Get stuck into wonderful local produce in rustic-chic barns, cool coffee shops and great gastro pubs
It shouldn’t be a surprise that a county that gave the world Arthur Guinness should have a proud food and drink culture. From the gorgeous old pubs that are dotted along the waterways to the hip coffee culture of Kildare town, the areas around Athy and Kildare, and into County Laois, are treasure-troves of foodie gems. Making the most of the best local produce is a cornerstone of good food in Kildare. A case in point? Just look at the Green Barn restaurant at Burtown House. Here, the restaurant overlooks a walled garden that was built in Georgian times to provide produce for the estate house, and today is used to source the very freshest ingredients for your plate.
Barn Restaurant, Burtown House
lovely, airy barn-style restaurant is well worth a visit. With a beautiful
rustic-chic interior and huge windows that overlook the walled kitchen garden,
it has a delightful aspect that is perfect for long lunches. What you see on
your plate is largely sourced from the estate itself – giving the food a real
feeling of sustainability and freshness. Salads are particularly delicious, or
try a weekend brunch for a bit of a treat.
Bar, Clanard Court Hotel
bright, lively surrounds of Bailey’s Bar make a perfect place for a casual
lunch just a short stroll from the centre of Athy. There’s a pretty extensive
menu, which covers all the classics from homemade beef lasagne to club
sandwiches as well as more contemporary options including a powerhouse salad,
with halloumi, chickpeas, beetroot and tons of veg.
It’s got a picture-perfect exterior that hasn’t changed in 134 years, but the traditional
inside of this great little grocery pub is just as appealing. Frank O’Brien’s
feels like every local pub should – unpretentious, authentic and welcoming.
Walk past the grocery bit and you’re into a cosy back room with sports
memorabilia, lino flooring and simple tables and chairs. Now run by Frank’s
daughter Judith, the pub is a great spot on the charmingly named Emily Square.
When to comes to trad music pubs, it doesn’t get much better than Clancy’s. For
a starter, it’s said to be the home of the longest running music session in
Ireland, with a weekly hooley that’s been entertaining all and sundry since
1966. Head here on a Thursday night and you’ll find fiddles, bodhrans and
flutes all raising the roof. On other days, the atmosphere is more low-key,
with a friendly welcome and a great pint of Guinness.
kid on the block, 29 Urban Corner is a great little lunchtime option serving
carvery food that doesn’t feel stodgy or old-school. Hot lunch menus change
daily with everything from Korean Southern-fried chicken salad to Cajun chicken
pasta salad, as well as roast beef,
homemade BBQ pork or Thai green chicken curry. Prices are very competitive and
staff is friendly and efficient.
Coffee Bar, Kildare Town
friendly team of clued-in baristas have made this third-wave coffee shop in the
heart of Kildare town the go-to for the best brews in town. Using ethically
sourced coffee that’s locally roasted in Kilcullen, the coffee bar keeps locals
caffeine-fuelled through the day. The small simple interior is a nice place to
hang around, or else get your coffee to go and take a stroll around Kildare town’s
Slí na Sláinte walking trail.
beyond the cheery, flower-filled entrance to Hartes, which sits on Kildare’s attractive
market square, and you’re into one of the island’s most enjoyable gastropubs. Popular
with locals, Hartes anchors the food scene in Kildare town with creative
contemporary cooking that hits all the right notes. Opened in 2009 by Paul
Lenehan and Ronan Kinsella, the pub is now a busy family business with a relaxed
vibe. Inside the interior mixes pub and restaurant stylings, with open brick,
greenery and industrial Edison-style lighting. There’s lunch, dinner and Sunday
lunch menus, as well as bar food and kids’ options.