Last night we tried out a new restaurant: Féte du Vendredi Soir. It’s a bijou (very small) bistro hidden away in the countryside of County Tipperary, near Cashel. Very hard to find, they have no website and are not on Trip Advisor. Even harder to get reservations. But they say you can find all the best people here. Tamsin Greig is a regular and I heard that Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal have dined here.
We were lucky to get a table for our Wedding Anniversary. The menu is set, there is no choice. The chefs decide on it based on what they have available. One week it could be squirrel, the next it could be soused herrings, always a surprise. Louise, being a vegetarian, was delighted that our main was a mezze maniche rigate with a wild mushroom sauce. I love the name of that pasta “striped half sleeves”.
When we arrived we were greeted with cocktails, a big G&T for me and a Mojito for Louise. Her mint clearly came from the restaurant kitchen garden. In the bistro you are dining in a half open kitchen, so you can see the chefs at work, smell the bread baking and hear all the clitter-clatter of a busy restaurant kitchen. A little bit of “Gordon Ramsay” style shouting was going on between the head chef and the maître D which is a form of entertainment in itself, like watching Fawlty Towers.
The vibe was very chill, some great music playing in the background, Lou Reed, Kinks, ELO, Bryan Adams, Mungo Jerry, Rolling Stones etc. Kind of a psychedelic rock theme.
The food was quite simple, but truly excellent. When someone gives you a dish of salt, oil and bread it doesn’t sound like much. But the bread is fresh baked out of the oven, first cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and Breton grey sea salt – Gros Sel de l’ile de Ré. When you taste it you understand the difference between what you can do in your own kitchen and the magic of a trained professional chef who selects the best ingredients. That attention to the smallest details is what Michelin Stars are awarded for.
The service was excellent, a good balance between personable attentiveness without being intrusive. Our glasses were never allowed to run dry.
Our journey through the menu was a voyage of the senses. In a period of quarantine lockdown we had a tour of the Mediterranean. Olives from Greece, white wine and pasta from Italy, red wine wine from Southern France, then to Canada for the Moose.
Dining here is not cheap, but let’s say no more about the price, because it is worth every penny.
As Bread and Salt; Janina Degutytė (trans Marija Stankus-Saulaitis)
Through a high gate, decorated
with wreaths and slogans…
Through a high gate
like a guest
encompassed by woods, clouds, and flights of swans.
And I accept
with lips chapped by north winds
the black night and the white day
as bread and salt.