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The Roundwood Stores review: Walk in Wicklow, then eat here

Get to this Roundwood shop, bakery and cafe early. It’s a popular spot

The Roundwood Stores
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Address: Main Street, Roundwood, Co. Wicklow
Telephone: 01 224 8168
Cuisine: Irish
Cost: €€

Any restaurant that references St John, Fergus Henderson’s esteemed restaurant in a converted smokehouse in London, will get my interest. Even when it’s just a subtle hint.

In The Roundwood Stores, in Wicklow's highest village, it is a bowl of St John's Eccles cakes. And yes, there are whitewashed walls, a bakery, a menu chalked on blackboards, and perfunctory wooden tables and chairs. This may sound a little bit like Henderson's Smithfield flagship, but it is far from it, and it has no aspirations to head in that nose-to-tail direction.

It’s an artisan grocery and bakery, with crates of Dermot Carey’s organic vegetables displayed in the small outside courtyard, where you’ll find outdoor seating and a wood burning stove.

The Tunisian orange cake, €3, is a decadently moist rectangle of cake, soaked in orange syrup and totally delicious

Inside, a Polin Stratos, a refurbished Italian deck oven that took four days to install, dominates one end of the room. At the other end, there are a few coveted tables by a second wood burning stove, and a narrow counter with a few stools. It is, I should emphasise, a small cafe space. Shelves are lined with just about every artisan producer you can think of: meats, cheeses and prepared foods are on chilled shelves, and there’s a well-chosen selection of low intervention wines.


It is owned by Simon Pratt, formerly of Avoca, and his wife Monique McQuaid, and run by Jake McCarthy, Monique's son.

There is no fixed menu, it changes all the time, but the meat and vegetarian sandwiches made on sourdough focaccia are staples, and there is always a soup. On previous occasions, I’ve had the quiche and their sausage rolls, also a staple, which have the added magic of caramelised apples, and confited shallots.

This time it’s a steaming bowl of Italian tomato soup, €5.95, which is just what you need on a brisk day, loaded with chunky bits of fennel, cabbage, and chickpeas, and a side of focaccia. Burnished and bursting with irregular holes – just the sort of crumb you want to see from a slow sourdough ferment – it is topped with dollops of ricotta and mint leaves and studded with cherry tomatoes which are on the verge of collapsing. This is top-tier focaccia.

Our other lunch dish is a bit more substantial, as the doorstep focaccia meat sandwich, €7.95, is loaded with pulled pork. There’s a good hit of star anise from the pork, and a crunch from greens, coleslaw and vegetables packed inside, and the salad, €4.95, which is two half portions, is made from the produce that was delivered that morning. The autumn slaw of carrots, red cabbage, and apples is dressed in a light mayonnaise, and the winter tabbouleh has plenty of interest running through the grains – cauliflower, fennel, fresh herbs, crushed cumin seeds and pops of sweetness from pomegranate seeds.

The cakes, of course, need to be investigated. They are displayed on a counter in front of the oven, and as the day goes on, the selection of cardamom buns, cinnamon buns and cookies dwindles. The Tunisian orange cake, €3, is a decadently moist rectangle of cake, soaked in orange syrup and totally delicious. The apple bun, €3, is a yeast dough, filled with spicy chunks of apple, and the Eccles cake, €1.50, is all spicy goodness from raisins, allspice and nutmeg wrapped up in buttery, flaky pastry.

The Roundwood Stores is not a place where you’re going to run up a bill. The idea here is that it will be a community hub, and that permeates from the ethos in how it is run. All the vegetables are sold at farm gate prices, with the store just taking a 10 per cent waste charge, and they operate a staff profit share where a majority of any profit goes to the staff.

If you’ve fallen by the wayside on your 100 Days of Walking – what, with all the excitement of the Great Reopening – a walk that has a bit of a treat at the end of it may be just the thing to get you, and perhaps the dog, back out, clocking up the steps in the great outdoors. Go for the focaccia alone. And for the Eccles cake. And for the shopping, because the vegetables here really are outstanding. But be sure to get there early, well before the closing time of 5pm, because this is a popular spot, and those cakes will be gone.

Lunch for two with cakes and two teas was €31.75

  • Verdict A tasty reward after a walk in the hills
  • Facilities Just one toilet, smart and clean
  • Music Background 70s and 80s tunes
  • Food provenance Dermot Carey, Ashford Biodynamic farm, The Craft Butcher, Rathdrum, Cloud Picker coffee
  • Vegetarian options There's a vegetarian sandwich option, perhaps with falafel. The soup is always vegetarian, and there is a minimum of one vegan option, with more planned
  • Wheelchair access Room is accessible and there is an accessible toilet
Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes a weekly restaurant column