This week, I went to Sallins in Kildare to find a gastropub called Lock 13. The name is explained by the fact that it's on the banks of the Grand Canal, specifically at lock 13. It's right beside the road bridge over the canal, and almost next door to the The Bridgewater Inn, which I reviewed a couple of years ago.
I was there with Marian the Blonde, and we arrived for an early supper about 7pm.
Inside, the decor is pleasing enough, and the seats surrounding the tables are well padded and comfortable.
We got a table by the window, which meant we could look out at the houseboats and narrowboats lining the banks, which, in the evening sun, made a pretty view.
The starters listed old favourites, things such as chicken wings, ribs with BBQ sauce, potato skins, Caesar salad and seafood chowder, but it also had a few more interesting dishes, such as prawns pil pil, a goat's-cheese tartlet and a seared-beef salad.
The main courses followed a similar line to the starters: some old favourites, such as steaks and burgers, braised lamb shank, chicken Caesar salad, bangers and mash; and few more unusual dishes, such as Thai green curry, oriental noodle stir-fry and Cajun chicken breast.
Marian wanted a main course and a dessert, while I wanted a starter and a main course, which worked out well because there was an offer on the menu of two courses for €15.95, which on the face of it was very good value.
I ordered the goat's cheese and caramelised-onion tartlet, then Marian ordered the beer-battered fillet of haddock and I ordered the surf 'n' turf. For dessert, Marian ordered the sticky toffee pudding.
On the table was a beer list, so, after we ordered Diet Coke for Marian, I spent a while going down a long list of craft beers, before settling on a glass of 8° Sunburnt Irish Red, one I haven't had before.
My starter looked very well on arrival, being topped with micro-leaf salad, but was spoiled a little by soggy pastry. None the less, the goat's cheese was good and the salad was well dressed.
The mains took Marian by surprise: a perfectly enormous fillet of battered haddock was placed before her, and mentally I made a bet she'd never eat more than half of it. It came with mushy peas, homemade chips and a small pot of tartar sauce.
My dish looked much less intimidating. A small fillet steak was at one end of the plate set atop a base of mash, while a line of garlic prawns marched up the other side of the plate. In fact, it was a good dish, nicely cooked and well balanced.
The dessert finally arrived at the table, served on a long plate with sticky toffee pudding in the middle, ice cream at one end and a small bowl of berries at the other. Certainly well presented, and while I would have liked the pudding to be a little gooier, it's a small thing
A tea for Marian and an espresso for me brought the bill to €49. We hadn't eaten high-end gastronomy, but the food was as good as you'd get in a mid-range restaurant and cost a great deal less.