The Purty Kitchen is a splendid gastro pub and music venue on the Old Dunleary Road in Monkstown. This landmark pub has gone through many changes down the years, but its present incarnation has put it back on a steady footing, attracting people back for the fine food, or some great music in the upstairs venue.
Purty Kitchen is a large, traditional pub on the side of the old road, and probably started out as a roadside inn way back when. It retains its old world charm, while inside the décor is sympathetic, with wooden floor boards, boxed off booths and comfortable well spaced tables. Not surprisingly, being situated beside the sea, the emphasis is on fish and seafood, and there are some interesting and surprising dishes on the menu.
We visited most recently bin a Tuesday evening, and the place was fairly buzzing, with couples and friends meeting for an after work drink, and larger groups occupying some of the dining tables. The group of eight beside us had availed of the Bring Your Own wine policy and rocked up with a fine selection of their own wines; reds and whites, and settled in for an evening of food, wine and conversation. We had to settle for some sparkling water, between driving and work nights it wasn’t to be.
There are a couple of menu options; a value menu offers two courses for €20, and there’s the A la Carte. We stuck with the A la Carte, as Deirdre was only having the one course, and the menu is very good value as well. The menu is very well put together, and as well as good descriptions of each dish, there is a recommendation for one of their huge selection of craft beers with each one.
Starters included crispy poached egg on Kettyle black pudding and pinto beans, Kerry crab claws with pink grapefruit, cherry tomato, garlic butter and rocket, salmon and sweet potato croquettes with honey Dijon and pea shoots or goat’s cheese mousse with apple and candied striped beetroot.
As you can see, these are not your standard pub fare; this is real gastro pub territory and it continues through the main courses, which include; grilled sea bass with samphire, pickled fennel and aioli, vodka and basil cured sea trout with crab champ potato, aubergine Caponata and shellfish dressing, steak on a stone, a homemade burger with streaky bacon, tomato, cheddar cheese, onion rings and hand-cut fires, or traditional fish and chips.
I loved the starter of crispy poached egg with black pudding; the egg was coated in the lightest crumb and deep fried. It came placed on top of a slice of Kettyle's black pudding and when I cut into it, the yolk oozed out, perfectly cooked and delicious. The pinto beans on the side and the sour cream added another dimension and this was a very fine dish, and excellent value at €7.50.
Main courses continued to impress; Deirdre’s pork belly was topped with crackling, and the creamy mash and Savoy cabbage were perfect with it. Red onion and cranberry relish and apple jus added an element of sweetness and again this was a really well balanced dish. I couldn’t resist the vodka and basil cured trout. The delicate fish sat atop a portion of creamed champ with crab meat mixed through, and the beetroot crème fraiche with tangy and delicious, while the aubergine Caponata worked a treat.
We didn’t have dessert, and finished with coffees. The level of food and service in the Purty Kitchen is raising the bar for others who call themselves gastro pubs. Food of this quality and complexity wouldn’t be out of place in a good high end restaurant, but the atmosphere here is relaxed and fun, and so it all seems very laid back and simple. One of the better meals of the year so far, and considering I am writing this in June, that’s saying something.