IHAVE often passed The Denny Lane Bistro, and wondered what it was about. Either it's my bad eyesight or the windows are opaque, or both, but I could never get an idea of what was going on inside the restaurant from the outside, which I found off putting. That I did check it out is down to a tip from my friend Artie, and very glad I am indeed to discover what Tralee has been keeping a secret from us out of towners!
On a recent Saturday afternoon, after spending about two hours in CH Chemist, which has to be the bane of any parent with teenage daughters (it is such a treasure trove), we needed some serious ballast and decided to head there for a late lunch.
Immediately on entering the place you feel welcome, and, while there were a couple of menu options running concurrently, which we found confusing, the chilled atmosphere and the lovely waitress who told us we could order what we wanted when we wanted, put us totally at ease.
Then we noticed how busy it was for that time of the day, and began to understand why.
This is a restaurant with heart and soul. The interior shares some of the elegance of Denny Street, but could almost be anywhere. Food apart, it is the kind of place where you could happily lose yourself for the afternoon; chatting, drinking (decent) coffee, meeting friends or reading a book.
It does not pretend to offer gourmet fare, but very good, simple, food, cooked with that extra bit of love.
I had the Indian spiced Chicken Curry with half rice and half chips (€9.95). This was a really good dish that far exceeded my expectations. Packed with chicken, veg and best of all chickpeas, the accompanying rice was fluffy and the chips were hand cut and cooked to order.
One of the girls ordered the Peppronade Tart with Goats cheese and Caramelised onions served with spicy Cous Cous (€8.50). A fairly adventurous option, I thought, and wondered how much would be left behind. Absolutely nothing! Prompted to order the dish because of the caramelised onions, the latter were perfectly cooked and acted as deliciously savoury gooey base for the goat's cheese.
Next up was the House Lasagne with the aforementioned chips and coleslaw (€9.95). A perennial crowd pleaser when well executed, this dish also hit the spot. The portion was huge, and while daughter who had ordered it couldn't quite finish it off, she certainly managed to find space for the remainder of my chicken curry.
A pudding was out of the question as we had been so well fed, but still we lingered, until the clarion call of closing time at Manor West propelled us very reluctantly out the door.
The restaurant also does evening meals, with a tapas option over the weekend, which looks interesting.
My one criticism is that Denny Lane could do with a good look at some of the little details - for example the state and number of menus on the tables; some photocopied badly, some laminated, some leather bound. I think a bit more consistency here would help a lot.
Denny Lane Bistro, Denny Lane, Tralee. Open Tuesday - Thursday 10am - 4pm. Friday - Saturday 10am-10pm (last orders at 9pm). Brunch every Saturday from 10am to 2pm. Tel: 064 6633603