Each month we try to bring you a sample of some of the country’s hidden gems, this issue we focus on a burgeoning food scene in the often overlooked city of Waterford. Having a next door neighbour like Kilkenny can often result in people being reluctant to make the extra 20 minute journey, but believe us it is well worth it. The people and the passion behind some of the venues we visited really blew us away, here is a small sample of why Waterford should be your next culinary destination.
Located on the bustling John St, Burzza, the baby sister of Cormac Cronin’s Bodega, is a relatively new casual restaurant with a strong focus on authentic Italian pizzas made in their massive, imported wood fired oven from Naples. Think New York Italian, with cool laid back vibe and stylish interior. The perfect spot for a top class burger and an Aperol Spritz to wash it down.
A strong focus on Irish produce with a global outlook is what Loko are striving to achieve. Another new edition to the city with plenty of superfood salads, light bites and some divine flatbreads. Loko has created an imaginative menu, proving healthy doesn’t have to mean boring. Make sure you try the black pudding & smoked bacon scotch egg croquettes – heaven.
If seafood is your passion then McLeary’s will hit the spot. Two to die for dishes are their Seafood Pie topped with potato and cheese and their Seafood Crepe, which you don’t see very often. Lots of old school charm and excellent value lunch menu. Run and owned by two Waterford natives with fresh fish delivered from Dunmore East daily.
No.9 Cafe is an ideal lunch option especially if you have the kids with you. Very child friendly, with a separate little area to keep the little ones happy while you relax over some of their fine dishes. Always good to see a venue encouraging family dining with good quality produce.
Tucked away 10 mins across the waterfront is one place anyone heading to Waterford needs to know about. Zaks Restaurant in the historical Athenaeum House hotel is an award winning restaurant that should be getting a lot more attention. The head chef Jean-Baptiste Dubois has created a stunning and creative menu. Why more critics have not reviewed this absolute gem is beyond us, check out our full review here.
Fine dining is not something you will see a lot of in Waterford, we sought out La Boheme after hearing great things about French chef/owner Eric Theze’s cooking. Once inside you will feel like you have been instantly been transported to the South of France. The striking decor with a chateau like feel is mirrored by the exquisite plates of food being served here. We were fortunate to pop in on a Friday, which is the only day the restaurant opens for lunch and sample some of their delights. Christine, who is the front of house and also Eric’s beautiful wife, is seamless in her warm welcome and clearly having spent many years in the States has the midas touch in engaging the diners in the room. A three course dinner will set you back only €35 pp which you can be assured is beyond good value for the standard of food being served here.
One of Waterford’s busiest restaurants with both locals and tourists has to be Bodega. The quirky Spanish style interior really makes this little hot spot on John St. really stand out. Cormac and the team have worked hard to build up a reputation of serving up some of the best local produce the city has to offer. This buzzy venue is the perfect spot for a laid back dinner with friends over a bottle of one of their delicious wines. Their early bird menu of two courses for €21 is hard to beat for the quality on offer.
The Olive Tree
The Olive Tree in the City’s Viking Triangle is quite a unique spot, being the city’s only Spanish Tapas restaurant and wine bar. Located on the Mall, this inviting venue is across the road from the popular House of Waterford Crystal. Whether you just fancy a nice glass of Rioja and some light bites at the bar or intend to make a night of it the Olive Tree covers all bases with a relaxed ambience and fun atmosphere. Prices are moderate and the enthusiasm in the service is infectious.
One of the things that struck us the most is the value for money on offer in some of the restaurants here especially compared to Dublin. No better example than French restaurant L’Atmosphere run by two staunch Frenchmen Arnaud Nary and Patrice Garreau. Much like La Boheme once inside you will feel you have been transported. Not only have the team here created a menu with some outstanding dishes traditional dishes, such as their much famed Boeuf Bourguignon, but they have ensured the wine list is just as authentic with an excellent selection priced from €20.
We at TheTaste (as you may have guessed by now) are big craft beer fans and if you share our passion you will love Revolution Bar on John St. Last time we visited the decor was more night-club than bar so we were well impressed by the latest revamp. Lots of warm tones and comfy chairs with one of the most impressive whiskey offerings we have seen outside Dublin city with 78 different bottles there for the tasting. Not to be out done by the whiskey they have an impressive array of over 87 craft beers by the bottle. Only problem with Revolution is you my never want to leave!
If you only visit one bar in Waterford city make sure to hit The Reg. With live music every night, an excellent gastro bar, rooftop terrace to enjoy a cocktail or two and some stunning views of the River Suir, this is a real crowd pleaser which ticks all the boxes for a fun filled night out. A great pint of Guinness and no shortage of quality food in a unique setting dating back to 1870.
For those looking for a little bit more excitement The Foundry is one of the city’s busiest late night venues when you feel the need to hit the dance floor. Its open air Sky Bar is an interesting space in which you can enjoy a some great tunes and star gaze at the same time.
The ideal spot for after drinks if you had a delicious dinner in Bodega is Kazbar. Set over three floors, this lively venue will keep you well watered with many a cocktail and you can be guaranteed some decent lively entertainment to keep the night going into the wee hours.
The Munster Bar
Classing itself as Waterford’s oldest pub The Munster Bar is a family run pub where you go to escape the crowds, enjoy a pint and relax. Close to the Bishops Palace museum this is a great spot to pop in after a bit of sight seeing and just let the world go by.
Although dating back to Norman times Waterford Castle is only open to the public since 1987. Situated on it’s own private island you will be hard pressed to find a more enchanting location. You can enjoy Afternoon Tea in the castle’s conservatory, a fireside whiskey or just get away from it all and relish in a great nights sleep in one of their four poster beds.
Athenaeum House Hotel
Athenaeum House Hotel has the enviable position of being only minutes from the city but when you’re there you feel like you have uncovered a forgotten treasure. A true home away from home, we can guarantee that you will find it hard to match the personal service this family run hotel offers. Excellent food, stunning location and superb food. These guys have the whole package, from €114pp you can enjoy a Friday night escape including a two course dinner, a stay in one of their executive rooms and they will even bring you breakfast in bed!
Faithlegg House Hotel
A golf lover’s paradise, at Faithlegg House Hotel you can happily let the man himself while away the hours on their stunning course while you unwind and spoil yourself in their Estuary Spa. End the day with a gourmet feast in their elegant Roseville Rooms Restaurant. A picturesque spot and an ideal romantic break that you will both love.
The Granville Hotel
Steeped in a rich history The Granville Hotel, dating back to early 1700, has long been a focal point on the city’s quays. If you’re looking for a central location where you can explore the city on foot, The Granville is a stone’s throw from the best Waterford has to offer. Filled with old world charm and maintained beautifully, you can expect a warm welcome from local staff who are more than happy to share their knowledge of the best Waterford has to showcase. Having recently just won their second AA Rosette you can also expect some excellent cooking from Head Chef Stephen and his team.
Now all you have to do is get yourself to Waterford city and see all that Ireland’s oldest city has to sample. For further information on more culinary treats see www.eatwaterford.ie