The Gallery Café, Burtown House, Athy, Co. Kildare
The beautiful early Georgian built Burtown House lies nestled amongst its vast gardens, park and woodlands, in the green countryside of Athy Co. Kildare. It is steeped in history and is a hidden gem to be discovered on the South Kildare Heritage Trail.
Home to generations of renowned and respected Artists and creatives such as the late Botanical Artist Wendy Walsh and her daughter Artist Lesley Fennel, her son internationally renowned Photographer James Fennell and his wife Jewellery Designer and Cook Joanna Fennell, Burtown House & Gardens could be considered an Art & Food Lovers Paradise. She could definitely be called a muse.
Patrick, Smith and I took a short drive from our own home to Burtown House on the last Bank Holiday Monday in July. Our visit had been a long time coming. We had visited quite some time before but it was the wrong season and so was closed. This time we got it right (mostly … read on). I even booked in advance to ensure we had a table and weren’t disappointed upon arrival.
When you get to Burtown House you leave your car at the main gates to the house, in a designated car park.
The short stroll to the house gives you ample time to take in your surroundings and encourages your inquisitiveness for areas like the one photographed above; the ‘Sculpture Meadow Walk’.
It also treats you to some of the photogenic highlights of the house and its gardens as you venture forth.
The Gallery Café is to the left of the house. You’ll see a small couple of steps down to it, perfectly manageable if you are accompanied by your little one in their pram or stroller.
There are two areas of The Gallery Café, the main café and shop and the café area to the other side of the small courtyard.
We were lucky to have an option of both as our booking was made for a late lunch of 3pm, passed the peak dining times.
We chose the back Gallery area, mostly because we loved the look of it but also because it gave us more room for a high chair for Smith.
Everywhere I looked on my steps from the front of the small courtyard of The Gallery Café to the area we had chosen to lunch reminded me of the creative talent of the house.
James Fennell photography exhibition graced the walls as we entered the house.
Wendy Walsh’s and Lesley Fennel’s work adorned the walls inside our dining space. Books on travel and art sat shelved ready to have fingers flicker through them.
So many rustic and pretty scenes to appreciate.
The service at The Gallery Café was welcoming, friendly and attentive, from the members of staff who took our orders and those who served us, to those who passed by and said hello. It was a highlight of our visit.
Specials were brought to our table on a blackboard and for drinks I ordered a glass of Moulin De Gassac Guilheim, an organic red wine.
For Smith we ordered Courgette and Fennel Soup with Fresh Crusty Sourdough Bread. The soup was tasty, perfectly seasoned and had that healthy buzz about it. The bread was deliciously addictive with the herb infused butter it was served with. Smith ate some but like all 16 month old’s, was more interested in what we had ordered. The soup wasn’t wasted, of course and Patrick and I happily shared what was left.
For our starters Patrick and I shared an Antipasto Board of Garden Vegetables, Olives, Italian Parma Ham, Mozzarella, Grissini & Bruschetta Served w/ Sun-dried Tomato Pesto. We were not disappointed, neither was Smith who had nibbles of the selection that lay before us. The presentation was gorgeous, rustic and plentiful but not overly so. We tasted everything singularly then mixed and matched the ingredients to create our own perfect dish. The vegetables I happily ate on their own as they were full of goodness. The ham and pesto’s went well with the crunchy toasted bread and mozzarella, which has a tendency to be bland.
For main course, Patrick chose the Burtown Homemade Organic Beef Burger in our Sourdough Bap Topped w / Caramelised Red Onions, Parmesan Served w/ Herb Roast Potato’s & Garden Salad. He was delighted with his choice, and having tasted his burger, I understood why. It was juicy and full of flavour, plus it was the perfect size. Sometimes burgers can be topped with the most amazing ingredients but the meat is tasteless, this was not the case. The addition of his salad that was packed full of goodies and nearly a meal in itself made for one very happy husband.
I chose the Spinach, Ricotta Cheese, Olives & Chorizo Pizza for my main course. The pizza was like Patrick’s choice a great size for one person as their main course. If out for a light bite and a glass of wine it would also be perfect for sharing. The ingredients were tasty and the perfect ratio for each bite I took.
We were more than satisfied when it came to dessert time, so I suggested we share a slice of cake over coffee. Big mistake, when it’s the last slice of Carrot Cake that tastes that good. It was moist, with the right amount of sweetness, the right texture and the creamy top was scrumptious.
Joanna’s motto for dining at Burtown House’s Gallery Café is from ‘Farm to Fork’. They use organic homegrown vegetables and herbs in their dishes and you can tell when you dine there. Straight from their garden to your plate, you can’t get more seasonal, local and fresher than that.
Our initial plan when visiting Burtown House and Gardens was to spend some time in the Gardens after dining. This plan changed though because it was raining. Actually that’s not the real reason. The real reason wasn’t just the rain, it was because we forgot Smith’s stroller and I was wearing suede boots (not good for walks in rainy grass). So we didn’t get it completely right this visit either. We’ll just have to keep returning until we do!
Burtown House & Gardens have some exciting plans in production in the shape of the ‘Green Barn’ which is due to open in October this year, 2016. Keep an eye on their social media for updates, I know I’ll be!