Anocht restaurant is located in the heart of Kilkenny city, directly opposite the historic castle in the Kilkenny Design Centre. The building is remarkable; once the stables of the castle, its large picture windows open the building to the outside and the effect is striking. There’s a gift shop and food hall on the lower level, with the Anocht restaurant above over looking the courtyard.
The food hall is the ideal location for a quick snack on the run, or to take something wonderful home. Upstairs the restaurant boasts timber floors, original beams, exposed brickwork and round windows the length of the restaurant gives an open, airy feeling.
We decided to do a family night out; myself and Fred with our 13 year old daughter Keisha. I had visited previously and was looking forward to coming back with the family, no matter what time you go there’s a buzz about the place, a good clatter of people, great food and I love the cocktail list
Once seated our friendly wait introduced himself at the table while placing a decanter of water and a selection of specialty breads including a Guinness and treacle soda bread and a herb, garlic & Irish cheddar yeast bread with a choice of garlic and sundried tomato butter to enjoy as we made our choices.
An early bird menu offering 2 courses for €24.50 or 3 courses for €28.50 is great value for money, especially as a lot of the dishes on the a la carte are available on the early bird. The A la carte menu was made up of a selection of six starters, the same of mains and five desserts. Starters were priced between €6.75 for the soup of the evening to €8.50 for the citrus cured organic salmon. There was also black pudding & poached egg, fish cakes or prawn & crabmeat tian to choose from. Main courses ranged from €18.50 for the vegetarian spicy falafel with smoked aubergine to €27 for the stone bass or the haunch of wild venison. There was also a 10oz sirloin steak, Kilkenny black leg chicken breast or confit of duck leg to choose from.
I decided to have the prawn & crabmeat followed by the stone bass while Fred had the black pudding & egg to start followed by the 10oz sirloin steak which came with chips, sundried tomatoes, roast shallots and a pepper sauce for his main course and Keisha had the warming soup of the evening which was root vegetable with a pesto dressing and then chicken breast served on a bed of savoy cabbage. Boiled baby potatoes came to the table and we ordered a side of seasonal vegetables to share, all sides were priced at €2.75.
Since the last time they had added to the wine list, a good selection of twelve whites and twelve reds, well priced between €23.50 for the house choice of Benovie Champs de L’Hort or Benovie Roc Rouge Merlot to €49.50 for the Saint-Emilion Grand Cru or a French burgundy Saint-Austin 1er Cru. I really liked that most were available by the glass, gone are the days when it’s OK to offer only the house wine!
There is also a great cocktail list priced under €9.95 and a full selection of bottled beers around the €4.95 mark. Excited about the cocktails I started with a strawberry daiquiri, Fred had a bottle of Heineken and Keisha enjoyed her orange juice. We also ordered a 500ml carafe of the 2014 French Sauvignon Blanc Entre-Deux Mers to accompany our food, a crisp wine with hints of citrus, pineapple and grapefruit flavours.
As the starters arrived everybody was pleased, and not being bias I think mine was certainly starter of the evening which was beautifully presented in a glass jar with thinly sliced sourdough bread, it was light and delicious. Keisha’s soup was as obviously homemade and the pesto was a nice touch. Fred busied himself with his black pudding & soft egg that was covered in a perfect hollandaise - not an easy accomplishment - and we finished our first course happy, with great expectations of what was coming next, like three Mr. Pips in our splendid dining room!
The Paddy Kenna sirloin was delicious, cooked just as Fred had asked and served with a basket of duck fat chips plus pepper sauce on the side. The seabass was a delicate dish with two nicely sized fillets on a bed of roast artichoke risotto and lemon puree, again I think this was the best dish, so two seafood won out in the middle of beef country. Keisha’s duck was served pink just as it should be with a honey and orange glaze, and the flavours balanced beautifully. Very confident cooking, and a bit of flair for the details.
When it came to dessert we decided to wait a while as two courses down we were more than satisfied, but they sounded lovely so we waited and then had to choose. The selection included a bay leaf and buttermilk pannacotta, a milk chocolate delice or a vanilla bean crème but I was torn between the broken passionfruit egg and a Toblerone cocktail, eventually opting for the latter. I got the best of both worlds as Fred ordered the passion fruit egg with a meringue with passionfruit curd, white chocolate Chantilly cream and a chocolate crumb so I got to share some and it was far more delicate than I imagined and the perfect finish to a lovely evening.
Kilkenny Design has been a landmark in the city for many years and everybody’s day time destination for a light lunch in the restaurant or a coffee and a cake in the food hall. Anocht is a totally different offering and in such a great culinary city it is certainly worth a visit the next time you are in Kilkenny; we loved it – but go along and make your own mind up.