The Park Restaurant in Arklow is tucked away at the rear of Castle Park car park, just off the Main Street. It’s very pretty from the outside with large picture windows and two bistro style tables with lighted lanterns outside.
Once inside the restaurant is softly lit with tea lights on all the tables, giving it a warm, intimate feel. The décor definitely makes a statement with a bold olive embossed feature wall paper and a prominent large vase of fresh flowers in the centre; very contemporary with a pleasing touch of elegance.
This restaurant is run by two chefs; The Park was opened in 2008 by chefs Colin Byrne and Orla Killoran who both have a long standing career in the food industry. Colin cooked in Marlfield House and The Tannery, while Orla is an alumnus of The Ballymaloe School, and previously ran the food business in Christy’s, introducing the gastro pub experience to Arklow long before it was considered a good idea!
The Park is open Tuesday to Saturday for breakfast, with a very busy lunch trade from 12noon. Dinner is served Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 6.30 to 9.30pm. On Thursday evening they offer a Wine & Dine option, three courses with a bottle of wine for 2 people at €70. Over the weekend there is a set menu; two courses for €25 or 3 for €29.95, and every evening they have the A la Carte which feature starters from €6.50 with dishes of roasted field mushrooms on brioche, black pudding with crispy pancetta, a confit Barbary duck leg or Tempura prawn salad. Main courses run from €19 – €28; Kilmore Quay scallops seared loin of venison, hake on the bone, a vegetarian dish of parmesan gnocchi or a locally sourced strip loin steak. All meat served at The Park is from Larry Byrnes butchers, (Colin’s Father) just down the road on Main Street. There is also a separate menu for children with mains at €4.95 or half portions can be ordered off all other menus.
The wine list was short and to the point with a good price range, from €20 a bottle for the house red or white. The rest of the selection runs from €24 to €48, with a choice of beer available.
Starters ordered were Tempura Tiger Prawns with ginger, soya and sesame seeds - the sauce was really tasty and I moped that up with the homemade breads prepared in the kitchen and still warm. Himself ordered the soup of the day, which was cream of cauliflower; thick, velvety and delicious. For mains I enjoyed the seared loin of Glenmalure venison with pickled red cabbage and apple with cranberry jus. The venison was sliced and nicely placed on top of the red cabbage, it was cooked just as I had asked and all the flavours worked really well together. The second dish to come to the table was Roast Kilmore Quay hake on the bone with Glenbeigh mussels, organic leek and sauvignon blanc cream, a real seafood treat. Both mains were served with glazed carrot & parsnip and champ mash. Attention to detail was clearly evident, the presentation throughout made each dish look really tempting, and we enjoyed a couple of half bottles of wine; I had the red while my better half enjoyed the white to compliment his fish.
To finish off we shared a luxury Belgian chocolate tasting plate and a liqueur coffee, a sumptuous end to a fine meal and a truly enjoyable evening.