Showing posts with label Cork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cork. Show all posts

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Fenn’s Quay's Special


Fenn’s Quay's Special
Cod
From breakfast ’til late at night Fenn’s Quay will feed you, and feed you well. Lots of menus here, including a set lunch and an Early Bird. That Early Bird is, unusually, available on Saturdays up to 6.30.

It is good value and has quite a few dishes from the A La Carte. As it happened, it was the A La Carte that we concentrated on last weekend. We noticed some dishes that are almost fixtures here, such as the O’Mahony's Feather-blade and the same O'Mahony’s Collar of Bacon.
Beetroot cured salmon
But there is no shortage of variety in Fenn’s Quay, once you factor in a packed specials board. And, conveniently, they also include a written list of the specials as well as the traditional blackboard.

We tend to make good use of the specials and we did so here as well, though neither of the starters featured on the board.

CL choose Cork Dry Gin and Beetroot cured salmon with buttermilk dillisk and cucumber pickle (€10.00), a very well judged combination, very tasty indeed. 

Braised lentils and beef tongue with pickled quail egg
I was delighted with my Braised lentils and beef tongue with pickled quail egg (€10.00). The broth or jus - I used some of their well-made bread to mop it up - was full of the flavours from the tongue and the lentils and the quail was the first of my Easter eggs. Happy out!

We had been tempted by one of special starters, a Fish Platter with O’Connell’s smoked salmon, smoked mackerel, fish croquette and beer battered cod.
Dessert

We would though have O’Connell's cod on the double as we agreed on the mains, the Fish of the Day special (19.00). Details are: Cod, spinach, cod skin and cod purée, served with roasted cauliflower florets and peas. All added up to an exquisite dish, the fish as fresh as could be and cooked perfectly and that cauliflower was excellent. 

The dessert special was another winner: Bewley's Pannacotta with dark chocolate and brandy mousse (€6.50); had an idea this was going to be delicious (and it was!) and so we left the popular Mimi’s Cork Dry Gin and Tonic Dessert behind!

They have a short but well judged list of wines here, some available by the glass and most, if not all, by the carafe and bottle. And also they had a couple of specials on the board. Unusually, they also have a list of craft beers, Blacks and Mountain Man among them, but I went for a regular favourite the Stonewell Medium Cry Cider (€6.50). Food and presentation was top notch, service too and so it was a happy if overdue return to No. 5 Fenn’s Quay. Very Highly Recommended.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Excellent Evening Meal at The Commons Inn


Excellent Evening Meal at The Commons Inn
Steak
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



Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Montenotte Hotel Whiskey Battle

Montenotte Hotel Whiskey Battle
Let battle commence!

Last night I took part in a “battle”, a whiskey battle that is, in the Montenotte Hotel. It was all part of the Cork Whiskey Festival. There is a terrific view over the city from the hotel's bar but I was concentrating on the three beauties in front of me.

They were staging three “battles” in all, each involving an Irish, a Scotch and an American Whiskey. I could have had a Jameson, Glenfiddich, and Bulleit Bourbon for €15.00 or a Red Breast 15 year Old, Laphroaig 10 year old Single Malt and Maker’s 46 for €35.00.

But I picked the €25.00 trio of Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, Bowmore 12 Year Old and the Knob Creek Bourbon. There was no further info available as info sheets hadn't turned up.

So, with an open mind, if an amateur one as regards whiskey, I got down to work, a glass of water at the side. Tasted the three in the above order and was quite pleased with the Irish and the Scotch. The initial meeting with the Knob Creek, by Jim Beam, seemed fine but I found something of an alcohol burn on the finish.

Tried them all neat again, this time with an emphasis on the aromas. And that's when the peat began to bother me. As Henry VIII said about one of the ladies he was about to marry: “I like her not!”.  And, there was to be no cure for it, only a divorce!

But there was a cure for the Bourbon: a few drops of good old Cork water brought a very acceptable smoothness to the finish. Took my time after that and finished off all three. 


And the final verdict? I declare the Green Spot, a superb whiskey, finished in a selection of ex-bourbon (ironically) and ex-sherry casks, and so well balanced, the winner of this particular battle. Slainte!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Cork’s Ambassador Hotel. Hitting the Heights in More Ways than One

Hitting the Heights in More Ways than One

Cork’s Ambassador Hotel
The Ambassador, with the decking to the left.

Did you know you can get one of the best views of Cork City from your balcony at the Ambassador Hotel? One hundred and eighty degrees, from beyond Páirc Uí Chaoimh in the east to beyond St Fin Barre’s to the west, other landmarks, such as the RH Hall Silos and the Elysian in between. This view emphasises their claim that the hotel is very convenient to the city and its attractions.

The view inside isn't bad either. And if you’re there on business, well they’ve been talking to you, know what you want: a station to do a bit of work with a good chair, a flexible light and, wait for it, your own Espresso machine, all in your room.
Room with a view
Staying with business, they have rooms to suit all kinds of meetings, catering for ten to 250. The biggest room, the Bellevue Suite, is quite impressive, fully equipped, Wi-Fi and Air Conditioning included.  And if you need to keep that conference going through lunch, there is a range of refreshments and food (up to a 3-course lunch) available. Bellevue, also equipped with its state of the art lighting system and a dance-floor, is ideal for weddings and other large celebrations.

Aoife Lohse, Sales and Marketing Manager, took us through the hotel the other day. It has been extensively refurbished since the McGettigan takeover just a few short years ago. But not all the old stuff has been discarded. Some beautiful furniture, stained-glass windows, even gorgeous (and efficient) radiators, are to be seen throughout the wonderful red brick Victorian building. The impressive facade gives a sense of the rich history of the St Luke’s area and a clear example of 1870’s Irish architecture at its best.
It is not all corporate here, of course. Take the family bedroom, for instance. This, with no less than three beds is big, big enough for a big family. And you and the kids will be well placed to enjoy the surrounding area, the waterside towns of Cobh (known for the regular visits of huge cruising liners) and Kinsale are not too far away. And then there’s Fota Wildlife Park. Indeed, the hotel is only minutes away from the Dunkettle junction where you can choose to go east, or south or west or north. Cork’s your oyster. 

And after a busy day enjoying yourselves (or working!), why not relax on the new south-facing decking, with large awning and its state of the art barbecue. And if the weather is not great, then indoors you have the McGettigan’s Cookhouse and Bar.
Bring the family!

Your own Espresso
And after our tour of the hotel and its facilities, including a fitness room (very busy in the morning and early evenings, according to Aoife), it was to McGettigan’s that she brought us for lunch, a very enjoyable meal indeed.

The dining room is “library” themed, very comfortable. We weren't reading the books though but a very extensive menu that caters for everyone from child to adult, everything from steaks to pizzas, from super-salads to sandwiches. The McGettigan's brand by the way is not just local; you’ll find it in locations such as Dublin City centre, Wicklow, Wexford, Limerick, Donegal, Galway, New York,  Dubai and Singapore.
Duo of fish

Even though the menu is wide-ranging, you also have have a specials board. Immediately, the Catch of the Day caught my attention: Duo of Wild Atlantic Hake and Turbot, with Clonakilty Black Pudding whipped potato, white wine and saffron sauce. Enjoyed every little bit, along with a glass of Drostdy-Hof Chenin Blanc from South Africa.

CL went for the Roast of the Day: Roast leg of lamb, with scallion whipped mashed potatoes, slow roasted beef tomato, roasties and red wine jus. Perfectly cooked down to that very tasty tomato. Wine here was the house red, a very quaffable Sangiovese from Tuscany. 
Cheeseboard

We finished off in style with a “small” version of the cheese plate. Durrus, Gubbeen, and Cashel Blue were among the cheeses featured and there were some very appropriate bits and pieces as accompaniment, including a delicious apricot chutney. A very enjoyable lunch indeed!

* The Ambassador is just one venture of the McGettigan Group, one of the country's biggest hospitality businesses, set up more than 50 years ago.
Night, night

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Joup. Sisters Together.

Joup.
Sisters Together
Joup. John and Craig (right)
There is a little cafe near the city end of the Ballinlough Road called Joup. Its modest entrance hides a hive of activity, an Irish family business “big on passion when it comes to handmade food, our environment, and well being”. It is run by two entrepreneurial sisters: Richael is a full time mum with 3 kids and Odharnait has her own massage therapy business as well as the cafe. 

Craig Guiney is one of the enthusiastic chefs here and we met him for a coffee in the tiny restaurant. They also have a little outdoor area which, hopefully, will be getting plenty of use as the good weather comes.

Daily bread
 “Everything here is done fresh everyday. All the baking is done here - it is a warm place in the morning! We do our own sourdough, flatbread and so on. We are doing our own kimchi also.”


Richael: “The Joup menu is unique as it embraces our Irish food heritage. We believe you need to go no further than to our shore line to find the most nourishing super food - seaweed. We use seaweed throughout our salads and soups to provide natural nourishment and great taste.” 
Sweet Stuff, above and below
 Craig too loves the seaweed contribution. They even use it to make their Irish Hummus. It is gently pickled and mixed with carrot, a great base for vegetable sandwiches (as we would find out later).


Lifestyle dictates people’s food options nowadays and “we look after foodies and vegetarians”, he told me. “We do a great gluten free Lasagne where the there is no pasta, instead we substitute sweet potato”.


Joup has gone from an award winning university developed business to farmers’ markets to the English market to their own premises and now an online shop. In 10 years they have gone through tough economical times and come through the other side, which is testament to their hard work, loyal customers and good wholesome food.

And the farmers markets, especially Mahon and Midleton, still play a big role here as the chefs are regular visitors, buying good local produce for Joup. “Everything is local. If we can't get it locally, we don't use it, no messing.” And, as a result, everything is seasonal too.


 Richael again: “Our handmade soups and stews are naturally gluten free. we bake our own  in-house sourdough focaccia. And we are embracing local Irish food through our Irish style hummus, chowders, stews and colcannon”.


The website, joup.ie, is not only an online shop where you can purchase catering, a takeaway meal or lunch box delivery but also a resource, where Richael blogs about: all things delicious, healthy and handmade; her own recipes; life as a working mum; and how to keep kids eating healthy.


Rainbow

The proof of the pudding is in the eating of course and we left with two really big sandwiches from that day’s list. One was the Ploughman’s Sandwich:  Irish Mature Cheddar Cheese, House Relish and Piccalilli, all packed in Ciabatta. This was a superb combination, great bread, great contents including that lively relish and piccalilli.

The other was their Rainbow Salad Flatbread with Irish Style Hummus, Beetroot creme fraiche and piccalilli. That Flatbread was not hard, not soft either, just a lovely easy crunch and that hummus is ideal for sandwiches. Both sandwiches were easy to eat and prove that healthy sandwiches don’t have to be dull. And I'm quite certain that would have been the case with any of the others on the board that morning.
Merry Ploughman
So, if you're in the neighbourhood pop by and enjoy their sandwiches, homemade meals, salads, bakery and confectionary selection. Or give them a call for catering information and they can deliver. If that office meeting overruns, if your group can't quit a rehearsal, if you have a communion or confirmation group at home, or any occasion where good food is needed, then Joup, local and very good, is the place to contact.

Joup
Ballinlough Road
Cork
(021) 432 2626
Facebook: @joupcafe
Twitter: @joupcafe

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Deadly Dinner Deal at Electric Fish Bar


Deadly Dinner Deal at Electric Fish Bar
 Always partial to a good value Early Bird, especially if it’s in a favourite place such as the Electric Fish Bar on the South Mall. Spotted this one the other day and we were in that very evening for Two Fish Specials and Two Sides, thirty euro the lot, and available from 5.00pm to 6.30pm.

We had a choice of four specials to pick from, including Pan fried Cod fillet with smoked salmon and herb crust, saffron beurre blanc (normal price 13.00) and Whole White Sole with almond butter and parsley (1600). As it happened, the sole wasn't available and the sub was Sea Bass.

We selected and shared the other two. One was the Satay Prawns, spicy peanut sauce, chargrilled pak choi, mango and pepper salad (13.00). And the other was Salmon, Mussel and Hake Bouillabaisse, herb croutons, rouille and parmesan (15.00).

 The Prawns were fine, the pak choi a delicious crunchy addition. But the Bouillabaisse was the star of the show, full of flavour and texture. Salmon wasn't available but they added extra white fish and it went down a treat. 

Five sides to choose from, including sautéed green beans, crushed baby potatoes, and baked sweet potato. All tempting but we were very happy with our picks, the Electric Fries with aioli and especially with the Winter Greens with butternut squash and pomegranate.

Total for the two specials and two sides, just 30 euro. Their wine list is described as simple but its is quite extensive. The whites for example cover everything from a Bosco Pinot Grigio (25.00) to the more sophisticated Pouilly Fumé Vincent Vatan (40.00). A few are available by the glass and I enjoyed my Jean de Roche Sauvignon blanc at 7.30 a glass. This also comes by the carafe (18.30) and the bottle (28.00).
All in all, a very enjoyable early evening meal at a good price with friendly service and, as you are upstairs, an interesting view over the south channel of the River Lee, Trinity Church to the left, St Fin Barre’s to the right (and we won’t mention the government block in the middle). 

41 South Mall,
Cork City,
Ireland

Tel: 0214222990

Email: Book@ElectricCork.com

GPS Co-ordinates: 51.896204, -8.473414

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cork Indie Coffee Trail. A Guide by Dermot O’Sullivan

Cork Indie Coffee Trail
A Guide by Dermot O’Sullivan
So (seems to be the word to start with these days), you’re in Cork, looking for a cup of real coffee. You know there are some terrific indie cafés around the city. But do you know where they are? Where is ORSO? Where is Nectar Coffee?

Just mentioned this pair as they feature in the first page of the Indie Coffee Trail, a new guide (with directions) by local chef Dermot O’Sullivan, perhaps best known to many of you as @GasMarkSeven on Twitter. ORSO, by the way, is in Pembroke Street, close to the GPO while Nectar sits on the junction of Maylor Street and Parnell Place.

Dermot’s selection showcases “the best of what Cork city’s coffee scene has to offer”.  The cafés have added “another element to the cultural dimension of the city, forgotten buildings have been brought back to life… All the while, locals and visitors alike are becoming more knowledgeable and discerning with their coffee of choice”.

Other coffee haunts listed by Dermot included Dukes Coffeehouse, Filter Espresso & Brew Bar and its new little sister Portafilter, Union Grind, The Bookshelf, Idaho, Warren Allen, Alchemy, Cork Coffee Roasters (at two venues), Ali’s Kitchen, Rocket Man and Rocket Man East, Farmgate, Three Fools and Café Gusto (also two locations)

And there is a map of the city centre indicating where each can be found. A brief description of each café and the type of coffee available and also opening hours is included in the handy pocket sized booklet. And you are also told whether Wifi is available!

What are you waiting for? Hit the streets and discover Cork City’s coffee with Dermot’s help. You can get his guide in all tourist spots like tourist offices, hotels, most cafes listed, art galleries including UCC. Student centres too.

For further info, contact Dermot at CorkCoffeeTrail@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @gas_mark_seven. Check his blog www.gasmarkseven.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Salt Wine & Food on Victoria Road. A Winning Docket!

Salt Wine & Food on Victoria Road

A Winning Docket!

On the “vee" between Monahan Road and Victoria Road, there is an undistinguished low level building, close to a tool hire operation. It once housed a bookie’s office where you could lose your money on a nag without getting a run for it. At least nowadays, you’ll get value for your hard-earned cash as the modest building (maybe it looks better by day!) is now home to Salt, a wine bar and café with quite a distinguished menu of food and drink. I certainly felt like a winner as I left after a recent visit.
Tacos
It was a cold night and we were glad of the warm welcome inside. In no time at all we were seated and going through the evening menu of tapas (they also do breakfast and lunch, and brunch at weekends). The evening's specials were pointed out to us and they all looked tempting.

And speaking of temptation, the wine list is full of it, quite a selection of new and old world bottles and bubbles too. Some excellent gins too, Bertha’s Revenge and Dingle among them, and craft beers (both local, Eight Degrees, and imported, Brewdog). We settled on a glass each of the refreshing Real Compania Verdejo Tiera De Castilla (Spain) and of the aromatic Butterfly Ridge Riesling Gewurtz (South Australia), both very enjoyable indeed.

Watch out too for their occasional music nights (Flamenco during the Jazz Fest) and Wine Tasting Events (they included Italian and New Zealand nights last autumn) and they also held a Dine in the Dark Night. So lots happening here on the Victoria Road.


Coco Catalan
We ordered three different tapas to share. Now, as in most Irish cafes and restaurants, these are the bigger tapas (known as Racions in Spain), not the small ones that you devour with a bite or two. The three dishes, all excellent, and the two glasses of wine came to a few cent over forty euro.

We found each enjoyable but my top one was the Coco Catalan: Roast butternut squash and onion, confit garlic, nuts (can vary), raisins and pecorino on a lovely flat bread. This looked great and tasted every bit as good, quite a substantial dish too, bigger than your average starter.

CL was delighted with the Crispy Fish Tacos, cod served with fresh tacos, kimchi slaw, mango salsa, guacamole. She loved the colour, the texture, the flavours. Just goes to show, we don't always agree! Though I gave the nod to the Coco Catalan, I too was very happy with my half (well, almost half) of the Tacos!

We always enjoy Spanish tarts so the Tortilla del Sol was on our order. This Spanish omelette cooked with roast potatoes, confit onions, Espelette pimentos and garlic served with avocado, was served in four large pieces, ideal for sharing as indeed were all three tapas that we had. Ideally, a group of three or four is required here and then you can taste quite a few, including specials such as the three that were on offer the other night (see pic).

Service was top notch, friendly, chatty, helpful.

Mini Burgers. Pic by Salt
Salt
Victoria Road, Cork
Phone: (021) 239 0430
website: www.saltcork.ie 
Facebook: @saltcork
Twitter @saltcork

Opening Times (seasonal)
Mon-Tue 9.00-5.00
Wed-Fri 9.00-11.00
Sat 10.00-11.00
Sun 10.00-5.00

Directions here 


Monday, January 2, 2017

Best Hotel Dining Rooms 2016

2106: Best Hotel Dining Rooms 2016
Duck at Bellini's

Bellini's, Marlborough Hotel, Cork City
Scallops at Cahernane

Herbert Room, Cahernane House Hotel, Killarney
Baked Alaska (for table!) at Samphire

Samphire, Garryvoe Hotel, East Cork
Steak in The Pembroke

The Pembroke, Imperial Hotel, Cork City

2016 Reviews - see also
Cafes by the side of the road.
Best Places to Stay
Meals with a difference

Best Steaks & 3 Best non-Cork Restaurants 2016

2016: Best Places to Stay

Best Places to Stay 2016

Stayed in quite a few places this year. From Kerry to Meath, from Donegal to Dublin, from Limerick to Waterford,  from West Cork to Wexford. These were the best. Suggestions for 2017 welcome! 

 Screebe House, Connemara

Killiane Castle, Co. Wexford
Anyone for croquet at Killiane?

Cahernane House Hotel, Killarney.
Cahernane
Cork Recommendations
East Cork
Garryvoe Hotel, East Cork
Samphire Restaurant, Garryvoe Hotel
West Cork
 Celtic Ross Hotel, West Cork
Warren Beach, Rosscarbery


2016 Reviews - see also
Cafes by the side of the road.
Best Hotel Dining Rooms
Meals with a difference

Best Steaks & 3 Best non-Cork Restaurants 2016