Every now and again we discover somewhere new, under the radar, that no one seems to be taking about, somewhere that is producing confident plates in a unique setting and for once not in Dublin.
Maynooth is not known for being a hotbed of outstanding eateries although there are some standout venues we have visited in the past such as Picaderos, Avenue Cafe, L’Art du Chocolate and Bistro 53.
Interestingly enough our forty minute spin out to Maynooth’s newest addition La Brasserie turned up quite a few surprises for us. Tucked away off the Main St in Fagan’s Lane, in a rather unassuming location sits our destination for the night.
Admittedly we hadn’t done a huge amount of research before we ventured in, other than we had covered the news of their opening and knew that Head Chef Franco Cappara, (previously the Head Chef of Ely Wine Bars in Dublin and Maynooth’s That’s Amore) had a solid pedigree and that alone was enough for us.
First impressions of La Brassrie are WOW, that and “are we actually in Maynooth”? It is no understatement to say the uber chic, cosmopolitan design is more akin to what you expect to find in one of the capital’s city slick new cocktail bars.
Opulence abounds, no expense spared on sourcing quality materials with imported marble bar counters, brass art deco style lamps, mirrored ceilings and plush booths that seem to just envelope you. We were surprised to hear the same owners as Bistro 53 also are behind La Brasserie and our server on the night explained the painstaking labour of love the design had been with every detail personally overseen.
La Brasserie is a sexy venue, but would the food be quite as seductive? As we perused the menu it struck us that drinks were on equal footing with the dishes, apparently Maynoothians love a bottle of bubbly as the team have an impressive list of Champagne, Cava and Prosecco plus a dedicated gin corner.
The wine list also is ambitious for a suburban joint, but something we applaud, too many venues are willing to offer under par wines at expensive prices at a time when Irish punters have never been more well educated and adventurous with their wine choices.
There are excellent by the glass options from €7 with the Coravin on hand should you wish to indulge in a glass of something more left field. We settled on a sublime bottle of Beauroy Geoffrey Chablis 1er Cru 2015 which at €60 a bottle was one of the more expensive options (House white starts at €24.95) but a delight to see listed and worth every cent for an evening where you really want to treat yourself.
Our first impression of the menu was there is a lot of different influences at play – Asian, classical French and even some Italian, on reflection this can often be the case in restaurants on the outskirts as you need to please as many palates as possible.
Our first dish of Marinated Cod with Asian slaw, sesame seeds and a punchy miso dressing was a refreshing way to begin and was a well balanced dish which our Chablis paired beautifully with.
Across the table arrived a plate, of beyond any doubt and with only the exception of The Greenhouse, the most perfect, creamy Foie Gras that has ever had the pleasure of passing our lips. Served with a classic brioche and some pear puree, this needed nothing else except to be devoured at speed.
Mains are mostly crowd pleasers, Fillet of Beef, Rack of Lamb, Pork Belly etc. We decided to go for a very old school French classic of Chicken Ballotine (€26), rarely listed on menus these days sadly as when done well it is one of the few chicken dishes that can actually be exciting.
Thankfully our feathered friend lived up to its billing, a well presented ballotine, flavoursome, still retaining some of its succulence with spinach, baby leek, pickled onion and an always welcome sprinkling of pistachio. Our faith in this old favourite was left untainted.
Our second main was slightly more left field; two generous chunks of Monkfish (€29), mildly curried cauliflower, mangetout and a light curry butter jus. Personally we would have enjoyed a more coconut base to the curry which possibly would have complimented this fleshy fish better. That said, we did enjoy it, but feel it could benefit from a little refinement to be a cracking dish.
After those hearty dishes we settled on one dessert between us, a rather decadent sounding Chocolate and Pistachio Mousse. However once we cracked into this tempting dome we discovered a fluffy pistachio layer beneath that was a deliciously light ending to the night.
La Brasserie is batting way above the average, kudos to a brave team who have gone against the grain and created a grown up, seductive venue, instead of being afraid to do something different and think outside the box for a regional location. If this venue was in the heart of Dublin city it would be packing them in every night, hopefully the locals in Kildare will get behind this spot and make it the huge success it deserves to be.
Dinner for two with wine came to €149.50 (must be noted you could easily shave €30 off the bill with a decent bottle of house wine.)
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Keith & Jules Mahon are the founders of TheTaste. We want TheTaste to be a culinary kaleidoscope to champion every taste, food, wine, cocktails, whiskey, etc. We are delighted to be part of such a creative and fast moving industry and are very passionate about sharing with you our unique journey around Ireland finding the best culinary hotspots.