Rive Gauche restaurant is Kilkenny’s newest addition to an already thriving culinary scene. It’s located next to the well known Left Bank bar in the heart of the city, and opposite Kilkenny Castle. The theme is French with an Irish passion for the finest artisan foods.
Proprietors Peter Brady & Gillian Byrne opened almost a year ago and have put their heart and soul into Rive Gauche. The perfect hosts; both are out on the floor every evening and make every guest as welcome as if they were visiting their home.
Warm mini loaves and soft butter were placed on the table as we enjoyed a pre dinner drink of vodka and tonic as we browsed the menus. The wine list was as impressive as the array of wines on display in the centre of the restaurant. There’s a choice of twenty two whites and the same of red from all corners of the world and prices range from €26 for an Australian Butterfly Ridge, a mix of Riesling and Gewürztraminer, to €52 for a classic Bordeaux; Chateau Cissac 2008. There were also a couple of my favourites; One Tree sauvignon Blanc, a fine Marlborough or Tierra Mundi, a great Albarinho which we opted for, it’s a classic from Galicia.
The menu was well put together with a choice of six starters ranging between €5.95 for their soup of the day (mushroom & tarragon on the evening we visited) and €13.95 for a pressed foie gras terrine. Other options were sliced rabbit loin and king seared scallops, but I chose the Youghal Bay crab gratin. This was well presented, full of flavour and abundant with crab and a tasty cheese topping served with a crisp fennel salad while Fred decided to have crayfish & prawn risotto, it was creamy in texture and full of prawns and a gentle twist of lemon.
When it came to mains there was a wonderful selection of seven dishes starting in price from €18.95 for the vegetarian option of beetroot ravioli or a breast of black legged chicken to €28.50 for the Cote de Beouf (an option for two). There was also a 10oz striploin of beef, a rack of lamb or suckling pig.
I chose the monkfish tail, which was perfectly executed and served with an asparagus & spinach puree, all drizzled with a champagne scallop sauce, it was delicious and delicate. Hubby was tempted with the rack of lamb and rightly so, its came cooked to perfection, pink as the chef likes and served with minted petit pois and a red wine jus. There was some tasting of each other’s dishes, and both - while very different -were really very good indeed, and showed a surety of touch from the kitchen.
A little sign caught my eye, it read: ‘The more you weigh the harder you are to kidnap’. All of a sudden I didn’t feel so bad perusing the dessert menu. There was a list of five, starting with Rolo & vanilla cheesecake, a fresh fruit Pavlova or a polenta, orange & almond cake. Not my usual choice but I was swayed by the warm chocolate fondant which we decided to share. Twice baked it took a welcome 15 minutes while we prepared our special dessert tummies and finished off the Albarinho. When it came it was exactly as I imagined perfect chocolate cake with a warm, gooey chocolate centre. It was pure indulgence, and the perfect end to a wonderful evening.
Peter & Gillian both trained at Ballymaloe, and they are passionate about what they are creating at Rive Gauche, and it shows. We highly recommended a visit the next time you are in Kilkenny, or if you’re a local, check out what you are missing post haste.