Last year, it was announced that the Copper Hen in Fenor, Co Waterford had received a Michelin Bib Gourmand award. I turned to Himself, a Waterford native and asked where was Fenor exactly. It turned that it wasn't very far away from his hometown and I made a resolution to visit when next in Waterford. Fast forward a few months, and we finally got around to buying a new car to replace our much-loved 16 year old car. It was time for a road trip with our new wheels, and Sunday lunch duly was booked at the Copper Hen.
Fenor is a typical small Irish village, dominated by the parish church with a very unusual and creative carved tree in the cemetery. The Copper Hen is located upstairs over the local pub, Mother McHugh's, and on this cold Sunday, all car spaces outside were already taken. A large fireplace, with a warm fire dominates the smaller dining room, with a larger room to the rear. It's an oddly bare space, which filled up steadily over lunchtime. Our table received plenty of their homemade brown bread (which could benefit from a little salt in the mix), which is available for purchase to take home.
I chose the Spanish style croquettas with Kilmore crab meat, which arrived at the table precariously perched on a slate. One croquette made a determined escape off the slate into my lap, but I wasn't letting it get away. They turned out to be the epitome of croquettes (€6.95). Golden and perfectly crispy on the outside, they tore open to reveal a silky smooth potato interior. For himself and Mrs H, a beautiful plump prawn sat atop a salad of chopped fresh prawn and smoked salmon, lightly tossed in a lemon creme fraiche (€7.00). Ever the soup fan, Mr H's choice of spiced carrot and cumin soup disappeared quickly (€4.95).
|Croquettas with Kilmore crab served with herb and garlic aioli|
|Fresh prawn and smoked salmon salad|
There was plenty of main course choice on the menu, with 8 options available. My portion of pan-fried brill arrived rolled up on the plate, lightly crisp on the outside, with fresh prawns and lashings of a divine herb, shallot and garlic butter. At €17, this was excellent value for money with plenty of fresh, flakey fish and rich butter to soak into the excellent, fluffy roast potatoes. My second choice had been the twice cooked Crowes pork belly, which himself chose (€11). This came with a rich veal jus, sweet onion puree and meaty kale, but the star here was the perfectly judged pork belly, topped with crunchy pork crackling.
Both Mr & Mrs H opted for the thickly sliced roast sirloin of Irish Hereford beef with a red wine gravy (€12.95). Bowls of fluffy roast potatoes and roasted root vegetables came to the table as side dishes, with plenty provided to feed all four of us.
|Pan-fried brill with fresh prawns in garlic, shallot and herb butter|
|Twice cooked Crowes pork belly with onion puree, kale and veal jus|
|Fluffy roast potatoes|
The menu featured a short selection of desserts, all priced at €5 each, from which Mrs H chose a warm chocolate and raspberry tart, served in a rich shortcrust pastry case. Mr H went for meringue with warm berry compote and fresh cream.
I hadn't been at all sure what to expect from the Copper Hen. Chef Eugene Long and wife Sinead opened the Copper Hen in 2010 and the award of a Bib Gourmand sets a certain level of expectation. For me, the high quality of cooking and the attractive pricing completely exceeded those expectations. It's a real little countryside gem and worth making a trip on any visit to the Sunny South East.
Tel: +353 (0)51 330300