This restaurant is long established and apparently has a very good reputation in Celbridge, Co Kildare. Many friends recommended it based on the quality of the food and service so we were eager to try it. Myself and my husband paid a visit for the first time last Sunday (June, 13th 2010) and after our experience, we would never return or recommend it.
There are two menus in operation – an a la carte (which might I remark is stiffly priced for many of the pasta dishes when you consider that Celbridge is not exactly Dublin city centre). Myself and my husband both opted for the very reasonably priced set menu which offers starters at €5 and mains at €10 including vegetables and potatoes to accompany the mains and we concurred this seemed to suggest very good value.
The restaurant is small and badly laid out but the tables themselves are roomy and set with white tablecloths which did add a hint of smartness to the establishment. The member of staff who took our order was abrupt, hurried and not very friendly and we concluded that he might have been the manager or indeed owner as he seemed to be in charge. The other staff were courteous and polite but all of them seemed extremely hurried and panicked and we felt almost like we were in a fast food restaurant where an “eat and go” atmosphere prevailed.
I ordered soup and lasagne and my husband ordered garlic bread with cheese and steak with pepper sauce and instead of potatoes, he requested fries which wasn’t a problem. My soup was hot but distinctly average and my husband’s garlic bread turned out to be Irish soda bread sprinkled with cheese and then grilled which did NOT work as garlic bread. All starters and main courses (with exception of the soup) are served with a slice of orange which we found to be amusing and a clear sign that the restaurant has not really progressed since the 1980s.
I was informed that my lasagne would be served with a side salad (despite that vegetable and potatoes were specified on the menu) but I was happy with this so it wasn’t a problem. When our main courses did arrive, they were again nice and hot but my husband’s steak was overcooked (despite him indicating a clear preference for medium when the order was taken). My salad was presented in a bowl not much bigger than a ramekin and the leaves were limp and drenched in a very off-putting dressing (which I cannot stand – either state on the menu that the salad will be already dressed indicating the type of vinaigrette or place the dressing on the side for the diner to help themselves). The lasagne was burnt at the sides where the uncooked pasta had not been properly covered by the sauce before being placed in an oven. It was nothing special and certainly below par for what I would expect to come from an authentic Italian restaurant. When I found my way through to the middle, I realised that for each very thin layer of minced beef, there were 4 layers of very stodgy pasta meaning that there was lots of pasta and very little mince! I realise that you cannot expect much for €10 but the a la carte was pricing dishes without meat at €16.95 which I consider to be a little expensive given the location.
We finished up after the mains and declined the offer of dessert or coffees – we’d had enough and were ready to pay the bill and leave. It was a disappointing visit to say the least and we won’t be returning. The food is overpriced and the cooking techniques lack imagination, the table cutlery and glasses are of poor quality, we noticed lots of cobwebs in corners and underneath shelves and seems to be no real system or organisation of table service in place. We agreed that management are obviously trying to promote and market the restaurant as a premium eatery but are failing to deliver the required product and service to match that vision.