A very tasty diversion
EATING OUT:It’s well worth a detour off the main road as The Kitchen more than delivers on its promise of a lunch less ordinary
IT’S THE LONE FACT that sticks in my head from Inter Cert geography class: the ox bow lake. A river gets tired and silted from going around a bend so it simply finds a more direct route. And the bend is quietly left to become a bow-shaped lake while the river rushes on in a straight line. By-passed towns remind me of ox bow lakes, places where congealed traffic has been released onto a motorway leaving the backwater to its residents once more.
The Wexford town of Gorey is showing no symptoms of stagnating. Two signs welcome you to the town, as if you deserve double the gratitude for leaving the conveyor belt of the N11 for a meander. I’m on my way to pick up two men in lycra who are pedalling their way to Wexford along with hundreds of others on the annual Wexford Cycle for Father Peter McVerry. They will have burned between 3,000 and 5,000 calories on the road so as part of the support team I feel it is my duty to eat a hearty lunch.
The Kitchen is a trendy-looking place on the North Parade at the top of the town. Buckets of black paint have been used on the long front and black awnings have been put up outside. Inside the trendiness continues with auction house furniture mismatched (naturally), blackboard paint and an ancient Remington typewriter on a dresser inside the door.
The menu headlines are typed in pretendy-old-typewriter script on good paper.
They promise a “lunch less ordinary” here which is a high ambition. Lunch is a harder gig in a small town when much of your passing trade has gone to the motorway. Local shoppers are closer to their own kitchen tables. And going out to lunch in your home town can feel a little like sitting in the good sitting room, something only done when someone’s visiting. So The Kitchen is pretty empty on this busy Saturday, all the better for a fast pitstop.
The just-awake boy is instantly cheered with his own glass of water and wants nothing more than a giant cookie from the jar on the counter for lunch. He gets talked into having something else first. A father with five children of assorted ages arrives to the table next to us and dives into his phone after getting the Wifi password while the children get on with deciding what to eat. There’s a brick pizza oven at one end of the large restaurant and two chefs working in an open kitchen space.
Their smoked Wexford mackerel salad for €6 shows this kitchen knows a thing or two about feeding people well. The best salads, especially in these dank days, have a cooked element, all the better if it’s warm. Here the mackerel has been marinated in a tomato base, cutting the savoury whack of this robust fish with some tomato tang. There’s more sweetness in a tangle of red onion marmalade, a layer of comfort in some potato salad and a set of well-dressed leaves to finish it off. It’s a great Irish fish staple used perfectly.