The Rowan Tree Café is located beisde the charmingly named Harmony Bridge, overlooking the River Fergus in the centre of Ennis. Part of the Rowan Tree Hostel - which has been voted Ireland’s best for three years running - it’s a great café by day and restaurant in the evening.
Situated in a listed Georgian building dating back to 1740, it’s certainly impressive and very well worth a visit just to see the building in its glory. It has been perfectly restored with sash windows, natural wooden floors and high ornate ceilings. There is a great outdoor seating area with blankets on the seats to keep out the Irish chill and an ever changing art exhibition on the walls, featuring paintings from local artists which are all available to purchase
There are several offerings on the menus with morning tea/coffee from 10.30am and lunch served daily from 12noon and a full evening menu including tapas from 5pm to close. The lunch menu offers a selection of dishes ranging anywhere from €4.50 for their soup of the day to €10.95 for penne pasta with tiger prawns.
There is a Mediterranean influence to their menu, so don’t be surprised to see several pasta dishes, a couple of antipasti, bruschetta as well as some pizzas.
There are also sandwiches and wraps to choose from. One of the lovely things at Rowan Tree is that they are exceptionally child friendly and have their own ‘Bambini’ menu.
In the evenings, there is a poshed up version of the lunch menu, with plenty of locally sourced products and a tapas menu. The Tapas dishes are all €4.95 and offer a selection of Spanish classics, including tortilla, calamari, pork and beef meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce. There are lots more, but you get the idea, and at €4.50 per dish, it’s great value. Even more so if you go for the daily deal and choose any 5 tapas and a bottle of Pinot Grigio for €39.
The wine list is broken down by country with choices from €18 for a Spanish Campo Nuevo Tempranillo to €49 for a Chateauneuf du Pape, and there is a good selection in the twenties including a South African Hout Bay Shiraz. There is a full licence, so you might like a beer or start your evening off with a spirit of your choice. We had the New Zealand Mount Vernon Marlborough Sauv Blanc for €29, which is a good example of NZ SB and reasonably priced here.
I had the fishcakes to start, and they came with a salad and house dressing. The fishcakes were importantly more fish than potato, and the dressing was mopped up with some homemade bread, including a very nice tomato. Fred had the tempura prawns which were also served with a salad and a chilli mayonnaise dip. They were juicy and plumb, with a delicate crisp batter, and were light and tasty.
To follow I chose penne pasta with grilled tiger prawns dressed in a spicy tomato and chilli sauce which packed a punch. Not exactly classic Italian but the dish worked and I liked it a lot. Hubby stuck with the steak; a 10oz Hereford rib-eye which came on a bed of creamed mash with onions and a pepper sauce. This was a really generous serving and not advisable unless you have an appetite, but it was tender and tasty and cooked to perfection.
If we had a corner for dessert we were tempted by a selection of ice creams or sorbets produced in The Burren, an apple and berry crumble or Toblerone cheese cake. The desserts are all freshly made in house, except the Toblerone of course, and are all priced at €5.95. At this point we had to share and chose the tiramisu which was served in a glass and topped with amaretto biscuit, it was well made and finished off a good meal nicely.
The Rowan Tree Café is in a great location over looking the river, and serves really well made honest food at value prices. The tapas are good, Bluebell Falls goat’s cheese makes an appearance and the atmosphere is lively and fun. There’s not a lot here not to like.