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Monart Destination Spa, The Still, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

What: 5 star spa hotel. This review focuses on the breakfast. Lunch and dinner will be reviewed in another post.

 Prices: Breakfast is included in the price of the room.

 Vegetarian menu: Extensive. At the buffet there are many, many vegetarian and vegan options. Soy milk is also available for cereal. Many fruits, pastries, compotes, cereals (all sorts, some gluten free, etc.). Hot veggie breakfasts included Belgian waffles with blueberry and maple syrup and pancakes. There wasn’t anything on the hot breakfast menu for vegans, but the chef proved more than willing to cook anything you might ask for (in this case she made a good job of frying bananas one day and frying potatoes and pineapple the next). Their gluten free bread was their only vegan bread — all of their other breads are made with eggs, and not all of the waiting staff seem to be aware of the fact that Guinness bread is not vegetarian.

 Drinks: Lots of juices, water (still and sparkling), teas, coffee (a full pot of the sort you might expect in France), non-dairy smoothies.

 Service: Well above average. Often excellent.

 Comfortable? Very. The breakfast room doubles as the restaurant in the evening and looks out onto the gardens. White linen tablecloths and napkins. Guests are encouraged to breakfast in the fluffy white bathrobes provided (and many do so). The only odd thing was the choice of music — I’m not sure many people would like to listen to dirges while breakfasting, given the choice. Soft classical music would seem to be a more obvious choice for the setting.

 Was the food good? This reviewer loved breakfasting here. Usually I skip hotel breakfasts as they are often dire with little, if any, thought being given to vegetarians, let alone vegans. However, the buffet here was extensive and hygienic. Separate spoons were provided in each bowl (lovely pottery ones). The fruit was of very high quality and included strawberries, blueberries, grapes, etc., and none of it was bruised or dented. I didn’t try the pastries, but they looked good. There was also stewed pear and rhubarb, homemade compotes and much more, and it was all very tasty. The Belgian waffles were delicious, as were the off-menu requests.

 Toilets: Very nice. Cloths for drying your hands. Perfectly clean.

 My advice to the breakfast chef: Keep up the excellent work.

 My advice to the manager: The cheese and cooked meats are placed on the same board, and there seems to be only one tongs. From a vegetarian point of view this is unacceptable. Cheese and meat should not be touching each other, much less be on the same plate, and a separate tongs should be provided for each item.

 Overall: Breakfast at Monart is a fantastic experience. The food was great and beautifully presented in a lovely setting by attentive staff.  The best hotel breakfast, by far, that this reviewer has ever had.

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The Terrace Restaurant, White’s Hotel, Abbey Street, Wexford Town, Co. Wexford

What: Bright, spacious, plush looking restaurant. There are two entrances to this hotel. One appears luxurious and the other a bit dingy (the “dingy” looking entrance is the one on North Main Street).

Prices: Main courses around €18 (but some cost more, e.g., €26 for steak or €35 for lobster), desserts €5.90, appetizers €5-8.

Vegetarian menu: Not great. Heavy on cheese based options: goat’s cheese tartlet as an appetizer or caprese salad. There seems to be generally only one veggie option for the main course.

Drinks: Full bar. Extensive wine list.

Service: Noteworthy in that it was excellent.  Professional, friendly, pleasant.

Comfortable? Yes. There is a lot of space between tables. It’s bright and quiet and feels opulent.

Was the food good? Some was excellent, but some was disappointing. The leek and potato soup is made with a chicken stock so we were not able to have that as a starter. The bread was very good. The veggie starter options of cheese or cheese are very disappointing (in terms of lack of variety). Having ordered caprese salad we were very surprised by how the chef interpreted this classic dish — caprese salad is never comprised of lettuce leaves and quartered tomatoes.  The grilled artichoke hearts were not grilled, but in brine and cold. The veggie cannelloni was very tasty, but very heavy. I can’t imagine anybody being able to eat more than half. The wine was excellent.

Toilets: Very nice. Full length mirrors, nice soap and hand lotion. Good quality paper towels for those who don’t like hand dryers.

My advice to the chef: A vegetarian dish does not mean that that dish has to be full of cheese. Cheese is a boring (not to mention unhealthy) option for vegetarians who are all too often offered this by chefs lacking in imagination. Think about hot meals suitable for vegans — we don’t necessarily want a salad as a main course.

My advice to the manager: Everything was very nice, but a lot more thought needs to be put into the vegetarian options. These lack imagination and let the kitchen down.

Overall: A nice place to spoil meat eaters. Fussy vegetarians might be disappointed to be offered the same old same old.

Management have been asked to respond to this review.

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cannelloni

cannelloni

An Cistin Eile, 80 South Main Street, Wexford Town, Ireland


What: Small, simple restaurant offering Irish cuisine with a (very tasty) twist.

Prices: Considering the standard of the food (and that the lunch is substantial), very reasonable. Choose from the lunch menu for between €6.50 and €10, with veggie soup for €3.

Vegetarian menu: Disappointing. There were two veggie dishes on the lunch menu and both were cheese based with “fried bluebell cheese” being offered as the “healthy option”. I asked if the chef (Warren Gillen) could make me up something vegan – I’m not vegan – I just didn’t want a plate of cheese, and that was not a problem. I’ve also requested a vegan dinner here before and it was one of the best dinners I’d ever eaten. Given that the chef can cook really delicious vegan/veggie meals I don’t understand why they are not included on the menu.

Drinks: Free tap water is brought to the table, wines, tea, coffee and some others.

Service: One waitress here really needs to be trained in hospitality as she was rather gruff (on both of the occasions that I dined here), but the other staff were friendly, helpful and efficient.

Comfortable? The restaurant is small and is divided, more or less, into two sections. For some reason, that I don’t like, they seem to want to fill one section before opening the next, though there did seem to be people in the other section. I prefer not to be surrounded by crowded tables and would have prefered if the waitress had let us select a vacant table rather than insisting that we take the last free table in the front section. That said, the table was comfortable and was big enough for each person to have plenty of space. The chairs were also pretty comfortable.

Was the food good? Yes. The vegan dinner I had here before was excellent, bursting with flavour. The vegan lunch was very good, but slightly disappointing given the standard of the previous dinner. The chef is impressively creative in his use of ingredients. Chips here are excellent. The apple crumble was delicious. All of the meals were beautifully presented.

Toilets: There is only one toilet for men and one for women. Both were clean and pleasant, but it poses a problem if somebody else is taking too long.

My advice to the chef: Please include a vegetarian option that is not based on cheese. Also, the vegan dishes which were prepared for me were so nice that they deserve a place on the menu. Rethink the “healthy eating” choice – a plate of cheese is hardly healthy.

My advice to the manager: Some flexibility in letting paying guests pick out where they would like to sit would be welcome. At least one staff member needs training in hospitality.

Overall: Excellent food at a great price. Dublin Reviewer highly recommends this restaurant to vegans/vegetarians who are willing to ask the chef to go off menu.

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Delicious apple crumble

Delicious apple crumble


Off menu vegan creation

Off menu vegan creation


Veggie brie salad from lunch menu -- "healthy option"

Veggie brie salad from lunch menu -- "healthy option"

See locations below for more reviews.

D’Lush Cafe, Wexford Arts Centre, Cornmarket, Wexford Town, Ireland

What: Cloister-like cafe.

Prices: Reasonable. Soup of the day €4.95, cooked breakfasts around €7, sandwiches around €5-6, crepes around €7, salads around €8.

Vegetarian menu: Cooked veggie breakfast €6.95, veggie sandwich, bagel or wrap with fillings such as: hummus, avocado, roasted courgette, roasted aubergine, roasted red peppers…for around €5.95, veggie savoury crepes €6.95. Smoked tofu is also on the menu. Small salad €7.50, big salad €9.50.

Drinks: Free tap water in a nice bottle is brought to each table. Some beers, wines, hot chocolate, minerals, tea and coffee.

Service: Friendly and very efficient.

Comfortable? It’s a nice space even though there aren’t really any windows to speak of. Light opera music in the background picks up on the atmosphere of the old building. Nice exposed stone walls. Two picnic tables with benches — they look nice but I don’t like sharing tables. The other tables might have been comfortable but were too modern for the old room. A pleasant spot, when quiet, where you can really escape from the outside world.

Was the food good? Yes. Their own brown bread with fennel was excellent, though it overpowered the nice ingredients in the sandwich (I had been cautioned that the bread included fennel, though). Great choice of veggies for the sandwich, which were all nicely done.

Toilets: Clean and spacey.

My advice to the chef: Keep up the good work.

My advice to the manager: Perhaps rethink the furniture — it would be so much nicer if it were in keeping with the age of the building and the exposed stone. Also, it’s great that you offer so many different options for vegetarians instead of the dreaded goat’s cheese. How about some vegan cookies?

Overall: A good spot for vegetarians. I’ll definitely be back.

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Wexford Arts Centre

Wexford Arts Centre


Excellent bread with veggie filling

Excellent bread with veggie filling


Part of the menu

Part of the menu

Click on locations below for more vegetarian reviews.

Sky View Cafe, Wexford Opera House, High Street, Wexford, Ireland

UPDATE August 4th 2011: Unfortunately, the food in this cafe is no longer adequate. We tried to have a sandwich made today (before lunch) but were told that they were made up already and that there was nothing left with which to make a fresh one. It seems they now make up the few sandwiches that they offer in the morning and have adopted a “take it or leave it” attitude. If I wanted to be told what to have in my sandwich I’d pick one up in Spar or Centra. This is not good enough for a place that purports to have a chef. It’s a nice place to sit, but don’t bank on getting what YOU want to eat. Even petrol stations allow a person to choose the ingredients they want included in their sandwich.

What: Casual cafe for lunch or coffee break.

Prices: Reasonable. Pastries for around €2.50, smoothies under €3, soup and bread €4.95, big salads around €9, sandwiches around €6.

Vegetarian menu: Pastries, soup of the day is always vegetarian, sandwiches made to order with nice ingredients (aubergine, artichoke, olives, etc.), baked potato. An adequate place for a veggie snack/lunch.

Drinks: tea, coffee, juices, smoothies.

Service: Friendly, efficient. No problems.

Comfortable? Chairs are quite okay, table didn’t wobble, music not too loud (other cafes please take note!), fantastic views over the town and water. A pleasant place to sit if you get a table beside the window.

Was the food good? Creamy veg soup of the day had a good texture but was not seasoned enough, if at all. I needed to add a lot of pepper. The bread was on the dry side. The toasted sandwhich was adequate but the courgette was undercooked. Sticky toffee pudding was excellent. Overall, it was adequate but nothing special.

Problems? No. It was a pleasant experience.

Toilets: You have to go down a level (by stairs or lift). Spacious, clean. No problems.

My advice to the chef: Drop the goat’s cheese from the vegetarian salad. It often appears in the vegetarian option. Please offer us something different. I don’t need to visit your cafe for goat’s cheese — I can get that most everywhere else!

My advice to the manager: None. Everything was fine.

Overall: The view from this cafe is amazing and the food is adequate. Without the views I don’t think I’d bother returning for the food.

Note: Management have been asked to respond to this review.