Although Zuni is an hotel (‘boutique’ style, and offering a more youthful style of accommodation than other comparable establishments), the atmosphere is more restaurant with rooms: an oasis of contemporary chic in this bustling city, it is well established as an in-place for discerning Kilkenny diners.
The room is large and airy, overlooking a courtyard (alfresco dining in fine weather) and there’s a separate restaurant entrance so you don’t have to go through the hotel.
Whiles Maria Raftery’s wide-ranging menus offer international dishes, her use of local ingredients lends a distinctive Irish tone - Lavistown cheese gives relevance to a starter of Waldorf salad with green apple sorbet, for example, and the meat antipasti slate offers cured meats from Gubbeen Smokehouse in west Cork. And you can be sure of finding a variation on everyone’s favourite - chargrilled Irish sirloin with chunky chips, mushroom duxelle, and béarnaise sauce.
Attractively presented food is always full of flavour: smart salads make tasty starters and Maria, who cooks with panache in view of diners, is a cool and accomplished chef.
Menus to note include an early dinner menu which offers a good choice and gives great value for money - and an upbeat contemporary variation on the traditional lunch which packs them in on Sundays.
Many - both residents and visitors - would cite this as their favourite Kilkenny restaurant.
Seats 70 (outdoor seating, 24); L Tue-Sun 12.30-2.30 (Sun 1-3), D daily 6-9.30 (Sun 6-9). 2/3 course set D €23.50/28.50. Otherwise á la carte. House wine from about €22. SC 12.5% added to parties 6+. Toilets wheelchair accessible; children welcome before 7pm.
Rooms have direct dial phones, air conditioning, iron/trouser press, TV, tea/coffee-making facilities; the minimalist décor - recently refurbished in pale tones - is difficult to keep immaculate. Breakfast is served in the restaurant.