Monday, September 29, 2014

Treasures of Fenn’s Quay

Treasures of Fenn’s Quay
Kate's Magic in the Kitchen
Monkfish

In a small kitchen, on the oldest terrace in Cork city, with much perspiration and no little inspiration, Head Chef Kate Lawlor works the magic for her many customers at No. 5 Fenn’s Quay. Both Kate and the building in which she operates are Cork treasures.

And what it is this exotic material that she turns to culinary gold? Nothing exotic at all, in fact. The produce comes from the local farms and seas, much of it via the familiar stalls of the nearby English and Coal Quay Markets. The magic has been acquired through years of hard work, watching and learning and doing, her long hours in the heat and steam often repetitive but sometimes brilliantly illuminated by a flash of inspiration.

There was quite a buzz there when we called in last week, happy customers by the sounds of it. The menu, quickly delivered to the table, and the Specials Blackboard on the wall, told us why, and soon we were reading our way through the offerings, the only problem being that if we choose one gem, another was to be remain untouched!


The 18th century terrace at Fenn's Quay pictured 1986.
The bookshop (far right)
is where the restaurant now stands.

There is a Fish Platter (to share) on the specials but we go for two of the regular starters. Eoin O'Mahony is one of our favourite butchers and is also a favourite at Fenn’s Quay and the  O’Mahony’s Pressed Ham Terrine, Pickled Quail Egg with Celery Salad & Lemon Aioli is a delight, every bit polished off.

The other starter is even better, perhaps the result of one of those magic moments. I absolutely enjoyed every morsel of the Chicken Liver Brûlée with Crozier Blue Cheese Ice Cream & Red Onion Compote. What a combination! It had beautiful textures and flavours, even the toasted bread was conveniently curled to hold the paté. All it lacked was a small spoon to take up the final drops of the Ice Cream.

Despite tempting chicken (O’Sullivan’s), O’Mahony’s feather blade with Ballyhoura mushrooms, and more, we both picked fish specials (from O’Connell’s) for mains.  CL loves her hake but, this being Fenn’s Quay, the dish was somewhat different: Roast Hake and Gubbeen Chorizo, chickpeas and seasonal vegetables in a mild spicy broth (15.95).

The Hake

This was a gorgeous dish and the spice, mild as stated, went well with the hake. And matched too with the wine we picked, the tingly multi-grape Claude Val blanc 2013 (Languedoc). Indeed, the wine was also suitable with my mains: Pan-fried Monkfish and potato rosti, braised leeks, celeriac and king oyster mushrooms in a delightful lemon butter sauce. I could have eaten any part of this on its own but put it all together as Kate did and it is top notch, all the ingredients (including that sauce) so well measured, so well matched.

And could she surprise us with dessert? Could she what? We went for the Mimi’s Cork Dry Gin and Tonic Dessert and the Vanilla Carrageen Moss with Seasonal Fruit. Where else would you get them? Beautiful. Terrific finalé to a very enjoyable meal.

Have to say before I finish that the service was excellent here. Our server was busy but still had time for a brief chat or two and a laugh or three. And she spotted that we were out of water before we had to ask for it. On the ball. Just like her hard-working chef-patron.

Desserts, Carrigeen Moss (left), Gin & Tonic.






1 comment:

michael lawlor said...

Just Right Amazing Hooked on the Food