The Step House Hotel is a family run business that has expanded to become a very stylish boutique hotel, situated in the very pretty heritage village of Borris, in Co. Carlow. The Step House has delightful views over the Blackstairs Mountains, large roaring fires during the winter and wonderful gardens to explore in the summer.
The Step House started out as a B&B, run by the present owner’s aunt. The name comes from the set of granite steps that lead up to the door of the original house. The business has expanded and now incorporates a very nice bar, the elegant hotel and the restaurant. Upon entering it is immediately apparent that a lot of time and effort has gone into this design, with very cool marble floors complementing a contemporary colour scheme throughout. Rooms are large and very sumptuous, with top quality bedding and linen and large, luxurious bathrooms.
We visited earlier on this year and were lucky enough to be staying over with dinner reservations in the Cellar Restaurant for 8pm. The restaurant is appropriately enough located in the cellar; a series of interconnecting rooms, archways and vaulted ceilings - it is where the kitchens were in the original house. We had a table beside a window, with an open fire crackling in the background, all very romantic with a feeling of intimacy and privacy.
The Step House opens The Cellar Restaurant at weekends or other nights due to demand, and each time we have been here it is full, but because of the layout you get the buzz without feeling people are on top of you. Some good homemade breads; white with poppy seeds, traditional brown and their famous curry bread all prepared by third generation bakers with a bottle of sparkling water got us settled as we turned our attention to the menu.
The menu is a set affair of 3 courses for €40. There’s a choice of five starters, and dishes include a rabbit or ham hock terrine, a red pepper basquaise, quail or a plum tomato soup. We decided I would start with the quail which was served on a mushroom and parsley risotto and my husband had the plum tomato soup which came with a goats cheese bon bon on top and followed with the sea breem for Fred and the taste of venison for me.
The wine list offers wines from every region, with a selection of five whites and the same of red averaging at €25 a bottle or €6 served by the glass. We chose the Chilean sauvignon blanc Chilensis.
As always the team serve great food and tonight was no exception. The roast quail was tender and served on the mushroom and parsley risotto, which was perfectly cooked, and a perfect contrast. The plum tomato soup was packed with flavour and served with a goats cheese bon bon, which added another dimension to this classic.
The main courses were superb; my veal was cooked to perfection, medium rare and juicy and accompanied with Brussels sprouts & bacon with a pear and pepper cream. Brussels sprouts are so underused, I usually only had them at Christmas but as a winter vegetable, and especially with some bacon they are sensational. Fred ordered the sea breem, which was simply prepared allowing the fish to speak for itself. It came with mushroom juices, gnocchi and pak choy and we enjoyed them with sides of croquette potatoes and garden runner beans.
The dessert menu arrived and even though you know you shouldn’t, five tempting dishes are hard to say no to, so we shared the mango & passion fruit parfait. It was light and refreshing served with fresh raspberries, lemon curd and honeycomb, and other temptations included orange & cardamom crème brulee or 70% chocolate mousse. There is also a great Irish cheese plate at a €2 supplement.
Great food is also served in the 1808 Bar every night; that’s two hidden gems in this stunning boutique hotel, definitely not a stopover but a destination which continues to come highly recommended by Taste of Ireland year after year.