Avenue Restaurant Maynooth is one of the best neighbourhood cafes and restaurants in the country. Whether at lunch or in the evening the food is always top notch, service is friendly and relaxed and the room is stylish.
Maynooth is a busy town, what with the colleges and large companies that are situated in and around it and Avenue Cafe & Restaurant have been serving this market very effectively. Opened in December 2007 by Robert & Bronagh Kennedy, Avenue boasts a large following of loyal, local customers and in recent years they have created a comfy library style bar with plush leather seating and tall stools around the traditional bar.
There is a range of interesting whiskeys here, as well as craft beers, speciality gins and of course the very good wine list, with a large selection available by the glass. It has become the unofficial home of the Irish rugby team when they are ensconced in Carton House just down the road.
If you can make it in for lunch the burger is sensational; it's been a creation involving some effort and involves adding oats to the burger to help it retain moisture. Served with a glazed brioche bun and an endless combination of toppings it's a benchmark.
On our last trip for dinner we were three hungry little diners: myself, Abigail my food scientist daughter, and Cousin John, back on a trip home from Maryland. We ordered from both the early bird and the A la Carte, and tried enough dishes to give a good idea of what you can expect.
I started with a pitch perfect Caesar salad that was crunchy and had the correct ingredients in the right amounts, no small feat apparently judging from the strange combinations of random ingredients that are sometimes described as a Caesar salad.
John enjoyed two large chunks or deep fried Brie with berry compote while Abigail got the star with a really good salmon fish cake, which came on mixed leaves and a yoghurt salsa on top. It was light and erred on the side of fishy, without being overpowering.
The other two by the way enjoyed a Pinot Grigio and Pinot Blanco while I, as designated driver, stuck with the sparkling water, which comes in their own bottles and costs next to nothing.
Main courses brought Abi a fine lamb shank, while John had the homemade bangers and mash; a treat for an Irish lad just home for a visit from the US. I had the rib steak on the bone, with shoe string onions and chunky hand cut chips.
The steaks here come in on the rack, and are butchered and trimmed in the kitchen, so what arrived on the plate was pleasantly surprising and packed full of flavour, while the pepper sauce was exactly that, with a serious peppery punch. I don’t normally order steaks when doing reviews, but in this case I was glad I did, it was one of the best pieces of meat I have eaten.
Some people had room for dessert - the hollow legged duo as they shall be known - and an Eton mess and a sticky toffee pudding finished them off while I made do with and espresso.
Avenue has long been a personal favourite and it just keeps getting better. I think it is the standard by which neighbourhood restaurants should be measured, it is really that good.