McEvoy’s Steak & Wine Bar became one of our favourite ‘neighbourhood’ restaurants a couple of years ago when we first visited and over the time has gone from strength to strength winning several awards including Best Gastro Pub and Best Casual Dining Awards. Located in the centre of Abbeyleix, it blends well into the heritage town with its original façade. However once inside you will be surprised what owner Simon Stokes and the team have created, a contemporary but comfortable restaurant and wine bar spread across three rooms.
The bar area is a small space which opens into a long, gastro style bar with high tables and stools for a more casual evening. There are a further two dining rooms which have a real elegant, sitting room feel which is perfect for both a large group on a night out or a more intimate evening. Simon has made great use of the outdoor space, creating a large BBQ area for those balmy summer evenings of ‘al fresco’ dining.
Simon opened here in 2010, in the middle of challenging times, but the gamble has really paid off. The Stokes family have run restaurants such as Coopers through the 1980’s, and have been involved with McCabe’s in Foxrock, along with the famous Castle Durrow in Laois, so it’s fair to say the business is in the blood.
The starters ranged in price from €5.00 for soup of the day – butternut squash with a hint of sage on the day we visited - to €9.00 and choices included warm goats cheese & red onion tart, prawns pil pil or the infamous McEvoys spicy chicken wings with a blue cheese dip. The mains all ranged from €14-26.00, and included Thai style vegetable curry or a free range Glin Valley chicken supreme. The menu states that all meat, chicken, fish, salad leaves and vegetables are sourced locally when available, but are always Irish.
The wines were an Italian Marchesi Di Rubini Pinot Grigio or Chianti, a great French selection including a Uby Colombard Ugni Blanc, and all were priced between €19.50-26.00 and are also available by the glass. We started with drinks from the bar, and indeed the full bar option is another plus in McEvoy’s and decided on the French L’Abbaye sauvignon blanc to accompany dinner, a dry wine with a hint of citrus.
I started with prosciutto, bresaola & Milano salami, a selection of three of my favourite Italian meats served with mozzarella, a homemade salsa and brown bread while the girls enjoyed the spicy chicken wings and Fred tried the prawns pil pil, a sizzling, spicy Portuguese dish of prawns fried in garlic and chilli, they packed just the right punch.
Three good starters were followed by a perfectly cooked12oz T-Bone steak with all the trimmings for himself, while I had the pan fried fillet of seabass which was served with sundried tomato and black olive crushed new boiled potatoes, the fusion of flavours and the freshness of the fish were out of this world. The girls went with the organic Glin Valley chicken supreme with herb mash, baby spinach & wild mushroom. Clear plates all round was the testimony to how much we enjoy the food at Mc Evoys.
Desserts are all homemade and selections were pecan pie, hazelnut brownie or raspberry cheesecake. We shared the raspberry cheesecake which was absolutely delicious, while the girls did their favourite brownie which was served with vanilla ice cream.
McEvoy’s is open from 5pm to 10pm Wednesday to Sunday and from May 1st that extends to between 1-9pm. Over the past couple of years they have proved a big hit with the locals, and are always busy. Abbeyleix has been by passed, but it’s worth the short detour to grab a bite if you find yourself on the M7/8. Friendly, warm and inviting, McEvoy’s combines old class hospitality with the more modern twist of good food in a pub setting. Worth a visit, tell them we sent you.
**McEvoys have added an early bird menu offering two courses for €20, available Wed - Fri until 6.30pm. Great value.