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Grub Spy: Medieval dines

Alan Kelly dishes the goods on Ireland’s tastiest dining destinations.

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Petronella’s exterior.

Petronella’s exterior.

Petronella’s mushroom burger.

Petronella’s mushroom burger.

Inside the restaurant

Inside the restaurant

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Petronella’s exterior.

A couple of weeks ago, over a pint or two, a pal of mine and fellow lover of eating-all-things-nice, were having a deep alcohol fuelled conversation about our latest favourite simple foods. It had to be comforting, perilously stuffed with calories, and most importantly it must be easy to cook.

PETRONELLA
Butterslip Lane, Co Kilkenny
3.5 Stars
FOOD €17.50 DRINKS €3

A myriad of options were yummed over including recently discovered new stuff. His latest number one was a baked spud with copious amounts of salt, butter and fluorescent orange cheese – while mine was a slice of toasted sourdough with mounds of butter-fried slightly burned mushrooms. Homely and indulgent, comforting, yet exciting. If those combinations don’t float your boat, I’m not sure we can ever be pals.

Those images and that conversation returned to me as I eyeballed Petronella’s lunch menu on Butterslip Lane in Kilkenny.

“A Tayto sandwich with a bar of chocolate and tea or coffee – Portobello Mushroom burgers with beef tomato on a brioche bun, with relish mayo and chunky chips…” I mean, I had no intention of eating a Tayto sarni for lunch, but it sounded so bold and comforting I just had to check the place out.

Of all the medieval nooks and crannies in Kilkenny’s gothic-like side streets, Butterslip lane is one of the finest nooks you’ll come across. Located just off the endlessly busy St. Kieran’s Street, it is steeped in atmosphere and a bit reminiscent of Merchants Arch in Dublin.

Internally Petronella is modern, cool and stylish looking without squandering any of its days-of-yore dynamic. Feeling comfy and more than a little peckish I go for the mushroom burger and chips. What arrives is a glorious stack of carb-tastic goodies along with a vestige of salad leaves for a look of wellness. The mushroom part is actually a pair of brawny portobellos stuffed with melty mozzarella, topped with a hefty slice of grilled beef tomato, some blobs of house relish and garlicky mayo, and a side bucket of delicious skin-on fries. First bite is essentially food heaven. Earthy and scrumptious with loads of oomph. I can tell immediately these guys threat their vegetables seriously.

Unfortunately it is also where matters go awry. Along with a torrent of tomato and mushroom juice and a gush of runny relish the brioche bun is transformed into a sludge. It’s a common problem with assemblage and a hiccup with most veggie burgers.

While the ingredients are still delicious Petronella’s version has ceased to be a proper burger and in desperate need of a fundamental makeover. Which is a shame. What could be a big veggie hug on a plate has essentially become a food hell. All sorry tales need a happy twist. And a gooey scrumptious sticky toffee pudding goes a long way to getting things back on track.

Regardless of the burger mishap I would still describe Petronella’s as a happening place perfectly apt for a good night out. It looks good, the staff are excellent, and the location is second to none. As a destination, Kilkenny is, and has been for the past five hundred years or so, a charming place to visit. The charm certainly worked on me.

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