Getting fed and watered in Waterford
Waterford is the oldest city in Ireland, founded by the Vikings in 914AD. There are a few old buildings dotted about the place but the most atmospheric places are the pubs as you might expect. The first building you notice when you arrive is the huge ultra-modern Guiness brewery located on the river opposite the railway station which serves the south-east of Ireland.
The town was once famous for the huge Waterford crystal factory, which went into receivership in 2009, and procuction moved to Germany and the Czech Republic, where the tradition originally comes from anyway. The new owners have built a new visitors centre in town where you can see it being made. Personally I find their usual stuff to be quite clunky and ugly, although Jasper Conran did a few nice pieces. Apparently there’s a huge market for it in the States where there is still a big market for kitsch. The town is also famous for the tall ships race at the end of June year.
Just over the road from the bus station is a small modern museum housing the city’s treasures and tourist nformation centre, although it seems this will be moving soon. There is a nice cafe inside the museum too if you want somewhere to have lunch while you’re waiting for a bus.
Sadly the place I used to stay, the gourmet boutique hotel Arlington Lodge, burned down in 2009 due to an electrical fault. However their recommended substitute, the high end B&B Belmont House in Kings Channel, owned and run by the Tritschler family, is a great substitute.
It’s a little hard to find as the house has no number but if you ask the taxi to turn left at #58 Kings Channel and go up the side street you will see it at the end through the gateposts (there is no sign). The modern building you will be staying in (designed by Martin Tritschler who is an architect) is behind the first grey ivy-covered house. They didn’t answer the phone when I called but I just knocked and went in. A North Waterford taxi (086 405 5989) is just over €10 from the bus station.
Mary Tritchler and her family are very hospitable and did their utmost to make me feel at home, as well as giving me lots of suggestions for things to do and places to eat. There’s a bicycle you can borrow which may come in handy as the B&B is about 20 minutes from any facilities. However the house is very near the river and you can get a nice run or walk in along the bank. All the rooms have internet and there’s a small swimming pool in the garden. Mary is a well-known water colour painter and many of her works are on the walls. The bill she gave me was on the back of one of her beautiful prints.
The family are self-sufficient in many fruit and vegetables and nearly everything we ate from their garden was organic, except the potatoes which are sprayed for blight. Every morning we breakfasted like kings on wonderful brown and white bread, cooked hams, cheeses, stewed gooseberries, fresh blueberries, and my favourite, hot stewed plums with cinnamon. If Mary offers to cook for you in the evening, jump at the opportunity as her food is much better than anything the local restaurants can offer. On one night we had a wonderful rack of lamb with garden veg, and on another, a delicious vegetable paella.
The nearest restaurant to the Tritschlers is Bellissimo (at the roundabout by Waterford Hospital, opposite Lidl), belies its name by serving food which is neither beautiful nor particularly Italian. My chicken with grilled vegetables turned out to be chunks of chicken, veg and melted cheese on some circular bread they called focaccia which was edible(C) but not what I had hoped it would be. The nearby posh supermarket Ardkeen sells wine and has a cash point next door. The sprawling Uluru pub over the road serves a decent pint but the food is pretty bog-standard pub fare. The Cove pub opposite has a more pleasant but still modern atmosphere.
For good pubs and restaurants however you must take the forty minute walk into town:
Bodega (Intermediate A), 54 St John’s St, Tel. 051 844177
This nice little place has friendly service and a good atmosphere. It seems very popular so you should probably book. I had the Fish Chowder to start which was fine (B).
For my main, Mussels in a cream sauce (B) with some mediocre chips (C) on the side. My friends had the Fish Pie which tasted like the chowder but with added cheese. All this washed down with a couple of pints of my favourite Murphy’s stout. A good if unspectacular meal.
Just over the road from Bodega at 8/9 St John’s St is Geoff’s, a legendary local pub which has been feeding and watering the locals for years. I’ve not eaten there but it’s a great place for a pint with its dark woody atmosphere. This bit of town can get a bit rowdy on weekend nights so for a more peaceful evening out you could hop in a cab to Dunmore East (see previous post).