If ever you find yourself in Kilkenny for lunch, then the place I would recommend is the Kilkenny Design Centre opposite the magnificent Kilkenny Castle. I found myself outside the castle, starving, two weeks ago and decided to give it a go. Id been there for a cup of coffee but not lunch. My parents are moving away from Kilkenny this year and so I decided its now or never!
Once upon a time the Design Centre was the Castle Yard which held the servants living quarters and the stables. It has been restored beautifully.
The front of the building which faces the street has large windows full of crafts and various wares which are for sale inside.
Under the arch, which is a smaller mirror image of the arch of the castle across the road, you find a door either side of you. Both lead into the Design Centre. On one side you have things like silver craft, jewellery, bags, clothes and more. On the other is pottery, metalwork, glassware and crystal among other things. On view is an admirable example of Irish creativity. Everything is Irish, genuine, hand made and of an extremely high quality and so a bit pricey. Then again if you are a lover of this sort of thing, the prices are fine as they match the quality.
The doors have ramps leading up to them so as to be accessible to wheelchairs, but you are probably limited on the pottery/glassware side I was terrified of knocking something over just walking around, and in some places not much would have passed!
But the other side has more space and the lifts for getting upstairs can be found here too.
Above the shop is the restaurant. Great for lunch at any time of the day and not just at lunchtime! If its just a cuppa that youre looking for then its the perfect place to stop and relax.
It really is a beautiful building. Theyve simply whitewashed the old brick walls and the décor is simple, all very tastefully done.
There is a reasonable amount of seating and its not all crammed together, theyve left good space between tables (I hate it when they cram as many tables in as possible and it becomes a combined effort if you want to get up).
Getting your grub is done self-service style you know, get your tray, get in line, look at whats on offer, order, take your plate from the nice lady, continue towards the cashier and on the way get your dessert, beverage, cutlery, bread, and anything else you like the look of. We found the lady behind the counter polite and pleasant as she clearly explained in detail what each thing was. Im sure if someone were celiac she would have had no problem helping out luckily in Ireland restaurants and cafés (in general but not all) have become very aware of differing needs.
There were various interesting looking dishes on offer, among them were vegetable and blue cheese quiche, chicken garlic cheese slice, lasagne, chicken or beef curry wrap, seafood chowder and a selection of salads. Now when we got there is was going on for three oclock so at lunchtime they would have had more, but for us what was there was choice enough. I was just glad there was more then just pasta this, pasta that and pasta the other (I live in Italy by the way)! I have to admit Im a bit tired of pasta!
Anyway back to the menu. With each dish you have a choice of salad mixed green salad, tomatoes, peppers and potato salad.
There is also the Special of the Day (long finished by the time we got there) which, obviously, changes everyday.
We got lasagne (no that wasnt for me) with mixed green salad, the chicken garlic cheese slice with potato salad, and the seafood chowder with a choice between three different types of bread poppy seed, wholegrain or a grilled cheese scone. The food was absolutely gorgeous, very tasty and definitely not run-of-the-mill stuff.
We paid a grand total of about 35, which honestly isnt that bad for Ireland if you consider the classy setting and the type of food youre getting. You can certainly eat for cheaper in Kilkenny but not much cheaper and the quality is completely different.
There was a good range of yummy-looking desserts which we didnt try even though they were very tempting!
Tables were cleaning promptly and properly once people had left.
The bathrooms too passed the test nothing broken or dodgy looking and obviously cleaned regularly!
Only one complaint they dont really cater for children. My sister and her husband arrived there with my eight year old son about twenty minutes before us. They said that they asked for a kiddies menu which there wasnt and then for half portions which they didnt do either. Kids can be picky about what they eat and generally dont like experimenting and really the only thing sort of standard thing on the menu was the lasagne (which I ended up getting for my son and he gave me his chicken curry wrap which he had ordered!). So, no plain stuff like say, chips!
My parents later told me their market aim is the bus tour. Tens upon tens of bus tours arrive everyday, even in winter, at the castle across the road. The bus tours are 90% of the time all adults and when there are school tours they certainly dont go into the Design Centre for lunch they eat their pack lunches in the Castle Park!
All said and done, I would definitely go back there again. At that price I wouldnt go everyday, but as a treat its perfect!
Would I recommend it? Yes!
If you have kids with you it gets 4/5
If your party doesnt have any kids, definitely 5/5
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 9am-5pm and Sunday 10am-5pm