Saturday, October 27, 2007



Once upon a time, in the streams and rivers in the general area of Riverstown, I was one of a group of boys who would while away the hours trying to catch darting brown trout.

Nowadays, I just visit the Bucknuti restaurant and pick from the selection there. Most recently, I enjoyed a Roasted Fillet of Sea Bream, on a bed of sautéed potato, with vegetable, dill and a Pinot Grigio Beurre Blanc. The veg was a bit on the shy side but the fish was well done and pretty reasonable value for €19.50.

Two of those with me went for the Pan Seared Salmon (€16.95), accompanied by a (very) few sautéed potato slices. Both agreed that the salmon was delicious but that the onion dominated sauce didn’t enhance the fish at all.

Chenin Blanc from South Africa is one of my regular choices and the Riverstown establishment has reasonably good one on their list: Virgin Earth (€19.95).

Dessert for me was quite a good Sticky Toffee Pudding. The Pavlova with fresh Fruit was also served at the table but again, as so often happens locally, it was really plain crispy meringue rather than your true Pavlova. It was overly crispy and didn't have the required soft marshmallow centre.

We did have very good service. Our waiter was top class, pleasant and quite knowledgeable about the menu.

See previous review on this restaurant below.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Pas Mal!

One is struck by the spaciousness of the place on entering Jacobs on the Mall. Glass, paintings and greenery are used to break up the huge walls and high arched ceiling – this was once the local Turkish baths. The floor space is well used. There is a generous amount of room between the various sets of tables and comfortable seating. First impressions are good. More importantly, they last!

We include some sample courses below but my main plate was pork with bacon, black-pudding, spinach, caramelised onions, and a potato parsnip galette. Absolutely gorgeous, the combination of flavours and smells a treat.

The Advisor went for the duck leg and breast with a beetroot compote and spinach. Again this went down a treat.

There were a couple of slight reservations. The baby spinach tasted as if it hadn’t even seen the steam not to mind the pot. We both love spinach in meals and have it regularly but this was needlessly stringy and chewy.

As a matter of taste, the beetroot was on the sweet side, perhaps too much brown sugar with the balsamic vinegar, something like the red cabbage that was once a frequent component of meals in the area. Thought I’d let you know. By the way, does any local restaurant serve sauerkraut?

We had skipped the starters but did have a few slices from their brilliant bread basket. Starters by the way are all around €9.50, mains in the high 20’s, desserts about €7.50. And then there is ten per cent service charge. It is quite expensive, but you do get what you pay for.

The desserts, as we say hereabouts, are to die for. Rarely have I had anything as exceptional as the date and butterscotch (with ice-cream) pudding. But I would have been just as happy with the Sicilian orange cake that the Advisor choose.

The wine list is huge. You can buy by the glass, the half bottle and full bottle. Penfolds 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz was our pick (about €26, I think) and it too was a delight

Crispy salmon with couscous, marinated grilled vegetables & harissa
Sirloin steak with sauté potatoes, grilled flat mushrooms, herb & garlic butter, spinach, caramelised onions, red wine jus
Fried polenta with grilled flat mushrooms, walnut & parsley pesto (V)
Breast of free range duck with roast butternut squash, buttered leeks, basil-pea puree, ginger jus

Chocolate and hazelnut tart with baileys ice-cream
Date & butterscotch pudding with vanilla ice-cream
Ginger & white chocolate parfait with caramelised banana, fudge sauce
Farmhouse cheese with fruit and home made biscuits
Tel: 021 4251530 Fax: 021 4251531

Our picture by the way is of the Turkish Baths on the Titanic. See

Saturday, October 20, 2007




Rossini’s is one of the longest established Italian restaurants in Cork City. Proprietors Patricia and Salvatore Toscano have got to be doing something right to survive the intense centre city competition.

One thing the restaurant does right is its Chicken Cacciatore (hunter style). I’m not a regular there but picked that particular dish (€21.90) on a recent visit. It was magnificent. The chicken was served in a “massive” tomato sauce, olives and mushrooms also included. The big plate was quite packed – just as well I didn’t have a starter (most of which are close to €10.00). Vegetables galore, including onion, asparagus, celery and broccoli and a helping of sautéed potato.

We did order a carafe of house wine and got a surprise here. I have been ordering carafes regularly enough in local restaurants, less regularly in establishments in France and Switzerland and was under the impression that a carafe was 50cl. But the serving in Rossini’s was a surprise litre size! Still, it was quite good value for €24.00 and we managed to put it away without too much difficulty.

Another surprise came at the end when we got the bill. It was about double the expected amount – it was for a different table! We got that sorted no problem. I suppose it could happen anywhere –although it was a first for me.

A colleague who had been to the popular Princes Street venue recently didn’t enjoy the experience saying the service was pretty poor (it seemed as if the place was understaffed on the night) and the pizza arrived late, so late that the cheese has lost its “elasticity” and had dried up. But I have to say that our service was perfect and friendly. The place was packed and the atmosphere good, enhanced by some live music.

The live music is on the menu from Tuesday to Saturday. The restaurant itself, which is probably in the mid-price range in the city, is open 7 nights a week, with dinner served from 6.00pm. Telephone is 021-4275818.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


SECOND BITE...............
...........................COSTS MORE

How can the Oriel Court Hotel justify the massive price increase it has imposed on its lunchtime diners? Especially when it is accompanied by a drop in standards?

Just last August, I was loud in praise of the food there and the prices. Everything on the lunchtime menu was under a tenner.

Not anymore. The Cajun salmon salad that I enjoyed for less than €10.00 last August (August 2007, I must stress), now costs €11.50 and everything else has gone up has well, including prices at the carvery (where the beef plate now costs a whopping €14.00).

The food wasn't quite as good either. The hot salmon was slightly overdone and the garlic bread (one piece now as against two in August) that accompanied the salad wasn't up to the standard of the previous visit (see August review below).

At least, the multi-national service was efficient and friendly. But the totally unjustified price increase left a sour taste, leading perhaps to a detour next time I'm in the area.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007



Food and music can be a good mix. Not always. I was a guest at a recent club dinner where the former You’re A Star contender George Murphy was the main attraction of the post meal entertainment.

The meal over, we were looking forward to George. He made his entrance and started off with a string of ballads. All were delivered with a shouting style. The words flew at you, just loud words, no emotion, no feeling. Where’s the soul man? James Brown might have had asked. Where’s the duende, might have come from the Spanish poet Garcia Lorca.

But George kept on roaring it out, even Blowing in the Wind came in for the sand-blasting treatment, in between refreshing gargles of course. Then he took a bar break and left the two guitarists on stage and they changed the atmosphere and entertained with some rock numbers such as Roll it on the River.

George was soon back again and we got more of his almost deafening delivery, no attempt at a rapport with the audience. The crowd were willing and tried a few choruses but I have never seen such relief, even from us greybirds, when the trembling tones of the Bee Gees announced the start of the disco.

Pity really, as the five course meal was top class at the Convention Centre in Silversprings. Manager Eoin Daly was on hand to supervise the clockwork operation as the food was distributed with precision and no little attention to the 250 diners. The main course was beef and it was spot on and everyone was absolutely satisfied on this count. So well done once again to the Moran Silversprings.

If you’d still like to try food and cabaret, there is one venue that you should seriously consider. It has been highly recommended. At the Quality Hotel in Shandon, there is a cabaret featuring Neasa de Baroid every Thursday night. It was regularly sold out last year and the trend continues this year. But, if you book the dinner, you are guaranteed a seat at the entertainment. Sounds like a good deal!