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When the Farmgate Café advertise for staff, they stress “it's a busy fast paced environment”. And it is. I saw for myself last Wednesday week (Aug 7th). No shortage of spaces when we arrived at 12.30pm but it was such a different story thirty minutes later. By then, the Dining Room was full and there was a queue for the Balcony, even a little queue to exit! Twenty five years after its founding, the English Market restaurant's food is as much in demand as ever.
We got a table in the glassed off Dining Room and were soon studying the menu and the specials on the board (which included plaice and corn beef). Service is friendly and efficient here and water was quickly delivered to the table along with some of their complimentary breads (delicious, as always) and Glenilen Butter.
Something on the lighter side was our target, so we passed on the mains of fish, the beef, the free-range chicken and the Irish Lamb Stew, all tempting and most sourced from the English Market below.
We could have nibbled on olives and on the addictive House Spiced Nuts (we had those during the Walk the Long Table stop here). In the end, I picked the Seared Chicken Livers with Marsala on sourdough toast (8.50). There was a well-dressed salad on the plate as well and it was a superb combination of flavour, texture, even colour.
You can get Irish beers here and European wines but I regularly go for their sparkling elderflower drink and we shared a carafe (4.50). There’s a great loyalty between the Farmgate and their suppliers so it was no surprise to see the Old Millbank Organic Irish Smoked Salmon (12.50) on the menu here and CL gave that a run and confirmed the offering was as good as ever.
One of the advantages of the smaller plates was that dessert could be accommodated!There was a Pannacotta Special with strawberries up on the board but it was the regular Champagne and Elderflower Sorbet with West Cork Strawberries that tempted me. Must say I hit dessert jackpot with that one, so delicious I was half inclined to lift the bowl to my lips and drain the last drop of the melting sorbet!
Actually, there is a quite a long dessert menu here. Our other one was also cool and colourful: Lemon Tart and Raspberry Sorbet.Did a bit of sharing there and that too was excellent but I still gave mine the nod as the best! Each cost€5.90.
You may reserve a table in the Dining Room (table service) but not in the Balcony (counter service). The menu available in the Dining Room is mostly available too across the way and, in addition, you’ll be able to choose from soups, salads, toasted and open sandwiches, and a daily roast or two.