Betty and John Kenny's inviting restaurant in the heart of Laragh has been welcoming diners for over 40 years and, with consistently good food and friendly and attentive staff, it is more popular than ever.
Colourful hanging baskets and generous tables set up with parasols are inviting from the road, and there's an appealing gazebo offering a nice sort of indoors/outdoors dining option too.
Once inside, visitors are intrigued to find themselves in a fascinating setting that's full of historical interest. The restaurant is divided up into the Irish Whiskey Bar and the Irish Writers’ Room, with shelves of books penned by Ireland’s literary greats and a medley of Irish memorabilia such as antique spinning wheels, copper pots etc.
The Irish Writers' Room is more than just an atmospheric dining room, however, as items on display comprise a very rare antique literary collection including first editions of Swift's Gullivers travels from 1726, James Joyce's Ulysses 1922 Paris edition on hand made paper (one of only 750 copies printed), alongside many Yeats, Heaney, Beckett and Oscar Wilde first editions to name but a few. The James Joyce love bracelet takes pride of place here.
But the ambience is not in the slightest museum-like - you'll find cosy, homely comfort, complemented by unfussy but prompt and efficient service.
For evening diners, the à la carte menu offers a huge choice with starters covering everything from garlic mushrooms to prawns pil pil, and mains such as Creole Cajun chicken alongside traditional roast stuffed turkey and ham.
But the dinner specials menu has a stronger sense of identity, focusing more on local flavours and ingredients – offering Wicklow beef and lamb sourced from the nearby village of Aughrim for example, and Wicklow venison from Glenmalure, all fully traceable from farm to fork.
The Wicklow Heather is open all day offering snacks and sandwiches and a wide-ranging Lunch Specials menu offers local produce like Wicklow trout and Aughrim lamb, alongside seasonal produce from further afield such as Dingle crab. Varied menus offfer something to suit everyone - and dishes like their popular beer battered haddock with minted peas and handcut fries have universal appeal.
The wine list also caters for all tastes and includes a rosé and a choice of sparkling wines among the nine house wines, plus a number of half and quarter bottles in addition to the main list. There is also a full bar, with four beers on draught for those who are happier with a pint - and a nice little seasonal drinks menu offers a few extra tempting suggestions, including cocktails.
The Wicklow Heather is always buzzing with a blend of local families, couples and tourists - and everyone leaves happy and well fed.
Next door, at Heather House, the Kennys have an attractive Failte Ireland Approved B&B, with lovely mountain views from the comfortable bedrooms and a guest reading room, where there are comfy armchairs, loads of books and games to while away those long relaxing holiday evenings.