A new restaurant by the celebrated former Ireland rugby player Keith Wood is now open in Killaloe, Co. Clare, called Upstairs at Wood & Bell. Keith, who is from Killaloe and who co-owns the new restaurant with his business partner Malcolm Bell, has a long-held enthusiasm for good food.
Keith Wood said: “I have wanted to open a restaurant in my native Killaloe for as long as I can remember. Having travelled the world with rugby and eaten in some incredible restaurants, I relished the thought of one day having the opportunity to put a twist on some of their famous dishes. Upstairs at Wood & Bell stems from a conversation over dinner in Chicago with Malcolm Bell, on the eve of the magnificent Ireland win over the All Blacks. Twelve months later we are ready to make that dream into a reality.”
Upstairs at Wood & Bell opened at the beginning of December 2017, in time for the Christmas and New Year festive period. Keith has installed a confident restaurant team led by executive chef Paddy Collins and sous chef Noel Heaney. Paddy has created a succinct and assured menu offering mainly classic, French-influenced dishes, featuring plenty of seasonal, locally grown and locally supplied ingredients. All of the herbs and most of the fruit and vegetables are supplied from the restaurant’s own gardens year-round, an extensive and picturesque plot overlooking Lough Derg and managed by Keith’s wife, avid gardener Nicola Wood.
There are five starters, five main courses and five desserts to choose from. Starters you can expect are langoustine & shellfish bisque with sourdough & pancetta crumb; lamb belly with puy lentils, squash & mint; beech smoked salmon, Sexton crab, apple & yuzu; goat’s curd, charred gem lettuce, figs & truffle honey; and seared chicken livers, shallot tarte tatin, crispy skin & port.
Main course dishes you can expect are Skeaghanore duck, roast & pickled beets, onion & confit leg; trout, rainbow chard, clams, squid ink & kombu; beef fillet, oxtail & marrow, turnip texture & chanterelles; black sole, seared scallops, saffron potatoes, sprout tops & lemon; and corn fed chicken, confit leg, smoked thigh, celeriac & tomato essence.
Dessert choices spotlight the spices and flavours associated with winter and the festive season. They include fried brioche, spiced plums & vanilla; semolina pudding, morello cherries & biscuit; gingerbread parfait, candied ginger & hazelnut brittle; flourless chocolate, honeycomb, soil & air; and a cheese board with quince.
Executive chef Paddy Collins said: “Having worked and run kitchens for 16 years, it is every chef’s dream to find owners with the same drive, passion and vision as I have with Keith and Malcolm. It’s not often that a chef has the opportunity to run a kitchen with everything we could need growing in our own gardens and glasshouses overlooking Lough Derg. With my sous chef Noel and all the Wood & Bell team, we hope to help make this beautiful village of Killaloe the next great Irish food destination.”
Upstairs at Wood & Bell is on Main Street, Killaloe, Co. Clare. The opening hours are Wednesday to Saturday, 5.30-9.45pm. Advance booking is advised by calling 061 517 480, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.