Harpers Bar and Grill is the main restaurant in the award winning 4-star boutique hotel, The Kilkenny Hibernian, a beautifully restored Victorian building which has become a landmark overlooking Kilkenny Castle.
The Kilkenny Hibernian is on the corner of Patrick Street and Ormonde Street, beside the cobbled streets of the old part of this vibrant city. They have a varied offering in the hotel, with the Hibernian Bar offering a casual dining option, but we felt like pushing the boat out and so opted for dinner in the recently re-launched Harpers restaurant, myself, husband Fred and our daughter Keisha who was looking forward to a big birthday.
We would have been very familiar with the restaurant over the years as City Bar and Grill, and were very intrigued to see the changes. The new look and feel of the room is one of elegance and opulence, polished wooden floors run through a long room divided into three sections.
Plush blue buttoned back banquet seating works its way around the room with tables for two and four and circular tables in the centre for larger groups. The whole effect is chic, eclectic, sophisticated and urban. The stiff white table linen, gleaming glasses and silverware are quite a sight.
The A la Carte menu offers a selection of ten starters priced from €6.95 for the soup of the evening to €11.95 for gambas pil pil or a sharing platter for €16.95. Spicy pork ribs, chili chicken salad or baby beets with goat’s cheese salad also made an appearance.
Mains had a great choice of specialty steaks, seafood, and birds of a feather or super salads and with nothing exceeding €29.95 there is still value to be had. Some of the fine choices included roast honey half crispy duck, marinated rack of Paddy Kenna lamb or risotto Prima Verde
The wine list has a selection of house recommendations including four whites and six reds ranging between €23.00 and €28.00, which are also available by the glass. For that special occasion you can start with a bottle of Prosecco for €37.00 and there is a choice of cocktails or a full bar menu including a selection of artisan beers and spirits. We chose a bottle of New Zealand SB, the Sileni from Marlborough priced at €28.00.
To start I had the pan seared queen scallops with Clonakilty black pudding, green pea puree and Mornay sauce, which was beautifully presented and a fabulous contrast of flavours; the sweet scallops offset with the pudding. Fred fancied the crispy confit of duck which was served with a sweet pepper relish and caramelized pear. He wasn’t disappointed and cleared the plate, which is always a good sign. Keisha had the gambas pil pil served in a sizzling hot pan with green pesto crusty bread to dip; one of her favourite dishes, and she loved it.
To follow I ordered the pan seared fillet of monkfish with mussels served on a bed of cardamom basmati rice, with a mild creamy prawn curry sauce with steamed pok choy & asparagus. The monkfish was perfectly cooked and the curry delicate enough to work with the fish. Keisha had the pappardelle pasta served with prawns in garlic & chili oil, which packed a kick and Fred had the 10oz stone grilled rib eye with peppercorn sauce and home cut chunky fries, sautéed mushrooms and onions; a feast of meat and carbs for the hungry boy!
After a small break our attention turned to dessert and these included rhubarb rose, black forest mousse, vanilla crème brulee or pear & almond tart. There was also a farmhouse Irish cheese board, but we decided to share the rhubarb rose which was rhubarb mousse with a strawberry jelly and crunchy shortbread biscuit, decorated with fresh strawberries. It was beautifully light, the perfect finish to a very fine meal.
All in all a delightful evening was had in Harpers, with a well presented menu, great service, stylish surroundings and some very good food. We liked it a lot, will definitely return and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to friends and family when next in Kilkenny.