Rachel's Garden Cafe is at the Arboretum Lifestyle and Garden Centre on the old Kilkenny Road at Leighlinbridge, and is a destination well worth a visit. Inside it is a vast area divided between the award winning garden centre, a home and garden décor area, a small pet and pet supplies section and the newly refurbished Rachel’s Garden Cafe.
The Cafe has recently expanded into a very large, open restaurant with several hot and cold food counters as well as a dessert table full of tempting dishes. The restaurant has colourful couches where you can relax over a coffee or afternoon tea, and wooden tables and chairs which would be more comfortable for a full lunch. The timber floors, high ceilings and large glass areas give a feeling of being outdoors but with the warmth of being inside. For those sunny afternoons there is a large seating area outside in the gardens. To the rear of the restaurant is the Kid Zone, which is a separate area with small colourful tables and chairs for the children with a few tables and chairs for the parents to be able to watch.
All the food at Rachel’s is freshly prepared at the time of serving. The ethos they have adopted is local is best, and where possible the produce is sourced from within a 15km radius, and at the very minimum everything is Irish. Roseann O’Brien is in charge of the kitchens here and after training inWaterfordCollege , she worked inLondon in Quaglino’s restaurant where she trained under chef John Torode, who you may know from MasterchefUK. Roseann has a simple philosophy; “All Rachel’s Garden Café recipes are created with one driving ambition – passion. Whatever we cook, it’s because it’s the right season, because it’s local and because we want to eat it ourselves”
Rachel’s serve a full breakfast menu from 9 to 11.30am, offering full Irish breakfast with a choice of eggs, Paddy's granola with seasonal berries and natural yogurt or freshly baked scones or pastries with coffee.
From 12 noon a full lunch menu is available with a roast of the day served with seasonal vegetables and potatoes, or Rachel's braised Irish beef in O'Haras stout with creamy mash which is available everyday. There’s a fish special such as baked hake with a sundried tomato and basil crust with chunky chips and garden salad or a daily special like Thai style chicken curry with rice or baked beef lasagne with garlic bread and salad.
For a lighter bite, root vegetable soup is on offer every day ad second choice soup changes daily, but mushroom, thyme and roast garlic or roasted plum tomato, bell pepper and basil are perennial favourites.
On a healthy note, all sauces are gluten free and the crust on fish dishes and breadcrumbs used to make the burgers are made from using gluten free bread.
Salads and savouries are available from 12 to 5.30 with a wide selection of items such as ham hock terrine with onion marmalade, bacon and brie quiche, goats cheese bruchetta, chilli mince pie in creme fraiche pastry, olives, hummus or Thai noodle salad along with the old favourites such as chicken and mushrooms vol au vent , nut roast and potato salad and coleslaw.
Children are catered for with mini bangers & mash, homemade chicken goujons with chunky chips and pasta with homemade tomato sauce garlic bread and Parmesan.