Showing posts with label Les Gourmandises. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Les Gourmandises. 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!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

One Farmers Market. One Restaurant. Weekend: Douglas, Les Gourmandises

One Farmers Market. One Restaurant
Weekend: Douglas, Les Gourmandises
I took the opportunity at the weekend to get to the Douglas Farmers Market and also to revisit Les Gourmandises in the city centre.

The farmers market has now moved from Dunnes Stores car park to a new spot in the centre of Douglas village, on the plaza by Marks & Spencers. It is a compact location and the reports are good. It is open on Saturdays, from 10.00am until 2.00pm.
Old Millbank Salmon Pate - with some chunky bits added!
Some excellent stalls here, including the Rocketman, Badger & Dodo coffee, Ballycurraginny Farm vegetables (not forgetting their gorgeous Joe’s Farm vegetable crisps), Arbutus Breads, O'Driscoll's Fish from Schull, Old Millbank Smoked Salmon, Woodside Farm, Brendan's Burritos, Sonny’s Broth, West Cork Pies, Green Field Farm, Ballycotton Free Range Farm, O’Leary’s Mountain Lamb, Cloud Confectionery, Dingle Cookie Company, Volcano Wood-fired Pizza, Mealagulla Orchards, Barry’s Nurseries, Clothilde Compotes, along with some others. Guest stalls too feature.

O’Driscoll’s, no matter where you find them (Midleton and the Coal Quay are among their venues), are always popular. We often go for the popular fish but this time the red gurnard caught our eye. So that was the main course for Saturday. And we got our starter across the way from Old Millbank. They had a nice tub of Salmon Pate (with one that included a few chunks of the salmon as well!).
Red Gurnard at O'Driscoll's
Lunch too came from Douglas, a pot of that delicious aromatic Chicken Broth by Sonny (we added some noodles). It is a Vietnamese broth and the proper title is Phỏ Gà and was a recent Taste of the Week. Check it out here, if you have a chance.

The other main purchase was some shoulder of pork from Woodside for Sunday's dinner, the order to cook it low and slow. We got an unsolicited recommendation from another customer who thought it was fantastic and told us his 93 year old mother is thrilled with it as it reminds her of the real taste from a long ways back.

Some low and slow cooking too in Les Gourmandises on Friday night. Slow cooked beef, braised carrots, baby onions, and smoked Gubbeen lardons, with a delicious red wine jus, was my superb main course, with a side plate of sauteed potatoes. CL’s choice was also excellent: Braised lamb shoulder with smoked potatoes, braised onion and Savoy Cabbage.
Woodside
O'Driscoll's
We had a fine choice for starters. We had eaten some of them before including the excellent Prawns in Filo pastry with Mango jelly and Mango creme fraiche and the Roasted on the Bone Quail with coconut, cumin, basmati and apricots.

My pick this time was the Carpaccio (named after the Venetian painter) of Spiced beef, tomato, pickled and shaved parmesan while CL took the Castletownbere Crab Salad, brioche croutons, peaches and piccalilli. Both good but, next time, we may go back to the brilliant prawns and the quail!

Desserts again had no shortage of choice, up to seven, including a selection plate for sharing. No sharing this time though! My pick was the Warm Chocolate Fondant with butterscotch centre and vanilla ice cream. Pretty good. CL was delighted with her Caramelised Apple Tart with Five Spice and cinnamon ice cream. All good. No tea or coffee though, not at €3.65 a cup!
New location, in centre of Douglas
There is a good selection of house wines, all Old World, and all at €29.50 a bottle or €8.50 a glass. Haven't seen that kind of uniformity anywhere else! My glass was a 2012 Portuguese blend of Tempranillo, Castelao and Syrah, called Pinta Negra Tinta, nice and smooth with dark fruits. CL sipped happily from an organic wine, Fontana Bodegas from Castille (Spain), a 100 percent Tempranillo (2014).

There are quite a number of possible menu variations and you can get to try the excellent food here for less than the €47.50 (the cost of our 3-course menu). There is also a Prix Fixe menu and here you may have three courses (from a more limited selection) for €32.50. Most nights, maybe not all night, you will get tapas to share, two main courses and a glass of wine each for €39.50 for two people. Stay up to date on all menus and special offers by checking their Facebook page here.
Oh La La! Chocolat! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Les Gourmandises. Vive la différence.

Les Gourmandises

That Bit Different.

Guinea fowl

If you choose Les Gourmandises  in Cook Street, Cork, then you choose something different. Sure the produce is local but you rarely get Guinea-fowl on a local menu. Poached clementines on the dessert list? Service, cooking and presentation is top notch, always that touch of class. Vive la différence.

As you gather, I like the place. I’d like it even better if it didn't have the schoolroom look, those long neat rows. Would love to see a screen or two, a few tall plants maybe, just to break those straight lines (which probably have their advantages for serving). Forgot all that though as we studied the menu and got the extra information about the evening's specials.

That guinea-fowl was one of the specials and an excellent dish. It was served with lentils, black pudding, caramelised walnuts, potato fondant and pureed beetroot. Absolutely superb flavours and so well cooked. As I said, Guinea-fowl is pretty rare on local tables but I did enjoy it last year in Ballymaloe and in the Mustard Seed the year before that.


Cod
There were some nine main courses to choose from and mine was the Roasted fillet of cod, smoked white beans and braised chicory. Nothing wasted here, all three main elements combining well. I was especially pleased with the smoked beans though and, of course, that cod was so fresh and so easy to digest.

My starter was also something of a special: Goat’s Cheese mousse, with beetroot and walnuts. I know that you often get beetroot with goats cheese but this was pickled and lifted the dish. Very enjoyable though I must admit I was a little envious when I looked across the table and saw the Dublin Bay prawns served with mango crème fraiche and mango jelly. I got a wee taste, enough to confirm CL’s enthusiastic endorsement.

Desserts often follow a similar pattern but not here, so we took the sweet plunge. Poached clementines, star anise, caramel, gingerbread ice-cream for her, Fromage frais with fresh apricots, and Madeira biscuits for me. No regrets. Au contraire.

The three course price, including tea or coffee, comes to €47.50 each; wines are a stiffish €8.50 a glass. There are quite a number of possible menu variations and you can get to try the excellent food here for less. Some nights, generally early in the week, you will get tapas to share, two main courses and a glass of wine each for €39.50 for two people. Recommended. Stay up to date on all menus and special offers by checking their facebook page here.
Clementines (left) and, right from top, Goat's Cheese,
Prawns, Apricot dessert

Les Gourmandises suppliers include:

Meat – John O’Flynns & Sons, Marlboro Street
Fish – O’Connells, English Market
Shellfish de la Mer – Castletownbere, West Cork
Moynihan butcher, Grand Parade, English Market
Smoked Gubbeen smoked house . Gubbeen
Caherbeg free range pork , Rosscarbery, West Cork
Cheesemongers – Iago
Poultry, Moynihan , English Market
Bread – The Natural Bread Company

Les Gourmandises
(021) 425 1959







Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Les Gourmandises the big winners at Munster Restaurants Awards


Top Restaurants in Munster Announced at Santa Rita Irish Restaurants Awards

The Munster Regional Final for the Restaurant Awards 2012 sponsored by Santa Rita / Sunday Independent Life Magazine took place in The Imperial Hotel, Tuesday 3rd April 2012.
Speaking at the awards last night, Adrian Cummins of the Restaurants Association of Ireland said
Since their inception, the Irish Restaurant Awards have cast a spotlight on Ireland’s hottest restaurants and chefs. They have become a byword for quality, class and achievement… The awards everyone wants to win. As a testament to their success, the entries have doubled since last year, with 5,000 nominations made for Ireland’sfavourite Restaurants, Chefs, Gastro Pubs, Hotel Restaurants and Local Food Heroes throughout the Country.
We celebrate the award winning cuisines and the great restaurateurs and chefs who have brought international recognition and accolades to the Irish restaurant scene.  We are the economic engine rooms in every town in Ireland, creating and maintaining much needed local employment.  Our industry has annual sales in excess of €2 billion and we employ 64,000 people.  In fact, we are the largest employer within the Irish Tourism Sector. And tonight, everyone is a winner’.
It was great to see  over 240 restaurateurs attend  the awards in the Ulster region this year., we look forward to seeing all of the Ulster County Winners in Dublin on the 14thMay 2012 where Regional and All Ireland winners will be announced’.
Nominations for the awards were made by readers of the Sunday Independent Life Magazine and members of the Restaurants Association of Ireland. All nominees are then assessed by Regional Judging panels, made up of Industry experts across the region.  Votes from the Consumer, Members of the Restaurants Association of Ireland and the Regional Judges are independently assessed by KPMG who give us our County Winner in each category.

All County winners will now compete for the Regional and All Ireland Title which will be announced at the Irish Restaurant Awards in the Burlington Hotel Dublin on Wednesday 14th May 2012.www.irishrestaurantawards.com . 
There are 3 components to phase two of the process. Each element is independently assessed by KPMG.
1. Mystery Guest Visit (35%) This component of the awards is conducted by Prism Consulting headed by Hugo Arnold, independent food writer and consultant. (http://www.hugoarnold.com). All County Winners receive a mystery guest visit throughout the month of April.
2. National Awards Academy (55%) Our National Awards Academy is made up representatives from each of the regional judging panels and will meet in May to Judge the County Winners.
3. Menu Judging (10%) All County winners and the Dublin Shortlist in each category are asked to submit a copy of their food menu and wine list for judging.



COUNTYCUSTOMER   SERVICE 
CLARETOWN HALL   BISTRO 
WATERFORDATHENAEUM   HOUSE 
TIPPERARYTHE FAIRWAYS   BAR 
LIMERICKTHE MUSTARD   SEED 
KERRYJACKS   COASTGUARD STATION 
CORKISAACS   RESTAURANT 
   
COUNTYGASTROPUB -   SPONSORED BY FAUSTINO 
CLARETHE ROADSIDE   TAVERN 
WATERFORDJACK MEADES 
TIPPERARYLARKINS 
LIMERICKTHE LOCK BAR 
KERRYSPILLANES BAR 
CORKTHE WOODFORD 
   
COUNTYCASUAL DINING   - SPONSORED JOSEPH DROUHIN 
CLAREL'ARCO 
WATERFORDMCLEARY'S 
TIPPERARYCAFE HANS 
LIMERICKLA CUCINA 
KERRYSOL Y SOMBRA 
CORKNASH 19 
   
   
   
   
COUNTYHOTEL   RESTAURANT 
CLARETHE LONG ROOM   @ THE LODGE DOONBEG 
CORKLONGUEVILLE   HOUSE 
KERRYCELLAR ONE   RESTAURANT @ THE ROSS HOTEL 
LIMERICKTHE OAKROOM   RESTAURANT @ ADARE MANOR 
TIPPERARYTHE OLD   CONVENT 
WATERFORDTHE MUNSTER   ROOM@ WATERFORD CASTLE 
   
COUNTYBEST CHEF -   SPONSORED BY TIPPERARY WATER 
CLAREWADE MURPHYTHE LODGE AT   DOONBEG
CORKPAT KIELYLES   GOURMANDISES
KERRYNOEL ENRIGHTTHE CHART   HOUSE
LIMERICKMARK DONOHUEADARE MANOR
TIPPERARYDERMOT GANNON  THE OLD   CONVENT
WATERFORDMICHAEL QUINNWATERFORD   CASTLE
   
COUNTYRESTAURANT-   SPONSORED BY SANTA RITA 
CLARETHE WILD   HONEY INN 
CORKLES   GOURMANDISES 
KERRYCHAPTER 40   RESTAURANT 
LIMERICKCORNSTORE   RESTAURANT 
TIPPERARYBROCKA ON THE   WATER 
WATERFORDO'BRIEN CHOP   HOUSE 
   
MUNSTER WINE   EXPERIENCEHAYFILED   MANOR, CO. CORK 
MUNSTER KIDS   SIZE METHE STONE   CUTTERS KITCHEN, CO. CLARE