Showing posts with label Black's Brewery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Black's Brewery. Show all posts

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Superb Evening Meal at Pier One. And So Much More at Kinsale's Trident Hotel

Superb Evening Meal at Pier One
And So Much More at Kinsale's Trident Hotel
Three sails power this boat to harbour. View from the Trident bedroom
Pier One is the main restaurant at the refurbished Trident Hotel in Kinsale and we enjoyed a lovely evening meal there recently. If you'd prefer something more casual then downstairs at the Wharf Bar is the spot to go, a lovely room with food all day long. And drink too, of course. 

Indeed, if you’re one of the many that likes a drink outside these summer days then, between car park and the harbour, the Trident have their self contained Foredeck Bar with some seating for your comfort.
Duck confit

There was a coach load of visitors dining in Pier One when we arrived. But it was no bother to the efficient well practised crew on duty and the service at our table was top notch all through. We had menus, breads and water as soon as we seated and then got on with the “work” of making choices!

And we had plenty to choose from. Here, they buy local “as much as possible” and we could see that, from the breakfast in the morning to the drinks at night. Drinks featured included Blacks of Kinsale, Franciscan Well, Stag Ban, Killarney Brew, Stonewell Cider, lots of Irish whiskeys, gin by Dingle and Kinsale and also Kalak vodka. 

I enjoyed a Crested Ten (one of Ireland’s most under-rated) in The Wharf, excellent service here too by the way, and they too were busy with people dining and drinking, some watching the British Open. The bar has a nautical feel – designed by local yacht designer, Rob Jacob, to resemble elements of an old sailing ship, it is complete with portholes, decking, vaulted panel and beam ceiling and rope-wound galleon masts.

But back upstairs to Pier One. Once we took our eyes off the collection of Knuttle on the walls and the activity on the water outside, the boats coming and going, we made up our mind. My mains would be Roast Crispy Duck (a half!), with wild berry, apple compote and citrus jus while CL went with the Seared Monkfish with carrot crisps and a Vermont Cream Butter Sauce. 

The duck was surrounded by orange segments and I certainly enjoyed this more exotic style, very well cooked by the way. And so too was the monkfish, a more simple dish though with a most gorgeous sauce, and another excellent combination. The side dish, of lovely vegetables, included courgette, celery, carrot and leek on the side. And all the while I was sipping my Kinsale Pale Ale by Black’s.

The starters had been excellent also. My Pan fried crab claws, with garlic and coriander, were as good, if not better, than any I've come across previously. And The Trident style Duck Confit was dispatched, with no little pleasure at the other side of the table.

The high standard was maintained with dessert. This time there was no sharing as we each picked the delightfully presented Rosscarberry Strawberry Shortcake, Crème de Menthe cream, Vanilla and Raspberry Sauce. Quite a plateful and a great sweet way to finish.

We would be back in Pier One for breakfast. They lay on quite a spread here, with real cheese and ham included. Loads of fruit too, plus breads and cereals. And a choice of hot dishes of course, including the full Irish (and any variation you wish) and a fish option. We both went for the Eggs Benedict and, with the local Barrett rashers and the eggs by Riverview making a lovely impression, that set us up for the day.

The 75 newly refurbished bedrooms include an executive wing comprising 30 rooms and a penthouse floor of 9 luxury suites, all with breath-taking views of the harbour and enchanting town of Kinsale. The hotel has a private marina, onsite parking and a wide range of state of the art facilities for conferences and is an unforgettable venue for family occasions.

We stayed in one of those refurbished bedrooms and, with the sun obliging both in the evening and morning, we had splendid views of the harbour. The decor is restful and the spacious room had all we needed, including hairdryer (well, I didn't need that!) and tea-maker.
The Foredeck Bar, with some of Trident rooms on far right

The hotel is three-sided (the water's edge completes the square) and all rooms  have a view of the harbour. While walking along the corridors, I was struck by the restful colour combination, mainly white and grey on the walls, blue and grey in the carpet, and a little extra colour in the curtains. All very peaceful throughout. A really lovely place to stay, good rooms, good food, and just about four minutes from the very heart of the town.
Room with a view

Lots to visit here, most notably Charlesfort. But don’t forget the wine museum in the smaller Desmond Castle. One of the new attractions is the Old Head Signal Tower and Lusitania Museum, a community effort alongside the Old Head itself. Good stories here and also splendid views over the ocean and the land, especially over the old head itself.
The Old Head of Kinsale, with Lusitania Memorial Garden in foreground

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Black's and Man Friday Highlights of Kinsale Day. Munster Wine & Dine On Tour

Black's and Man Friday Highlights of Kinsale Day

Munster Wine & Dine On Tour
The sun came too as the Munster Wine and Dine members headed for Kinsale last Friday. The major calls were to Black’s Brewery (and Distillery now) for a tasting and tour and, after a drink at The Spaniard, dinner at the Man Friday (long established but with a new kid on the block).

The Blacks have been making gin for the past two years or so and there were many versions before Maudeline felt happy with it. Think we all felt happy with it, after the on-site tasting on Friday. “Angelica and orris root combine with liquorice, juniper and coriander whilst distinctly citrus notes linger at the end to enhance a dry finish” is the official tasting note.It is available in Dunnes Stores and at many independents as well.
Maudeline, who instigated the gin-making, and husband Sam have quite a range of beers but the 1601, named after the famous local battle that had national implications to say the least, is their first lager. Sam explained a few things about lager as we sipped the flavoursome drink. “A different type of yeast is used, it is cold fermented, takes longer to mature and this one is also gluten free”.

Sam then took us around the brewery - the gin is in the same building but in a separate compartment which we saw a little later. We would also sample their best seller, the Kinsale Pale Ale. “Hops add flavour here and also counteract the sweetness of the barley”.
Sam Black
As the tour went on he answered questions on the functions of the various tanks and so on. People wanted to see the bottling but that is contracted out. Canning though is done on a regular basis by a mobile canning machine that calls to the site.

He acknowledged that the craft scene is a nice industry where everyone gets on quite well together. He is pretty confident about the future. “The rebate we craft brewers get allows us to compete and if the proposed legislation enabling small brewers to sell their beers direct to on-site visitors gets through, that will be a good thing. We employ six here and we’ll have one extra for the summer.”

Heather and verbena may be among the local botanicals in the gin, he hinted when we reached the distillery. “Each batch may be that little bit different but it is always good,” he promised. By the way, his alcohol is whey based and comes from Carbery in West Cork.

Not too sure he promised wife Maudeline that he’d stop taking kit from the kitchen. The hair-drier has been used to heat surfaces so that labels can be applied to the gin bottles and a food mixer had also been pressed into use. He did promise that we’d be drinking his rum in three years time! And that is just one development that this inventive and busy couple have up their sleeves!
We gathered outside the gable end of The Spaniard ahead of crossing the road into Man Friday where son Daniel is continuing his take-over in the kitchens. There is a great view from the part of the dining room where our group of thirty plus were seated but soon all eyes were on the plates.

We nibbled away on some very tasty charcuterie as we studied the menu and sipped the wines. My starter was the New Season Asparagus with Stonewell Cider Hollandaise and edible flowers. All eminently edible! Also enjoyed around me were Sea Bass Carpaccio with mango, baby coriander & lime and the Bruschetta with Macroom Mozzarella n’duja, courgette, rocket and fennel.

The high standard continued with the main course where my pick was the Local Cod with cauliflower purée, shaved asparagus, fennel, radish, peas, chilli oil and a beurre blanc. Great reports on the Slow Cooked new season shoulder of lamb with wilted spinach, roast Jerusalem artichoke, agresto and crème fraiche.

The finalé was the Almond and Rhubarb Tart with vanilla ice-cream and then Daniel was persuaded to make an appearance to take a well deserved round of applause.

Sam, with MW&D member Richard (right)
The next event on the calendar will be the Super-Valu Wine Selection Panel in L'Atitude 51 on Wednesday May 24th.
Cod at Man Friday

Monday, April 17, 2017

Excellent Evening Meal at The Commons Inn

Excellent Evening Meal at The Commons Inn
It was a busy night at the Commons Inn, some big groups (some local, some traveling) to be catered for but the pressure didn’t show in the restaurant which was an oasis of calm as we enjoyed an excellent meal indeed.

Canadian chef Arthur Van Leeuwen runs a fairly tight menu here - he doesn’t try to cover every single taste - and the concentration is on quality and it shows on the well presented plates. And the regular menu is supplemented by the specials. You’ll note these on the blackboard and, conveniently, there is also an insert in the menu itself. 

Locally sourced fresh ingredients are used here (Paul O'Connell for meats, Atlantis Seafood for fish, and AllFresh for veg are main suppliers) and local craft brewers such as Black’s and 9 White Deer are also supported.

Buffalo Wings (Niagara style from NY) and BBQ Slow Roasted Baby Back Ribs (with the chef's Bourbon sauce) are popular on the menu and, from previous experience, I know these two starters are excellent. This time though we went for something different.
Sea Bream

Local Craft
CL choose the Home-made Fish Cakes with Chilli Sauce and salad from the specials. And it was a real special. The cakes were packed with tasty fish and she reckoned they were the best fish cakes she has come across in a long time.

And it was all good at my side of the table as well as I tucked into the Cajun Chicken and Bacon Salad which was well presented in a “container” of cucumber strips. Both salads were excellent, the leaves as fresh as could be and well dressed.

Their Irish Hereford beef steaks are aged 35 days. The Commons over the years is well known too for excellent lamb and I was looking at that until I got a tip that rib-eye was on. The beef, on mashed potato, was superb, tender, full of flavour and served with sautéed mushrooms and onions, and crispy onion rings. There were vegetables, chips, and salad on the side as well, for sharing!
Fish Cakes
CL stayed with the specials for her mains: Pan-seared Bream with baby crushed potato and spring onion. The whole fish was on the bone and cooked to perfection. Other specials included the Jameson Sauce Commons Burger (as part of the Cork Whiskey festival) and Vegetarian Risotto. 

Regular House Favourites include Roast of the Day, Classic Chicken Maryland, Beer Battered Cod (with chips of course), Steak Sandwich, and Oriental Stir Fry.

It was early Saturday evening; the bar was busy, the restaurant was busy and so were the function rooms. This is a popular spot for locals and hotel residents, for drop-ins too. And the food, and the friendly service, is one of the major factors in keeping The Commons up there as it approaches its 30th anniversary.
Cajun Chicken & Bacon

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Holy Smoke On The ‘Dyke. Check Relihan's Blow Out.

Holy Smoke On The ‘Dyke
Check Relihan's Blow Out.
Blow Out; included are Smoked Cob Wheels and Naked Slaw

All you hunter-gatherers can now converge on Holy Smoke in the Mardyke Complex, the new ground of John Relihan, an experienced master of the ancient art of cooking with fire and smoke (he was head chef at Jamie Oliver's Barbecoa BBQ restaurant in London). You want meat, head for the ‘Dyke.

Have any of you seen Cooked, a mini-series by Michael Pollan now on Netflix? He says that the BBQ is the "last idea of the ritual cooking of meat"; that the long and slow technique may well have come to America on the slave ships, was very much tied to the tobacco harvest in the south and that the term “pit boy” came from there. That series is worth a look. He calls commodity pig farming “a vision of hell”. On  a lighter note, you’ll see veteran songsmith James Taylor sing about his pig called Mona!

No vision of hell at the Mardyke though; just lots of exposed brick vaulted ceilings and bare lights hanging down. We got a chance to take a look, and a taste, earlier week, and must say I enjoyed every little morsel.

Low and Slow is the motto here and you'll see it in red letters around the room, a room by the way which is full "night after night". You’ll notice the buzz the minute you enter. Great place to go with a bunch of friends. Grab a beer as you check the menu.

It is meat all the way; well, there are a couple of options for the non-meat eater. The wood too is key. Back to Pollan again who explains that it is the burning wood gasses rather than the wood itself that give off the smoke that marries with the meat. You’ll notice different woods on the menu and that's because each wood has different flavour compounds. Split a length of cherry wood and you’ll smell cherry, according to Cooked.

You may have lots of individual plates here, of Pork, Beef, and Chicken. And Burgers too. Perhaps the best way to test is to order the large BBQ Blow Out (24.50). You’ll get Brisket Burnt Ends, Dry Rubbed Baby Back Ribs, Pit Smoked BBQ Chicken, and Pulled Pork. That’s what we did.
Head Chef John Relihan

Two sides are included, one from the Humble list, one from the Divine. We picked their Skin on Skinny Fries and the Divine Pit Smoked Burnt End Beans. With all the focus on the meat, I have to highlight those unexpectedly delicious beans. The full description is: Sweet smoky beans mixed with Brisket Burnt Ends cooked low and slow. Indeed, it looks as if those sides, both humble and divine, may be worth a closer inspection.

Now, with meat and beer (Howling Gale and Rebel Red from the taps) delivered, it was time to get the tools from the box on the table. Yes, all your cutlery needs are already there, along with a big roll of kitchen paper to tidy up the finger licking mess. And the Holy Water, of course.

It takes a while, even for two, to work through all that meat but well worth it. The pork was probably the highlight, the ribs a close second. Then again, that chicken half, chopped into four, was good too, particular the tasty thigh! Big cubes of smoky brisket were also much appreciated. Not to mention those beans! Would have been barbecue heaven had we been able to roll open that ceiling and let the sun shine in. But it was very enjoyable as it was. Hard to beat a packed restaurant with all that chat.

No shortage of beer!
 Prices are reasonable here. You can have a bowl of pulled pork for a tenner: pork shoulder cooked slow and low for 14 hours over oak, mixed with Holy Smoke BBQ sauce and served with naked slaw and cornbread. Spend two or three euro more and your choices multiply. Service is very friendly and very efficient too. Well worth a visit!

  • Chef Relihan has serious form when it comes to cooking with fire. He was head chef at Jamie Oliver's Barbecoa BBQ restaurant in London and trained with world renowned Pitmaster Adam Perry Lang. Read more about John and the people behind Holy Smoke here
  • Check the menu here
    On the door of the gents, a tame enough fellow,
    despite the ring on his nose.

    Holy Smoke
    Little Hanover Street, Cork
    Phone: (021) 427 3000
    email : 
  • Facebook: 
  • Twitter @holysmokecork

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Coqbull Buzz. Dishes, and staff, that make you smile

The Coqbull Buzz
Dishes, and staff, that make you smile

There are five students sitting at the restaurant table, chatting. Then their burgers arrive; the server says something and there is an explosion of laughter and that continues for minutes after the server has gone. Welcome to the Coqbull Limerick. Service here is efficient and friendly and sometimes there is time for a joke and a laugh.

We had the very same server a little later and we too were left laughing and smiling at the exchange, smiling also perhaps because we were contemplating the massive dishes now in front of us. The Bull (there are large cartoons of him on the walls) and the chicken dominate the huge menu here and we had some of each.


My choice was the Supreme Bull (14.50), served with Cashel Blue cheese and bone marrow with crisp onion. And fries, of course. Delicious stuff, tender and tasty and washed down with a bottle of Trouble Brewing’s Dark Arts Porter (6.80). Magic match. All burgers, by the way, are dressed with tomato, onion, lettuce and are served with fries.

CL was sipping from her Black’s Session (6.80) as she tucked into her Roast Chicken, half a bird served with those fries (14.00), her little dish of gravy an extra 1.50. She enjoyed that, right to the very last bite. This is rotisserie chicken from the spit, “marinated before roasting in our secret liquor”.

Pork ribs - small portion!
Black magic

Lots of wings on the starter list but we went for the Fighting Coq Pork Ribs and sauce. Even though we went for the smaller portion (9.00), we didn't end up fighting over these sticky pieces of melting meat. The full portion could easily serve as a main course and a very good one at that.

And we had another laugh before we left. The toilets are not marked Ladies and Gents but Sit and Stand. I'm sure you'll find the right one!

By the way, if you don't want all that meat, they have quite a selection of salads: goats cheese, Caesar, Super and so on. And you may add chicken, bull or sautéed prawns to any salad. There are one or two fish and vegetarian dishes available also. From the bar, you can have cocktails (and mocktails) galore, beers and wine.

49/50 Thomas Street, Limerick
061 311011


Thursday, April 7, 2016

O'Briens 40 years in Bunnyconnellan. Good View. Good Food. Mornings To Inspire.

O'Briens 40 years in Bunnyconnellan.
Good View. Good Food. Mornings To Inspire.
The view, to the left.
When Paul O’Brien opens up Bunnyconnellan, early every morning, he looks out over the ocean and counts his blessings. That view on a sunny morning inspires positivity and it’s not too shabby on a poor day either.

The O’Brien family are celebrating forty years at the iconic Cork venue. In 1976, Paul’s parents, Paddy (who passed in 2010) and Sheila, took over the premises from Neill (known to all as Jock) and Mary Porteous, the only other family to have run Bunnys as a bar and restaurant.  

“Amazing people come in here and recount their childhood memories, “ said Paul. The Crosshaven area in general was, in the 50s and 60s, a summer resort area for many city people. A few years back, I attended a 60th party there for a man long resident in the USA but he had such happy memories of Myrtleville that he insisted on marking his big birthday with a party in Bunnys.

Paul told me that this photo was taken outside Bunnys in 1996. 
"From left to right, my Dad, Paddy O'Brien (who passed in 2010),
 my Mum Sheila, my brother Eamonn who runs the very successful
  'Paddy's Bar' in Hamburg Germany, myself & last but not least my wife Julie."
“Some great characters have been in and out of here. And they keep coming, men like Donie Bermingham from Carrigaline; he claims to be our longest-serving customer!”

Aside from the smashing views - you can see the mouth of Cork Harbour as well, see the big cruise liners and the large Brittany Ferries Pont Aven come and go, see Roche’s Point across the way - Bunny’s has always been known for its good food. And that strand of the story continues too. “There is a great little team here,” enthuses Paul. “It is headed up by Head Chef Chris O’Sullivan and Pastry Chef Bobbie O’Donovan, but they are all great.”

I put it to Paul that because they are on the coast that Fish ‘n Chips is always on the menu. It is. But they did take it off once and put it on the specials. There were “ructions” and it was quickly restored to its rightful permanent spot! “We can’t please everyone but we do listen to the bad things as well as the good!”  
The starters
“Fish is plentiful and varied here. Only last week, we had specials of black sole and brill for example. Could be something different next week. Another big seller for us is roast duck, supplied by Silver Hill.”

Specials are an “essential” part of the menus here, though for events like Sunday lunch, you'll find more traditional dishes as part of the offering. There is also a Kids Menu, with half portions of the adult menu available.

Did you have a good Easter? I asked. “We had a fantastic Easter, the whole period back to St Patrick’s Day, all good despite the iffy weather. Indeed, last winter was the wettest and windiest in years, yet we had a very good winter in the restaurant.”
The Cod
 So 2016 is shaping up well. And, believe it or not, the barbecues have started here already, kicking off on the first weekend of April. There are lots of industries in the general area and they tend to use the facility.

And, with a full bar, there is no shortage of beers to go with the meals, indoors or out. Craft beers are already featured, plus the local Stonewell cider. More craft beers are soon to appear and there are local spirits too - I spotted the Dingle gin. And if you fancy a cocktail? Well, they have a list for you. They tend to be more popular at or approaching the weekend.

Dinner service brings a hard night’s work to a close but Paul is back early in the morning, checking out that fantastic view. And, down on the beach, he spots a group of people that he admires: the Myrtleville swimmers. “Rain, hail or snow, there are about twenty out there every morning, some with wet-suits, some without”. People make the world go round just as the O'Brien's make Bunny’s an enjoyable place to come to, every day of the week. Every week of the year. For forty years!

Ham Hock
We enjoyed that view (though not the early morning one!) when we called for lunch. That Specials Board came in for scrutiny and our two mains came from that source. The starters are on the regular menu and I must say my Poached Pear and Blue Cheese Tart topped with walnuts was a delicious opener. And there were compliments too from CL as she tucked into her Goats Cheese, pineapple and walnut salad.

Our mains, served with a side of well cooked vegetables, were really special. Baked fillet of Cod with a pesto crumb and a saffron and chardonnay sauce was CL’s choice and I didn't hear a word from her until it was finished. My Oven-baked Ham Hock, with a creamy parsley sauce, was full of great flavour and outstanding overall, and kept me quiet! No room for dessert after the two courses! Sorry Bobbie - next time!
Local drinks: Black's Kinsale ale & Stonewell cider. Cheers!
Myrtleville, Co. Cork.
Tel: +353 (0)21 483 1213
Twitter: @Bunnyconnellan 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

SuperValu Glanmire Christmas Fair. Such an enjoyable evening!

SuperValu Glanmire Christmas Fair

Such an enjoyable evening!
Congratulations to Liam Ryan’s SuperValu Glanmire who put on a tremendous Christmas Fair last Thursday night. Lots to eat and drink, Chef Kevin Dundon demoing too, and a terrific friendly atmosphere and a good cause (three local charities supported). The family has three SuperValu stores in the Cork area; Grange support Douglas Lions Club, Glanmire aid St Vincent de Paul while Togher is backing Cork Simon Community.

We each got an impressive Christmas Recipe booklet on the way in and that was just the start of it. As we did a circle of the bright and well laid out store, we were able to sample their own in-house goodies and there was also an array of Food Academy start-up food producers sampling their local produce.
Didn't stop at all the tasting spots - no point in being greedy. But great to meet up again with Des Jeffares from County Wexford, better known as Mr Jeffares Blackcurrants . He produces a refreshing cordial and last night he was offering a lovely warming mulled version. Loughbeg Farm  with their now famous Oat Loaf and Tea Brack had come all the way from West Cork.

Also from west along came the three sisters of the Natural Larder Company (Macroom). They produce a range of seasoned breadcrumb mixes, and also a Cheeky Chilli sauce, Rollicking Red Onion pickle and Bodacious Baba Ganoush sauce. Interested? Check them out here.

Michael Corbett, a Tipperary farmer, was proudly displaying his Emerald Oils cold pressed rapeseed oil. Every single stage in creating this oil is completed directly on the family farm. As you know it can be used for stir-frying, roasting baking, salad dressing and marinating. He had some examples of the baking so we dipped a piece into the oil. Gorgeous!
Mulled cider, courtesy of Longueville
And then we were treated to Clotilde’s Fruit Compote, all the way from France, via Glanworth. These are really tasty sugar free compotes that can be used as a daily snack or with natural yogurts porridge, cereals, desserts and more. Clotilde is French and these pots are just like her mother used to make in France. They are absolutely divine. And so versatile.

Time now for a drink or two! Rupert from Longueville House was on hand with their gorgeous mulled cider. Then Barry from St Patrick's Distillery treated us to a drop of his Sloe Gin and Honey. No shortage of craft beer either with both Cotton Ball Brewing and Black’s of Kinsale in attendance.

The circle was now completed and we entered the area where the main event was being held. Before we knew it, we had a glass of wine in hand and were queueing for some delicious store food. Tender flavoursome beef (and other meats too) and all the trimmings, even desserts! Amazing array of food and soon our plates were full. And all this even before Kevin Dundon’s entertaining demo started!

The food was brilliant and so too were the staff - a whole battalion of them - all keen to serve and to tell us exactly what we getting. You often hear about the soulless supermarket. Well this sure isn't one of them. Everyone we met last evening as we did our rounds was helpful courteous and busy!
Des Jeffares
So good quality all the way with the food and the same with the wine tasting, conducted by Supervalu wine-buyer Kevin O’Callaghan. He had an amazing selection in front of him, including an excellent wine from Margaux - not bad for a Thursday night!

By the way, if you want to check out SuperValu wines and other drinks, be sure and pick up your copy of the in-house magazine Uncorked (Winter 2015). Lots of info here and articles by Leslie Williams, editor Ross Golden-Bannon, Tomas Clancy, and Raymond Blake. And it’s free.

It was a big night for Liam Ryan and his team and they certainly played a winner. Well done to SuperValu Glanmire.

Some of the wines for tasting