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Ireland’s Ancient East restaurants and cafes

The dining scene in Ireland’s Ancient East has never been more exciting and here are some of the best places to eat. To embrace the French tradition which has reigned in Kilkenny City since the arrival of the Normans in the 12th century, take a table at Campagne at the Arches in Gashouse Lane, on the other side of the River Nore. Lady Helen at the Mount Juliet Estate near Thomastown is another stunning Michelin-star restaurant. Veganism is going from strength to strength in Ireland, and The Cutting Vedge in the shadow of Kilkenny Castle has been winning admirers from far and wide, and chef Helen Costelloe also contributes some tasty plant-based treats to the Taste of Kilkenny.

Waterford vies with Kilkenny in the food stakes. To the west of the county is the stunning Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, which again earned a Michelin star in 2020, for its sumptuous cuisine, which combines local and garden ingredients in a unique presentation. The Tannery Restaurant, home of chef-patron Paul Flynn, is another destination eatery, but there’s also 360 Cookhouse, which is a unique, pet-friendly restaurant serving beautifully tasty pizzas, tapas, surf and turf, and a wide array of burger, vegan and gluten-free options.

And then there’s Wexford. Greenacres on Selskar is a combination of food hall and restaurant, a sort of Wexford version of Dublin’s Fallon & Byrne, with a wine selection to match. There is smoked rabbit on the menu, wild pigeon, and rock oysters. The town is filled with unpretentious culinary excellence at reasonable prices. La Côte in Custom House Quay has won Irish Seafood Restaurant of the Year, while Yard on George’s Street has a 1930s, a verdant courtyard, and a cosy gastro-style feel. In Simon Lambert and Sons, meanwhile, you have a fine gastropub which, unusually, does great coffee. Seasons Restaurant on the New Line Road in Clonard, a couple of miles outside Wexford Town, is perfect for Sunday lunch, meanwhile.

Our picks

La Bohème
La Boheme

1 Brown St, Graigue, Carlow, R93 HD93, Ireland

In Waterford city, you’ll find the French restaurant La Bohème on George’s Street. Dress to impress and dine on their fantastic fare of fresh, locally-produced Irish ingredients and French cooking, all within the surrounds of a beautiful Georgian townhouse. Make sure to take a look at their excellent wine list.

Anocht Restaurant
Anocht Restaurant

The Castle Yard, The Parade, Gardens, Kilkenny, R95 CAA6, Ireland

Serving award-winning, modern Irish and European cuisine with added style, Anocht Restaurant offers a unique fine dining experience in one of the South East’s most beautiful rooms. Built in the 1780s, cartwheel windows overlook Kilkenny Castle and Courtyard while original wooden beams with hanging linen drops create a sumptuous atmosphere. Visit website

Veg dish

47 Patrick St, Waterford, X91 DX49, Ireland

Situated in the heart of Waterford City is Momo, a family-run multi-award-winning restaurant showcasing the best local produce. Featuring fresh and healthy cuisine that celebrates the local food producers of Waterford County, Momo presents dishes rich in flavour and finesse in a relaxed and casual atmosphere. Momo offer gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan dishes on the menu. The menu is seasonal, changing three times a year. Visit website

Grow HQ

Farronshoneen, Dunmore Road, Waterford, Ireland

GROW HQ in Waterford is an exciting food experience, with high glass walls and an ethos of food being grown, served and eaten on the same site. The menu changes depending on the season and the produce available. Visit website

The Cutting Vedge
Plant-based food

4 Ormonde St, Gardens, Kilkenny, R95 P978, Ireland

The Cutting Vedge serves an entirely plant-based menu with a range of soups, wraps and salads. You can expect a hot special every day and there’s always plenty of gluten-free options. They make fresh vegetable juice daily and sell home-made, sugar-free and wheat-free desserts. The restaurant prides themselves on having a zero-waste policy thus contributing less rubbish to land fill and are the only solely plant-based food outlet in the urban centres of Kilkenny, Carlow, Waterford, Laois, Tipperary and Wexford.

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Image credits: ©Adam Jaime/Adolfo Felix/Unsplash; Anocht Restaurant; Peter Grogan/La Bohème; Ros Kavanagh/GROW HQ

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