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Electric Start to Beery Good Night Fish Bar Specials
Mackerel, Bisque and Plaice
You’ve got to hand it to the team at Electric. They got a great idea when deciding to turn the upstairs outside deck into an indoor fish bar. It’s one thing getting the spark but another thing altogether to turn it into a working reality. But that’s just what has happened here. It makes for a lovely visit every single time and I certainly enjoyed my hour or two here last Friday evening.
The menu keeps changing but the cooking and presentation is always good, often excellent, and you just got to love the informal service, smiles, chats and effortlessly efficiency. We sipped a gorgeous José Pariente Reuda Verdejo (used to be the house wine at El Bulli’s) as we studied the specials list.
We each started with a bowl of Lobster Bisque, served with rouille croutons. The bisque was of excellent quality, full of flavours and quite warming on a rather cool evening. By the way, the Fish Bar, despite all those riverside windows, is obviously well insulated (as you’d expect from the Electric team!) and was comfortably warm on the night.
Next we had three dishes to share, each at nine euro. Two were from the specials list: Steamed Mussels (with beer, chilli and lemongrass) and Tandoori marinated plaice fillets (with cucumber, tomato and mint raita). The third, from the regular list, was: Smoked Mackerel and Cherry Tomato Gratin (with Hegarty’s Cheddar, scallions, panko crumb).
Mussels are mussels, some will say, but this was a different treatment. Not that different but the sauce was enough to give a lovely little spicy lift, so much so that it was finished off with the spoon provided! There was some suggestion that the mackerel dish was a little on the salty side but it didn’t bother me as I loved both the textures and the flavours.
There was agreement about the Tandoori plaice fillets, all happy with this delicate and delicious plateful. The mild spice enhanced the fish and indeed, the raita, though excellent, was hardly needed.
At the counter of the Rising Sons
So it was a couple of happy punters that stepped out onto the Mall on the way to checking out some craft beer. First stop was the busy Rising Sons Brewpubon the Coal Quay. I’m afraid to say the average age jumped a fair bit when we entered the big lively space. We got a seat at the counter and ordered a tasting tray each, three small glasses of different beers for four euro.
They have a huge range of craft beers, and others, on draught, but I was interested in their own brews. The three that I got, from the six they produce a few feet away, were their seasonal Porter, the Steeple Hemp amber ale and the Mi Daza stout. The lady serving us gave us lots of helpful information on the beers.
Must say that I'm a fan of the Mi Daza which I’ve tasted in its various forms over the last year or two. Basically, it is a creamy old style Cork stout, “brewed with a traditional rich roasted flavour and hints of dark chocolate, imparted by a four malt extract and thrice hopped, leading to a unique taste and drinking experience”. One to stick with.
The just released seasonal Porter was our first sip and it went down well. It is somewhat lighter in body and flavour compared to the stout but a very pleasant drink indeed. The Steeple Hemp amber ale more or less ambushed the palate with the first sup. “Lots of hops” the lady said and she was right. It’s got a big body too and should be great with food. By the way, the palate soon got used to the hops.
Must go back soon and try their other beers, especially that Handsum IPA. Wonder does it live up to its name?
The Brewery Mezzanine at the Cotton Ball
Lots of good ale around nowadays and one of my favourites is the Kerry Lane Pale Ale available on draught at the Cotton Ball, our final halt of the evening. Started off here with their seasonal, the Indian Summer, which has enjoyed a long run this year. But I finished with the Kerry Lane and the pint just confirmed my already high opinion.
Actually, wouldn't it be great to see a tasting of the Kerry Lane, the Handsum and the Franciscan Well’s Chieftain in the one place? Are they all on tap in any one pub?
Congratulations to Electric on the South Mall who celebrated the first birthday of their upstairs Fish Bar with quite a party last Wednesday night. Great too to meet and have a chat with Denis O’Mullane and Ernest Cantillon, the men behind the Electric enterprise. Neither seems to know where the past 12 months vanished to, but then they've been working hard!
Cork’s foodies were out in force to help celebrate the event and restaurant manager Triona Hennessy was on hand to ensure it all went well. She needn't have worried, as the happy guests were treated to some of the most popular dishes from the past year including Scallop & Cod Burgers, Thai Monkfish and Fresh Oysters.
Must say that the Burger, with its fabulous flavours plus the gorgeous texture of that Brioche bun (made on the premises), is a winner for sure and I enjoyed every tasty bit of that one. CL meanwhile was tucking into the Pan Fried Hake with Chickpea, Tomato and Spinach Ragout and Crispy Chorizo, another cracking dish.
We enjoyed the sunny view over the Lee as we started with a medley of Oysters, Seared Tuna and Salmon Gravadlax. Delicious and so too was Fiona Turner’s Tinpot Hut Pinot Gris that accompanied us for the evening. Nice touch too at the end with a dessert plate that surprised and included a Fruit Sushi, Pineapple Melty Bits and meltingly gorgeous truffles. Yes, indeed, Electric know how to celebrate!
Speaking about the success of the Fish Bar's first year, Ernest said: "The FishBar at Electric is extremely popular. We pride ourselves on being innovative and providing the highest quality fish dishes to our customers. We are lucky in Cork that we have access to such a plentiful supply of locally sourced fresh seafood, so we like to make the most of it. To celebrate our first birthday we wanted to treat our guests to some of our favourite and most popular dishes over the past year and judging by the empty plates it went down well.”
In the last 12 months, this Mediterranean inspired FishBar has gone from strength to strength, creating a fresh buzz in Cork City, and open each week from Wednesday to Saturday (5.00pm till late). No need to book - reservations are not taken - just walk in and enjoy.
From the large windows on Electric’s New Fish Bar, you see three of Cork’s quays: French’s Quay (named after a wine merchant), Sullivan’s Quay (where our government built ugly) and George’s Quay (from where this story comes).
Back in the last century, before the swinging sixties, a young girl from Evergreen Street skipped down Nicholas Hill and Dunbar Street to the riverside steps to collect sardines for her grandmother from the fishermen in their rowing boats. She took them back up, wrapped in a few pages of the Echo, where granny fried them and then ate them, bones and all.
That story came up after Friday’s visit to that splendid new upstairs fish bar, bright and informal with those riverside views. Might have had ordered the sardines on the menu had we thought of it earlier but, as it was, we were delighted with what we had and the lovely welcome and service.
CL, the little girl in the opening story, started off with a gorgeous Gravadlax, a superb vodka and dill cured salmon with marinated beetroot and cucumber pickle. This was from the regular menu as was my opener: Dressed Crab and Shrimp (that comes in a pot), served with lemon, chilli and a basil and olive oil infused sourdough.
We were sitting at the bar by the window and there is also one around the kitchen. Don’t like sitting up at bars? Don’t worry as there are quite a lot of tables here as well. As we ate, eyes were kind of hopping from one’s own dish to the other’s. Eventually, halfway through, a swap was arranged. Two different yet lovely dishes.
And the same sharing arrangement continued when the main courses arrived. Again also the same simplicity on the plate, mainly the fish. If you want a little more, you have the option of ordering from a little list of sides.
Back to the fish. CL had (should say started) with the popular special: Whole Pink Bream with roasted Lemon and Fennell, a delicious reminder of seaside eating in Portugal (which Electric quote as an inspiration for the Fish Bar). My pick was also delicious and also fresh. This was the Pan Fried Cod served with chilli jam and Asian Slaw.
And, yes, they do have a dessert menu. No fish on this list but there was a trace of seaweed in the one we shared: Lemon and Carrageen Moss Posset with Raspberries. And that was polished off before two happy customers walked out into the South Mall sunshine. Oh, forgot to mention (almost) that our bill was accompanied by two colourful postcards, one printed with the Fish you were here (above).
Fish Bar opening hours: Thursday - Friday – Saturday 12pm Midday to 10pm;also open Bank Holiday Sundays.