Having spent nearly every summer in Wexford as a child, the sunny South East has always held a special place in our hearts, whether it be days spent on the beach or nights attempting to sneak into one of the many local bars. Somehow, it’s always been a place that as adults we have somewhat neglected.
With that in mind we made a last minute booking last Saturday as there was a brief appearance from the sun, we decided to take the two hour spin and visit one of the most awarded seafood restaurants in the county.
La Cote restaurant set along the harbour in Wexford town has been the brainchild of husband and wife team Paul & Edwina Hynes. Both trained as chefs with Paul working in many Michelin starred venues such as Derry Clarke’s L’Ecrivain and Tom Aikens in London, Edwina however found her passion for food was paralleled by her passion for people. Careers in restaurant management led them both to the decision that between them they had all the qualities necessary to make their dream of owning their own place a reality.
Fast forward almost four years later and La Cote has managed not only to pull in the crowds from far and wide but also managed to rack up several prestigious industry accolades along the way.
Many chefs spout on about being passionate about using local seasonal produce, but Hynes is more than capable of backing this up. With the local seafood bounty that Kilmore Quay offers up, along with the edible flowers, herbs and vegetables that this dynamic duo grow themselves, La Cote has managed to nurture a loyal foodie community in Wexford.
We popped in on a glorious evening for an early dinner to avail of their Value Menu available up to 6.30pm on Saturdays, at €36 for three courses it more than represents good value for money given the quality and provenance listed.
La Cote also offers a Coeliac menu for the same price, which is ideal if you suffer from any gluten intolerances or even if, like many nowadays, it’s a lifestyle choice.
As we scanned the menu every dish was laden with well know Irish producers such as Mooncoin Beetroot, one of our favourite producers to follow on Twitter, Drummond House Garlic, Ballymakenny Farm and Durrus Cheese to name a few.
What we love about Hynes is how much he believes in the produce he uses, sharing many a tantalising dish on social media, singing the praises of the hard working people whose produce helps create the visually impressive dishes he posts.
We kicked off with some home-made bread which Paul enjoys baking himself, and lashings of butter – hey, it had been a long week! Next up was a cute little sample amuse bouche of La Cote’s famous Seafood Chowder, a signature dish that is easily one of the best we have sampled.
Our first course arrived on striking azure blue plates that seemed to be a picture perfect backdrop for the vibrant Citrus Cured Salmon Tartare beautifully plated on top. Goatsbridge trout caviar, fermented red cabbage, olive tuille and droplets of Hollandaise sauce finished off not only a visually impressive dish, but also a a symphony of flavours that worked beautifully together.
Across the table a mini mountain of deliciously light Ardsallagh Goats Cheese Foam arrived surrounded by beetroot textures and edible flowers which were resting atop some toasted brioche to form a wonderful introduction to the fresh flavours that awaited us.
Mains on offer are heavily seafood orientated, which is to be expected in this coastal spot, however carnivores are well catered for with options like Skeaghnore Duck breast, Beef Fillet & Braised Ox Cheek or Surf and Turf.
We stuck to our nautical theme and opted for the catch of the day which was a sublime Lemon Sole (€22.95), served with a confit leek, mussel and vichyssoise foam which can only be described as butter heaven. It is these kind of dishes, at astounding good value, that make La Cote stand out as a go to for serious seafood lovers.
Monkfish is not only an ugly little fecker but it is also one of the most difficult fish to cook as it is so easy to overcook, as we have had the unpleasant chewy experience of first hand many times. With that challenge in mind we took the leap of faith and decided to sample the Spiced Monkfish (€28.95). Hynes is a confident, competent chef and this was a perfectly executed plate, cauliflower puree, squid ink crisps and bulgar wheat all complementing this perfectly cooked fleshy morsel.
Like many regional restaurants portions are generous at La Cote, certainly by Dublin standards anyway, but this was not going to defeat us in our search for the perfect Cheese Plate. We shared a satisfying array of cracking Irish cheeses (€11) from Durrus, Wicklow Ban, Mileens to Cashel Blue, with some homemade water crackers and pear membrillo (think quince jelly). Every good cheese board deserved a decent wine to bring it to life and we chose a glass of Chateau Barbier Sauternes (€5.50), if you love a good pungent blue cheese try a glass of this with it and you will think how have I lived without this in my life.
As we sipped the last of our Sauternes we gazed out at the stunning sunset backdrop over the harbour and thought how sometimes we just take for granted the abundance of beautiful spots we have dotted around this neck of the woods.
La Cote is award-winning for many reasons; amazing provenance, warm generous service, unrivalled value for money but most of all for the calibre of cooking that can be found here. Take a trip to the sunny South East you’ll not be disappointed !
Dinner for two including a bottle of Leopard’s Leap Chenin Blanc 2017 came to €116.45
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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.