Today, Ali and myself headed off on a mini tour of Carlow taking in Carlow Town, Ballon, Leighlinbridge and Bagenalstown. On the way home we began to feel a little peckish and stopped off at the award winning Rachel’s Garden Cafe, located in the Arboretum Home and Garden Heaven just outside Leighlinbridge. The cafe is very large but with high ceilings and massive windows overlooking the outdoor garden centre, along with the brightly coloured decor, it gives the impression of dining outdoors.
The food here is excellent. Locally sourced and lovingly prepared with seasonal ingredients, it’s easy to see why this cafe has won so many awards. It’s a self service style cafe where you take a tray and can view the food on the hotplate/fridge before asking a member of staff for what you’d like. The staff are exceptionally friendly and inject plenty of life into proceedings. Wine is sold by the bottle, quarter bottle or glass and is reasonably priced and of decent quality. After scanning what was available I went for the Roasted Cod with a Mushroom, Tomato and Herb Crust. This was served with mashed potato, roast potato, plenty of veg and a white wine sauce. It was delicious. The cod was cooked perfectly and didn’t seem to suffer from being on a hot plate, which leads me to believe that the food is replaced often. The crust was perfectly balanced although the coriander could’ve been chopped a little finer. The mash was creamy and well seasoned and the vegetables were exactly how I like them, with plenty of bite. Ali’s Braised Irish Beef in Stout was also wonderful and we both cleared our plates.
On arriving in the cafe I was immediatly drawn to the dessert counter but unfortunately I was too full to take on any of the delicious looking fare. There’s always next time! On the price front, we paid €28 for the two mains, a bottle of water and a quarter bottle of wine. Considering neither of us will have to eat for the next four days I’d say that’s pretty good value.
Value for Money: 8/10
Overall: 8/10 Highly Recommended
Rachel’s Garden Cafe
Arboretum Home & Garden Heaven
Old Kilkenny Road