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Hotel dining rooms are improving all over the city and Bellini’s at the Maryborough is at the forefront thanks to Head Chef Gemma Murphy and her team.
Gemma is renowned for her presentation skills. But there is substance galore behind the style on your plate. She is well able to source good produce, with the emphasis on local and seasonal, and cook it to perfection.
Macroom Buffalo Cheese, Goatsbridge Trout, La Rousse Fine Foods, Keeling’s Fruit and Vegetables, Matt O'Connell Seafood, theEnglish Market and Ballinwillin Boar and Venison are among her sources.
And it's getting even more local! She has developed a vegetable and herb garden “so she can ensure only the best will be used in her cooking”.
Delighted to get the chance to try the new menu. After a warm welcome, we were seated comfortably and starting to make the choices. Not that easy as all the dishes appealed.
I was looking at the starters and found it difficult to get past the first two. Eventually though the Ballinwillin Wild Boar (Pea and Watercress Pannacotta, Apricot Mustarda) “won” against the Grilled Mackerel. The boar and venison coming from the Mulcahy's in Ballinwillin is top notch and this superb dish added another dimension.
CL too had a difficult choice toying with the Assiette of Summer Vegetables (with Macroom ricotta) before settling on theScallops (Bacon Dashi, Compressed Pineapple, Picked Shimeji, Cubanelle Chilli Oil). Another winner. The dashi was poured on at the table and the little umami mushrooms, like everything other element, played a tasty role.
No big creamy sauces for the chef here. We both went for fish in the mains and each of us was very happy. CL enjoyed the Sea Bream Fillets (Grilled Asparagus, Charred Onion, Salt Baked Fingerling Potatoes, Shellfish Bisque, Squid Ink Dressing) while myPan seared fillet of Cod (Braised Beluga Lentils, Fava Beans, Heritage Tomato, Grapefruit and Saffron Puree) was another delight.
And of course there were sides; the House Fries and Market Vegetables (a substitute on the night for thecarrots) were our choices, both well up to standard.
So how about dessert? Some excellent choices here. Was looking at the Coconut and Yuzu Pannacotta before settling on the Pimm’s Jelly (Foraged Elderflower Scented Mascarpone Strawberry Sorbet, Shortbread). That was shared, our server diplomatically placing it centre-table. Service was excellent throughout. And another empty plate went back!
There are some fantastic wines on the list here, including quite a few by the glass and also a selection by the half-bottle. Once we decided on the fish, we ordered a glass of white each. One was theGerman Eins-Zwei-Dry Riesling, smooth and fruity and dry for sure. The other was the Ara Della Valle Pinot Grigio, smooth and persistent. Both feature on the house white list, along with a few more.
If don't want the full menu of the restaurant, well take a look at the Bellini bar daytime menu here. Here too, you’ll see Lots of cocktails on offer and you can also sample the local craft beer by the Franciscan Well Brewery.
And they also do Afternoon Tea in the Garden Room. And if the kids come, well there’s even an Afternoon Tea Menu for them. If you need to be pampered at any time, just follow the sounds of flowing water to the spa. And I'd better mention, they also have a gym!
Just one look at the list of their suppliers and I'm encouraged as I take my comfortable seat in Bellini’s Restaurant in the Maryborough Hotel. Two hours later, having seen and tasted what Head Chef Gemma Murphy can so with that very produce and I’m full, full of delight. The dishes on this new menu are tempting to look at and all you have to do is yield. I'm not the only one impressed. The Cork city hotel has just been awarded a second AA Rosette.
Quite a few starters to choose from including Warm Chicken Salad, House Cured Salmon with Goatsbridge Roe, Textures of Bluebell Falls Goat cheese, Pan seared Fresh Atlantic Scallops and Soup of the Day.
CL picked the Melon Soup (Compressed Melon, Peach Schnapps and Grapefruit Jelly with Feta Snow). Quite a display here as the liquid was added to the other ingredients at the table. An outstanding starter.
And so was my Boneless Roasted Baby Quail, soft herb mousseline, caramelised peaches and Micro Basil. Beautifully presented and so tender, a marvellous combination of flavours and textures. At this stage we were really settling in, feeling very much at home. Excellent food so far and great service too.
And that’s the way the evening continued. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the breads, the lovely amuse bouche (based on a mackerel pate) and the Mango and Passionfruit Sorbet.
The white wines cover a broad range; you may have anything from an Argentinian Torrontes to a Pouilly Fuisse. The reds range includes Club Privado Rioja (my choice) to a Walnut Block Pinot Noir (one of the Collectibles). No shortage of drinks here, everything from beer to the best of bubbles, as the bar is just alongside.
So on to the mains. Again plenty to choose from including Hereford Steak, Slaney Valley Lamb, Chicken Supreme, Wild Atlantic Hake, Orzo pasta. And check out that list of sides, including a Rocket and Parmesan Salad with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes. Indeed, the advice is to go beyond the headline and check out the details in each dish.
Take CL’s choice: Pan Seared Sea Bass Fillets. You’ll see that heading in lots of places but here it is served with Broccoli and Yuzu Purée, Steamed Prawn Dumpling and a Prawn Bisque. Magnifique!
I went for a favourite meat, the Skeaghanore West Cork Duck Breast, and got another amazing plateful. The duck, cooked to perfection, came with a Rhubarb Purée, Walnut Granola, Carrot Textures, Braised Beluga Lentils, Five spice and Balsamic Jus. Another five star dish, every element on the plate playing a role. My side here was the Steamed Market Greens, soy, sesame and Mirin Glaze. Could have eaten a bowl of that on its own, particularly the mange tout and sugar snaps!
After all that we knew the desserts were going to be good too so there was no hesitation, no talk about sharing one this time. I finished off in style with the Dark Chocolate Cremeux with Griotte Cherries (the one they soak in booze!) and Pistachio Ice-cream while CL enjoyed her Strawberry baked Alaska with Prosecco Foam (more booze) Strawberry and Basil Salsa. Superb.
What an evening in a busy Bellini’s. What a meal. Very Highly Recommended.
Their suppliers include Macroom Buffalo, Bluebells Falls, Goatsbridge Roe, Skeaghanore Duck, Larousse Fine Foods, Wild Atlantic Way Seafoods, Keelings Fruit and Vegetables, Matt O’Connell Seafood, PJ Sheehan and Co Poultry and the English Market.
Lunched at the luxurious Maryborough Hotel at the weekend. Bellini’s is a beautiful restaurant with many well padded nooks and crannies but what struck me was the simple arrangment of the food on the plates. Nothing at all complicated about it and since the food was well handled, well cooked and well presented, we enjoyed an excellent meal.
The restaurant was slack enough at the time, but the bar, which also serves food, looked much busier. Service was excellent and info on the day's specials was delivered with the menus and water to the table, all without delay.
We got some nice breads - loved the Sundried Tomato loaf - as we studied the menu, quite an extensive one. No shortage of soups and sandwiches, the latter including a tempting looking Ploughman's Lunch that included the local Carrigaline cheddar.
The Sundried Tomato loaf was the base for their €10.50 Steak Sandwich (Chargrilled minute steak, crispy onions, beef tomato, vegetables marmalade and mushrooms ketchup on the bread).
I enjoyed my Roast Chicken Supreme, with Boulangere potato, tomato and balsamic puree, caper and raisin pesto. Good flavours and textures and a lovely dish for €16.50. We also had the Marinated Duck leg at the table, another at €16.50. This, with Spiced Mango and cabbage and a plum sauce, also went down well.
We also had one of the specials: Cod with capers and tomatoes and served on a well made bed of mashed potato. This got the thumbs up as well. Indeed all four dishes were well received as were the bowls of vegetables, mainly cauliflower florets, broccoli, and carrots, again a simple bowl but very well cooked indeed.
Not everyone went for dessert and some sharing was agreed on. There was a tempting list though, including Tunisian Orange Cake and a Raspberry and Pistachio Frangipane Tart. My pick was the Millefeuille of Apricot and Raspberry. Both it and the Chocolate Mousse Special had their admirers and there was a bit more sharing than intended!
An excellent meal in an excellent location. Next time, I’ll have to go for the dinner. Or maybe I’ll treat herself to the Afternoon Tea special (3.00 to 6.00pm), a very tempting mix of savoury and sweet, all for twenty five euro for two.
The Maryboroughis one of the most popular hotels in the city and is also the AA Hotel of the Year for 2014.