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At the Silk Purse last night. Ate some great food and met some nice people.
The people bit started with the phone call to make the reservation. Roughly like this..
Me: “Table for two, seven this evening, please.”
Purse: “No problem. Will you be staying with us, having a few drinks?”
Me: “No, not to-night. We’ll be going as soon as we’re fed!”
Purse: “We’d love to have you but if we thought the table would be free, we could take a booking for nine or nine fifteen.”
Me: “No problem. Work away.”
Isn’t that a much more pleasant way of putting it than the fairly usual sharp demand: “You’ll have to vacate the table by 8.30pm”. My usual response to that is: “No thanks. We’ll try another night.”
The Silk Purse website, http://themeatcentre.com/wordpress/?p=361 , gives a good indication of the place. Have a look at some of the vids, especially their St Patricks’ Day trip to their “twin” restaurant in Barcelona.
The cool laid back atmosphere was evident as we moved up the stairs to the first floor room. It takes about fifty and is very well lit by the string of large windows to the east and north. From my seat, I could see the City Hall, the Clarion Hotel block, the river in between and the “heights” of Montenotte in the distance. We were first in but it soon filled up to the limit.
After a friendly welcome, we were given the photo-copied menu. It was originally handwritten, squashed into the page with some quirky bits of shorthand e.g. cous2 for couscous and humour e.g. “You wanna tortilla y salsa with your guacamole mister” include in the description of the peppered port beagle shark.
Had been expecting to see a big dash of Spanish or Catalan in it but there wasn't much and, in any case, the friendly men on duty were very helpful indeed. One or other would come to the table, maybe pull over a chair, and give you all the explanations you needed.
All the starters are €9.50 – it is quite expensive. My Lamb’s Liver Sautee with red lentils and porto was absolutely superb while my advisor was delighted with her Goat’s Cheese and Chard Tartlet with a beetroot sauce. These were fairly substantial, more or less equal to what you might get on a lunch plate in a cafe.
The waiter, with some pleasure, noted the empty plates and, swelled by the vote of confidence, marched off for the mains. There was no stopping us now.
I went for the Hanger Steak (€21.50), exceedingly flavoursome, the menu promised, with a puttanesca (Ladies of the night, I’m told) sauce and frites. Lots of meat, they said. And there was. And it was flavoursome. Great stuff.And a very popular order at other tables.
The other mains was Silver Gurnard (€23.15), with organic greenery, ovened potato and a ramson (wild garlic) and sorrel crème. The gurnard is apparently plentiful around the Irish coast but the Silk Purse say you have to get to the markets early to get your hands on it. It is certainly worth it, a marvellous dish. Again the compliments flew: “The best fish dish I have ever had.” Amazingly, I have never seen gurnard on any other menu in Cork. Is the guy from the Purse buying it all up?
Other starters included: Red Mullet chilli-chilli, Fried haloumi, Revuelto de chorizo y pimentos, Kafkas, stir fried squid while mains included Peppered shark, spring lamb and potato gnocchi.
Desserts were rather limited though the chocolate cake we shared, which included elements of orange and rhubarb and truffle, and served with a little cream, was fine. The only other dessert was a cheese selection.
But the mains and starters are the stars here. You don't get a wine list as such but there are six or seven of both red and white on the blackboard. Some are cheaper but most are €7.50 a glass or €30.00 per bottle.I had the New Zealand Paper Road Pinot Noir with my starter and the Diva Shiraz with the steak. Both were good but I did prefer the Pinot and it is a grape that I intend to follow. The advisor was very happy with the Pinot Grigio.
So happy all round then. May have been expensive but we had a lovely couple of hours and felt we got value for money. Oh yes, we were gone by nine, just! The Silk Purse is open three nights weekly (Thurs-Sat); otherwise their food is available in the Crúibín Bar downstairs where you may also enjoy some local beers, aside from the usual big brewery brands.