Aisling and Jonathan bring a whole heap of goodness to Hungry Monk Café, Cong.

Archive - all the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.

Aisling Butler speaks food.
The chef in Cong’s pretty Hungry Monk Café speaks food volubly, speedily, devotedly, fluently.
How the heat of the sambal olek works with tomatoes on an Irish breakfast plate. How they marinate their cherries for the sour cherry cake. The brilliance of the pork from Andarl Farm. What a great cook Margot Henderson is! Have you tried this new chilli and sesame dip I just bought in Ard Bia? How the best breakfast bap is actually made with a blaa. Have you tried the beers they are making around the corner in the Crowe’s Nest? How her latest stage with the brilliant guys in Honey & Co. was just the business. How you get the crisp edge on a fried egg.
And all the while, Ms Butler is firing out food for the Gods. She can talk it and, boy, can she walk it.
Just take that Hungry Monk breakfast blaa, for example. The blaa is soft and sublime (nowhere near as floury as those Waterford lads). Sean Kelly’s sausages from Newport are perfect.
But, the coup de grace of the dish, the transformative detail, is the fried onions.
Light as a feather, dry as kindling, sweet as honey, they are textbook fried onions. And they make this breakfast bap into something transcendental.
One bite, and you realise you are experiencing – and enjoying – the work of a really great cook.
A person who speaks fluent food.
Ms Butler and her husband and partner, Jonathan Byrne, worked in Castlebar’s benchmark Rua, with the McMahon family, before opening the Hungry Monk. They bake cakes, brew coffee, make breakfast, cook a small selection of lunchtime dishes, and they run a little room that, in every way, exceeds your expectations.
Your expectations are exceeded because every detail of every dish is filled with the energy of creativity and enjoyment
The Hungry Monk talks food, fluently. Get yourself to Cong, and enjoy an esperanto of culinary enjoyment.