Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review : Fern House Café at Avoca

The Fern House Café is the grown up dining arm of Avoca Kilmacanogue, just off the N11.  It opens for dinner from Thursday to Saturday and has a great value set menu on Thursday nights for those who are watching their budget.  The entrance to the Fern House is to the right of the main Avoca entrance and leads to a large and airy Victorian-style room with ceiling height windows, rustic tables and an assortment of mismatched chairs.  It gives an eclectic, relaxed atmosphere in elegant surroundings.

We were there for a "ladies who never get the time to lunch" dinner and a very long chat, so we sat at our long table for 7 looking at the menu while we waited for "she who is always late".

Looking at the menu, it appeared very comprehensive on first glance but the more we looked, the more we saw lentils!  I eventually ordered the Castletownbere crab and apple salad with rocket and pink grapefruit.  It arrived presented in a little Kilner jar with some lovely apple puree dotted along the plate to add a bit of additional zing.  The crab was fresh and light but was spoiled by large shards of shell and cartilage, one of which I almost broke a tooth on.  Even ready-picked crab needs to be checked thoroughly by hand and this was a disappointment.

I then ordered the burger, knowing that almost everything else on the menu would end up on the table so I could sample everybody's meal.  The burger was lovely, but far too large and unwieldy to eat by hand and the board was a little too small to accommodate everything - the dressed rocket salad kept making a break for freedom onto our laps and the floor!

I also tasted the lamb tagine which was superb, although an enormous portion which the girls were unable to finish, the Spanish meatballs were nice but a little dry and not a patch on the Albondigas made by Angela, my Basque dining companion.  The sea bass was pretty and very light.

The wine list was a bit of a disappointment.  One of the house wines, a Cuvée Orelie was on special at €19.99 - one sip and we understood why - it was desperately acidic and undrinkable.  We chose the other house white, priced at €24.99 which is pricey enough for house wine.  I'd like to see a better value wine selection available here.

For dessert, we decided to share one of each of the desserts and there was much disagreement over which was the best.  The lemon tart was very tart and zingy with a buttery pastry base, the Eton Mess was far too sweet for my palate, although some of the others devoured it.  I was torn between the the raspberry posset and the chocolate tart. The tart was very dark and rich, too dark for most of the girls but I thought it was beautifully made.  The posset was light and airy and utterly delicious.

Tea and coffee isn't included in the set menu so this does bump up the final cost.  The Fern House Café is lovely but can get very warm and noisy when packed, as it was on the night we visited.  

1 comment:

  1. Good description of restaurant, seems like a lovely place. Ive seen some pictures of this restaurant the victorian style room is beautiful.
    Its a shame you got shell in your crab, cartilage is acceptable, but shells should have been detected in inspection by the chefs. I hope that you informed the wiater/ waitress and got a replacement dish, as I'm confident you would be taken care of in that establishment. I've heard great things about the service.
    The burger sounded lovely, I actually think its better when you can't fit the buger in your mouth, because it means your getting more burger for you buck! ... and I suggest you learn how to eat your food like a lady (or at least get a side plate for the rocket salad lol) without spilling it on yourself! hehe
    Wow This place sounds pretty generous with huge portions of the lamb tagine too, Nice!
    I'm humoured about your friend Angela; I'm sure she makes nice Albondigas, but let's be realistic, I'm sure there nowhere near professional chefs standards?
    As far as the wine list goes, the wines that you explained that are also shown on the Thursday night set menu are the two wines (white and red) which are on special along with the food menu deal, because they are two wines that happen to go well with most foods on the menu. If you had of opened your eyes, or asked the waiter politely there is a full extensive wine list on offer too.
    Desert sounded divine. I don't mind that Tea and coffee isn't included as it's such a bargain anyway. It's always good when a restaurant is busy because its a great atmosphere.. Of course it's going to be noisy Aoife (duhhh lol) .. speak louder! I hate when people complain about little things when out for a meal that can't be avoided like the sun being too warm or something, it ruins the atmoshere and the craic!
    And if you get too warm Aoife.. ask staff to open the window.. dont just hold it in and complain about it
    Good article otherwise, nice idea.