Subscriber OnlyRestaurants

The Grain Store review: ‘For such quality, this is an absolute steal’

Killruddery’s own produce shines at seasonal supper in Bray estate’s magical grain store

The Grain Store at Killruddery House
    
Address: Southern Cross, Bray, Co. Wicklow
Telephone: 01 286 3405
Cuisine: Irish
Cost: €€

At the end of a typical Irish week – patches of mist and fog, heavy showers, hail, and blustery winds – it seems a positive omen that we have the promise of a lovely sunset as my tyres crunch up the lengthy drive of the 800-acre estate of the Earl and Countess of Meath, Lord and Lady Ardee, just minutes from Bray in Co Wicklow. It’s not an “at home”, but it is supper that awaits. A seasonal supper at the Grain Store Restaurant at Killruddery House beckons.

Better still, it’s the golden hour, as if the honeyed, hand-cut stone in the outbuildings needed any more help in the attraction stakes. In the courtyard, outdoor benches, a farm shop, and a pizza food truck, give an indication of what it takes to be a profitable working farm these days. The supper club, which runs on Fridays, with a €49 pay-in-advance menu, is another part of that matrix.

The former grain store is a dramatic room, quite beautiful. Dried flowers cascade from above the bar and branches strewn with fairy lights hang below the high pitched ceiling, bringing a bit of a festival vibe.

I had presumed it would be a tasting menu, so am pleasantly surprised to discover there are choices, four per course. But first, snacks. Warm slices of Bread 41 sourdough come with smoked, cultured butter, smoked almonds, Iberian ham and the most delicious cheese bite, a crumbly, intensely flavoured biscuit topped with a creamy Comté fondue.


A gnarled tentacle and chunks of charred octopus follow, paired with just the right amount of Gubbeen chorizo and Romesco sauce, so that everything chimes well together. We have gone for two fish starters, because frankly, I cannot resist crab when I see it on a menu. A vivid buttercup yellow mousse, made from carrots and yuzu, foams over the sweet white crab meat on a plate that is dotted with discs of pickled carrot and togarashi mayo, topped off with hairy bittercress, sorrel, garlic shoots, chickweed and chive flowers.

You’ll find plenty from the hedgerows in the dishes here, but in a considered way. Chive flower is there for its gentle punch of onion, and the leaves add texture and flavour. Niall O’Sullivan, the chef here, is a founding member of Nádúr Collective, which has hosted wild food talks, pop-up dinners and workshops since they got together in 2012. Before moving to Killruddery last year, he spent four years as head chef in Bang in Dublin 2.

There is also plenty of produce from the farm. Estate-raised lamb is truly beautiful, served pink, with Killruddery broccoli, ground elder, seaweed, and black olive and lamb jus. Adding to the beauty of this dish is a side order of crispy pressed potatoes. Anyone who is familiar with the legendary confited potatoes at Quality Chop House in London will know how good these can be, especially when they come with a wobbly wild garlic aioli.

Our other main course is cod, which is just at the point of flaking, surrounded with a precisely-made prawn bisque, a few meaty Killary Fjord mussels and a briny hit of Wicklow sea beet.

We finish with chocolate, which I wouldn’t normally do as I generally find it too heavy at the end of a meal, and I am pleasantly surprised to find how good a 70 per cent Valrhona mousse can be. It’s blood warm and aerated, with tasty bits of crispy brownie, and served with a restrained peanut butter ice-cream. Our other dessert – you could have affogato or Young Buck cheese for the other options – is a vanilla panna cotta, topped with a refreshing blood orange sorbet and white chocolate crumb.

It has been an incredible evening and astonishing value. The only thing it needs is a bit more choice on the very short wine list, which our server tells us is already planned.

I'm not quite sure how they pull it off at this price. It helps, no doubt, that much of the produce is grown and raised on the estate, but for this quality, it is an absolute steal. We have had a feast in a spectacularly beautiful room, in the middle of the country, that is actually just on the edge of a suburb. There is so much that is magical about the supper club at the Grain Store Restaurant and the price is only the start of it. For forthcoming dates for the supper club, see

Dinner for two with two glasses of wine and a tea was €116.80.

THE VERDICT 9/10 Spectacular value in a magical setting

Facilities Outdoors in a separate block, clean and functional

Music Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Otis Redding and old-school classics

Food provenance Glenmar seafood, Kish Fish, estate raised lamb, pork and eggs, Killruddery produce and Oliver Kelly Organic Produce

Vegetarian options One vegetarian option per course, for example agnolotti of Comté, creme fraiche, Wicklow wild garlic, cavolo nero and hazelnuts. Full vegan menu available on request

Wheelchair access Room is accessible with an accessible toilet.

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave

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