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24th May 2023

REVIEW: The restaurant every Neighbourhood wants

Emily Mullen

We took a trip to Neighbourhood Naas, an exciting venture from some of the most prominent names in the Irish fine dining sector.

When the news broke that former Aimsir and Allta employees, Antonia Leece and Kevin Hegarty with a kitchen headed up by Circa’s former head chef Gareth Naughton would be opening Neighbourhood Naas, with some executive oversight from Jordan Bailey (ex-Aimsir) this caused a wave that soon became a Waterworld-sized splash (without the endangered species of whale of course).

The news that a venture such as this would be starting in Naas, was not altogether unsurprising, as the food scene in the town has always been solid. Like most Irish towns there have always been the Italians that favour an early bird, with a smattering of gastropubs plus the odd tapas bar and hipster cafe, but as long as I’ve been knocking around there has always been a lot of ‘good’ places to eat in Naas, spots like vie de chateau, Butt Mullins and in later years incredible spots have popped up in nearby Kill in the form of The Dew Drop, the 2 cooks in Sallins and umpteen more. After the sad closure of Jollys which covered the casual brunch, lunch and dinner market in Naas, there has definitely been a gap in the market. Cue Neighbourhood Naas, a polished restaurant which exudes a Succession cast-level of wealth and luxury.

Why make a Reservation? 

A slice of luxury on the main street of Naas, it’s incredible what the team have created. Impeccable taste and design, with an exciting menu that is surely being weighted and pressed in anticipation of a Michelin visit.

Set the Scene

As someone who frequented Grace’s (the bar which preceded Neighbourhood Naas) in the past, the transformation of the space is complete, it must have taken them two weeks to scrub the smell of stale fags out of the interior, but they’ve managed to make it smell like a luxury homeware gift store. The interior oozes luxury with fresh cut flowers, and flickering candles everywhere you look, while every surface is polished, scrubbed, and glinting with an impossible level of sheen.  The bar in the front can be used to grab a quick drink, and the space behind has a mix of small two-person tables and larger booths and tables suitable for larger groups. When I was there a couple of weeks back there was a very glitzy 30th taking place in the back, with other big roundy birthday celebrations happening at different tables.

The Food 

I was there for one of the first days of their new seasonal menu, which was absolutely stuffed to the gills with Summer flavours. Kicking off with tuna belly served with razor-thin slices of turnip, smoked avocado and an earthy element of softened basil oil, the dish hit all the marks that you look for in a Summer starter- light, bright and refreshing. The ingredient of the season white asparagus was given the sprightly Germanic treatment, served with thick unctuous hollandaise sauce, a length of wild garlic leaf which seemed a bit redundant and a plate-lickable burnt hazelnut dressing. The dish came with poached hen eggs- whose yokes did indeed gleam that reddy-orange only gotten from a hen that scratches around a farm- this dish would be a handy one if you were aiming for a more brunchy option. The filling came in the form of dessert of pan purdue which quashed any whispers of hunger with each stodgy mouthful, perfectly softened with the brûlée crunch on top, you’d wonder whether they did it the French way and used day-old bread such was its bounce and lift.

The Drink 

They have an extensive wine list which comes in book form- a mix of traditional and truly exciting natty bottles. Exciting enough that you want to try something new but familiar enough that you can go a bit daring. A nod to its former glory as a pub, there’s a full bar which has a great cocktail list with zingy and unusual items dotted throughout.

The Service

Personable and friendly, the staff made us feel super taken care of and welcomed, without the cloying quality that can sometimes come from fancier restaurants. They were the type of people you’d gravitate towards to at a party and hang on to like limpets for fear of social interactions.

Prices From?

I had heard murmurs of the price point being high, but honestly, for a luxe location serving high-class dishes, it really isn’t. The Sunday lunch menu is a great way to get a flavour of what the team do, 2 courses for €40 or 3 for €45. It will never be somewhere you stop by on a whim, it will always be a special occasion a reason to treat yourself, and it’s exactly what Naas needs.

Where is it?

1 North Main Street, Naas, you can keep up with them on Instagram here.

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