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John McKenna finds great pub cooking in the iconic Roadside Tavern, Lisdoonvarna

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Let's call it the April Bloomfield Imprimatur.
What is it? It's the discipline of a good kitchen to focus intently on the best way of... cutting up a stalk of celery. Or a carrot. Or a piece of lamb.
Kieran's Kitchen, at the iconic Roadside Tavern in Lisdoonvarna, County Clare, operates according to the April Bloomfield Imprimatur. How so? Well, just look at that bowl of chowder and look, especially, at the pieces of celery in the dish. The celery has been cut sharply on the diagonal, giving the greatest amount of surface area to the cook as he cooks off the vegetables to start the dish.
What's more, the celery is al dente: it is crisp to the tooth, and serves as a counterpoint to the tenderness of the mussels.
The cooking, quite simply, is precise and focused. The deliciousness is in the detail, bit by bit, bite by bite. April Bloomfield, that obsessive, maniacal genius of a chef, would be well impressed by this bowl of chowder.
And that's the sort of thing Kieran, and head chef Viv, do in the kitchen in Kieran's Kitchen: precise and refreshing cooking, served in what is one of the classic bars on the West Coast, one of the classic bars on the Wild Atlantic Way.
You see the same attention to detail in their dish of lamb stew: the pieces of lamb and carrot are perfectly and precisely cut, so they meld beautifully with the potato. My only argument with the dish would be that a handful of barley always makes a lamb stew better, but that's a personal thing. As a dish, it was simple and pure. The same was true of breadcrumbed St Tola goat's cheese, served with their own chutney and fine salad leaves. And the same was true of roasted monkfish with tomatoes, a beautiful piece of fish, served with a funky mango risotto.
This cooking is, in the professional parlance, clean: everything tastes of itself, natural and alive, the flavours liberated by modest but sure cooking technique, and it means the food eats beautifully. And it does so because the team have thought, and thought intently, about the best way to slice a celery stalk, the best way to cut a fillet of monkfish. They know that the deliciousness lurks in the detail.
roadsidetavern.ie

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