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

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!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Night of the Long Table. Four Hundred Dine Out on Cork’s South Mall

Night of the Long Table

Four Hundred Dine Out on Cork’s South Mall
Phil (standing) wishes Happy Birthday to fiancée Veronica; they get married today.
A night out to remember for the over four hundred diners who gathered on Cork’s South Mall for an outdoor dinner, the second running of Cork’s Long Table. And the sun came too, making it a glorious occasion for the organisers and their partners including Bord Bia, Failte Ireland, Cork City Council and Cork Midsummer Festival.

There was a choice of drink on the way in, anything from Prosecco to cider to beer to a cordial. The first suppliers we met were Colm McCan (what a hat) and Pascal Rossignol of Le Caveau, helping out on the night.
All calm before the service

Soon we were seated at our table, strangers to the right of us, strangers to the left. A few minutes later though and strangers no more! 

A tasty oyster signalled the start of the serving and then came the Producers Boards with Smoked mussels and mackerel, crab with lemon mayo (perhaps my favourite), black and white pudding, spiced beef, crubeens and ham hock terrine, chutney, breads, mozzarella. That got us talking and sharing and there was something for everyone!
Welcome to the Long Table from Colm(left) and Pascal of Le Caveau

The mains meanwhile were being prepared in the kitchens of the nearby Imperial Hotel and distributed to the various staging posts on the pavement. It was worth waiting for, not that we were waiting at all. The rack of lamb with pea purée, salsa verde, mixed leaf salad and loads of superb British Queens, not forgetting Glenilen butter, was totally satisfying though a few of us volunteered for seconds when the opportunity arose.

And the dessert, a very generous one indeed, was Strawberries with crushed meringue, cream and rose petal, another delight. And to finish we had cheese: Milleens to remember the late Veronica Steele and Hegarty’s Cheddar.
Starter board

All the while, the wine, the beer, the cider, whatever you fancied was being served and the brass band played. There was even a birthday surprise for Veronica, served up by fiancé Phil; all go for this couple who get married today. We wish them well!

Once announced, the Long Table Dinner sold out within hours, such was the feeling that this was going to be a good one. And once you saw the list of quality suppliers, you knew the basis was there for a terrific meal. 
Lamb

Suppliers included Frank Hederman, K. O’Connell Fish, Tim McCarthy’s, Rosscarberry Recipes, McCarthy Meats, Haven Fish, Glenilen Farm, Waterfall Farms, Bumblebee Flower Farm, Dave Barry’s Farm, Bushy Berries, On the Pig’s Back, Murphy’s,  Longueville House, 9 White Deer, Le Caveau and Counterpoint.

I've often heard chefs say they are nothing without the producers but the restaurants and chefs have a major role to play in getting the best from the produce and that certainly happened last night with Ali’s Kitchen, Electric Fishbar, The Farmgate, Fenn’s Quay, The Imperial Hotel, Isaac’s Restaurant, Jacob’s on the Mall, Jacque’s Restaurant, L’Atitude 51, Nash 19 and the Rocketman all playing important roles. Cheers to the hard-working owners and staff.

* I’m glad too that Rebel Chilli were also involved as it was in their competition that I, having been caught out by the early booking rush, won the tickets that got me to the Mall. Thanks, folks!

It's a wrap for 2017

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Spice of Delight at Isaac's

Spice Night at Isaac's
Taste Tingling Tuesday
DIY!
‘Taste Cork’ week hit the high-spots in Isaac’s on Tuesday night when Arun Kapil, founder of award-winning spice company Green Saffron, Chef Patron Canice Sharkey along with restaurant co-owners Michael and Catherine Ryan, hosted an exclusive sold-out spice pop-up at the Cork city institution in McCurtain Street. 


First though, there was a bit of consternation when we were given a DIY task, to construct our own ‘Nibble’. That soon turned to fun as we tapped an opening into the Puri shell, filled it with chickpea and potato mix and seasoned it with either Spiced Vodka and Tamarind ‘water or chilli relish. Or both.

Salmon
 That fun element set the tone for the convivial occasion as we introduced ourselves to our fellow diners and the food, part of a terrific five course meal designed by Arun, began to arrive. First up was a very impressive Amuse Bouche: Irish Salmon Tataki, with smoked aubergine caviar, ginger,mint and coriander. Smooth, cool and delicious, a foretaste of what was to come.

The starter was another gorgeous dish: Spiced crab cakes with a cucumber and turmeric pickle. I really enjoyed a few bites of the crab cake without the pickle but the latter certainly added to the sensory sensations.

Crab
Next up was the mains, a celebration of Canice’s passion for the finest Irish ingredients livened with Arun’s unique take on flavours and inimitable use of fresh spice, sourced by his cousin and team Green Saffron from family farms in India.

The main event was Rajput ‘split and grilled’ red leg partridge, almond, asafoetida pilau, plum and fennel fruit ‘lunji’, with onion and parsnip Pakoras. Another super dish, a lovely combination of textures and flavours, the partridge enhanced no end by the lunji (chutney) and the pakoras, all washed down - at least mine was - by a Carl Ehrhard Rüdesheim Riesling Kabinett Feinherb 2015, Rheingau (Germany).

Partridge
 Time then for a sweet finish: Chocolate ‘orange spice’ Mousse and crème fraiche. “I love desserts,” declared the ever enthusiastic Arun as he extended a big thank you to Rebecca of Taste Cork “who encouraged us” and as he led a big cheer for the kitchen team.

Earlier he told us how visiting Ireland, romance and a Ballymaloe cooking course, had set him on the spice route. His stunning spice blends, sauces and chutneys are from spices sourced by family members in Moradabad, India. That romance was with Olive, now his wife, and they started grinding those spices with coffee grinders which weren't quite up to the wear and tear. 


Chocolate
Then he started selling in local farmers markets and the rest is history. And more history to be made as this dynamic man plans to make Ireland the spice capital of the western world in the next decade. Watch this space but don’t miss the boat. Get your hands on his spices, now widely available, and liven up your food. Just don't overdo it as he and the Isaac’s team didn't overdo it on Tuesday night. One of the highlights of Taste Cork Week, one of the highlights of the year for me.


Check here for Green Saffron recipes

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Ryan Brothers Have The Recipe

press release
Ryan Family have a winning recipe.
Michael (left) and Declan Ryan

~ Winner of Georgina Campbell Ireland’s Natural Food Award 2016 announced as Declan Ryan's Arbutus Bread, Cork ~

~ Winner of Georgina Campbell Ireland’s Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year 2016 announced as Michael and Catherine Ryan’s Isaacs Restaurant, Cork ~

Well respected and long established independent food and hospitality guide ‘Georgina Campbell’s Ireland’ has just announced their top recommendations for the best places to eat, drink and stay for the year ahead (2016). Scooping two of the top accolades, in separate categories, are Cork based Arbutus Bread – an artisanal wholesale bakery specialising in sourdough and yeast breads, which won the Natural Food Award, and Isaac’s Restaurant located on Mac Curtain Street, Cork serving seasonal and local dishes, which won Best Casual Dining Restaurant. The cherry on top of this outstanding achievement is that both businesses are owned by brothers Declan and Michael Ryan. 

Commenting on behalf of Arbutus, Declan Ryan beamed saying, “We are absolutely thrilled to be named the Natural Food Award Winners, it really speaks to what we are all about in terms of ethos. Arbutus Breads are committed to producing natural artisan products without chemical additives to traditional methods, as we know this delivers the best product quality and customer satisfaction. There is nothing better than the smell of freshly baked bread and it is a credit to all our hard working team at the bakery to be recognised in this way.” 

Speaking on behalf of Isaacs Restaurant, Michael Ryan welcomed the news saying, “It is always great to be told people like what you are doing, you put your heart and soul into each dish and to be recognised by a respected guide such as Georgina Campbell’s Ireland is the icing on the cake!” 

The Ryan family have a long history of being at the cutting edge of the culinary arts having previously achieved Ireland’s very first Michelin star at Arbutus Lodge.  The following year, Ireland had two Michelin starred restaurants, Arbutus Lodge and Cashel Palace both owned by the Ryan Family. 

In 1992 Michael and Catherine Ryan along with Canice Sharkey opened Isaacs Restaurant in what was once a 18th century warehouse on Mac Curtain Street. This atmospheric venue has since gone from strength to strength with the support of next generation Emma Ryan who has recently joined the team, winning numerous awards, including this latest gong from Georgina Campbell. The dining experience at Isaac’s is regularly praised by leading food critics and guides and most importantly by its food loving customers! 

Cheers!

Michael was not the only brother to put his experience and talent to good use as following the sale of the Arbutus Lodge in 1999; Declan who decided retirement was not for him, converted a garage at his house in Montenotte, Cork into a bakery and travelled to France to gain additional expertise. From humble beginnings Arbutus Bread has moved into a much larger premises in Mayfield, Cork and grown to now produce 2,000 loaves of a variety of breads every night, still made by traditional methods and using only natural, additive-free ingredients. Today the thriving bakery has seven fulltime bakers and is run by Declan and Patsy Ryan along with David Matues, head baker and from the next generation Darragh and Elaine Ryan. 

Another family member has also got the food business bug as Philip Ryan (son of Michael and Catherine at Isaacs Restaurant) has established himself as a successful entrepreneur, introducing Cork City’s newest gastro-venue Brick Lane, and is an key organiser of a food and beer festival with locations in 4 cities across the country under the brand of ‘Oktoberfest Beag’. The Ryan family certainly have that winning recipe.

For more information on Arbutus see www.arbutusbread.com and for more on Isaacs see www.isaacsrestaurant.ie

Monday, June 15, 2015

All White on the Night. Dining Out in Cork City

All White on the Night.

Dining Out in Cork City.
“Bet you never thought you’d be sitting down to a three course meal on the street outside Penny’s and Guiney's,” said one diner as we gathered for Our Table in Oliver Plunkett Street (Cork) last evening. The four hundred of us, dressed in white (mostly!), were dined, wined and entertained for the two hours. The verdict: bring on 2016. Indeed, even before the night, indications were that double the number would be catered for next year.
Starter by House
So lots of craic, good fun and good food too. The long table was divided into four and we were at the B section. Each section had three restaurants looking after its needs and our trio were House, Isaacs and ORSO.

As we arrived we were treated to a refreshing flower-topped juice and guided to our table (and, yes, it was outside Penny’s and Guiney's). Soon we were meeting new and old friends and a glass of wine, sponsored by O'Donovan’s, went down well.
The event was sponsored by BAM Ireland and JCD and there were special thanks to Cork City Council, Cork City Forum, Elbow Lane Brewery, Stonewell Cider, One water, Down to Earth Materials, The Oliver Plunkett, O’Donovan’s Off Licence, The Pavilion Garden Centre, Cork Midsummer Festival. And a big round of applause too for the restaurants (management and staff) involved.
Mains by Isaac's. More on the side!
After the introductory drink and a nibble on the gorgeous Arbutus Bread (with butter), it didn't take long at all and the 400 were settling into the House starter: Carpaccio of baby radish, gold and red beets with tahini grapefruit and pistachio. Loved that mix of flavours, textures, not forgetting colours. A very promising start indeed.

Lamb was the main course at all the tables and Isaac’s came up with Slow roast shoulder of lamb with summer greens, spiced aubergines, and Ballycotton new potatoes. The best of ingredients plus the top class cooking forever associated with the MacCurtain Street venue made for a lot of happy diners at Table B!

The first two courses were excellent and the high standard was maintained right to the sweet end with the appearance of the ORSO dessert: Pecan and local honey baklava with gooseberry and elderflower compote, and Toonsbridge ricotta cream. A delightful dessert indeed, made even more so by the tang of the compote.

All that had to be done then was finish off the wine and head up the street to see how the others were doing. Met diners and restaurateurs alike and it was a case of thumbs up in all cases. Happy out!

The event was part of the Cork Midsummer Festival which continues for another week. See the programme for the coming week here.
Dessert by ORSO

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Isaac’s. A Specials Kind Of Place


Isaac’s. A Specials Kind Of Place

There is something about Isaac's, one of Cork City’s most popular restaurants for over two decades. The warm welcome. The friendly staff. The attention to detail. I think that little bit extra may well be their Specials board.

Of course, they have an excellent list of regular dishes. But those specials are well worth looking out for. For instance, we were in for lunch last week and the list of specials included: Parsnip and Fennel Soup, an Asian Broth, Fresh Castletownbere Crab, Shanagarry Smoked Salmon, Pan fried Toulouse sausages with Flageolet beans, Baked filet of Cod with Chorizo and one dessert, a Rhubarb and Apple Crumble.

Add in the regular menu items and you have terrific selection to choose from. As it happened, I did choose from the main menu, taking the Vegetarian Indian Curries. Yes, curries. You get two of them, Chana Masala and Dahl Makhani. The two bowls are accompanied by three little side dishes and basmati rice, all for €14.50. A merry melange of colour, flavour and texture.
 Just what I needed after a cool morning down by the river watching the Ocean to City Race. Each curry was a star in its own right but those three little side dishes added an extra bit of magic. The fruity chutney added sweetness, the pickled cucumber a little tanginess and the yoghurt kept it all nice and cool, well almost! No point in having a totally cool curry!  

Had skipped the starters but did have an eye on the desserts. Again they had an excellent selection but I quickly made my mind up and went for the Chocolate Saint Emilion with rum soaked macaroon and cream. For €6.50, I had my rich and creamy taste of luxury, absolutely superb and enhanced no end by the whiff and flavour of that rum.
CL was also well pleased with her pudding, the rather substantial and toothsome Tunisian Orange Cake with poached seasonal fruit and yogurt. The fruit was rhubarb which is a vegetable that is used as a fruit! Call it what you like but it sure went down well.

Isaac’s, situated in an 18th century warehouse, which has been tastefully restored - see the exposed bricks and beams - uses “the finest seasonal ingredients, sourced locally & served simply”. Served with a smile too. And, whether you’re in for lunch (including Sunday), Early Bird, or Evening, do look out for those specials!

  • You’ll hardly miss the Specials. Like many places it is highlighted on a big board but, unlike many places, you’ll also find them on a little card on your table. I did say attention to detail!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Inviting Isaac’s

Inviting Isaac’s

It’s a cold crisp day in the city as we enter the warm buzz of Isaac's Restaurant in McCurtain Street. This place is one of the longest standing businesses in this city centre street and you get a hint of the reasons behind this relative longevity from the courtesy and warmth of the welcome. Indeed, the service overall for this lunch-time visit was friendly, chatty and efficient. And the food was excellent.


The restaurant was busy but they soon found us a table and the menus and the specials list were available without delay. So too was the water and some cracking brown bread. Quality is always good here and so too is the choice. The regular list is amply enhanced by the specials. These extras were available last Wednesday:


Celeriac and roast hazelnut soup €5.00


Pheasant and lentil soup €6.50


Smoked salmon with potato salad, mixed greens and horseradish cream €10.00


Crispy fried goat’s cheese with beetroot, roast red pepper & basil €9.50


Mild madras lamb curry with side dishes and poppadoms €15.00


Pan fried fillets of Cod with herb crust, buttered spinach and chive sauce €15.00

Prune and almond tart with fresh cream €6.00
It is, of course, the season for game so I decided to go for the Pheasant and Lentil Soup. The bowl was loaded with little bits of pheasant and it turned out to be a superb match with the lentils, and a body warming one as well, great flavour and texture.

The main course, that Mild Madras Curry, was something special. I got a dish of the loveliest lamb, well cooked and tender and no shortage of it. Three small dishes to dip into and a dish of rice were also served u,p along with a very tasty poppadum. Spent a good while at this, tried every combination of dip with the lamb, and enjoyed every bite.

Had my eye on that Prune and Almond Tart but, pleasantly full, decided that discretion was the better part of valour on this occasion. Very happy with what we'd had and had another chat on the way out as we settled up, €43.00 for two courses each. Very Highly Recommended!

Isaac’s Contact Details
Isaac’s Restaurant on McCurtain Street, has been a standard-bearer for good food in Cork for nearly 21 years. Established by Michael & Catherine Ryan & Canice Sharkey it has developed into a lively restaurant receiving great acclaim.