshment, from breakfast/brunch on Sunday, when you can treat yourself to the likes of Eggs Benedict, to afternoon tea - and it is always throbbing at lunchtime, with tables packed with everyone from parents with toddlers to a Golden Years outing for old friends, businessmen and shoppers who feel like a tasty bite to eat in relaxing surroundings. Everyone seems to feel at home.
The menu declares its ethics – local food where possible, properly sourced food, the best ingredients and something for vegetarians and vegans, too.
Whether it is lunchtime and you go for a house pizza, or a warm goat’s cheese salad with pesto and mixed leaves, or a hefty focaccia with mozzarella, parma ham, roast tomato and rocket, you will get a generous plateful of very fresh food.
The evening menu is a little more elaborate, with an emphasis on Italian dishes, but prices remain very fair and the style is still laid-back. Think of a first course of tempura prawns with a sweet chilli mayonnaise at around €6 and a main course of Albondigas – Italian meatballs on a tomato and chilli sauce served on a bed of spaghetti - for about €13.
The wine list is long and interesting, and the good news for many is that a huge number of wines are available by the glass – and a good-sized glass, too.