An afternoon stop: Avoca Handweavers, Kilmacanogue

A dish on the cover of the Avoca Cookbook Saturday night dinner for friends staying over meant a late night, a not-so-hurried rise on Sunday morning and a similarly delayed breakfast. We badly needed to blow the cobwebs away so we drove down to Brittas Bay for a long walk in the surprisingly warm sunshine (and a brief snooze on the beach!). When we arrived back in the car about 3pm, lunchless, the Boyfriend and I were ravenous. Driving back to Dublin we took the opportunity to turn off the N11 into Kilmacanogue’s branch of Avoca Handweavers. Although initially rather daunted by the long line of lunch-ing and afternoon tea-ing visitors, we were distracted by a blackboard full of intriguing choices. By the time we had decided on dishes, we were almost at the top of the queue and gazing at the generously stocked salad display. More decisions had to be made.

I plumped for the Danish Cream Cheese, Rocket and Sundried Tomato Roulade while the Boyfriend was swayed away from his initial choice of Thai Pork Curry with Basmati Rice by the sight of goat’s cheese on top of the otherwise unexciting sounding Roast Vegetable Ciabatta. Both dishes came with three salads so, after a little heming and hawing, I got a serving of sweet grated carrots dotted with liberal amounts of poppy seeds, a pasta salad with cherry tomatoes and one of beans tossed in a creamy dressing. The Boyfriend took the tomato and basil salad, along with Avoca’s justly famous broccoli, hazelnut and feta combination and some cumin and vegetable-laced couscous.

After that, it was a matter of trying to find a pair of seats. No easy task in a café packed with travelling families and little old ladies digging into tea and scones, but the turnover is, fortunately, pretty fast (as are the clearing staff) and we soon ended up with a wee table by the windows. The servings were large – as were the plates – and, despite a hunger born of sea-air, we barely managed to get through the platefuls of food in front of us. And the price for this largesse? €11.95 for my roulade and €10.95 for the Boyfriend’s ciabatta. We couldn’t even find room to sample any of the delicious deserts, biscuits and cakes on offer, all of which – as with the main dishes, soups and breads – are made on the premises with well sourced ingredients, something all too rare at cafés across the country.

Besides pandering to random day-trippers like ourselves, Avoca Handweaversat Kilmacanogue is a great facility for people driving regularly from and to Waterford and Wexford. Luckily Avoca have several other branches, including one on Dublin’s Suffolk Street, although do I wonder if they would ever be interested in opening a decent eating station on the Dublin-Cork road?

Avoca Handweavers is located at Kilmacanogue in County Wicklow and several other locations across the country including Suffolk Street, Dublin and Moll’s Gap on the Ring of Kerry.



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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2 Responses

  1. plum says:

    I LOVE Avoca! I must have eaten in half their stores and they were always packed out. The one place I could always count on to get a decent fresh salad. And their brown bread won me over, I seriously contemplated trying to bring some home. But I contented myself with their cookbook and, of course, have not made one single thing from it since. Must get onto that.

  2. Caroline says:

    You’re right about their salads Plum – well worth driving miles out of your way for! The Avoca cafés do point up just how well it can be done, and how little of an effort is put in by many other Irish cafés. Maybe they should all get their own copies of the Avoca café cookbooks! I’ve both of them but, until recently, had cooked few of the dishes. They are well worth digging out, however. Lots of great ideas even if you never get round to cooking an entire recipe.

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