Lily Mai’s Café is situated in splendid isolation just outside the village of Golden, on the road from Cashel to Tipp Town. Lily Mai’s is in an old cottage that has been lovingly restored and extended to create a splendid casual café and restaurant. The menu’s change with the seasons, the cakes are to die for, service is friendly and the setting is very lovely.
Lily Mai’s is named for the old lady who was the last inhabitant of the 19th century cottage that forms the heart of the café. Her name was Mai, and she was known as a great baker in the locality. Her other passion was growing Lillies, hence the name. This reverence for the past in some ways sets the tone, the extension is respectful of the original building, and the atmosphere is homely and welcoming.
Lily Mai’s opens for extended lunch until 7pm on Wednesday and Thursday, and remains open for dinner on Friday and Saturday, while Sunday lunch is served from 12until 3pm. Chef Feargal Ó Cinnéide has created a medley of dishes that can be enjoyed as starters or main courses, using local produce and carefully sourced meat and fish. We tried a variety of dishes on a recent visit, so we’ll try to give you a flavour of what to expect.
Lily Mai’s Salmon cakes are heavy on the salmon, light on the filings. Chunks of firm fish, rather that lots of potato and a rumour of fish is what you get. Delicious and light. The tian of baked Tipperary Cooleeney goat’s cheese on caramelised red onion and pastry is perfect café fare, again a good jump above the average. There’s a signature walnut crusted chicken breast with wild mushroom and cream cheese stuffing, which comes with baby potato and rocket salad, while the pan seared lamb cutlets have the lamb flavour that is so often absent, but you absolutely know you remember from childhood.
Desserts may challenge you if you eat as much as we did, but keep room in the special dessert stomach for the sticky toffee pudding, which may be the best we’ve ever tasted.
Local Jenny Ryan runs the front of house as if it’s her house, and you just dropped in for a visit. She knows the history of the house, and Lily, and is a mine of local information. Lily Mai’s attracts customers form afar, and it’s no mystery why. This is a café/restaurant as it should be. Honest food perfectly cooked and served with a smile. We’ll be back.