Finally, after a long time waiting, I made it to Café Hans in Cashel. It is a companion restaurant to the nearby Chez Hans (which is also on my ‘to do’ list). I can’t remember who recommended this establishment to me but I reckon it was one of my more reliable sources as the place turned out to be a culinary gem. Calling this place a Café is really not doing it any justice. I’ve said it before that the word ‘cafe’ conjures up, in my mind, images of badly cooked fries served with egg and chips and mugs of steaming hot tea.
The outside of the premises is very unassuming and you would certainly not expect to find an elegant and bustling dining room inside. We arrived just after two o’clock on a Thursday afternoon in September and the place was hopping. We were directed to the waiting area which was oddly located, at the back of the premises, next to the toilets. We suspected that we wouldn’t have long to wait as there was a table for two vacant. We were right! and we were shown to the table within minutes, handed our menus and told about the lunchtime specials. A basket of scrumptious fresh bread and butter and two large glasses of water with ice and lemon were brought to the table. To be honest I didn’t study the menu as diligently as I should have as I was so tempted by one of the specials that my mind was made up before reading any further. We had to wait a tad too long before our order was taken. The restaurant was busy but there were three front of house staff on duty and I think our order could have been taken earlier than it was. I ordered the fish cake with couscous which was served with a delicious crab and mussel butter sauce. My friend ordered the other special of pan fried cod with new potatoes and vegetables (these words are not doing the dish justice, it was a work of art!). I also ordered a glass of white wine.
When our food eventually arrived I was served my fish cake about five minutes before my friend received her dish. This is not an acceptable standard of service. Meals should be brought simultaneously to a table or, at the very least, on the next run out of the kitchen. But this wasn’t the case at Café Hans. Fish cakes were served to tables all over the restaurant and then whatever else had been ordered was brought out. This points to poor timing and bad planning of service. Naturally, I waited for my friend to be served before I started my meal. This meant that my meal had been cooling down for that five minutes we waited. I’m sure my pal wouldn’t have minded if I’d made a start on my meal but that wouldn’t be good manners.
The food was really very tasty and beautifully presented. The table was nicely laid out but the table mats were old and battered, and a bit twee. Service was busy yet inefficient. We ordered two americano coffees after our meal and these were such a long time coming that we had to remind the waitress to bring them. At this point we also asked for the bill which was presented immediately. When I went to pay I was told that they don’t accept any cards. In this day and age, when even McDonald’s takes cards, it is ridiculous that Café Hans is taking cash only. Fortunately I had sufficient funds and didn’t have to traipse around Cashel in search of an ATM.
In summary, I would say that the food here is worth the visit but it is time for this restaurant to embrace the twenty-first century by accepting credit/debit cards and getting a proper website. And a little training for the younger staff members wouldn’t go astray.