Showing posts with label The Square Table. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Square Table. Show all posts

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Game Time at the Square Table. Cronin Sisters in Top Form

Game Time at the Square Table
Cronin Sisters in Top Form
Visited Blarney’s Square Table during the week and delighted to see venison on the menu - it is that time of year! And it would be hard to get a better dish than that served up by Chef Martina Cronin. 

The full description was Roast Loin of Venison (braised venison, parsnip purée, chestnut, smoked bacon, Brussels sprouts). The meat was tender and delicious and the vegetables and jus were also brilliant. Not to mention the sides, especially that creamy puréed turnip. Cost €26.95.
Sisters, Chef Martina (left) and Tricia

It is a small restaurant but one with a big heart and they manage to pack so many good things into a short menu list. We were warmly greeted by Tricia, Martina's sister, and she soon had us seated and studying the menus. And she also took us through the specials which was where the venison popped up.

CL started with a special. The sisters support local producers and the salad special was based on leaves from Annabella’s Farm: the leaves came with roasted and pickled carrots,  artichoke, chervil root, butternut squash, pickled Ballyhoura mushrooms, Crozier Blue cheese and Velvet Cloud yogurt (8.95). Quite a combination and a delicious one.

Crispy egg, Ballyhoura mushroom, smoked bacon and Hollandaise sauce (€8.95) all featured in my excellent starter. 

On then to my venison while CL picked the fish dish: Pan-fried fresh Hake, Jerusalem artichoke and mussel velouté, Gubbeen Chorizo (22.50). The fish was perfect and the chorizo added an extra and very tasty dimension. Superb.

They have quite a good, if shortish, list of wines here, ranging from €22.95 for the house wines to over 40 in the whites and reds. Some tempting Albarinos and Rieslings along with an organic Tempranillo and a Croze Hermitage caught the eye. 

But, with another call to be made later on, we confined ourselves to a glass each of the house. I very much enjoyed my Domaine de Bosquet (France) blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc while CL was more than content with the Valle Andino Chardonnay from Chile. 

If you want to get an excellent idea of the top class food on offer here, why not try their Early Bird menu where you can get two courses for €24.95, three for €28.95.

* The Cronins support local and number Annabella Farm, Ballyhoura Mushrooms, Tom Durcan, Old Millbank, O'Connell's Fish, Ardsallagh Goats, The English Market, Gubbeen, Michael Twomey Butchers, East Ferry Free Range, Carrigcleena Poultry Farm, Hegarty's Cheddar, McCarthy's of Kanturk, Coolea Cheese, Macroom Mills, and more, among their suppliers.

The Square Table
5 The Square
Blarney
County Cork
Tel: (021) 438 2825
Twitter: @TheSquareTable5
Hours
Wed & Thurs: 6.00-9.00pm
Fri & Sat: 6.00-10.00pm
Sun: 12.30-4.30pm


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

New Life For Old Butter Road. Putting North Cork on the Food Map

New Life For Old Butter Road
Putting North Cork on the Food Map
Carrigcleena Farm Poultry duck with Annabella Farm carrot puree, pickled carrots on crispy quinoa
An old butter road is set to become the centre of a new North Cork food venture. For a year or so now, a small group of people, with support from Taste Cork, have been working on the plan to bring producers and providers from the area together and showcase the result under the Old Butter Road Food Trail. 

It will cover a large area, from Macroom to Blarney, from Coolea to Mallow, from Kanturk to Castlelyons. You should be able to get your first taste of the new trail on the May Bank Holiday weekend 2017.
Mc Carthy's of Kanturk black pudding wrapped in puff pastry and served with house piccalilli

Chairperson of the Old Butter Road Food Trail Maire ní Mhurchu welcomed us to a networking meeting at The Square Table in Blarney earlier this week. “This has been in gestation for the past 12 months. Many have come onboard including producers, butchers, growers, hotels, and restaurants.” 

Longueville House, Macroom’s Castle Hotel, Ballyvolane House, McCarthy’s of Kanturk, and Blairs Inn are among those “onboard”. Eventually each participant will be entitled to display a churn at his or her entrance.
Michael Twomey Butchers Wagyu beef burgers 
with Whitechurch (Hegarty’s) cheddar, 
house tomato chutney made from Annabella Farm tomatoes

The Cronin sisters, Trish and Martina, who own the Square Table, are enthusiastic members of the steering committee. “We can't do good food without producers…there is great produce in North Cork and we are trying to put it on the map. It will be a slow-burner to start with but the knock-on will boost the local profile. And we hope that other restaurants will source local, even in part.”

Maire, who runs the Blarney based Activity Days company, pointed out that there are farmers markets in Mallow, Fermoy and Macroom but they are not so well known.  She and the other members of the steering group, including the Blair brothers from Blairs Inn, are determined to put the region firmly on the map.
Ardsallagh goat cheese
with house beetroot chutney on parmesan shortbread

And when you've eaten, you’ll have no shortage of attractions to choose from in the area. The list, from the lovely Lee to the majestic Blackwater and beyond, includes Blarney Castle, Doneraile Park, Millstreet Country Park, Mallow Castle, and The Gearagh in Macroom.

From the late 18th century, for many decades, Cork was the centre of the world butter trade. Supplies came to the Butter Exchange in Shandon in the city by a network of butter roads. 
Liscannor crab with Annabella Farm carrots, pickled ginger, avocado Vietnamese rollsOld Mill Bank Smoked Salmon blended with Velvet Cloud sheep's yogurt and avocado on home made brown bread made with Macroom wholemeal flour

Perhaps the most famous is that from Castleisland in North Kerry to Cork, via Millstreet. East of Millstreet and west of Rylane, in a small place called Aubane, you’ll find a couple of roadside plaques (right) remembering the heyday of the road.

And here too you’ll see the Kerryman’s Table, a large slab of rock, where the travellers stopped for refreshment and no doubt to exchange gossip. 

And possibly to check their pocket-watches! When a supplier reached Shandon, he would ‘bring home the time' by adjusting his pocket watch at the clock tower.


Did he not know that the clock, with its four faces, one on each wall of the tower, was and is known as the four-faced liar? Read the full article on the butter road, by Jo Kerrigan, here

The old road was busy then, a hive of activity. And the meeting in Blarney gave every indication of making it, and the surrounding roads, every bit as busy again, feeding all the hungry travellers. Maybe, come May, there’ll be a bite or two out on the Kerryman’s Table! And if you don’t know the time, just check your mobile!
Carrigcleena Farm Poultry duck on crostini with Annabella Farm kale and house beetroot chutney

Before the meeting, the Cronins illustrated just what they were taking about with an amazing spread of tasty bites (more than enough to cover the Kerryman’s Table), all made from local produce. 

We had Old Mill Bank Smoked Salmon blended with Velvet Cloud sheep's yogurt and avocado on home made brown bread made with Macroom wholemeal flour; Ardsallagh goat cheese with house beetroot chutney on parmesan shortbread; Liscannor crab with Annabella Farm carrots, pickled ginger, avocado Vietnamese rolls; Carrigcleena Farm Poultry duck with Annabella Farm carrot puree, pickled carrots on crispy quinoa; Michael Twomey Butchers Wagyu beef burgers with Whitechurch (Hegarty’s) cheddar, house tomato chutney made from Annabella Farm tomatoes; Mc Carthy's of Kanturk black pudding wrapped in puff pastry and served with house piccalilli; Carrigcleena Farm Poultry duck on crostini with Annabella Farm kale and house beetroot chutney.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Square Table Excellent(x2)

Square Table Excellent2

 Got back to Blarney’s Square Table last week, after a too-long absence, and found chef Martina and front-of-house Tricia in top form at a superb lunch with not a turkey in sight.


The lunch menu, as you might expect, is short. But very long in quality. Serving Irish and French cuisine, their reputation has been reinforced over the 18 months or so since they opened in the centre of the village.

The sun was shining but it was cold enough when we landed on Friday and so we picked the soup to start with. And the Celeriac was just the job, a big bowl of warm soup, topped with some nuts, adding flavour and a little crunch (4.75). Warmed up now and running.

We picked our two mains from the little specials board that is brought to your table. I went for the O’Connell’s fresh pan-fried hake with mustard sauce, York cabbage and smoked bacon (13.95). Fresh it surely was, white and milky and just perfect, a lovely matching sauce and every now and then a tasty touch from a bit of bacon.


And that wasn't all. We shared a side dish of vegetables, carrot and kale, all nicely cooked, not too hard, not too soft, and also a bowl of perfectly executed mashed potato.

The Cronin sisters get their beef from Macroom’s Michael Twomey, their mother’s butcher. And one could see why when CL’s Beef and Mushroom Pie (12.50) arrived in its own special pot, a nice touch on the presentation.

But no good having the classy presentation if what’s inside isn't up to scratch. The beef was just perfect, so much so you just had to stop every now and then and savour the superb flavour and texture. The overall combination was top notch.

We had been tempted earlier when we heard the list of desserts being called out but after the soup and a mega main course each, we reluctantly left the sweet stuff behind. Next time!
The Square Table
5 The Square
Blarney
County Cork
0214382825


Opening hours
Wed 6.00pm-9.00pm
Thu-Sat 12.00pm-3.30pm and 6.00pm-10.00pm
Sun 12.30pm-4.30pm.
Early bird served Wednesday 6pm to 9pm, Thursday 6pm to 10pm, Friday and Saturday 6pm to 7pm.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Square Table Launched

The Square Table Launched
Big Night for Coolea Sisters


Top left: Graham Neville (l) with Lucy and Mark of Ballyhoura Mushrooms.
Top right: Cheers! Martina and Yours Truly.

“I wish the two sisters all the best. They have shown great courage,” said Michelin Star chef Ross Lewis as he helped officially launch The Square Table restaurant in Blarney last night. The two sisters are Patricia and Martina Cronin, both originally from Coolea and now well experienced in the restaurant world. Patricia is front of house while Martina (who has worked with Ross) is the head chef.

Martina has also worked with Graham Neville, Head Chef at Restaurant Forty One, who also spoke at the opening. Graham is rather modest and it took Ross to step in and remind us all that Neville is the reigning Food and Wine Magazine Chef of the Year.

The two girls also spoke and their first priority was to say a big thank you to the people of Blarney for their support over the past few months. Martina said they simply wanted to present good well sourced Irish food and had big thanks for three mentors in particular: Kieran Scully (Bayview Hotel), Ross Lewis (Chapter One) and, of course Graham Neville.

Their suppliers too came in for praise as did their local staff (“absolutely fantastic”), all their friends, family, especially Mum and Dad.

Ross Lewis, from Cork himself, said he knows the Cronins well! “The heroes of today are those who employ people. I started in 1993 and I know that success will come.” But he warned that staying power was needed to deal with the special demands of being an employer, including PAYE, PRSI, banks, teaching employees.

“The complexities are enormous. It is a very daunting task. But I know the Cronins are determined. Martina has the doggedness of a lion. It is amazing and great to see people that we’ve worked with get out on their own”.

The sisters were hardly on their own last evening. There was a terrific turnout. Suppliers present included River Wines, Ballyhoura Mushrooms and Pat O'Connell. The media and blogger world was well represented by Joe McNamee, Jack Power, Caroline Hennessy, among others. And no shortage either of fellow restaurateurs, including Nash 19 and Jacques.

The family were naturally up in force from Coolea and customers were also among the attendance. And, after the speech, Matina was back in the kitchen sending out a stream of gorgeous little bites including Durcan’s Spiced Beef, Ardsallagh Goat Cheese, Liscannor Crab, Michael Twomey’s Wagyu Rib-eye, Ballyhoura Mushrooms, and Old Millbank Smoked Salmon.

On the sweet side there were Macaroons, Poached Blackberries, Chocolate Brownies and a Lemon Cream and Blueberry meringue, all gorgeous. And no shortage of wine to wash it all down.

Thanks for the invite ladies and the best of luck in Blarney!


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Square Table - Great Addition to Blarney

The Square Table - Great Addition to Blarney


The menu at The Square Table, the recently opened restaurant in the centre of Blarney, is a source of immediate encouragement. Trusted producers such as Ballyhoura Mushrooms, Tom Durcan Meats and Ardsallagh Cheese are among those listed. Anyone using that kind of produce knows what they are about, I thought to myself, and soon enough I have delightful confirmation on my table, a square one!

Indeed, they are all square and by quarter-past one last Friday they were all full, not that that was the case earlier in the week. But, as the season starts in earnest, you might well want to book ahead for either dinner or lunch in this highly recommended spot, just opposite the village butcher Osborne.

We start with a Mushroom Soup (€4.75). But a mushroom soup with a difference: mushroom and wild garlic. This is a terrific combination, with the garlic adding a lovely flavour without overwhelming that of the mushrooms. We were off to a great start and quite a substantial one

There are a few tempting sandwiches on the menu, including Ardsallagh Goats Cheese with olive and sundried tomato chutney (€7.00), and I pick the Tom Durcan Spiced Beef with Coolea Aged Cheese and Beetroot. I am well fed for €7.50, happily crunching my way through a well balanced mix of textures and flavours.

Other tempting items on the menu included: Crispy egg, bacon, and Ballyhoura Mushrooms with bearnaise (€7.50) and a Ham Hock Pie with Spring Cabbage (€11.95). CL’s choice is Pan-fried Hake with Pea Puree and Smoked Bacon (€13.00), another delightful dish, well cooked and well presented.

Service is prompt and friendly here and prices are quite good. Our two course lunch cost a total of 30 euro. A great addition to Blarney and we wish Tricia and Martina all the best on their new venture at 5 The Square.