Showing posts with label Food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Food. Show all posts

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Jacques. Toujours.

Jacques. Toujours.

I can never quite understand the rush of press critics to new restaurants. Some of them are hardly open a wet week and are winning awards. No doubt quite a few are well founded and will last the pace. Like twenty years. Thirty years. Maybe like forty years that the renowned reliable Jacques is now approaching. 

We called there last week and, well, it is as good as ever, maybe even better. The food is top class as is the service. Jacques were one of the first to recognise and support local producers and you know quite a few of them, including craft drink beer brewers and gin distillers, and so on. Have to admit we were on the wine though, a delicious pair at that, a cracking Albarino and a gorgeous Muscadet (biodynamique).

The Barry sisters may be approaching that big anniversary but their menu is innovative, not the least bit old stuff. Sure you can have your steaks and black-puddings and so on but it is the way they vary the dishes, the differing accompaniments, that keep the customers coming back time after time.

For instance, in July, your hake  will come pan fried, with lemon butter, crispy capers, parsley, Ballycotton queens and greens. The other night, a cold one, we enjoyed Fresh Hake, Seaweed, Fennel, Lemon Butter, Crispy Capers, Buttered Cabbage and Beans, Champ (23.90). A superb dish. Variety is the spice of life.
East meets ouest

That was CL’s main dish and speaking of spice, she had Smoked Morrocan Quail,  Spiced Couscous, Apricot, Harissa (11.90) as a starter. Another brilliant combination, bang on up to date with the evolving local cuisine. Don't think you'd have got that here in the early 80s!

And that exciting mix that has come to our plates over the past twenty years or so was very much in evidence in my starter: Asian Miso Seafood Bisque, noodles, vegetables (9.50). An accomplished and warming dish with hints of Asia and the Med, expertly cooked and presented, perfect for the cold.

And that high standard was maintained with my main dish: Fresh West Cork Scallops, Winter Remoulade, Celeriac Puree, Crispy Pancetta, Potato Rosti and a Tomato Relish 26.90. Scallops and Pancetta are a terrific duo but all the other elements played a role too. I took my time with that one and absolutely enjoyed it.

Still room for dessert and this time we broke out and had one each, sharing of course! The Oranges, Mascarpone stuffed Medjool Dates, Almonds, Pomegranate (7.50) were excellent but the winner, on points, was their Tiramisu - The Classic (7.50).

So best of luck to all the new restaurants and cafes that have opened up in the last few months - there are some excellent ones around town - but every now and then it doesn't do any harm to blow the trumpet for the old reliables who have worked their way through recessions and booms and who still come up trumps.

23 Oliver Plunket Street

Monday, February 19, 2018

Outstanding Gourmet Night. Thanks to Barnabrow Chef Bowes

Outstanding Gourmet Night.
Thanks to Barnabrow Chef Bowes

Blood Orange and Burrata

The Barnabrow Gourmet Evening is becoming a must-have ticket. Head Chef Stuart Bowes, with the aid of sous chef Adrian Kaszynski and team,  put on a top class multi-course meal last Saturday evening, highlight following highlight, and each course well paired by Donie O’Brien of Eno Wines.

Stuart has been at the lovely 30 acre estate for the past six years. “It is a happy working relationship,” says owner Geraldine Kidd as she celebrates 21 years in business here. “One of friendship as well. Stuart is a very patient person with a passion for food and makes so much of his own stuff here. He and Adrian are a well-oiled machine.”

The big restaurant, with its church style windows, was packed for the occasion and, after a reception with Canapés and organic Cava, we were led to our seats and soon began with an amazing dish: Ballyhoura Wild Mushrooms, Ardsallagh Goats Cheese Polenta, Crispy Hens Egg, Pangrattato. Just a big “wow” all round and even better when sipping the Pa Road Pinot Noir from Marlborough. The owners are friends of Donie’s, friends worth keeping as this wine is an excellent rich, ripe and elegant. Fresh and enlivening and with woodland aromas, it certainly did the business with the mushrooms.
Crispy egg and mushrooms

A good standard had been set and would be maintained all through. Indeed, the next course was one of my favourites. The Lobster Agnolotti, White Cabbage, Cognac, was innovative and delightful, the soft texture of the pasta, the crunch of the cabbage, the flavour of the lobsters and the pairing with the Chatelain Sancerre all added up to a sensational experience. 

While Donie might rave about New Zealand Pinot Noir, when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc he cheers for the Loire. “This is Sauvignon Blanc at its best. Sauvignon is now produced all over the world but they never match the Loire.” The Chatelain, with is summer meadow aromas, its citrus fruit and mineral character, is a beauty.
Lobster Agnolotti, white cabbage

Time now for the big red and the Cuvée Raphael, Chateau Parenchere, Bordeaux 2013, was just the job with Roast Squab Pigeon, Smoked Potato, Celeriac Gratin, White Dandelion. This fifty fifty Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon is “one of the classics” said Donie. Very concentrated, smooth, full-bodied, mellow and rich with autumnal red fruits and excellent with the game dish and its accompaniments. Another well thought out plate and yet another well-executed.

And there was yet another beauty on the way, this the Toonsbridge Burrata, Blood orange, Corinader Seed, Lavosh. The occasion gives Stuart the opportunity to get some “unusual ingredients” and the blood oranges were one example. He didn't have to go to Sicily for the Burrata. That was made in Toonsbridge just 24 hours earlier. The superb Lavosh was made right here in Barnabrow. What a fantastic combination, another of my favourite courses (truth to tell, I liked them all). 

Must say chocolate pairs well with me! And so I was delighted to see Hot Valrhona Chocolate Mousse, Blackberry, Vanilla Ice-cream, Pain d’Epices appear in front of me. The ice-cream was “hidden” under the warm chocolate and the contrast in flavour and texture and temperature was a pleasant ambush! Delighted with dessert.

At this stage too we were enjoying sipping our Chateau Caillou Grand Cru Classé Sauternes 2007. Grand Cru Classé means it is one of the very best, very sweet on its own but, with rich desserts, it displays amazing richness and power yet has acidity enough. Donie filled us in: “They practice low yield, so the fruit is concentrated; it is rich and powerful and the flavour lingers.” Enjoyed that too.

We weren't quite finished yet as the Petit Fours appeared, some chocolate truffles and old fashioned delightful jellies.  A lovely end to an evening of gourmet pleasure.

I was a guest at Geraldine Kidd’s Barnabrow which is a superb location for weddings (the majestic, medieval-style banqueting hall, with its gothic windows, sets a grand, yet relaxed tone), for corporate events, for celebrations of all kinds (birthday parties, christenings, naming ceremonies, and Christmas parties), rooms and holiday cottages too and, don't forget, for Sunday lunch. Check it all out here.


Cava & Canapés (Pares Balta Cava)

Ballyhoura Wild Mushrooms, Ardsallagh Goats Cheese Polenta, Crispy Hens Egg, Pangrattato
(Pa Road Pinot Noir, New Zealand 2014)

Lobster Agnolotti, White Cabbage, Cognac
(Chatelain Sancerre, Loire 2016)

Roast Squab Pigeon, Smoked Potato, Celeriac Gratin, White Dandelion
(Cuvée Raphael, Chateau Parenchere, Bordeaux 2013)

Toonsbridge Burrata, Blood orange, Corinader Seed, Lavosh

Hot Valrhona Chocolate Mousse, Blackerry, Vanilla ice-cream, Pain d’Epices

Bewley’s Coffee, Barry’s Tea, and Petit Fours.

Dessert wine was Chateau Caillou Sauternes 2007

Head Chef: Stuart Bowes. Sous Chef: Adrian Kaszynski. Wines: Donie O’Brien of Eno Wines.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Good food. Good Wine. And Two Amigos. Equals A Fun Experience in the Maryborough

Good food. Good Wine. And Two Amigos.

Add Up To A Fun Experience in the Maryborough

The Maryborough Hotel held their first ever wine dinner this week and it was a resounding sold-out success. Stanley A. Moss, representing the Riojan winery Luis Cañas, set the tone early on, promising to “be fun, not geeky” and fellow presenter John Wilson, the Irish Times wine writer, had no problem in making it a double act. The duo went to successfully impart plenty of information on the various wines without tying us up in technical knots.

Towards the end, John described the experience as “one of the bargains of the century!”, referring to the brilliant wines and the excellent food, and that was the cue for a round of applause for the Maryborough’s outstanding chef Gemma Murphy, with thanks too of course to Luis Cañas from Rioja Alavesa.

We were warmly welcomed at a lovely reception. Cava was on offer, a drink that John Wilson says is getting better and better, “different, distinctive”. The same words could well be attached to the Kalak vodka, produced by Tipperary man Patrick Shelley, “a rare single malt Irish vodka, distilled four times in Skibbereen” and available at the reception in a lovely cocktail.
Verdejo is one of my favourites white wine grapes and so I was delighted to see the Val de Vid 2016 paired with Scallops, Mandarin salsa and Yuzu Foam. Stanley said this aromatic and flavourful wine comes from Rueda and the production, from old vineyards, is small. It is difficult to obtain in Ireland and only available in restaurants.

John remarked that he thinks of it as the “Spanish Sauvignon blanc, with citrus, green fruits and dry like a New Zealand Sauvignon blanc.” He remarked that there are some cheap Verdejos out there and advised paying “a bit more to get the quality”. Tasty, aromatic and satiny and it got us off to a great start at the table.

We were now on to Cod, compressed cucumber, radish, shimeji, wakame, dashi, matcha green tea. More Verdejo? No, the reds were introduced, a lightly oaked elegant Crianza 2014, fruity on the nose and palate with a lively acidity playing a key role. John Wilson said that Rioja wines come ready to drink because of the ageing and classification system.  The pairing, by the way, was quite a success.
Beef Cheek Ravioli

Third course was Foie Gras, Crispy Chicken skin, Hazelnut and miso caramel and this was matched with the Luis Cañas Reserva 2011. John pointed out the main grape in Rioja is Tempranillo, “the Spanish variety”. Stanley said they do their best to produce good fruit. Sometimes that means cutting back on the yield and less grapes means more expensive wine. “But usually you get what you pay for.”

There was a double step up in class with the Gran Reserva being by-passed as we were treated to the Cañas Reserva La Familia 2011, a good year here in Rioja. With its pleasant and complex nose, round palate with great structure and juicy tannins, it was a super match with the Assiette of Ballinwillin Venison, perhaps the highlight of the meal.

And it paired well too with the next course, Beef Cheek Ravioli, kohlrabi, cured egg yolk and spilt red wine jus, 
This Familia is 85% Tempranillo with only the best of the grapes being selected to “magnify the good side”. It is a superb wine, intense and complex on the nose, “milkier, creamier on the palate”, powerful with chocolate notes (which came in handy as the dessert was Chocolate Pave with Cherry).

At that stage, some more “sweets” appeared as well, as did a Black Twist Cocktail. Black Twist, invented by Conor Coughlan, is a blend of coffee and whiskey and you may read more about it here.  

All good things come to an end but I have the strong impression that the Maryborough will soon have another wine dinner. Watch this space!

* For more info on the wines check on

Food & Wine Event February 13th 2018 Tasting Menu 
Scallops, mandarin salsa, yuzu foam. 
Foie Gras, crispy chicken skin, hazelnut, miso caramel. 
Cod, compressed cucumber, radish, shimeji, wakame, dashi & matcha green tea oil. 
Assiette of Ballinwillin Venison Beef cheek ravioli, kohlrabi, cured egg yolk, spilt red wine jus. 
Beef Cheek Ravioli, kohlrabi, cured egg yolk and spilt red wine jus
Chocolate pave with cherry.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Dynamic Duo At Dockland Cork

Dynamic Duo At Dockland Cork

Dynamic duo Harold Lynch and Beth Haughton are behind the new Dockland Restaurant on the very same site where their popular Club Brasserie stood up to a few short months ago. A hectic two month conversion process (= flat-out hard work!) saw a new, brighter, deli cum restaurant emerge to cater to the new lighter and healthier eating trend that has begun to emerge in recent years.

The welcome is as warm as ever. And don't worry! Lots of small bites but If you want your full dinner here, you’ll be in for a treat. Take your time as you make your way through the delicious starters, the array of main courses and the tempting desserts. 

We had missed out on the experience before Christmas but made it Lapps Quay the other night. And, yes, we were there for the dinner! Settled in and studied the menu, starting with the Bites to Bigger Bites. Something here to suit every pocket and taste, from a Bowl of Marinated Olives (3.00), to Baked Ardsallagh Goats Cheese, red peppers, chilli flakes dip, on toasted Arbutus Bread (5.00) to Baked King Prawns, garlic, chillies, olive oil, Arbutus sourdough (13.00).

My pick was the Ballyhoura Mushrooms crostini, cream, tarragon, parmesan truffle oil (5.00). Just love the texture and flavour of this little marvel. And CL’s starter was another gem: Roasted Aubergine, Toonsbridge Mozzarella, tomato fondue, parmesan and pesto (5.00).

There have a list of Pizzas as well but we concentrated on the Main Plates of which there was quite a choice. Mine was the Grilled Sumac Spiced Lamb steak (with tomato, herb cucumber salad, chargrilled vegetable couscous, spiced yogurt, and toasted almonds). What a lovely dish, a perfect balance of flavours and spice, tender and delicious, all for €18.00. 

CL considered the Fish of the Day but in the end went for the regular Baked Hake (22.00). The hake came with gremolata, parmesan crust, piperade, tomatoes, black olives , cream and basil. Lots going on there but the meticulous cooking of Harold Lynch and crew in the kitchen means every little detail was spot on, as was the case with the lamb, and the whole dish was a flavoursome treat.
Something Sweet was the next heading to be considered. CL picked the Yogurt, poached vanilla mint berries, muesli, honey, pumpkin seeds (6.30). This is a new addition to their morning, brunch, lunch and evening menu and perfectly described as “a little sweet healthiness”, which it certainly was. Mine was a little more indulgent but I enjoyed every little bit of the Rolled Meringue, lime vanilla cream, poached plums and toasted almonds (6.30).

The lunch menu is even more extensive and at all times you may spend as much or as little as you with. Drop in for a pair of the small bites and a glass of wine. Maybe just a pizza. If you don’t have time to linger, then join the queue at the Deli counter for take-out. By the way, even though there are 90 seats in the restaurant, you are advised to book, particularly at the weekend. 

Front-of-House is led, as was the case with Brasserie, by Beth. She and her crew make you feel welcome from the opening smile and they are efficient also. The bar is now part of the main restaurant and you may enjoy a favourite drink before you start, a gin and tonic perhaps, maybe a Negroni? Cheers.
“a little sweet healthiness”
City Quarter
Lapps Quay
T: 353 (0)21 427 3987

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Kinsale’s Engaging Lemon Leaf Café. Contender in this week's Burger Fest.

Kinsale’s Engaging Lemon Leaf Café  
Contender in this week's Burger Fest.

If you are in the Kinsale area and looking for great food in a relaxed atmosphere, serving local ingredients and the finest coffees, teas, breakfast, brunch, lunch and baked desserts, then the Lemon Leaf Café on the Main Street, just three minutes from the big central car park, is the place for you.

You’ll get a big welcome from Tracy Keoghan and from her staff. Tracy has owned and operated the Lemon Leaf since 2010. There are two big rooms here although many customers gravitate towards the glass roofed one, so bright and airy. And when the weather improves a bit, there is an outdoor area too. If you are a regular here, you’ll know all about their Loyalty Card.

A new menu is on the cards from Chef Gavin by the end of January but you can be sure that some old favourites will still be there. The Lemon Leaf had a series of Supper Nights in the run up to Christmas and so successful were these that another is planned for February 17th. Like the others, it will be a single theme (not Valentine’s, I’m told). It will be a set menu, cooked up for you by Claire O’Brien, well-known from her market stall.

The Lemon Leaf is an engaging café, always up to taking part in local promotions. For instance, they are one of Ruth Healy’s Cork Character Cafés (@cuisinecork on Twitter) that, during the past year, highlighted some typical Cork foods, such as Milleens Cheese (April) and Cork’s Summer Bounty (July).

And Tracy has also entered the Lemon Leaf into the national Burger Festival and the entry was on the board when we called so that was my choice for lunch! My Viking Beef Burger was topped with bacon, Jalapeños,  Carrigaline Oak Cheese, Baby Gem, Mayo, Avocado, and Tomato, all in a Kaiser Bun served with hand-cut chips. A big one and a very good one. Will surely be a contender!

We had actually started by sharing another dish from the specials board: Flash-fried home-made Falafel on a bed of mixed leaves, pickled cucumber, grated carrot, pomegranate, and poppy seed yogurt. Hummus too. A delicious warming taste of the East on a cold wet day in Kinsale!

CL went for one of regulars on the menu, a regular that most likely to be on the new menu as well. This was the Warm (we were all looking for heat on the day) Spicy Chicken Wrap: Cajun chicken, roasted red peppers, pickled cucumbers, tomatoes & sweet chilli mayo dip, served with organic mixed leaves. Another delicious dish from the Lemon Leaf kitchen, another happy visitor.

And happier again after a shared dessert, a delicious apple crumble, and a large coffee. They do all the coffee styles here and lots of teas too including green and herbal. 

Breakfast is 8.30am to 11.30am and you may have anything from Porridge (power porridge, that is) to scrambled eggs to Eggs Benedict. How about Eggs Royale? Two eggs, Ummera smoked salmon on Focaccia with a zesty Hollandaise sauce.Light bites and pastries too, including Sausage Rolls with black pudding. You’ll be set up nicely for the morning! By the way, Breakfast or lunch, you’ll find many vegetarian, gluten & dairy free options in this lovely bright café in the heart of Kinsale.

Lemon Leaf Café
70 Main Street,
Kinsale, County Cork, 
Ireland, P17 PN28
Tel: +353 (0)21 470 9792
Open Hours:
8:30a-4:30p Monday to Friday
8:30a-6:00p Weekends

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Miyazaki. Special Every Time

Miyazaki. Special Every Time

Buta Yanagawa Don
It was a cold and wet Tuesday and crossing the city at rush-hour wasn't appealing. But there was ample reward at the end, picked from the Specials Board of Miyazaki. And to make it even better, we managed to get two of the famous six high-stools with a view of the rain-drops on the window and the remnants of rush-hour traffic outside.

That specials board keeps changing. Had I been in before Christmas, I might well have had Salmon Zuke Don, maybe Kisu Ten Don (fried whiting). Though I do think I would have started with the Bora Aria with Karashi Susimo (Grey mullet).
Looking out the window
 at remnants of rush-hour

Tuesday's menu though was every bit as inviting. There is always the usual addition, on a separate board (watch out for it!), of Hot Soup Noodle (Soba or Udon) Dishes, all eat-in only. One, for example, is Beef Soba or Udon (thin beef dashi in warm broth with garnish).

My pick from the Specials was the very top one: Buta Yanagawa Don, thinly sliced pork belly with dashi broth, burdock, onion, shimeji mushrooms, simmered with egg and nori (14.50). A large bowl of deliciousness, a superb mix of flavours and textures, the oh so thinly spread egg, the pork, the greens, the little mushrooms and, of course, the broth. Not bothering too much with the view outside as I concentrated on that.

Ebi Curry Udon

And, to my left, CL, who had been reading all about Takashi Miyazaki in the current Food & Wine magazine, was now totally engaged with her Ebi Curry Udon (Udon noodles in Japanese curry,  with prawn tempura, age tofu, ginger and sesame, also 14.50). She loves those plumb noodles and the dish was further enhanced with a little side bowl of pickled ginger while the heat in the curry was perfect for a girl that grew up nearby when this premises bore the name Yangtze River and was indeed a very popular venue for southsiders making their way home.

We could see a few customers gathering in the small space, some for takeaway, some waiting for a stool. So we moved on, but not before buying a box of the sushi. “Just a simple one,” our friendly server said. I think it may have been the last one also.

So we paid up and walked out into the cool night, the rain had stopped, and took the opportunity to check the location of Bau Boi (another soutside raid in the planning), picked up the car and headed home
The sushi immediately attracted the attention of the dog but, determined as he was, he would have to do without on this occasion. It may well have been a basic Miyazaki but it was well ahead of any other we’ve tried locally, outstanding flavour; ginger, wasabi and soya sauce were all included with the six rolls, all for a tenner. 

We took our time with that and a bottle of Lustau Puerto Fino, a Fino sherry aged  on the Atlantic Coast of southern Spain in a town called  El Puerto de Santa Maria, bought in Bradley’s (Cork) and just the job for sushi!

1A Evergreen Street
(021) 431 2716
Hours: Tue-Sun 1.00pm to 3.30pm; 5.00pm to 9.00pm. Mon - closed.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Five star grub in a roadside pub. The Tavern, Murrisk.

Five star grub in a roadside pub
The Tavern, Murrisk.
Amazing game pie

It had been a sunny day in Mayo but an autumnal cold had settled in by the time we arrived at The Tavern in Murrisk for evening dinner. We had been looking forward to the special menu, matching local foods with the fabulous Mescan Belgian style beers from a working farm on the nearby slopes of Croagh Patrick. We would not be disappointed. Far from it!

After a chat with host Pat Kelly, we began to study the menu. The Warm Silverhill Duck and Smoked Bacon Salad looked tempting as did their Award Winning Atlantic Seafood Chowder. But we each went for the Tavern Wild Atlantic Way Tasting Board.

This consisted of Cleggan scallops with Kelly’s Gluten free black pudding, bacon dust, rosette of Connemara Smoked Salmon, with Velvet Cloud Yogurt and home pickles, Galway Farm Goats cheese bon bons and homemade quince jelly. You couldn't get much more local than that and you'd travel a long way to get something better. Five star grub in a roadside pub. All washed down with the recommended Mescan beers, the Blonde and the White. A match made in Westport.

On then to the main event. The menu offered Fillet of Angus Steak, an offer hard to resist but resist we did on this occasion. CL went for the Trio of West Coast Pan Fried Seafood: Clare Island salmon, parma ham wrapped monkfish, fresh hake with lemon and dill butter, chive mash and mixed leaf salad. 

That piece of salmon alone would have made someone a fine dinner as would the monkfish. Quantity but more importantly quality. And the small things were well taken care also. The dressing with the salad was one of the very best we’ve come across. And to cap it all, the Mescan Saison was a perfect match.
Trio of fish

I had been looking forward to the Game Pie since I first saw the list. The mega mix included rabbit, pheasant and venison with a horseradish and cheddar mash and the pie was surrounded by a tonne of roasted root vegetables. And then there was a bottle of Westporter Stout to help it down. A memorable meal.

We should have had stopped then! But, easily persuaded, we shared a selection of desserts, with the Mescan Kriek: Sticky Toffee Pudding, the Tavern’s Homemade Brown Bread and Bailey's Ice-cream and, the star of the trio, Pauline’s Fruit Crumble with Irish Mist Anglaise. Before that, we had enjoyed a wee chat with busy Head Chef Pauline McGovern

Quite a meal then, one that necessitated a walk in the cool, calm evening air before we called the taxi to return us to Westport and the lovely Clew Bay Hotel. And, by the way, if you in the Westport area and looking for a reliable friendly taxi-driver then try Conor at 087-2413722.

The Tavern Bar & Restaurant
Carrowkeeran, Westport, Co. Mayo.
Tel: 098 64060
Twitter: @TavernMurrisk 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Skipper’s Next Port? Bon Voyage

The Skipper’s Next Port? 
Bon Voyage
Seafood Gratin

For the last eight years or so, The Skipper restaurant has been moored at Ventry, overlooking the nearby Atlantic Ocean. And fish from that ocean, delightfully cooked, has drawn customers here from near and far. 

But, aside from one or two farewell parties, dinner on September 30th may well prove to be the final fling for The Skipper, at least in this location. If a move is a must, and it looks like it, then owner-chef Paddy Chauvet, better known as Paddy The Irishman, may well turn up somewhere else on the peninsula, though Dingle town itself doesn't seem to be in the running.

But there were no tears, out-front at least, last Saturday night week, lots of humour among the front-of-house if anything. And the blackboard was, as always, in use. The pier is only 100 metres away and so the menu is subject to frequent change. If you're a meat-eater, you'll be catered for - Boeuf Bourguignon was on the menu. And there was even a Vegetarian Dish of the Day.

The wine-list seemed a bit run-down, there were red marks indicating “all gone” but there was still enough on the exclusively French list to satisfy most tastes. As it happened, I left the wine and picked a local beer, the delicious Beal Bán from the West Kerry Brewery which is less than three miles away.

The use of fruit pieces in the salads was a bit unexpected, CL first to be surprised when she started her Smoked Salmon Salad. It was excellent, the fish perfect, the leaves fresh as can be and nicely dressed and the melon and grapes provided an extra dimension.

The wind was blowing hard outside and my Seafood Bisque starter was nicely warm and full of flavour, and wouldn’t have been out of place on a seafront café in Marseilles.
Ray wing

Service was excellent here, casual but efficient, and always a chat or a joke and soon the mains were arriving. I picked the Ray Wing, not usually found on Irish menus.  It came with a caper cream sauce and rustic potatoes, leaves and fruit pieces of course. Quite enjoyable and, like most dishes here, well priced too.

CL's pick was the Seafood Gratin, a rather pedestrian name for what turned out to be a lovely dish. The gratin was presented in two large scallop shells with rustic potatoes, leaves and fruit pieces. All the leaves by the way were as fresh as could be and well dressed.

And there was fruit too in the dessert but different! We were unlucky that the French Apple Tart was off so shared the Raspberry and Strawberry Fool. We wouldn’t go back especially for that but would certainly follow The Skipper around the peninsula for his superb savoury stuff. And more so, if they leave those back-breaking church seats behind! Bon Voyage, Skipper!

See Also:

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Out of the Blue. And only out of the blue!

Out of the Blue

And only out of the blue!

Out of the Blue, the restaurant with the colourful beach-hut style frontage on Dingle’s waterfront, is a fish restaurant. Nothing else. So, if there’s no fresh fish, there is no opening. They have a few sample menus on their tidy website but you won't know what is really on offer until you get there, indeed, they themselves profess not to know until the boats come in. So it is always something of a surprise, but never a let-down.

Do book in advance though especially when there is a festival in town. We were there last weekend and reserved a table for Friday night, the night that the Food Festival launched. You don't get a menu in your hand. A large blackboard is positioned on a nearby chair and you are given plenty of time to consider the long list, everything from mussels to lobster, from pollack to black sole. We made our choices as we sipped a glass of cool prosecco.
Curried plaice

If the outside looks like a hut, the inside is solid and comfortable, lots of paintings hanging there, including a lovely Currach by local artist Liam O'Neill. We had time to look around before the starters arrived.

Pan fried curried plaice fillet with mango salsa was CL’s choice. And mine was the Duo of home cured and smoked salmon with citrus dressing. Indeed, it was an agreed choice and we went half and half. Both were excellent, the salmon smooth and easy, the plaice enhanced by the mild curry treatment.

Jean Marie Vaireaux has been chef here for the past ten years - he has been in Dingle for much longer - and we noticed that was demoing his Scallops flambéed with Calvados on the following day. We didn't pick that as a mains as we thought we’d catch him at St Jame’s Church, the demo venue for the festival. But we got side-tracked by the Taste Trail!

Back to Out of the Blue and the mains, where there were many choices. Mine was the Char-grilled Halibut fillet with garlic butter. An excellent dish, superbly cooked and delivered to the table.

I enjoyed that and CL was very happy indeed with her Pan fried Plaice fillet with Ratatouille Provençal, another simple dish, superbly executed.

Oh, almost forgot, We have wine. The list is large enough to cover most tastes and the majority of the wines are European.  Not a great fan of Picpoul de Pinet but the Cave L’Ormarine Preambule from the Languedoc could change my mind! Crisp, smooth, fruity, and mouth-watering, it proved an excellent match all through.

Dessert? Tempted yes, but in the end settled on a share of the cheese offering that featured Gubbeen and Crozier Blue and we finished off with that and a glass of port. Delicious end to a lovely evening and then a short stroll back to the hotel.

See Also: