Having reviewed many restaurants in Kilkenny all of top calibre we were keen to share with you an unexpected find we came across on a recent visit. We visit the city regularly and often pop in for a drink after dinner to probably the most popular bar in the city, The Left Bank. For those not familiar with the venue this is one of Kilkenny largest bars set in what once housed quite a large Bank of Ireland. Now fully renovated into a lively space which regularly hosts some of the best local musicians around. What we had missed on previous visits was that the owners now had opened a restaurant next door aptly named Rive Gauche (the french for left bank). Not the most imaginative of names you may think but it actually fits the restaurant perfectly. The first time we visited just to sample some of their fine cocktails we instantly thought of how the interior resembled one of Dublin’s institutions Cafe en Seine. Parisian luxury, rick deep reds, velvet drapes, crystal chandeliers and baby grand piano, you get the picture, a bit different to the local charm of most of their competitors.
On the night we dined there the restaurant was pretty quiet, with no shortage of eateries in Kilkenny you really have to shout about yourself to pull people away from the more well known spots or better still have others shouting about you. This is why we felt Rive Gauche needed to be highlighted as a newer spot well worth checking out, particularly if you are on a budget and looking for great value for money. Their early bird runs from 5.30 to 7pm which gives you a good window to avail of two courses for €25 or three for €29. Unfortunately we arrived at 8pm so we didn’t get to take advantage.
The food on offer in Rive Gauche definitely has some French flair to it but the real focus is on local Irish produce. Adventurous enough starters range from crayfish and prawn risotto to sliced rabbit loin. We opted for the hearty sounding Youghal Bay Crab Gratin, a rather large portion of gratin arrived packed with crab meat, topped with a cheesy melt and served with some crispy ciabatta to mop up the last remaining morsels.
Our second starter was a more simpler affair, four King Seared Scallops perfectly done with cauliflower cooked three ways; crisped, pureed and dusted with a confit of orange reduction drizzled to the side.
Meaty mains weigh heavy on the menu such as Cote de Beouf, Suckling Pig or Rack of lamb which for €25 sounded like it had the possibility of being an enjoyable main. Good presentation with some flavoursome companions in the broad bean fricassee, cabbage and minted petit pois with a finishing touch of the red wine jus made for a fantastic main which will leave you wanting more.
The mere mention of a champagne scallop sauce was enough to tempt us toward the Monkfish tail, an interesting take on a fish we enjoy regularly. Lightly crisped slices of monkfish arrived on a sea of asparagus with spinach puree and the champagne sauce dressed around the plate. We ordered a side of creamy champ which we really didn’t need as both portions of the mains were generous, but who doesn’t love a bit of mash laden with butter and cream.
Although almost tempted by the Rolo and vanilla cheesecake we used some restraint and settled for the Irish Farmhouse Cheese board instead. Durrus, Gubbeen, Cashel Blue and Cheddar with Irish porter made up for a great showcase of some of the most well known cheeses in the land. Sipping away on our bottle of Villa Huesgen Riesling aptly named “by the glass” and nibbling away on our quince jelly and figs we were more than happy that we had taken a punt on Rive Gauche.
Situated beside Kilkenny Castle with it’s red awning Rive Gauche is hard to miss, so next time your in the Marble city and fancy some bang for your buck, step back in time soak up some Parisian chic, good honest food and a mean old fashioned.
Our bill excluding service came to €113.35
This is a Hearty Taste we would highly recommend.