Jess Murphy’s Kai Cafe Making Fans
Kai Cafe and Restaurant was opened by New Zealander Jess Murphy and her Irish husband, David in 2011, with a simple formula – high-quality produce, preferably organic or wild, sourced locally and cooked intelligently. The Irish Examiner pops in for dinner.
“I visited on a damp Thursday last month, and found the menu satisfyingly logical, with five provocative choices in each section, from ‘Tipple’ to ‘Starters’ to ‘Supper’ and ‘Puddings’.
“This was my first visit to Kai, but I had been thoroughly charmed by a pop-up Murphy did at 3FE coffee shop, in Dublin, last spring.
“Clam and Orla potato soup managed the neat trick of being creamy, while also tasting clean, thanks to good use of fennel, and, of course, contrasted nicely with the sweet, flesh-and-iodine background flavours in the clams.
“Rillette of rabbit was also richer than you would expect from a bunny and contrasted nicely with some pickle and cucumber.
“Wild Clare pheasant and Chanterelle casserole had a gloriously old-school bread sauce and firm-grilled Monkfish had sweet pumpkin and aioli to round out its flavours. The note-perfect Orla potatoes on the side almost overshadowed everything and we fought over them.
“In Ireland, there is absolutely no excuse for not getting the spuds right, yet so few chefs here even bother trying. Jess’s dedication to Orla could be expected, given how suited they are to organic farming, but they also taste fantastic, especially the way she cooks them – she should give lessons.”
“So, as you can tell by now, I’m a fan, and I’m already looking forward to my next visit. There is a warmth and generosity here, not just in the cooking and the welcome, but even in the artful bare walls and foraged furniture and objets d’art. We left smiling; you will, too.”
Original article by Irish Examiner, December 5, 2015.