This is my first review of 2013 and by god its review that ended 2012 on a major high. Last night I had booked dinner for Joanne in Campagne in Kilkenny to celebrate her birthday and New Years eve. Campagne is run by Garrett Byrne and Brid Hannon. I don't really believe I should mention that Garrett is the former head chef of Chapter 1 in Dublin because what Garrett has done here in Gashouse Lane is fantastic, it should be Garrett Byrne of Kilkenny's Campagne thats it! The restaurant itself is just around the corner from the MacDonagh Junction shopping centre for anyone that knows Kilkenny, if you don't I will have links at the bottom of the page. We arrived just before 7.30pm and were greeted by a really nice and friendly woman who saw us to our seats. Our waitress for the evening gave us our menu's and took our drink orders, at the same time plonking some gorgeous sourdough bread on the table.
As we both scanned over our menus my mind raced with what to get, so many different choices and ideas, I was dumbfounded! I wanted it all like Augustus Gloop in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. Joanne like never before had picked out what she wanted almost straight away going for crispy smoked haddock with a poached egg for starters and Angus beef fillet for mains. I decided to play a game I do regularly, pick what I want under the pressure of making our order and with that over came Brid to take our order. Joanne made hers, and I went with a Terrine of saddleback pork with spiced plum puree, walnuts, apple and walnut toast for starters and for mains Loin of venison, glazed mushrooms, bacon, polenta and red wine sauce. We were both starving so we scoffed down on our bread waiting for the starters, so when the starters arrived we had no bread left but that was rectified by our excellent waitress who asked us would we like some more. Starters time and here they are ( as ever I will review my own but show you Joanne's meal ):
Deep fried smoked haddock,poached organic egg,spring onion hollandaise
Terrine of saddleback pork with spiced plum puree, walnuts, apple and walnut toast
With our eyes transfixed on this lovely set of starters we tucked in. The theme for my meal tonight was to try things I would ordinarily not, I have never eaten terrine before and I wouldn't be fan a of patés either so this was a bit of a test. God... this was good! the terrine was so well flavoured, even the jelly was yummy, everything was in tune, everything! Joanne's meal she said was also fabulous, a beautiful piece of fish with the perfect poached egg, simple but perfectly accomplished food. Starters are always an insight for how the night will go and judging by what we had we were salivating for the mains. Just after we finished our starters we asked would we like more bread, that for me is another plus point as I am glutton for bread but we declined as we already had two baskets. What I liked and noticed from the get go is we were not being rushed here, there was plenty of time between starters and mains, allowing you to get the digestive juices going, secondly its worth mentioning our waitress was so attentive without being annoying, a pleasure in fact to have someone so helpful. Enough of my gushing out came the mains:
Fillet of Angus beef, king oyster mushroom, caramelised shallot, Bearnaise sauce
Loin of venison, glazed mushrooms, bacon, polenta and red wine sauce
Sweet devine Jehovah this was blooming good, the venison was fantastic, I could run out of superlatives for this meal if I kept talking. The sauce was so moreish aswell as the red cabbage underneath the loin. Before I go any further though I must admit I had something for the first time in this meal willingly, and that was mushrooms. I have always steered clear from them but tonight was a night of new things, and I decided to chomp down on one... AH HEAVEN I don't know whether the mushroom tastes like that or sucked up the heavenly jus, but damn it was yummy, I couldn't get enough, so much so I ate Joanne's king oyster mushroom. A superb mains with out a doubt. Joanne also loved hers, beautiful meat, sauce and light mushroom duxelle, she loved it!
We were starting to get weary from such a good meal, so much so our waitress said she would give us a few more minutes before we order our desserts.
After about 10 mins from our table being cleared of our mains we got our second wind ordering our desserts. Joanne ordered 5 chocolate madeleines and I ordered Sauternes custard, Armagnac prunes,caramelised walnuts.
5 Chocolate Madeleines
Sauternes custard, Armagnac prunes,caramelised walnuts.
Oh come on ! This meal just got better, its rare we have a dessert each but I am so glad I did. The Sauternes custard was similar to creme caramel of which I haven't had in about 11 years. In fact the last time I did I made it in college as part of a lunch service on my Professional Cookery course. Tasting it in the kitchen I turned to our lecturer exclaiming "I dont like this, it tastes like scrambled egg", to which my lecturer responded "Then you fucked up the recipe Willem, and make it again", needless to say I did fuck it up and made a fresh batch. This custard however though was beautiful and worked so nicely with the prunes and walnuts, I could not get enough of this, I wanted more! As for Joanne's madeleines they were gorgeous and so light yet tasting like a brownie.
This meal was amazing, everything and I mean everything was perfect, I cannot fault Campagne for anything. Our meals were stunning, and the service was 5 star, what Garrett and Brid have created and instilled here is everything you want in a meal and the experience to be. I cannot wait to come back again, maybe in the summer I will get back down for Garrett's summer menu. Please go here if you are in Kilkenny you will not be disappointed.
Campagne's website can be found here :
They can also be found here on Google maps:
Thanks again for reading,