SPONSORED: Barrow’s Keep has a new home – but its incredible food and wine hasn’t changed
Stephen McArdle has worked in top restaurants in Dublin, Belfast and London. But now he has made his home in Kilkenny and found the ideal place to cook the food he loves: locally sourced and with a strong identity.
That place is Thomastown, where Stephen and his partner Morgan VanderKamer recently moved their renowned Barrow’s Keep restaurant – a short hop from its previous base in Graiguenamanagh.
Morgan also has a wealth of experience gathered at restaurants in Dublin, London and her home country, Canada. Moving is not new to her but that recent short trip to Thomastown was the one which took the most planning.
“Both of us have opened new restaurants,” she says. “However, moving a restaurant that will keep same concept and identity was completely new to us.
“The atmosphere that was created in Graiguenamanagh needed to be transferred to Thomastown while still developing a new space. The transition is a work in progress but, overall, we’re delighted with the new establishment.”
The many customers who have visited Barrow’s Keep since it opened in Thomastown in October are also very happy.
Its seasonal menu and exciting wine list put it right up there with the best in the county – and, indeed, the country.
Stephen is a strong believer in the importance of good quality food, abundant with flavour.
His attention to the smallest details stems from his work with talented chefs in Michelin star restaurants. His dream of creating his own plates in his own restaurants has now led him to Thomastown.
“The move was a great team effort and we are delighted with the new restaurant,” says Morgan.
Under her guidance, wine is a vital part of the Barrow’s Keep story.
Morgan has been studying wine for years. She is certified with the Court of Master Sommeliers, has advanced certification with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust and is a Certified Sherry Educator. The wine list at Barrows Keep is a reflection of her dedication to wine and what it brings to the dining experience.
“We aim to present a list that will showcase the broad world of wine, from unique one-off bottles to wines that you know – and some that you have never heard of or tried before,” she says.
Barrow’s Keep was voted Best Wine Experience in Leinster at this year’s Irish Restaurant Awards.
From the beginning, Stephen and Morgan set out to establish Barrow’s Keep as a place with excellent food, focused on quality ingredients, creativity and consistency which evolves around the seasons.
Seasonal ingredients – from the South East as much as possible – coupled with an eclectic wine list and excellent hospitality are its hallmarks.
“Hospitality defines what we do as a whole,” says Morgan. “We strive to focus on the smallest of details and want to leave a lasting impression on all of our guests.”