Willow and Wild is a new cafe that has just opened in the heart of the university town of Maynooth, overlooking the Courthouse square. I have eagerly anticipated its opening, having watched their refurbishment both online and in real life. Watching a place unfold, seeing snippets of what it plans to be and then being able to experience it first hand, without ever being a part of its development, is quite a strange but modern phenomenon. Having high expectations as a customer can be dangerous for both the client and the owner but thankfully, in this case, Willow and Wild have managed to pull it off.
The offerings are typical cafe fare, with breakfast including porridge, granola and cooked food options, with the lunch menu offering soup, sandwiches, salads and small bites. There are various cakes on offer too, but the menu remains straightforward and uncluttered. The highlight for me was the Moroccan orange cake, which was moist and had just the right amount of syrupy sweetness, and was presented beautifully.
(Moroccan orange cake.)
(Chicken Reuben sandwich with sweet potato and cumin soup.)
The cafe occupies an 18th century building whose restoration has rendered it bright, airy and comfortable. While there is limited seating downstairs due to space restrictions, the upstairs offers a comfortable space to dine and to view the town. At a guess, there would be seating for around 30 people upstairs and 6-8 downstairs, with a comfortable amount of space between tables. The staff were friendly, approachable and accommodating.
My only criticism would be the coffee that is on offer. The espresso that I received was devoid of crema, with a taste that reminded me of Scandinavian coffee. It tasted like a light roast, which to my Melburnian palate doesn’t sit right; I prefer a smoother medium roast. That is simply a case of ‘each to their own.’ I did request an espresso macchiato, that wasn’t available on their menu, but the waitress offered steamed milk to accompany my espresso which I thought was a reasonable compromise. (EDIT: I have since been back and tried their coffee again. The unusual fruity taste was not present, the coffee I was given was lovely and smooth. I am also slightly mortified that the barista in Willow and Wild is actually from Melbourne… perhaps it was just a case of teething problems on the first day.)
I look forward to visiting again, although I expect that next time the place won’t be so quiet. They are off to a great start and I look forward to seeing them do well.
Willow & Wild
No. 2 Courthouse Square
*** I am not affiliated with Willow and Wild. I have not and will not receive any financial or other benefit for this review. I just think they’re pretty awesome.