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Rory Nolan’s cooking in Kilkenny’s Anocht Restaurant is subtle, impressive and full of promise.

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Quietly, steadily, surely, Anocht is arriving as a major dining destination in Kilkenny.
“Well, such promise”, wrote one friend after enjoying dinner upstairs in the old grain stors of the earl of Ormond’s stables. And Caroline Hennesssy, of McKennas’ Guides, picked Anocht in a list of a dozen places where she had a “memorable food experience” in 2016.
The chef who is making waves is Rory Nolan, and Mr Nolan has a sublime touch. His cooking is delicate and demure – these dishes don’t try to grab you by the neck with compound after compound of flavour. Instead, a starter like citrus cured organic salmon, with pickled kohlrabi, salmon tartare, black sesame paste, avocado purée, radish and wasabi sesame seed – despite all its components – eats like a complete thesis of flavours, like a pointillist painting where all the dots, eventually, add up to a complete picture. A sublime dish, you find yourself saying, and a dish that goes beautifully with wine.
It’s a brave chef who treads lightly these days. We live in a world of bang-bang cooking, where your taste buds get thumped from the first bite. But everything in Anocht – the lovely room, the service, the setting, the cooking – is aimed to seduce you, not conquer you. In this way, the understatement of Anocht is quiet, but quietly powerful. Mr Nolan lets great ingredients like Kilkenny black leg chicken – served with its jus, some smoked sausage, Savoy cabbage and sweetcorn – dominate the plate, confident that both its taste and texture will get the dish home. And everything has this subtletly – prawn and crabmeat with Highbank syrup and sourdough; lovely white fishcakes in a crispy shell; duck leg with potato gratin; a great Bottura-like dessert of broken passionfruit egg, with white chocolate Chantilly cream and chocolate crumb.
The wines are better than good, service is fleet and polite and Anocht is one of those darling restaurants that is all grown up.

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