The Boathouse Cafe is part of the Farmleigh estate in the Phoenix Park On the sunny November day we visited there were plenty of walkers and visitors mid week and it seemed most of them found their way to the Boathouse Cafe on the boating lake that is adjacent to the main house.
Farmleigh was originally one of the Dublin homes of the Guinness family, and was purchased by the Irish state in 1999. It has been refurbished and now is officially the state guesthouse, where visiting heads of state would stay. Quite apart from that it is a very popular attraction and up to a quarter of a million people can visit the house and gardens in any year.
The Boathouse occupies a sylvan position on the water. From the outside it does indeed look like a boathouse and the colour scheme suits the setting. A metal terrace runs around the house, with tables all around, so on a sunny day you could eat over the water. Inside the there are French doors running all around the walls, letting in lots of natural light, and allowing diners wonderful views outside.
The Boathouse is run by the people behind Brambles, so there are a large range of salads, wraps, sandwiches available as well as hot specials and a delicious array of homemade cakes and desserts which are on display.
We decided that one of the salads and a hot special were in order, with some bottles of Belvoir lemonade to wash it down. We had the Chicken Parmigiana, which was nicely cooked and properly coated in Parmesan with a tomato sauce. It was very tasty and proper comfort food stuff. I had the blue cheese and walnut salad, which won the day, a light and healthy lunch that tasty crunchy and savoury.
We managed a shared portion of the orange and almond gluten free cake, and it was delicious; light yet moist and packed full of citrus flavour. A big pot of tea finished us off and we set off to explore the walks around the house and gardens.
Farmleigh is certainly worth a visit, if we can find it lovely in November, I think a trip in the summer worth be even better. Lunch or afternoon tea in the Boathouse will only add to a very pleasant visit.