6 Sensational Foodie Experiences
The whole of County Kilkenny is blessed with exquisite restaurants, creative food entrepreneurs and, thanks in part to its fertile farming land, premium ingredients, sought after by the best chefs in Europe. There’s so much to talk about when it comes to food in County Kilkenny, but we’ve narrowed it down to just six really special foodie experiences - some dining and some sampling of innovative food products.
Ristorante Rinuccini – a real Italian restaurant
Italian restaurants are two a penny in Ireland but finding a really authentic Italian family restaurant is hard. After you’ve been Ristorante Rinuccini on Castle Parade in Kilkenny city, you’ll immediately see, smell and taste the difference. Antonio Cavaliere came to Ireland from Lazio aged 15. He and his Irish wife Marion opened Ristorante Rinuccini in Kilkenny in 1989. For the past 30 years, we’ve been lucky enough to step into the special atmosphere of a formal Italian restaurant, complete with the theatricality of Italian service, without having to get on a plane.
- Open for lunch from 12 Monday to Saturday
- An early-bird menu is available from 5pm to 7pm Sunday to Friday, 5pm – 7pm on Saturdays (5pm to 6.30pm on bank-holiday-weekend Sundays)
Check out the amazing wine cellar – Antonio sources his own wines and many of his Italian ingredients, including salumi, cheese and extra virgin olive oil from select vineyards and artisan producers in Italy.
Highbank Orchards Syrup
Rod and Julie Calder-Potts know their apples – they’ve been grown on the family farm since 1969. In 2010, the Calder-Potts unveiled an award-winning and innovative way of enjoying the apple crop – apple syrup. It took years of research to come up with the recipe, produced from carefully chosen varieties of organically grown apple prized for their flavour. Look out for it incorporated into menus in Kilkenny restaurants including Zuni, Anocht and Paris Texas, where is is also used to smoke the ribs, or visit the farm to sample and buy some of your own.
- The Calder-Potts make cider, apple juice and vinegars as well as the delicious syrup
- The farm shop at Highbank Orchards, Cuffesgrange, Co Kilkenny, is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and by appointment at weekends and on bank holidays
Highbank Orchards Syrup is Ireland’s answer to maple syrup.
Goatsbridge Trout delicacies
The Kirwans have been farming trout since 1961 using the clear waters of the Little Arrigle River in the heart of The Nore Valley, which runs through the Goatsbridge land. A new generation of the family has made Goatsbridge one of the foremost trout farms in Ireland with its delicious fresh trout and innovative trout products, such as trout pâté, trout caviar and smoked trout, which pop up on menus all over County Kilkenny and further afield. The visitor centre sells all of them, along with whole fresh rainbow trout and fresh trout fillets.
- Goatsbridge Trout Farm is near Thomastown, Co Kilkenny. The onsite visitor centre/shop is open Monday to Saturday 9am to 5.30pm. Closed Sundays
- Book a farm tour by calling +353 (0)86 818 8340 or emailing [email protected]
Find the multi-award winning products in supermarkets and specialist stores under the brand name Eat Trout.
Aroi Asian Street Food
Aroi (pronounced ‘aroy’) means delicious or tasty, and it is accurately named! Though the food is authentically Asian with the cuisines of Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam represented on the menu, it is free from the chemicals and additives we associate with this kind of ‘fast’ food. The ingredients are sourced locally where possible and are always the freshest. Aroi was named the best Asian street food restaurant in Ireland at the 2017 Asian Food Awards, deservedly so.
- It’s located on Friary Street, Kilkenny city, on the Medieval Mile and steps away from the castle
- This is a casual dining venue with a ‘one-course’ approach
“Aroi is a hidden gem in plain sight if you know what you are looking for.”
― The Irish Times
Truffles, an unpretentious fine-dining restaurant
There’s something luxurious about truffles, the mushroom, so rare and rich, and the same could be said for Truffles the restaurant and wine bar on William Street, Kilkenny. It’s formal but unpretentious, the place to go for a special occasion, and it won’t blow the budget. The food is modern French with a hint of Italy. There is a full menu for vegans and vegetarians, and coeliacs or those wishing to avoid gluten are well catered for.
- Open Monday to Saturday 12.30pm to 3pm for lunch, dinner from 5.30pm to 9pm; Sunday 12 to 9pm
“We didn’t go to Kilkenny looking for Truffle, but we found it - and it was delicious!”
― Lucinda O’Sullivan’s Ireland
Fennelly's, Callan, a daytime cafe and arts hub
Fennelly’s, which was a pub and undertaker’s, is now a top foodie and arty destination in the quiet Kilkenny town of Callan. It’s the best of both worlds – you get to soak up the atmosphere of a traditional Irish pub during the day, without having to get drunk! The sign outside says ‘great coffee, herbal teas, breakfast, fresh juices, light lunch, delicious cakes, homemade scones’ but it doesn’t mention one of the biggest attractions – the wood-fired pizzas! Or indeed the many happenings and events of a cultural nature going on. It’s not just a café, it’s a hub.
- Check out their Facebook page to see what is coming up as they regularly have live music, readings, film screenings and other arty events
- Fennelly’s is open from 7.30am until 3pm (10am to 4pm Saturdays) and is closed on Wednesdays and Sundays
Behind the doors of Fennelly’s on Bridge Street, Callan, Kilkenny, awaits a warm fire, a mean cup of coffee and anything from breakfast to lunch to clay oven pizza.
― Ken on Food (Ken McGuire)