Saturday, November 12, 2011

Review : The Loft, Arklow

The Loft is on Arklow's Main Street and would be known to most people by its previous name, Kittys.  Kittys reigned supreme for many years but failed to reduce prices when everybody was tightening their belts and is no more.  That's enough reminiscing for now - time to tell you about what's there now.

Crostini at The Loft

Pat Lalor is the chef at The Loft and his motto is "when food is simple it can be spectacular".  Pat has a long and distinguished history, and was most recently head chef at The Stonecutter in Aughrim which is no longer with us. Aughrim's loss is Arklow's gain however as the town desperately needs a restaurant which serves great food at prices that represent remarkable value for money.  The Loft is this restaurant.

The Loft menu & wine list - small, but perfectly formed

The dining room is simply furnished with wooden tables and chairs, a stove in the centre of the room to keep things cosy, and great music adding some atmosphere. The sparseness makes the space a little echoey, but that's something that can easily be sorted out.  I met an old friend there who immediately told me how good the bread was and confessed that she had eaten so much of it, she was worried about not eating the rest of her meal.  I later saw an empty plate being cleared, so her fears were unfounded.

Bread.  Lots of bread.

We were also given a plate of the bread when our orders were taken - beautiful brioche-like rolls and hunks of brown bread, both made by Pat, accompanied by good salted butter at room temperature and pesto oil.  Once I started, I knew what my friend meant and had to move the plate across the table to avoid carb overload.

Crostini & Prawns

Shortly afterwards, our starters arrived : I had the Crostini - toasted slices of foccacia with semi-sundried tomato paste, fresh tomato, buffalo mozzarella with balsalmic dressed salad.  The Hubs surprised me by choosing the Tiger Prawn Provencale - pan fried tiger prawns with garlic, diced tomato & wilted baby spinach. Both were presented beautifully and some swapping of dishes began "I'll swap you three prawns for one piece of crostini..."

Chicken & Hake

Plates cleared, it was time for our mains.  The Loft has superb steak from Ballyshonogue Farm in Tinahely which I understand is sublime.  I was taken by the Hake supplied by Kish Fish.  This was oven roasted with a caper butter sauce and mash.  It was cold outside & this was perfect comfort food - the hake was tender and perfectly cooked, the capers added some bite to the buttery sauce and the mash was creamy and delicious.  I described it to my sister today as "Nanny's mashed potato" and she understood immediately what I meant - it's how we quantify perfect mash. The Hubs chose the Chicken with organic Kale, Leeks & bacon with a tarragon cream. To be honest, I was lucky to get any of this to sample, as he wasn't in sharing mood. It was a fantastically executed dish and the side dish of carrots & broccoli were cooked perfectly - lightly steamed, tossed in butter and not the horrendous usual flyblown kidney dish of mush which restaurants still insist on churning out.

Brownie & Sticky Toffee Pudding

Eventually, we decided it was dessert time and started negotiating the menu once again.  The Hubs got his order in first (such a gent...) and ordered the Sticky Toffee Pudding while I got my chocolate fix from a Flourless Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Bean Icecream.  They were beautifully made with really good ingredients and we ended up swapping plates because both desserts were equally great.  It will be my eternal regret that I couldn't finish mine - even more so as they were sent with the compliments of the chef & manager.*

We left The Loft sated and happy, surprised that a restaurant less than a month old can turn out such accomplished food at very reasonable prices.  Our meal cost €67 for starters, mains, a bottle of wine & two pints of beer.  The Loft is local, the food is local and the prices are very competitive - there's absolutely nothing to compare to it in Arklow.  I firmly recommend that you should pay it a visit before you have to book a table in advance.

The Loft, 56 Main Street, Arklow, Co. Wicklow.  Tel 0402 41418
Find them on Facebook or follow Pat on Twitter

* They are currently waiting for their credit card machine, so no Visa or Laser,  but there's an ATM across the road


  1. Wow, Aoife, I cannot believe you paid just €67 for all that gorgeous food and drinks. Will definitely be marking it in for a visit when next in the area (which could be soon).

  2. And give me a call... I'm only a few seconds away!

  3. Aw your from arklow I'm only down the road yey for local bloggers I love the loft it's gorgeous I used to love kittys tho to :) x

  4. It really deserves our support - the food is wonderful, the prices are really reasonable and it would be nice to see a restaurant survive on the Main Street. Tell your friends!

  5. €67??? What did you do? Hold him/her at gun point while the bill was printed out? That is the bargain of the year that is for sure. €67, I still can't believe that price. Talk about cheap as chips.

  6. Great review, I will sample it for the first time this week and trust the experience will be as good as yours..

  7. Stephen, I'd give them a buzz to book a table - I know they're nice and busy this week (which is wonderful)