Monday, December 6, 2010

Review of Butt Mullins
Location:         Naas, Co Kildare
Type:               Traditional / European
Price:               *
Service:           ****
Bucket List:      Yes - everyone should experience this once, even if is just to see what you can get for €15!!
Mmm rating:  3.5

Butt Mullins is a long-established restaurant in our hometown of Naas.  It has recently received a lot of attention due to its €15 Early Bird Menu, running until 7pm on weekdays.  For €15, one is served 3 courses – a bargain, indeed!  Matt and I dined in Butt Mullins in early December with my parents (Cora and Willie) and sister (Sarah) and here is what we discovered...

First Impressions:
The atmosphere on entering the restaurant was lovely: because of the time of year, the eatery was adorned with Christmas decorations, which is always heart-warming.  Contemporary music played in the background.  Though the place was quiet when we arrived at 6.30, it soon filled up with people keen to be seated before the Early Bird Menu finished!  The menu consisted of a choice of four starters and six or seven main courses.  The dessert menu was provided after we had finished our mains.
After ordering, our waitress brought us a tray of bread: the crunchy white bread and nutty brown soda bread went down very well between the five of us!

Matt had deep fried mushrooms with garlic mayonnaise for his starter.  There were plenty of mushrooms and he found them juicy, crisp and tasty.  He polished them all off without a problem!  I ordered a chicken and mushroom vol au vent.  The portion was generous, creamy and flavoursome.  Perhaps there could have a bit more chicken in it, though. Cora got vegetable soup to start, as did Sarah.  Sarah’s half-portion was plentiful.  They both found the soup tasty, filling and a perfect winter warmer!  Willie ordered the prawn and scallop ravioli, the seafood served as a mousse inside the pasta.  Like me, my dad rates big portions highly and unfortunately his starter was wasn’t large enough for his liking!  Asked would he order it again, he said no.

Main Courses:
Matt had Chicken Carbonara for his mains.  This was served with two slices of garlic bread.  Tasty, but safe is how Matt described it.  It strayed from the traditional carbonara recipe as it contained peppers.  Nevertheless, this didn’t stop Matt from enjoying his dinner.  Another small point: Matt’s pasta dish didn’t match the dishes which the rest of the table were using – it may sound insignificant to some people but it bothered me a bit!  Cora, Sarah and I all had the roast chicken with traditional stuffing and a leek, cream and bacon sauce.  The dish was presented well, with the chicken served on a bed of mash.  It came with carrots, more mashed potatoes and roasted parsnips.  We all really enjoyed this dish.  The portions were generous (including Sarah’s half-portion), the mash was creamy and the stuffing flavoursome.  Willie ordered the catch of the day which was sea bass wrapped in parma ham.  He commented that it was a bit difficult to eat, though he expected this when he ordered fish!   He enjoyed the dish, but rated it as “a little bland.”

There were four desserts on the Early Bird Menu, but our waitress allowed Willie to order a cheese board from the standard menu.  There was a good selection of cheese and crackers on the cheese board and Willie rated it as the best part of the meal!  Matt ordered the “Red and Passion Cracker” which upon investigation we discovered to be a passion fruit and red berry mousse. Matt thoroughly enjoyed it, describing it as “zingy” and refreshing, which is what Matt looks for in a dessert.  In my opinion, it was probably the nicest out of all the desserts at the table.  Sarah and I returned to our childhood and got ice cream, which came served in tall sundae glasses.  There’s not much that can be said about ice cream: it was nice, but couldn’t compare to the homemade ice cream I ate at Man Friday in Kinsale!  Cora sampled the fresh fruit pavlova for dessert and thought it was delicious.  Tea or coffee was also included in the Early Bird special: this came served with caramelised biscuits, which I always think is a nice touch.

The waitress who served us was efficient and friendly during the course of our meal.  The only minor complaint I had was that our plates were left sitting on the table for a long time after we were finished our starters.  There is a local feel to the restaurant and many of the staff are experienced and long-serving employees of Butt Mullins. 

Willie summed it up when he said that Butt Mullins is homely – in food, in atmosphere and service.  The downside of this is that the Early Bird Menu is a little unimaginative; one wouldn’t be returning week after week to try lots of different things.  Having said this, everyone will find something they like to eat on the menu, which is very safe.  I cannot comment on the standard menu as I didn’t see it, but it would be interesting to see whether this menu is more varied.  For the value alone, this restaurant is a must-try: the total bill for five people eating three courses each was €67.50 (Sarah’s half-portion was charged at exactly half the price) – what a bargain!  For inexpensive food, friendly service and a pleasant atmosphere, Butt Mullins is the place to go.  Just don’t expect to be blown away by creativity or exotic flavours.

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