Mark Condron's Zest Café has been the epicentre of the culinary culture in Clane for more than a decade now, a mighty achievement for a modestly sized restaurant that is perenially busy and bustling. They have charmed their customers for ten years by cooking light, modern – zesty! – food, unpretentious, smart cooking that always hits the spot: fried calamari with gremolata; warm salad of chorizo with Cashel Blue aioli; hake with cumin lentils and cauliflower purée. They also manage to have just the right food at the right time – a Bloody Mary and eggs Florentine for Sunday brunch; Italian meatballs with rocket and Parmesan and crusty bread for lunch. This is food that satisfies you, and the good news for Kildare is that the success of Zest in Clane has led Mark to open Jolly Café and Restaurant in Naas, another funky space with funky food: seared scallops with celeriac purée and curry cream; seared salmon with bok choy, chill and lime glaze; chicken supreme with herbed potatoes and truffle cream. That's the sort of food that calls for a lemon drop cocktail to start and then a glass or two of a good County Kildare craft beer. Jolly indeed.
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