Editor’s note: Bella Supiana is working with JJ Kavanagh & Sons on a new series called ‘Tastes of Ireland’. She’ll be travelling to our destinations around Ireland and scouting out the best places to eat for hungry travellers. In this post she picked her top restaurant and experience after visiting Waterford City.
The Bay Tree Bistro owned and run by husband and wife team, head chef Keith Boyle and front of house Carmel Boyle, is nothing less than out of this world. I had the pleasure of sampling their outstanding eight course tasting menu. As I think back, it reminds me of one of the best meals I have ever eaten!
The restaurant itself is quite big and Keith explained ‘I could easily fill this place selling burgers and paninis but if I was to cook that, I’d go work for someone else. Here at The Bay Tree Bistro, I’m putting my stamp on quality food!’. Don’t expect any ordinary meal here, leave that to the rest of the county. Not only will you be fed superb food, you will leave having experienced something truly magical.
For the evening our table was graced by the attentive, knowledgeable and passionate waitress, Andrea. They have achieved something special, matched to some of the best fine dining experiences in the world, yet the service is non-invasive, non-stuffy and delivered with a continuous smile and charm.
To start, it was all about crisps! Not your typical cheese and onion taytos but see through thin potato crisps dusted in India’s much loved spice blend, garam masala. I’d never tasted crisps like that before – wispy yet crisp with bold flavour, they reminded me of pakoras, India’s answer to vegetable tempura. Keith prides himself in his 350euro Japanese vegetable slicer which could slice a single potato well over two meters! It’s clear that his focus is on doing something that perhaps hasn’t been accomplished yet in Waterford.
A trio of house made bread and infused butters were up next. An inviting selection of nutty and moist flax, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeded brown loaf and a duo of white yeasted bread, one plain and the other marbled with black olive. They both had a slight chew and gorgeous crust. Not just one butter to slather but three equally delicious star piped expressions served on a long white piece of stone – cracked black pepper and sea salt, smoky bacon and sundried tomato. If I’m truly honest, this was one of my favorite courses. I loved trying what is usually mundane in a new and interesting way. Bread and butter not how you know it, but with an exciting Bay Tree twist.
The fancy amuse buche or ‘snacks’ as they casually call it followed suit. A mixture of boudain of chicken smoked bacon with leek, crisp pig’s nose, thyme and goat milk was succulent and melt in your mouth. The salt and chili daikon radish, scurvy grass, blue cheese with beetroot and apple puree was like nothing I had ever tasted… Crisp and moist with a nice peppery kick from the blue cheese, the purees added a beautiful sweetness and the scurvy grass added a wonderful and surprising horseradish note! Scallop roe, cauliflower puree, cod cheek and rock samphire was the final snack. Everything in that one bite complimented each other. I never thought cauliflower would go as well as it did with cod and the rock samphire allowed for a lovely freshness. The textures were phenomenal – crunch, velvet smooth and melt in your mouth succulent, all at once.
The next course was wood pigeon with wild mushroom sauce, pickled blueberries and carrots, wood sorrel, beetroot mousse and miniature rounds of apple. The mushroom sauce was velvet richness, the pigeon tender with a slight chew, the apple chunks gave a more normal sweetness while the pickled blueberries and carrots added sweetness with zing. I loved the subtle freshness the wood sorrel brought to the dish.
Paired with Pepperton Estate Red Wine (Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot), New South Wales, Australia. Plum and blackberry notes, balanced by black pepper and spice.
‘All about freshness’ was how Keith summed up the fish course. Poached sea salt butter monkfish with oiled wild alexander herbs, saffron emulsion, peas and a duo of steamed tender stem broccoli and puree. The fish was beautifully juicy, complemented classically by peas and a more innovative creamy broccoli puree. The vibrant saffron emulsion cut through the richness of the meaty monkfish while the wild alexander’s added a lovely fresh kick.
Paired with Little Rascal White Wine (Chardonnay) Goulburn Valley, Australia. Mango and pear notes, balanced by a citrus zing.
Duck pursued the fish course with backing singers of parsnip puree, BBQ pumpkin, black garlic puree and pink and black radish. It was a stunning tender piece of medium cooked duck with a lovely subtle sweetness from the silky smooth parsnip puree and chunky BBQ pumpkin. The radish added a nice peppery kick while the seventy day aged black fermented garlic added a gorgeous sweet roasted nutty like flavour. An explosion of colour on a plate, it was artistic and edible yum!
Paired with Domaine De Belle Mare Red Wine (Merlot), Languedoc, France. Strawberry, raspberry and woody notes.
The first element of the sweet naughtiness was Keiths take on a lemon meringue pie. A crumbly pastry rectangle sat proudly underneath a good chunk of zingy set lemond curd. Topped magnificently with meringue drops, fresh raspberries, pink and white marshmallows and what looked like micro shamrocks. It was served alongside a super fresh cracked black pepper, celery, thyme and basil sorbet and rich butterscotch. Magically dusted with icing sugar, this dessert is fit for a king or queen!
Paired with Chateau Jolys Cuvee Jean White Dessert Wine, (Petit Manseng), Jurancon AOC, France. Honeyed fruit notes with a zing of citrus candied fruit.
To finish the evening were three petit fours, decadent and silky smooth chocolate truffle, melt in your mouth rich tablet of caramel rolled in desiccated coconut and intensely tropical mango fruit pastel, sweet and soft to the touch, it was like having a party in the tropics!
To sum up the experience in one word would be something of a challenge. Keith is creating food with soul, I felt it with every bite. His passionate endeavor to produce a marvelous food experience rather than eating for the sake of eating is truly admirable. Carmel has the front of house cared for in an informal yet attentive and friendly manner. The Bay Tree Bistro is offering a different take on food and it’s definitely worth a visit next time you’re in Waterford City.
Book your trip now to Waterford City with JJ Kavanagh & Sons and get 10% OFF your bus ticket with promo code: JJKav10 and experience our top places to EAT and Drink in The Bay Tree Bistro!