Portarlington is a small town of about 6,000 people divided by two counties Laois and Offaly. The division is provided by the River Barrow, the same river that flows near our home. According to my researches, Portarlington is a relatively new town founded in 1666 by Sir Henry Bennett and has experienced, like a lot of communities, various vagaries; one in particular being an influx of fifteen or more Huguenot families driven from France as religious refugees. One of the main thoroughfares in Portarlington is still named French Church Street complete with it's French Church built in 1694 and situated adjacent to the market square.
It was to the above street and to an aptly named restaurant called "The French" that we made our way for my birthday celebration lunch.
I would not consider myself to be a gourmet by any means, though to be honest in my earlier life
when I dining out on a regular basis the best of restaurants were chosen. In those far off days both the Michelin & Routier were the guides that soothed the trencherman within.
Today, life is far more modest and a pension is not an alternative to an expense account however
when a good friend asks "have you tried such & such a place?" Then my mouth waters, my taste buds jangle at an alarming rate and a mental note is made of the location.
Thus I am very appreciative of the standards of 'The French' where good wholesome food is served by the courteous staff in a warm and friendly atmosphere.
The proprietors Eamon & Richard have a set menu and a specials board of wonderful meals, I confess that it is my fault that I cannot relate to you all that they serve. I am though hooked on one of the breakfast meals consisting of pancakes, rashers and bananas with a goodly topping of maple syrup - Delicious.
This time I broke the mould to dine on fish and chips. My meal was two fillets of cod cooked in a soft batter with hand cut chips, a ramekin of chopped mixed salad and a serving of herbs in a tartar sauce. The dessert that I chose was banoffee pie with cream, lightly dusted with cocoa.
In all sincerity this was the best banoffee pie that I have ever had the pleasure to eat and I have sampled several in my time.
Just as this was not my first visit to "The French" it will not be the last and I am happy to recommend it to my friends. I left the café filled with delicious food and the warmth that comes from spending time with good people in a convivial atmosphere.