Showing posts with label Greene's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greene's. Show all posts

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Cork City by The Lee. Stay. Eat. Shop. See!

Cork City by The Lee. 
Stay. Eat. Shop. See!
Music city



The Firkin Crane in Shandon,
once the butter capital of the world
See: The Queen made it her number one stop in Cork so you’ve just got to see the English Market, an institution in the city since 1788. Nearby, you’ll see the spires of historic St Fin Barre’s Cathedral.

St Anne’s Church in Shandon is another landmark. Visit and don’t forget to ring the bells.  Cork was once the butter capital of the world and the Butter Museum is in the shadow of Shandon.

Staying north of the river, why not pay a call to the storied cells of the 
City GaolThe Glucksman is a lovely art gallery in the leafy grounds of the university while the well established Crawford Gallery is easily accessible in the city centre, next door to the Opera House. And don't forget Elizabeth Fort and the newly opened Nano Nagle PlaceAlways something interesting on at The Triskel, an arts venue in a converted church.
video

Shop: While in the English Market why not do a bit of shopping and check out local delicacies such as buttered eggs and spiced beef. The compact city centre boasts a few top notch shopping centres: Merchants Quay, Opera Lane and the new Capitol area. North Main Street has Bradley’s, founded in 1850, and famous for its wall of craft beers.

For a different experience head to 
Mahon Point Farmer’s Market every Thursday where you’ll find fantastic local cheese and meat and much more, including wild mushrooms, all within a few yards of the large shopping centre.
No shortage of farm to fork restaurants in Cork

Eat: No shortage of eating places including Greene's, JacquesLesGourmandises and Isaac's while lively lunchtime venues include the Farmgate and Nash 19Mad on meat? Try Son of a Bun, Holy Smoke, SpitJack, and many more. Exceptional Japanese at Miyazaki (just six stools though!) No meat? Then the amazing Cafe Paradiso is the one, Iyers is another. Idaho is the city centre cafe while coffee stops abound.  For a fuller list of restaurants and cafes, city and county, see my regularly updated list here. Also check the Whazon Cork listings.

A city of bridges
Drink: For something a little different try L’Atitude Wine Café close to the City Hall. The emphasis here is on quality wines and tasty local snacks with a continental touch. Electric, with its downstairs bar and upstairs fish bar, has taken the South Mall by storm since it opened in 2010.  SoHo and the Bodega are other modern bars with restaurants attached.

For something more traditional, including the music, there are quite a few with The Oliver Plunket being very central indeed.
And, if you prefer craft beers then the Franciscan Well on the North Mall is the place to go as they have a micro brewery right behind the counter. Other pubs with micro-breweries include Rising Sons (Cornmarket Street), Elbow Lane (Oliver Plunket Street, excellent food here also) and Cotton Ball (Mayfield).

Stay: With excellent food in the building and efficient and friendly service, the River Lee is a lovely place to stay in Cork. If you need something more central, the Clayton is for you. A short distance from the centre, you'll find the Ambassador and the Montenotte, each with great views over the city
Fitzgerald's Park

If you are caught for time, stay at the Metropole and explore the amazing McCurtain Street, its pubs, theatre, cafes and restaurants.

Something on the traditional side? Why not the Imperial where you’ll be wined and dined and never be short of company as the locals come and go. Like it leafy? Then the Hayfield Manor and the Maryborough near Douglas are recommended as is the Radisson in Little Island.

Making a quick getaway? The Cork International Airport Hotel is excellent. Heading north or west? Check the Commons Inn.

Walk: Cork is very compact and great for walks. Call to the tourist office and pick up the maps and info for some city centre strolls.

Like to try something more energetic? Then start at the 
North Mall and take a brisk riverside stroll through the Mardyke, into Fitzgerald’s Park, past the UCC Grounds and then onto the Lee Fields. Just remember you have to come back!

There is a very popular walk by the harbour starting at 
Blackrock Castle, another great place to visit with an excellent restaurant, the Castle Cafe. For something shorter but still interesting, do the circular walk around the Lough, a suburban lake full of swans and ducks and other wildfowl.

Ballycotton cliff walk, just east of the city
Get Out: No shortage of things to see and do on the eastern side of the city. Take a trip to Fota House and its famous gardens and arboretum. If you have kids, then the Fota Wildlife Park is at hand. Much to do in Cobh also, including a trip by boat to Spike Island, a former prison with history galore. 

Spike Island
To the south then and a highlight in Crosshaven is the coastal artillery fort of 
Camden with a wealth of history and great views. Another fort, this also being restored, is Charlesfort in Kinsale, a historic town rich in excellent eating places and with a must visit Wine Museum in Desmond Castle. Blarney is just north of the city. The castle, and its famous stone, is a busy spot. Eat at The Square Table.

Strike off to the west and take in the impressive ruins of the abbey at 
Timoleague . WestCork boasts magnificent beaches and good food producers whose products you may sample in restaurants such as the Pilgrim's (Rosscarbery),  Richy’s Bistro (Clonakilty), and Bastion (Kinsale).

For more detailed guides to the county, check out my East Cork and North Cork recommendations.

Jazz time
Listen: There is almost always a music festival on in Cork and surrounds and the big one is the Jazz, always on the final weekend of October. There is a Folk Festival at the end of September and film buffs are in town in force in November. Check them all out here.

The Choral festival dominates in the spring and summer sings with the Midsummer Festival, followed by the International Folk Dancing Festival. 
Music in the Marquee  is a big highlight. Night after summer night, the Marquee hosts top names. Bryan Adams, Cliff Richard and Elton John played this summer (2017).


Avoid: The usual big city security precautions apply. Avoid leaving anything visible in your car and so on. Not much else to avoid. Maybe the rainy days. But even those can be fun. Never know who you’ll find singing at the local bar, even on the street. It is a fun city. So enjoy!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Cask. Another Gem in McCurtain Street. Find out where the ugly strawberries go.

Cask. Another Gem in McCurtain Street
Find out where the ugly strawberries go
McCurtain Street has another new gorgeous drink and eat venue. It is called Cask, a brand new bar with a menu of very tasty bites indeed. The menu, in the care of renowned Greene's chef Bryan McCarthy, will change every eight weeks.

It is a new venture for Greene’s, at the other side of the arch, with its own entrance from the street. And it is not Greene’s lite by the way. While many of the same outstanding producers will feature in Cask, their produce will be in new “disguises”.

Blow-torched monkfish
 Take Skeaghanore Duck for instance, one of our dishes on Tuesday night. Skeaghanore Confit Duck, Smoked Sausage, Butter Bean, Sauerkraut, with Arbutus on the side, is reminiscent of a Cassoulet from the heart of France, a warming delight on a wintry night. 
The Cork Cassoulet
The hearty dish comes under the heading of A Little More and costs €12.90. You can start with Light, and progress to More or A Little More. There are Cheese and Charcuterie plates for sharing (perhaps!), Extras if want want to top up your More and you may finish with Sweet.


You may start wth a cocktail (or any drink of your choice) from the well stocked bar. Indeed you may pop in just for a drink. The cocktails are being described as seasonal so you can presume they'll be changing too. 


Hummus
I'm sure the Katty Barry (Gorse Flower infused Bombay, Woodruff, Irish Pears and Prosecco) will go down well. Watch out too for the Man of Arran (Connemara Peated Whiskey, Smoked Wakame Syrup, Cocchi Americano, and Grapefruit Oils); this was very well received at the recent Four Hands dinner in the main restaurant.

No shortage of wines either and our pick for the evening visit was Il Bucco, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, with its sweet dark fruits but well balanced and with a smooth finish.

Frangipane Tart
 So let us go back to the beginning, at the Lights. You can have various nibbles, including olives and almonds, but CL went for the Hummus, Medjoul dates, Fennel pollen and crispy toasts (looked a lot like a well-known local medieval loaf, with dates inserted here too). Excellent starter, and so was mine which was Gubbeen Hot Dog Slider, Cotton Ball Beer Mustard, Seaweed salad, balsamic onions. This dog had a good bite! Each “starter” cost €5.90.

Rings Farm free range chickens were among the items that featured on the More section, all of these costing 7.90. But, like CL, I resisted the temptation of the Chicken Lollipops and other temptations and moved up to A Little More and my pick here was superb.

Yuzu
While CL was on the Skeaghanore I was enjoying Blow-torched medallions of monkfish, tomato bean stew with chorizo, lemon and seaweed (14.50). Inspiration from a warmer clime, perfectly executed and well presented, to warm the bones on a chilly night.

We were on a roll now and up for dessert. A short list but we got two good ones! And also found out where the ugly strawberries go.

Well they may have been ugly when they went in but they were oh so beautiful in Cask. The Bushby’s Preserved Strawberry Frangipane Tart with a dollop of cream was just perfect. The berries are judged not good enough to be out on their own on a plate but certainly shine as part of this lovely dessert (5.50).

I had to beg for a couple of bites of that one but I had a good bartering bait in my Yuzu Cheesecake, again with cream and also 5.50. The fragrant Yuzu with its acidic citrus juice brought my very enjoyable evening, helped by a friendly and efficient staff, at Cask to a delicious end. Guess I'll have to go back for A Little More!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Four Hands, Five Stars, One Michelin.

Four Hands, Five Stars, One Michelin.
JP McMahon at Greene’s, Cork.
Beetroot, goat's cheese
The event was billed as a Four Hands Dinner, the talented mitts of visiting Michelin Star chef JP McMahon (Aniar, Galway) and his host Bryan McCarthy accounting for the four. But there were many other hands in this marvellous meitheal, quite a few of those in Greene’s kitchen.

And hands too of a big band of their fantastic suppliers also played a part, producers such as Kanturk’s Jack McCarthy, Galway’s Bia óisin, Ballyhoura Mushrooms and the Lismore Food Company. 

Celeriac
 And so too did Fionnuala Harkin who told us a little about the “local” winemakers (mainly organic) that her company Wines Direct works with. And through the wines, hands from Austria, France and Italy, all contributed.

The enjoyable evening started with an aromatic, flavourful and aptly named Man of Aran cocktail in Greene’s highly impressive new bar Cask. They serve small plates here from the main kitchen so that’s worth a visit on its own!

Halibut
 Soon, at the tables in the main restaurant, we had a couple of what Bryan terms snacks, one of Ham and Seaweed, the other of Beetroot, Goats Cheese, and Buckler Sorrel. Those little beauties, with a little help from the Domaine Séguinot Bordet Petit Chablis, started the ball rolling in some style.

And it kept rolling with a Harty Oyster served with Sea Beet and Dillisk. The sea, oh the sea. And another sip of Chablis.  The delicious palate cleanser of Anise Hyssop and Gorse (the posh name for furze bush!) had us ready for more.

Sorbet
The plates were getting marginally more substantial as the courses continued. A lovely combination of Celeriac, Mushroom and Hazelnut, next appeared and Fionnuala wisely switched to a red wine, Jean Paul Brun’s L’Ancien, a light and lovely Beaujolais. So many people underestimate the gorgeous Gamay grape - this bottle could change a mind or two.

Time now for the fish: Halibut, Sea Radish, Bacon, Pepper Dulse and Elf Cap. Lots of flavours here but the star, as you’d expect, was the immaculately cooked Halibut. And the wine pairing was the fresh and well textured Grüner Veltliner from Kamptal (Austria) by Steininger.

Duck
 A little flavoured-packed sorbet was next: Preserved Elderflower, Kilbrack Apple and Sorrel. 

That was followed by the Skeaghanore Duck with Parsnip, Scurvy Grass* and Ramsons. The Skeaghanore duck is widely available now and a terrific meat. But hard to beat the way it was cooked in Greene’s, tender and moist. And that parsnip was fabulous too, possibly the best rendition of that vegetable  I've ever come across. 


Cheese
 The wine, it kept coming, had by now switched back to red, to Domaine Didier Charavin, Lou Paris, Côtes du Rhône. “That should work well with both the duck and the cheese,” promised Fionnuala and she was correct, again!

The cheese was Young Buck and came with pear and raisin and superb crackers by Lismore.  Were we finished? Not at all. One more course, one more wine.

Dessert
The dessert featured Rhubarb from Richard’s Little Farm in Doneraile and the sweet and fresh wine with the usual Italian acidity, the Bera Moscato d’Asti, was the perfect match for the beautifully presented sweet. 

Cheers to JP and Bryan and to the many hands, including those of the many efficient and friendly servers, that contributed towards a memorable dinner. Same time next year?


* Scurvy-grass was extensively eaten in the past by sailors suffering from scurvy after returning from long voyages, as the leaves are rich in vitamin C, which cures this deficiency disease resulting from a lack of fresh vegetables in the diet. The leaves, which have a strong peppery taste similar to the related horseradish and watercress, are also sometimes used in salads.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Rhone Week Dinner at Greene’s. Wine, Dine, Talk

Rhone Week Dinner at Greene’s
Wine, Dine, Talk
Superb wine


The Rhone came to the Lee last Wednesday night, its two ambassadors, Bruno Boisson of Domaine Boisson and Simon Tyrrell of Les Deux Cols, introduced to the diners at Greene’s by none other than the Menu himself Joe McNamee. Top chef Bryan McCarthy ensured the food matched the excellent wines for the Rhone Wine Week Dinner.

Under gentle prodding from Joe, Bruno told us he is the owner of Domaine Boisson and that it has been in his family for 150 years. The little village of Cairanne is near better known villages such as Gigondas. He produces about 90,000 bottles a year, fifty per cent of which is sold in France. The Irish market is important to him. “It takes a lot, thanks to Tindal’s and their loyalty.”
Bruno, Joe, Simon

At 18 years of age, Bruno started Oenology school and later travelled to the Barossa in Australia. “It is important to see things “more global”, not just in a “tight” local view. While the family had been growing grapes for generations, it was only in the late 80s that Bruno’s father started bottling his own wines.

Cairanne “is becoming cru now. We are very proud of that and we remember the efforts of past generations”.

Simon’s trajectory was quite different to Bruno’s, his immersion in the wine business  happening “by chance”. In 1989 he was working in Willie’s Wine Bar in Paris, a bar that specialised in Rhone wines. The interest grew and grew. By 2009, he had a small negociant business but decided to go further. Back to college then in the UK and, after getting much advice, he began to buy grapes and, by 2012 was making his own wine. And, just now, he has bought his first vineyard, near St Nazaire.
Pork Belly

Simon explained that in the Northern Rhone, there is just one variety and that is Syrah. In the South, there is “more blending, less new wood.” “The wines are more generous, higher abv but they are balanced. There is something about Grenache based wines, lovely warm mouthfeel.” He reckons that they are very popular in Ireland because of our climate and gastronomy. “They have a roundness and warmth and nothing goes better with lamb.”

And what are the prospects for the current vintage? It has been getting a very good press, not just in France but in many neighbouring countries. Bruno revealed that friends of his are saying that the 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape will be “the best since the legendary 1990…. time will tell.” Both agreed that 2015 was a good year and Simon reckons that 2016 has even “more finesse, more acidity”  and “will be better than 2015!”
Venison

Not all good news though. Later, after dessert, Simon told us that the well-known Muscat De Beaumes De Venise was struggling with much unsold as demand is shrinking for sweet wines generally. The producers are switching to making dry wines but then find that people are confused, thinking that because it is Beaumes that it must be sweet! A rock and a hard place!

Oaky, let’s start at the beginning of the evening and a lovely welcoming cocktail: Kalak Vodka Martini, rocks, twist. Kalak is an Irish made premium vodka, one worth looking out for!
Dessert

Our first starter was Goatsbridge Trout and crab, cucumber, seaweed, squid ink, nasturtium, radish and this was accompanied by Vin de France ‘Les Terrasses’ 2015 by Chateau Pesquie, an organic blend of Viognier (70%), Roussane and Clairette. The 70% is significant as it is higher than the AOC rules allow and so the wine can only be sold as Vin de France. Demoted it may be but it’s a good one. 

Next up was the Pork belly, Black pudding, apple, celeriac, and cider and the wine here was Simon’s Cotes du Rhone ‘Cuvée D’Alize’ 2015 by Les Deux Cols. “My staple wine”,  he said, “named after a local wind and a blend of Grenache 60%, Syrah 30 and Cinsault (“the Pinot Noir of the South”). No oak here, just stainless steel. His idea was to make “a moreish wine”. Reckon he pulled it off!
Endangered?

After a refreshing Espuma, we were onto Wild Irish venison, artichoke, potato, onion, elderberry and Domaine Boisson’s Cairanne 2014. “It is important to understand the real place of wine is on the table with food,” said Bruno. “This was a little late but it has higher acidity so good for food. I don't want to get too technical, not too much cerebral. Just enjoy it.” We certainly did.

And Bruno had quite a family story for his next wine, the Massif D’Uchaux ‘Clos de la Brussiere’ 2011 from a disused vineyard that his grandfather bought in the local Cafe du Commerce (where you could buy virtually anything in the good old days). There was much rock picking to be done before the ground was cleared. “He picked rocks. We pick grapes.” The grapes are Grenache (60%) and Mourvedre (40). A gorgeous serious wine with bright fruit and spicy notes and quite a perfect match for Mike Thompson’s Young Buck cheese.
In the Southern Rhone

We finished with Chocolate Pecan Cremaux Tart, preserved cherry and pistachio and the Muscat Beaumes de Venise 2014 by Chateau Pesquie, a very good example, sweet yes but with the acidity retained.

Simon summed it all up: “A very diverse valley with a very diverse range of wines.” And he made a plea to please drink the odd glass of Beaumes de Venise at the end of your meals!
Harvest in Cairanne

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Greene’s Lunch. Three Great Courses. Two Tell-tale Candles!

Greene’s Lunch.
Three Great Courses. Two Tell-tale Candles!

Looking for a lunch that will please both the stomach and the wallet? Stop under the waterfall and call to Greene’s in McCurtain Street. 

That’s what I did last Sunday for a birthday treat. Well, it had been arranged well in advance as we had quite a group, mainly family. 

The amazing set lunch menu comes in at €21.50 for two courses, €24.50 for three. And you are guaranteed a terrific meal, cooked and served up by top chef Bryan McCarthy and his colleagues in the kitchen and front of house. I know quite a few guests from last Sunday will be going back again.

There was a little cake at the end for yours truly but I can't guarantee you’ll get one of those!

I was in a fishy mood on Sunday so my starter was the Goatsbridge Trout and Crab, with cucumber, seaweed, squid ink, nasturtium and radish. The Curtins raise delicious trout on their long established Kilkenny farm and in Greene's kitchen the fish was in good hands and they produced a dish to delight. Other choices included Goat’s Cheese, Pork Belly, and the Chef’s Soup with seasonal Garnish.
Trout

Bryan’s trademark Braised Feather Blade Beef, enhanced with Mushroom, Carrot purée, black cabbage, pickled wild garlic stems, was a popular choice as was the Free Range English Market Chicken. 

I continued with the fish theme, and enjoyed every tasty bit of the Hake Fillet with sea vegetables, seaweed, smoked sausage and dashi cream. Also on the mains menu and enjoyed by a few at my table was the Ballyhoura Mushroom Risotto with Coolea cheese, potato crisp, pepper dulse and kale.
Hake. Note the crispy skin!

Time then for the dessert, and another great choice. I didn't get to sample the Chocolate Pecan Cremeux Tart nor the Red Wine Organic Poached Pear. But I did steal a bit of CL’s lovely Rose Cottage Fruit Farm Blueberry Tart. Meanwhile, my own Woodruff Set Cream Pudding, with elderberry and pistachio, was sliding down smoothly.

Lots of chat then as the relaxing afternoon came to an end. But soon I was called back to my place as that cake, complete with candles, a modest two (but they added up correctly!), appeared. Just about managed to blow them out.
Woodruff Set Cream Pudding


48 MacCurtain Street, Cork, Ireland
 021 455 2279
 Open Sunday to Wednesday, 12:15-14:15 & 17:30-21:00
 & Thursday to Saturday, 12:15-14:15 & 17:30-21:30

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Leisurely Lunch In Greene’s. Local, and High Class

Leisurely Lunch In Greene’s
Local and High Class

When I read that Greene’s Restaurant were offering lunch every day of the week (from 12.30pm), there was no stopping me. Off we headed to 48 MacCurtain Street and soon we were seated at a comfortable table with a great view of the waterfall just outside the window. Soon though we were concentrating on the menu rather then the view, €21.50 for two courses, €24.50 for three.

To begin, we could have had Goats Cheese, beetroot, walnut and raisin. Or Soup of the Day with a garnish. CL though went for a classic here: Pork Belly, black pudding, apple, celeriac, cider and crackling popcorn.  We met chef Bryan McCarthy on the street later and he said they’ll never be allowed to take this off the menu. We could see why.
Pork Belly
I enjoyed another dish that’s going well there: Mackerel, crab, seaweed, squid ink, nasturtium and radish. What a combination of textures, colours, and flavours. A delicious starter.

Speaking of classics, McCarthy’s well-known feather blade was also on the menu, along with a Risotto featuring Ballyhoura Mushrooms and Coolea.  They used the best of local produce here. And use it very well indeed.

Mackerel & Crab
My pick was the fish of the day: Hake, sea vegetables, chorizo. Fabulous fish! CL was equally delighted with her Market Chicken, carrot puree, pancetta, sugar pea, egg yolk emulsion and beetroot. And that puree was her delicious sauce.

We could also have had sides, including Mashed potatoes, root vegetables, triple cooked fries and baby potatoes. But, having spotted a favourite dessert, we made a strategic decision to avoid the tempting sides!
Chicken
And that dish? Well no other than Bushy’s Strawberries fresh from the farm in Rosscarbery. The fruit is top notch but they are enhanced no end by the extras that the Greene's kitchen adds, including milk, elderflower, gorse and yogurt. And the presentation is eye-catching. So you appreciate the display, for a second or two, three at most, and then you tuck into the seasonal sensation!

Well that was the three great courses and then we finished off with a couple of well-made expressos. By the way, there was a lovely little amuse bouche at the start as well. Lunch is quite a big deal here. Very Highly Recommended.

Hake
Greene’s Restaurant
48 MacCurtain Street, Cork
Phone: 021 455 2279
Web (includes sample menus): http://greenesrestaurant.com