Harte’s Bar and Grill is in the centre of Kildare town on the Market Square. This individual bar and restaurant has developed quite a reputation and following since they opened, not least because of their use of hot stones, which are the new ‘hot’ way of cooking your own steak the way you like it. Cool décor, friendly service and a range of artisan beers from all over the world make this one a winner for us.
From the outside Harte’s has the look of a traditional pub, albeit one whose owners have an eye for detail. The colours are contemporary, and there are nice little touches like the branded old lanterns and flags of Europe, the US and Australia flutter overhead. Inside the décor is traditional meets contemporary with a traditional bar, wooden floors with original tiling here and there and comfortable seats. The walls have a collection of original, and mostly signed images of sporting greats like our four major golf winners, and horse racing stars such as Johnny Murtagh feature in this, the heart of the Irish horse racing industry.
The menu is what sets them apart from other bars, the range and quality is a step above what you might expect and the menu is big on choice and value. Starters include seafood chowder, prawns pil pil, Clonakilty black pudding with an organic free range poached egg, Frank’s chicken wings with homemade sauce and a very nice St. Tolas goat’s cheese parcel in puff pastry. The starters range in price from €4 up to €9 for the prawns, but they are mostly grouped around the €7 mark.
The main courses include dishes such as the salmon, smoked haddock and cod fishcakes with cucumber salad and chilli dressing, home made battered cod and chips, spinach and ricotta tortellini in a cream sauce and prawn and basil linguine. The main event here though is the items straight from the grill. We mean straight here, because Harte’s have the hot stones for cooking you food at the table, adding some fun and theatre to your meal.
There is a choice of four steaks, which arrive at the table on the hot stone, and off you go. The staff will give you a quick cookery lesson, but it’s fairly easy, and you can cook your meat in one piece, or cut it into strips, and do it in pieces. All the steaks are served with a choice of sauces and homemade chips.
On our last visit shared the chicken wings to start and they were very good, a decent size and the blue cheese dip were excellent. For the main event we had the fishcakes, which were really well made and tasted of the fish they were said to contain, which we think is always a good thing, though not as common as you would hope. Then there was the 10 oz sirloin which we cooked on the hot rock. There is something pretty cool about cooking your own meal in a busy restaurant. There are more reasons that usual to look around and see how your fellow diners are getting on, because they are now your fellow cooks, but it is a lot of fun and needless to say the steak was cooked perfectly.
After all this food we still managed a dessert form a choice of sweetie favourites like pear and almond tart, Eton Mess and a hot chocolate and caramel sundae, but in the end we opted for the orange and white chocolate crème brulee which hit the spot.
Harte’s is a very good bar, serving good food in an original and different way. For a meal out with friends the hot rock is hard to beat and it really dies put the experience into dining.