Showing posts with label Cafe Paradiso. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cafe Paradiso. Show all posts

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Cafe Paradiso. Back to the Garden.


Cafe Paradiso. Back to the Garden

Eden may have been lost with a single bite of forbidden fruit but the garden can always be regained, at least in the Cork region, with a visit to Cafe Paradiso. No fruit, no vegetable forbidden here! Every meal in the city centre restaurant reinforces what one of my friends, who travels widely in the hospitality industry, told me a few years back: "It is not alone the best vegetarian restaurant in Ireland, it is probably the best restaurant in Ireland".

And what is perhaps not generally known, except to the regulars of course, is that Paradiso has a superb wine list. The lower end and the slow-moving higher end have been chopped from the list and what remains is packed with quality, great choices, between approximately thirty and forty five euro a bottle.

We were part of a seven person group the other night so the wines were shared, along with many a good laugh. Good advice on the wine list is also available and so we started with the Höpler Grüner Veltliner 2014, 12.5% Burgenland, Austria and finished with the Friedrich Becker Spatburgunder Pinot Noir 2011, 13.5%, Pfalz, Germany.
Aubergine parcels....
Others we could have had included the Susana Balbo ’Crios’ Malbec 2013, 14%, Mendoza, Argentina and the Alvaro Palacios La Montesa Rioja 2012 in the reds while among the whites that caught my eye were Wittmann Riesling Trocken 2012, 12% Rheinhessen, Germany and the Dos Victorias ‘Jose Pariente’ Verdejo 2013, 13%, Rueda. But it is easy to get a good one here as the list is really superb. If you’re not sure, just ask your server! By the way, all the wines are available by the glass, by 250ml and 500ml carafe and by the bottle.

Back to the food then and I'm not going to bore you with all the details. We picked the three course option here and you have lots of choice for forty euro. Two courses will set you back thirty three euro.

I had been toying with going for the truffled sunchoke soup with hazelnut gougere and buttered shiitake from a list of six starters (all tempting) but settled instead on the Macroom Buffalo Mozzarella with roasted carrots, pickled fennel, chermoula, preserved lemon and pistachio dukka. Amazing flavours and textures on this plate and the roast carrots came in for compliments all around the table.
Choc dessert...

CL meanwhile was delighted with her choice: roast beetroot, braised scorzonera and Knockalara sheep’s cheese with watercress, orange pickle and ras-el-hanout crumb. Colour, flavour, texture all combined, the dish showing that beetroot goes as well with sheep’s as goat’s. Great stuff indeed.

There were also six choices of mains but, amazingly, the majority of our group went for the roast aubergine parcels of cavolo nero and coolea cheese with miso gravy, beluga lentils,

pumpkin gnocchi and a green pepper and caramelised walnut salsa. Aubergine is one of my favourite vegetables in any restaurant but this was vegetable heaven, every little bit, the gravy, the lentils. Even CL polished off the gnocchi, usually left on the side! “These were good ones”, I was told.

And you must try the sides as they are superb as well. They do include sprouts but not like you've known them. Here they are served with tomato, chilli and ginger and well worth the fiver as are the Paradiso chips with truffled aioli.

Time then, and desire too, for dessert. Lots of temptation but I made up my mind early on the Orange and Date Bread and Butter Pudding and its Rum Custard. Oh la la! And other desserts enjoyed at the table included a Dark chocolate mousse with gingered pear and salted caramel popcorn and also Vanilla pod ice cream with brutti ma buoni, espresso and a shot of frangelico. A sweet end to a terrific meal and service was flawless throughout. Very Highly Recommended.


More desserts, including popular Orange and Date pudding
The menu here is based largely on local and seasonal produce.  Gortnanain Farm is the primary source of veg (and honey). All cheeses (which include Coolea and Macroom) are Irish except for Feta and Halloumi. Mushrooms are Ballyhoura or foraged. More details on the restaurant, founded 23 years ago, here.

Cafe Paradiso
16 Lancaster Quay
Cork
(021) 427 7939
Opening Hours: Dinner Monday – Saturday, 5.30 – 10.00pm



Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top restaurant posts 2013

Top restaurant posts 2013
Aubergine & Roast Pepper Parcels at Chapel Steps

For the second year running, Bandon's Chapel Steps tops the restaurant charts. This year's post didn't score quite as high as the 2012 review but still, thanks to the many fans of this lovely restaurant, came out ahead. Good performances too from newcomers like Brendan Cashman's Gallo & Galettii in Wilton, Finn's Table in Kinsale, and the Greenroom at Sage in Midleton. Electric is tops in city centre, Cafe Gusto is leading cafe while the Sultan is best ethnic.

Top Drinks Posts
Kinsale's Black Pig Wine Bar is the place to go for a glass of wine (and a meal), the newcomer quickly establishing itself at the head of affairs. This was the Year of the WineGeese and great to see the visit of Cullen Wines to Cafe Paradiso featuring as does the series' opening night at L'Atitude 51. The rise of craft beer is underlined by the popularity of the post on the Cotton Ball, Cork's newest micro-brewery; this post, just up a week or two, is gathering in the hits even as I write.

Most popular restaurant posts
1
Speciality Nights at Bandon's Chapel Steps
2
Brendan is back
3
Electric. Easy to Book. Hard to Leave.
4
Magic at Myrtleville
5
Al Fresco dining at the Titanic Bar and Grill in Cobh
6
Old Friend's at Finn's Table
7
The Sultan of Penrose Wharf
8
Tapas in the Greenroom
9
Grazie Cafe Gusto

Most popular drinks posts
1
The Black Pig Wine Bar in Kinsale
2
On the tapas trail with Campo Viejo
3
Cullen Wines at Cafe Paradiso
4
Wine Geese Heading Home
5
Happy New Beer at the Cotton Ball
6
My Curious Case

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cullen Wines at Cafe Paradiso

Cullen Wines at Cafe Paradiso

Ger (Paradiso) and Emma in great form.
Tuesday’s coming together of Cullen’s biodynamic wines from Australia’s Margaret River and the renowned quality cooking of Cafe Paradiso, looked, on paper, like a match made in food heaven. You won’t be surprised to learn that it lived up to that billing.

This multi-course meal, part of the Wine Geese series, was one highlight after another. I really lapped up the Baby Carrots with the buttermilk yoghurt and the roast kombu. And then another highlight: grilled asparagus with miso beurre blanc and nori gomasio, matched with the 2010 “Mangan Vineyard” Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc – Semillon.
Nettle-lemon sorbet.
The last of the whites was the superb 2010 “Kevin John” Margaret River Chardonnay and that went so well with the sublime Toonsbridge buffalo mozzarella with beetroot, pickled fennel, roast grapes and dukkah.

Emma Cullen, from the Western Australian vineyard family, was with us  and she was proud to say that the Kevin John, named after her grandfather, had sold out in the UK. It is a complex elegant wine which has spent nine months in new oak. If you hurry, you might get some (along with more of the Cullen wines in Bradley’s, North Main Street).
On then to the substantial and delicious Aubergine involtini with a pistachio-lemon salsa, potato and broad beans, paired with the 2010 Margaret River Red, “an incredibly popular wine”.

Chocolate and Cherries followed, enjoyed with the 2010 “Mangan Vineyard” Margaret River Merlot-Petit Verdot-Malbec. “This is a very interesting blend,” said Emma. “and has a bit of a cult following. Try it with roast duck, it is incredible! It has not seen oak. It was a terrific vintage and the fruit was so great, it didn’t need the oak!”
And we finished with that superb Crozier blue cheese (with celery and dates) and matched with the big red, the 2010 “Dian Madeline” Margaret Rover. Diana was Emma’s grandmother. This last wine also benefitted from the incredible vintage of that year. “It is very much a Bordelaise style, the cream of the crop.”
Cullen Wines, now in its 42nd year is, since 2004, certified A Grade Biodynamic by the BFA of Australia. “Put simply, biodynamic viticulture is a philosophy combining the maintenance of sustainable soil fertility and the recognition of the link between plant growth and the rhythms of the cosmos. It is a method of farming that treats the vineyard as a living system, which interacts with the environment to build a healthy living soil that helps to nourish the vines and general environment.”
Emma is a big fan. “The results have been incredible. All bug related problems are gone. We have better water retention. The quality of the fruit is absolutely flawless...and there is an extra life and vibrancy in the wine”.
If you’d like to read more of the fascinating details, including the famous cow horns filled with cow manure and planted in the fields, then go direct to the Cullen website here 
Cullen Wines are distributed in Ireland by Liberty Wines

So a big big thanks to Emma, to Gerry Gunnigan of Liberty, to Ger and to all the staff (especially to chef Mark) at Paradiso for a stunning mix of excellent food and top class wine.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Paradiso: Paradise Found

Paradiso: Paradise Found


Spring is here and so are the new greens from Gort na Nain farm including the "new kid on the block, cime di rapa, aka broccoli raab amongst other aliases". That green, see picture below, was new to me at least and not the only "surprise" during a superb weekend dinner at Cafe Paradiso. 

In this elegant, intimate and comfortable space, the food is top notch, as is the service. Asked one of our servers about part of the amuse bouche and got all the details, from the ingredients to the recipe to the various possible finishes. More than just training, I think, at play here. This lady likes her job!

And it looks as if that goes all the way from the front of house (great to meet Geraldine on her home turf) to the kitchen where Denis Cotter has brought this cafe, founded in 1993, to a multi-award winning top class restaurant. One of my friends, who travels widely in the hospitality industry, tells me that it's "not alone the best vegetarian restaurant in Ireland, it is probably the best restaurant in Ireland".


Tartlet of caramelized beetroot & Bluebell Falls fresh goat’s cheese, salsa verde and olive-crushed potato.

Marinated Toonsbridge buffalo mozzarella with Gort na Nain leaves, roasted grapes, crushed fennel , crispbread and pomegranate syrup and pistachio dukkah
These were our starters. The tartlet was in a class of its own. These can be fairly skimpy in some places but not here! Never had mozzarella served like this before! Fantastic combination. By the way, Gort na Nain farm supplies the bulk of vegetables used by Paradiso. 

Spring cabbage dolma of spiced carrot & chickpeas with smoked pepper-almond sauce, orange mint yoghurt, crushed saffron potato cake and broad beans
 Looks like a work of art, too good to eat! A majestic main course and, if you want the recipe, check it out here
Leek & roast squash gratin with hazelnut & Hegarty’s cheddar crust, citrus rosemary cime di rape, braised borlotti beans.
This is where I met the cime di rape for the first time! Tasted well, like broccoli to be honest, as it played a supporting role here to the magnificent roast gratin. Like many of the dishes served here, this is (well, was) beyond my imagination but certainly not beyond that of Denis Cotter. Superbly executed. 

Crozier Blue cheese, apple, Gortnanain honey, glazed pecans

Cardamom set custard with poached rhubarb and pistachio shortbread
With a visit to Cashel Blue coming up this week, I was delighted to get the opportunity to taste their Crozier, served in such a simple yet brilliant way. And more of the same with our other dessert. Hasn’t the humble rhubarb come a long way from the neglected corner of the back garden!

If the food is the main story here, the wine list has recently claimed a mention. Better let Denis explain it himself: "As promised, we've torn up the wine list and put it back together in a new way. There are two major changes that we're very excited about. Firstly, every wine is now available in four measures. And we've radically changed the way we price wine to drag the top end of the list down into the middle. Get the scoop here, then come in and play with it...http://www.cafeparadiso.ie/blog/a-new-approach-to-pouring-and-pricing-wine"

The result for the customer is brilliant: a new list, new measures, and new prices. There are about forty wines available, all by the glass (150ml), the quartino (250), the mezzo (250) and by the bottle. You also have a choice of aperitifs and digestifs.

We started with a quartino of Dos Victorias ‘Jose Pariente’ Verdejo 2011. With the mains, we each enjoyed a glass of the Cullen Margaret River White 2011. Picked the Cullen in anticipation of a WineGeese event in Paradiso. On Tuesday May 28th the restaurant will, in association with Liberty Wines, host a Presentation & Tasting with winemaker Emma Cullen of Cullen Wines from Australia's Margaret River. Book direct with Paradiso.

Oh, nearly forgot the gorgeous desert wines. One was a brilliant port, the Quinta do Infantado Senior Tawny Port, and the other was Californian Essencia Orange Muscat 2010. Sweet ending to a lovely evening,