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The Coach House, Co Wicklow: This cosy pub is a truly charming place to eat in stylish surroundings

This new spot in Roundwood is inviting and there is considerable skill in the kitchen

The Coach House
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Address: Main Street, Roundwood, Co Wicklow, A98 P635
Telephone: 01-2336010
Cuisine: Modern International
Cost: €€€

Good food in a cosy pub is a bit of an idyll, particularly when it feels like the rather large country cottage of a friend (to paraphrase the late Alan Clark), who didn’t have to buy their own furniture. A friend position that is very much open in my diary; applications graciously received on a discreet At Home card.

In the snug, sofas, chairs and window seats are scattered with cushions, the slate floor is strewn with Persian-style rugs and interesting paintings hang above the sage green panelling on white walls. A wood-burning stove glows in the corner, where we have been lucky enough to land a small round table for Sunday lunch.

The other rooms have more of a restaurant feel. The larger dining room across the hall is full, although a few stools at the long wooden bar counter are available, and further dining rooms ring with the cheery hum of generations of families in bobble hats, weekend cashmere and hand-knits.

It all feels very Wicklow, which should be no surprise, as the new owners of The Coach House in Roundwood are Simon Pratt; his wife, Monique McQuaid; and Teresa Byrne. Having leased the courtyard space beside the 1820s coaching inn for Roundwood Stores – a bakery, food store and cafe – when it came up for sale in May, it presented the perfect opportunity to expand.


It is open less than a week when I visit, and staff, who are still getting used to the rhythm of a very busy restaurant, ensure that we are made to feel welcome, with the arrival of a carafe of water and complimentary bowls of toasted almonds and olives, soon followed by two slabs of their 48-hour sourdough bread with a whipped parsnip and feta dip.

The menu is divided into reasonably priced starters and mains. There are wines by the glass and carafe (with a few interesting producers such as Raul Perez); most bottles are over €40. There’s an impressive line-up of Irish craft beers, including draft Rye River, Farrington’s and Wicklow Wolf. It also includes Longueville cider, one of my favourites. I do wish more pubs and restaurants would stock the country’s excellent craft ciders rather than the sugary swill that is all too common.

Tuscan bean soup, available as a starter or main course (€8/€13.50), is a steaming bowl of deliciousness a hearty tomato-based soup, that is topped with a mound of grated cheese and crammed full of chopped carrots, cavolo nero and beans. You may find that the smaller option is all you need at lunchtime. The pork rillettes (€9.50) come with more of that lovely sourdough, toasted this time and served with Pommery mustard and pickles.

For main course, we have taken the precaution of going with one of the starter dishes, and it turns out to be quite substantial. Ashford mushrooms (€16) are piled on toast, as duxelles and larger earthy chunks with organic salad leaves. As the fried egg on top is pierced, the runny yolk streams down, saucing this delicious vegetarian dish.

The Wicklow venison pie (€22) is more like a cottage pie, with strands of slow-cooked meat mixed with carrots in a meaty sauce and topped with golden peaks of piped potato. I had expected that it would be in a pastry crust, with chunks of venison and a gamier flavour. Nonetheless, it is piping hot and tasty. Likewise, the side of red cabbage is a bit tame, pickled rather than slowly braised for the more wintry option that is generally served with game.

We share a simple dessert, Conference pear with custard (€7.50), which is a deep Burgundy hue and tastes like it has spent a respectable amount of time poaching in mulled red wine. It is topped with a loose almond crumble to add a bit of crunch.

A lot of thought has gone into the menu at The Coach House. All of the produce is of impeccable quality and there is considerable skill in the kitchen, headed up by Luke Matthews, one of the former chefs at Mews in Baltimore (which is now closed). There is a particularly good €12 children’s menu, with fish and chips and shepherd’s pie, ice cream and a glass of Highbank Organic apple juice. The dinner menu includes additional options such as short rib of beef and cote de bœuf with sides for two (€65).

This is a truly charming place to eat, with food that is cooked with love and care. Lunch for two with a beer and a cider was €71.25.

The verdict: Delicious food cooked with love.

Music: Light jazz.

Food provenance: Ballincarey Organic Farm, An Tairseach Organic, The Craft Butcher, Kish Fish, Ashford Mushrooms and Wild Irish Game.

Vegetarian options: Tuscan bean soup; Ashford mushroom tart; Ballincarey purple sprouting broccoli with miso; pear, chicory and Young Buck salad; Dermot Carey’s squash, shiitake and burrata; vegan options on request.

Wheelchair access: Accessible with accessible toilet.

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave

Corinna Hardgrave, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes a weekly restaurant column