Gastro Bar and Grill has opened recently on Carlow’sTullow Streetin what locals will have known for years as Buzz Bar. Gastro Bar is pitching itself at the local and fresh end of the food market, and you can enjoy a coffee & scone in the morning, tapas with the girls or dinner in the evening or just a pint on the way home from work.
The long room is divided into a couple of different areas; a raised area to the front overlooks the street and large picture windows (which open fully in the right weather) bring the outside in. There is another raised area to the rear and the main restaurant in the centre has two bars down the side, dark timber floors and a choice of seating, from long tables for 6 or round and square tables set for 2 or 4. The lighting in the evening is intimate with spots, candles on all tables and French cream crystal chandeliers overhead. The raised area to the rear has bistro style seating and carefully positioned foliage letting you think your dining in the garden, and all plants are carefully tended to by Barry’s mum.
Of an evening there are a choice of menus. The early bird menu offering 2 courses with tea/coffee for €18 or 3 courses for €22, with starters such as chicken wings, ribs, soup of the day or seafood chowder and mains such as Gastro burger, deep fried cod, chicken ballotine or a 7oz sirloin, while the vegetarian option is pasta.
The tapas menu is on daily from 3pm or 5pm on a Saturday & Sunday, with dishes all priced between €5-7.00. The tapas are not strictly Spanish, but offer tasty tasting plates and are perfect for an after work snack.
The A la Carte menu offers a classic Caesar salad, garlic mushrooms, deep fried brie, a Greek salad or homemade fish cakes, all priced around the €7 mark. Main courses run from €13.50 for the vegetarian pasta to €22.95 for a 10oz sirloin, and other options are a half roast duck, shank of lamb or chicken fajitas.
Daily specials are on the black board, along with the wine of the month. All the products are sourced locally, with fish coming from Bates in Kilmore and beef from Clonmore meats, and all suppliers are mentioned in a Local Heroes rollcall on the menu. Their wine list is precise with six whites and reds running from €19 for a Spanish Macabeo to €27 for a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a Spanish Rioja. We decided upon the Italian Pinot Grigio, light and crisp and priced at €24.00
I started with the Bates fish cakes, which were served on a bed of dressed salad, with a hot dip chutney; they were firm and full of fish, and the dip was very spicy and worked exceptionally well with the fish. The gentleman diner had fisherman’s chowder, which again was full of a great selection of fish and served with a homemade brown bread. I followed with the catch of the day which as trout served on a bed of champ, and I get 2 large pieces with crispy skin, perfectly cooked and firm. Himself chose the 10oz sirloin which was a fine piece of aged meat, perfectly cooked and served on a bed of mushrooms and onions. On the side both came with a filo pastry basket full of roast peppers and onions, and a bowl of champ finished the serving.
We did finish with a dessert to share; Toblerone cheese cake was creamy and full of Toblerone chunks, and it was divine. A cappuccino and a latte were the perfect end to a perfect evening. Gastro Bar is bringing good food onto the townspeople doorstep, and doing it with some style. Well worth getting to know this bar better.