On a cold winter’s night, just a few weeks ago in mid February, we braved the elements to try out the new evening menu at Coffee Time in Kilmacrennan. Owned by partners in business and in life Branden and Mary Rose Kern, this popular Donegal eatery is located inside a 200 year old traditional thatched cottage and up until now has focused on serving breakfast and lunch, hot drinks and sweet treats. This year Branden and Mary Rose are expanding their food offering and have launched a new Friday evening Dinner menu with lots of new dishes to attract their customers after dark.
Putting aside our doubts that Coffee Time may have shut up shop due to the blustery and wet Donegal night (it was a particularly bad one!), we made the short drive from Letterkenny and were pleasantly surprised to see the weather was putting no one off their Friday night plans! The cottage was filled with groups of friends and couples happily chatting away as the open fire and flickering candles helped create the perfect ambiance. We were lucky to secure the last table for two and after a busy Friday at work we were eager to begin.
As the focus on sourcing and using local ingredients every day begins to soar across the Donegal cafe and restaurant scene, the team at Coffee Time have installed this ethos from the very first day they opened, and are one of the most dedicated in the county. However they don’t just source local ingredients for all their dishes, they make some too! Next time you call in order one of their fresh scones or some homemade wheaten bread just to generously spread on their home churned country butter made using local cream. It really is something special!
Compared to other casual dinner menus we have encountered, the Friday night menu at Coffee Time is a carefully edited one pager broken into two categories – a Wee Feed and a Wile Feed. All dishes are prepared from scratch with each one sounding as interesting and appetizing as the next. It’s evident that this menu is also a celebration of everything they work so hard to offer their customers – the finest local produce combined with traditional influences and modern day techniques, creating a wonderful moreish plate of comfort food.
After some deliberation and having received a plate of homemade bread and that incredible butter to nibble on, we ordered the Farmhouse Burger which included 100% local beef patty, Donegal Cheese and Ballyholey vegetables and greens. Served with Carolan’s Chutney all inside a homemade sourdough bun with Home Fries (€11). As a second main course dish we ordered the Fadjittas, Coffee Time’s take on fajitas made using Donegal potato flatbreads to create three mini tortillas topped with slow cooked Irish bacon or whiskey battered deep fried cauliflower. All topped with apple and red cabbage slaw, garlic buttermilk dressing, rhubarb vinaigrette and local salad greens (€9). As we were both driving, we didn’t BYOB but many tables had opted to bring a bottle of wine to accompany their meal.
As we admired the cosy atmosphere inside and ignored the crazy weather outside, our food soon arrived. The burger was heavenly, melting in your mouth and the homemade bun was definitely worth the effort in making. The Fadjitas were light and so flavoursome, showcasing a flavour combination which I’d never tasted before and can’t wait to again. Though next time I’ll order a side of Home Fries as I didn’t feel completely full on Fadjitas alone. But on that occasion it just provided the perfect excuse to order dessert – a super light homemade lemon cheesecake topped with berries.
As we finished our after dinner coffees we looked around and realised that we were the very last table to finish up. Time had passed us by. The open fire, the cosy surroundings, excellent playlist, great company and tasty plates of food had made it seem like the perfect Friday night in. But that’s the thing with the team at Coffee Time, they always make you feel very much at home. https://www.facebook.com/tiscoffeetime/