Mc Evoy’s Steak & Wine Bar is located in the centre of Abbeyleix. From the outside it still has the original façade and blends well into Abbeyleix heritage town status, however once inside it’s a surprise to see what owner Simon Stokes has created; a streamlined, contemporary but comfortable restaurant and wine bar spreading through three rooms.
Simon opened here in 2010, in the middle of challenging times, but the gamble has really paid off. The Stokes family have run restaurants such as Coopers through the 1980’s, and have been involved with McCabe’s in Foxrock, before recently opening Le Rouge in Cabinteely, along with the famous Castle Durrow in Laois, so it’s fair to say the business is in the blood.
The bar area is small with low tables and stools and a large open fire place, and this leads through to a long narrow room with wooden tables, polished oak timber floors and cream walls dotted with old paintings and photos. Outside there is a covered area and BBQ which would be a treat on a summer’s day.
The starters ranged in price from €5.00 for soup of the day – potato & leek on the day we visited – to €9.00 prawn pil-pil. Other choices included Louisiana hot chicken wings or deep fried brie with sweet tomato relish. The mains all ranged between €12-22.00, and included homemade beef burger with cheese and bacon, the pie of the day (lamb) or a prawn Chow Mein. The menu states that all meat, chicken, fish, salad leaves and vegetables are sourced locally when available, but are always Irish.
The wines were a Chilean sauvignon Blanc or a merlot; an Italian Pinot Grigio or a Chianti and a South African Chardonnay or a Shiraz; all were priced at €17.50 a bottle or €5.00 a glass. In the end we went with drinks from the bar, indeed another plus in McEvoy is the full license.
We started with prawn pil pil; a sizzling, spicy Portuguese dish of prawns fried in garlic and chilli, the deep fried calamari with sweet chilli dipping sauce and a bowl of potato & leek soup. Three good starters were followed by red Thai style chicken curry with jasmine rice, cod in beer batter with mushy peas, homemade fries and tar tartar sauce and an 8oz fillet steak with onion rings and fries, with a selection of sauces on the side so we tasted the meat with béarnaise, garlic butter, cracked black pepper and red wine jus, so that every bite was different. We almost fought over the red wine jus and the cracked black pepper.
Desserts are all homemade and selections were pecan pie, sticky toffee pudding, apple pie, dark chocolate tarte or a warm chocolate brownie. We shared a warm chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream and a slice of apple pie, also with ice cream. The brownie was very good, chocolaty and not too sweet, while the apple pie was just so.
McEvoy’s is open from 5pm to 10pm Wednesday to Sunday and from May 1st that extends to between 1-9pm. They won the awards for best Gastro Pub in Laois for 2010, and have proved a big hit with the locals. Abbeyleix has been by passed, but it’s worth the short detour to grab a bite if you find yourself on the M7/8. Friendly, warm and inviting, McEvoy’s combines old class hospitality with the more modern twist of good food in a pub setting. Worth a visit.
McEvoys, Main Street, Abbeyleix, Co. Laois, Ireland
+353 (0)57 8757500 macsabbeyleix.ie