A Lavish Lunch at Avoca

Yesterday I was kindly invited to the new Avoca at Monkstown to have lunch at Salt Café. Joining me there were a few other food bloggers - Aoife {ICanHasCook} Kristin {Edible Ireland} Aoife {The Daily Spud} Dorcas {DorcasBarry} & Rosanne {LikeMamUsedToBake}. This is a new venture for the family run Avoca, as this cafe is run alongside a large and very impressive food-market. Since opening last November I've wanted to pay it a visit, as anything I've read about it has been wonderful. It's quite an original concept as this food-market stocks a phenomenal range of real quality artisan produce.
I stood outside Avoca for a few moments before heading into the food market, just to take note of the beautiful building. Through the large windows I could spy a vast array of tastefully displayed food and excitedly I opened the door and stepped into a food haven of my dreams. The very impressive cheese room, which homes many beautiful cheeses, is located just inside the main door. This room is actually both humidity and temperature controlled to keep the cheese in perfect condition. The layout of the food market is so visually appealing with both it and the cafe, Salt, being so splendidly styled. The whole place has a wonderful retro feel and yet looks beautiful and natural. Straight away you are greeted by a burst of colour from all the fresh fruit and vegetables. I really loved the wooden crates that the produce were displayed in and also the hand written labels. This gave such a personal feel to the display and reflected a market that would once of been seen in times gone by.
Just inside the door, on the right, is a French-style rotisserie offering free range chickens and duck straight from the spit. Behind the counter is Gavin McCarty who along with his wife owns Poulet Bonne Femme. They saw a gap in the Irish market for good quality rotisserie chickens and in 2009 they set up their business at a farmers market and now this is their first step into a premise. What they produce is an extremely succulent and tasty bird and I was delighted to bring one home for the rest of the family to try. 

 A fresh salad bar runs in the centre of the shop and a little further into the building is the deli counter which offers many take away options such as quiche, baked potatoes and lasagne as well as many very tempting cakes. There is also a great selection of the Avoca Pantry and the Avoca's To Go range of foods.

A wonderful addition to this food market is the specialised craft butcher, James Whelan. They offer so many different cuts of meat as well as a huge variety of dishes ready for the pan or the oven. The fascinating part of the butcher's display are the large windows behind which are butcher blocks for the customer to have a birds eye view of the meat being prepared for sale.
Kristin, Sonia {SRN PR}, Rosanne, Aoife Mc & Aoife C.

We got to take home one of Poulet Bonne Femme's rotisserie chickens, which in turn was devoured by the boys in a matter of minutes. This is an Irish free range chicken that's cooked to perfection and deliciously moist. It really is a fantastic product.

At the lunch we were joined by Simon Pratt & Monique McQuaid, who are the managers of  the foodhall and Salt Cafe, the gifted butcher Pat Whelan as well as Sonia Reynolds and Frances Duff who manage the PR for Avoca. Along with the ladies I already know this made for a really lovely group to have lunch with. There was a good selection to choose from on the lunch menu and I certainly felt spoilt for choice. I suppose like many, when I eat out I tend to order what I wouldn't normally make at home, so I decided on the Crab & Apple Salad. As well as appealing to my taste buds, it was also visually stunning. I had the Blueberry Crème Brûlée for dessert which I would definitely recommend. The food was fantastic and the company at the table also added to a truly wonderful dining experience. The common ground of a love for good food made for lots of interesting banter throughout the meal.

We may all look a little 'sun blushed' but alas it was just the effects of the lights on the butcher's display.

I had a quick dash around the food hall before leaving and made sure to pack by basket with lots of delicious products. Once you step inside the door of Avoca you are entering into a real foodie experience. The food in the cafe and what's on offer to take home is of an extraordinary high standard. After speaking with Simon and Monique it's clear that they are so passionate about food and sourcing only the best for their business. They have a real belief in delivering something very wonderful to the costumer - Delicious, fresh, seasonal, Irish products. Thank you very kindly to Avoca for inviting me to such an enjoyable afternoon.


Donna OShaughnessy said...

Wow Nessa, you do such a lovely job of taking us with you on your trips and your photos are amazing. Since my husband and I grow pork for stores and restaurants we have been able to eat at some fine spots in Chicago but your post makes me ache for the fresh food of Ireland. thanks so much for all the effort it took to post this!

Nessa Robins said...

Thanks Donna! I always feel very privileged to be invited to eat in these wonderful places so it's always a pleasure to share the experience with my readers. If I'm ever heading to Chicago I must get those recommendations from you!