The Canal Walk Café is in Sallins, overlooking the canal, and the barge that rest alongside its banks. The Canal Walk is a traditional shop front and inside on the ground floor there are some tables and the open kitchen. It’s very busy during the daytime, does a good local trade. They have recently started to do dinner, from Thursday to Saturday, and the upstairs dining room is a surprise, a large square room that runs over the building next door. The décor is quirky and the tables well spaced. This is best described as a hidden gem, and we are glad to have found it.
The restaurant is run by Michael Kennedy and his French partner Rebecca. The couple work well together, Mick in the kitchen while Rebecca runs the front of house with some charm and the kind of attention that a committed owner brings. We were seated in the upstairs room, beside a window looking onto the canal with our menus, some fresh homemade bread very nice sundried tomato butter and our bottle of house sparkling water.
The menu is a little unusual, in that it is different from most other places. The kitchen is small, and so Mick uses the best ingredients he can get on any given week, and designs a menu from there. On the night we visited we could choose from five starters; smoked salmon, cream cheese and chive pate, duo of black pudding and roasted figs, sautéed wild mushrooms on brioche, a goats cheese tart and the special of the evening, a half dozen oysters with bacon and béarnaise sauce. Starters are all priced at a very reasonable, possibly ridiculous, €5.95.
The main courses were baked cod, a tandoori chicken breast with mango, pan seared fillet of pork or wild mushroom risotto. There were two homemade pasta dishes; one in a cherry tomato sauce with chicken breast or beef medallions or a creamy basil, cherry tomato and courgette sauce. There is also a strip loin steak with wild mushrooms and sautéed onions. We decided on the oysters and wild mushroom brioche to start, followed by the tandoori chicken breast and the pork. The main courses are all under €14, continuing the value for money theme.
The oysters were warm, the béarnaise freshly made and combined to make a very successful dish. Deirdre’s wild mushroom brioche was on a bed of dressed leaves, the brioche toasted and the wild mushrooms on top were delicious. The main courses that followed continued the high standard; Deidre’s fairly rustic medallions of pork surrounded a portion of gratin potatoes that was big enough for two. A wholegrain mustard sauce that accompanied the dish was drizzled over the pork, which was perfectly cooked and very tasty. My tandoori chicken breast was tender and juicy, sitting on a bed of mixed leaves and surrounded by freshly chopped mango. Both of these dishes were well presented and packed with flavour. That was the abiding theme running thought the meal. Carefully chosen ingredients, cooked to perfection, with attention paid to the all the parts.
We finished with two desserts. A very tangy, moist fresh lemon tart for Deirdre and a piece of Rebecca homemade chocolate cake, made from granny’s recipe for me. Two good coffees finished this excellent meal. The bill came to under €60, including service and a glass of white wine from the well chosen list.
The Canal Walk is different; the menu doesn’t follow fashion, but the imagination of the chef. The service is friendly and warm and the restaurant is charming. This is one to try and enjoy.