The Lemon Leaf Café is in Kinsale, the Mecca for foodies in West Cork. Kinsale has been a dining destination long before it became fashionable, and setting up a café in this town is something to be taken seriously; there are more forgiving audiences.
Tracy Keoghan spent some years on the high seas- and the high life – cruising on super yachts with the super rich, and managing expectations and delivering results. Her decision to open the café in 2010 came from a love of good food, and a wish to return to her home. The Lemon Leaf Café is the result, and is a great addition to Kinsale’s foodie community.
You will find the Lemon Leaf on Main Street, and the outside is traditional, and painted in cream and soft greens. Inside the dining room is large, but cleverly divided into sections, so it’s possible to find a quiet corner, while still enjoying the buzzy atmosphere you will find at any time of day.
They open for breakfast from 8.30, and that takes the menu though until 11.30 when the attention turns to lunch. The food philosophy here is local and artisan, so all dishes are homemade, using local ingredients where possible.
The Breakfast menu is extension, and offers, porridge, pancakes with real Maple syrup, eggs Benedict or Florentine, a traditional full Irish or scones, croissants or bagels.
Lunch is based on seasonal menus, with a blackboard displaying specials. Summertime sees salads and cold dishes, winter time you will find homemade pies, warming soups, hotpots and a homemade burger.
We recently enjoyed a late autumn lunch, just as the kitchen switched over from the summer to winter menus. Seafood chowder was thick and creamy, and packed full of local fish. It was a fine small meal in itself, while a Lemon Leaf style Caesar salad was a take on the original, with added chicken breast which was succulent and very tasty, while the dressing had enough of the original ingredients to make the salad an homage rather than a mistake.
Next up was the homemade burger, which was served on toasted ciabatta with Irish cheddar cheese and a homemade relish. This burger was one of the best I have ever tasted, the bun was excellent, while the mixed leaves were well dressed and the homemade chips were crispy and fluffy in all the right places. A beef burger isn’t rocket science, but to do one this good shows a level of care and attention not just about the cooking, but about the ingredients. A salad of smoked salmon on fennel was an imaginative combination, and again was a testament to carefully sourced ingredients treated with care.
Some good coffee saw us on our way, and we were well set up for the drive back to Dublin. The Lemon Leaf really is an excellent daytime spot, serving great food and treats, it’s well worth a visit.
The Lemon Leaf have just introduced a new healthy options menu, in partnership with a local nutritionist and dietician.