Showing posts with label cocktails. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cocktails. Show all posts

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Summertime Lift-off at Cask. Cocktail Champ. Music. Food. New Elevator


Summertime Lift-off at Cask
Cocktail Champ. Music. Food. New Elevator
A cup of punch to welcome the sun.

The start of the summer season in Cork’s leading cocktail venue, Cask, was well celebrated in the McCurtain Street venue on Wednesday evening. Guests galore were on hand for the evening. And the sun came too!


Owner Richard Evans and Arthur Little made us all feel welcome. And the biggest welcome, well the biggest applause, was reserved for Carl d’Alton who, earlier the week, was crowned the Irish World Class Cocktail Champion in Dublin, taking over the title from Andy Ferreira, his mentor in Cask.

Cask, as you probably know, is situated across the lane-cum-courtyard from its big sister Greene's and their hotel Isaac’s. Arthur is MD of the busy complex and had another reason to be happy on Wednesday as their new outdoor lift was unveiled for the first time. The glass walled structure has quite a low visual impact on the old architecture of the place and I’m told there is a quite a view from the top.

With the short speeches over, it was time for Karen Underwood (right) and her talented backing musicians and they played long and played well as the food came in waves. No shortage of drinks either. Cask were launching their summertime menu under both headings and again renewed their commitment to local and seasonal. 

Sustainability in bars is about a lot more than paper straws and using up your manky lime wedges. It’s about creating an environment where every possible product you use is produced close to you, or at least the majority of them. 

The reality is though in a world where everyone claims to have ‘small batch, artisan’ products, you still need to be super fussy about what you use. In Cask, if we’re putting an ingredient in our cocktail, it’s because we believe it’s the best possible option to make the drink absolutely banging!”

So if you want Beet, Black & Blue, then this is the cocktail for you: Jameson Black Barrel, Beetroot, Ardbeg, PX sherry, and Orange bitters.

Fancy the Ball ’N Chain? The mix here is Beefeater, Elderflower Pisco, Pine-berry Shrub, Apple water, and Poachers Wild Tonic. Driving tonight? Check out the Fine & Dandy made with Dandelion Jam, Spent Citrus Sherbet, Lilac Soda, Raspberry and Elderflower Sorbet.
A bao, with chicken

Like the titles? I do. Here are a few more: The Whole Shebang, The Udder Wan, Made in Mayfield, Cheeky Sheri’s Cherry Sherry. No shortage of other drinks of course, including sparkling wines, and quite a selection of whites and reds (including a few organic) and all available by the glass. 

And Cask has been getting excellent notices about its food offering, under the wing of top chef Bryan McCarthy (the head chef at Green’s). Start with the Light. About six choices including House Marinated Olives with garlic parsley and also Guacamole, sour cream, Tomato salsa, Lime, Mexican crackers.
World Class Carl

Feel like something from the More. A Tuna Ceviche sounds good to me. Maybe the Salad Caprese? And then there’s the Ballyhoura Mushrooms on toast. And more.

Speaking of more, there’s even A Little More, everything from crispy aromatic Peking Duck to Philly Steak Sandwich to Nordic Bread Pizza. And there are cheese and charcuterie boards to share. Even desserts.

No shortage of choices in Cask. And there is another one. You may dine and drink inside in the bar or outside in the courtyard under the waterfall. And you can be sure that the outside space will be even more popular in summertime. Have a happy one!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Seamus Goes Solo at Rum Bar And Kitchen

Seamus Goes Solo at Rum Bar And Kitchen
A yummy rummy dessert!

Quite a menu at the Rum Bar and Kitchen in Marlboro Street. A few nibbles, a long list of small plates (you may order one or two in bigger sizes), some excellent large plates, and also a few tempting desserts! Took us a while to make up our minds but many of the dishes are shareable - indeed they have some large platters, mainly charcuterie and cheese, to share -  and that makes choosing that bit easier.

No matter what we ordered we were going to omit some very desirable choices such as that €12.00 Cheese Platter (Cashel Blue, Gubbeen Smoked and Tipperary Brie with apricot chutney, candied walnuts, grapes and crackers).

But we wouldn't be disappointed. Far from it. We started with three, from the small plates. One choice was the Spanish Fries (4.50). The fries, served with chopped olives, grated cheese, aioli and pesto, were a delicious delight, quite a change from the usual Patatas Bravas.

The Crispy beef brisket Bon Bons (four for 7.50) enhanced by a red wine jus were full of flavour, the jus superb. And the hoisin sauce with the home-made duck-leg spring rolls was also top notch and added to another very enjoyable small plate (8.50). 

Other small plates available include: smoked Gubbeen and honey roast ham croquettes, English Market Chicken liver paté, and also their own house chicken wings. See the full menu on their Facebook page below.


So, after those excellent small plates, how would the large plates measure up? They hadn’t been open a week when we called but our mains were top notch too.


The Seafood Fricatta (14.50), a fresh seafood selection in a tomato sauce, was well cooked, neatly presented and at the correct temperature (as were all the dishes), no shortage of fish and slightly spicy.

But our favourite of the two was the Classic Meatballs (14.00). The dish was choc-a-bloc with those meatballs and linguini in a spicy Italian herb tomato sauce with shaved parmesan. A simple classic and simply excellent.

Would we have dessert? Yes please, we’d love the Rum Baba. And we did. The sponge cake was soaked in the rum, came with fresh cream and fruit. It vanished very quickly indeed. By the way, all desserts are a fiver. Very reasonable, as are all the food prices here, considering the quality and the friendly service.

The Rum Bar and Kitchen is Seamus Healy’s new city centre bar serving tasty bites with a fantastic drinks selection and, yes, there are some lovely rums there too. And cocktails of course including classics such as Mojito, Long island, Pino Colada, Daiquiri and Margaritas. But, on an invite from Seamus, we were there for the food (mainly!). 

Seamus has quite a few years of experience in the hospitality sector, mainly in local hotels. He has been encouraged by the comments since their “soft” opening on June 8th. This is the ex soccer player’s first solo venture and we wish the former Albert Rovers man all the best!


Rum Bar & Kitchen
32 Marlboro Street
Cork
Tel: (021) 427 4707
Message: @rumbarandkitchen
Twitter: @RUMbarkitchen 


Friday, October 27, 2017

A Sour Theme! This Weekend's Franciscan Well October Festival

A Sour Theme!
This Weekend's Franciscan Well October Festival
Rodenbach cocktail

Sour is a big topic in Irish craft beer at present and indeed is the core theme at this weekend’s 17th annual Franciscan Well October Beerfest.

Beer expert Barry Fitzgerald has been involved in 16 of the 17 and was our host at an opening tasting event in their upstairs bar on Thursday evening, following a warm welcome from Marketing Manager Kate Clancy.  

Barry reckons that over a 1,000 new beers have been tasted in this festival on the North Mall, “always a new experience”. “It is the longest continuously running beer festival in the country…. it has evolved into a tasting menu, all about flavour, and this weekend’s menu reflects that.”

There are some twenty-six imported beers, all special but some very special indeed, on the menu card this time, available by the pint, the half-pint and the third-pint. Barry picked three sours, by well established breweries, for the tasting session, three that you could profitably note if calling in over the weekend (the festival continues today, Saturday and Sunday, from 1.00pm each day).

The first was from Belgium, a sour brown (8% abv) Goudenband (gold band) by Liefman in Oudenaarde; quite an experience. This is a mixed fermentation beer with re-fermentation in the bottle. “It is made by the year, is different each year, you can lay it down and it will last forever. This is the 2016, its first time in Ireland and may never be here again. We have just a small amount for the festival.”

“You notice cherry, but there is no fruit used in it, the flavour comes form the basic ingredients, the ageing and the wild yeast. It is winey, leather notes, very complex. If you like sour, this is a very good one!” 

Quite an amazing beer really, a real treat with a super balance, quite a sophisticated drink and a long long way from local sours that I've tasted recently. Much more detail on this beer here.

Next up was a UK/Norway collaboration between the Buxton and Lervig breweries, a gooseberry sour IPA at 7.00%, “brewed to celebrate friendship and a love of wild places”. The name of the beer is Trolltunga and you’ll get some detail on it here

There is fruit in this one as it’s packed with sour gooseberries, “cookers” as Barry said. And there was instant agreement as lips puckered up alarmingly around the tasting tables! This was really sour. “It is at the cutting edge of the new sours…wild yeast…open fermentation.” If you are getting in to sours, this is hardly the one to start with. As for me, I was in the minority that liked it. Then again, I sometimes get incredulous looks when I drink Campari neat. “How do you do that?”
Much different to the other two, which I also liked.

Back to Belgium then to complete the hat trick, Barry saving the best until last: The Rodenbach Gran Cru Sour red/brown at 6%, a blend of 1/3rd young beer and 2/3 of beer aged two years in large oak vats, giving fruity taste, complexity and intensity. Barry told us this Flemish Sour Ale has its own AOC. “It takes over two years to make (even the angel’s share happens here) and young beer is added to restart fermentation.”

“It is more like a traditional beer, the flavours primarily from the oak cask and the wild yeast.” It was certainly more approachable than the previous one and went down really well in the group. Lots more info on it here.  By the way, the festival list also features another outstanding beer from this brewery, the Caractere.

Upstairs at the Franciscan Well is where’ll you’ll find Ireland’s first and only brewhouse cocktail bar. Dean was ready to shake but he was determined to respect the Rodenbach which would be the base for our cocktail. For instance, even the detail of garnish was given due consideration by Dean who put aside the normal basil in favour of sage, considering the basil too aromatic for the beer.


So, to 60ml of Rodenbach, the mixologist added Tobacco and Honey rum, lime juice, Bermuda rum, Cotes du Rhone red, and ice of course. It was a superb finale to an eye-opening session in the bar which is soon to be re-named and Dean and company are determined that the cocktails will reflect what goes on in the brewhouse, getting as many as possible of their ingredients from the beer-making process. Sounds like a good plan. Here’s to checking it out, with Barry of course, during festival #18 next year!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Variety is the spice of life at The Cornstore.

Variety is the spice of life at The Cornstore.

60-day steak

The ever-popular Cornstore specialise in great steaks, quality seafood, and fabulous cocktails. But within, and outside of, that, they produce a stunning variety, enough to keep the punters returning time and again. Last Wednesday night was cold and showery but that didn't stop the customers visiting the Cornstore.

And with the ground floor full, there was quite a buzz about the place. Great place for groups of six or eight or more to dine but no shortage of couples either on the night. And, aside from the three “pillars” mentioned, you can get something to suit your palate (and your wallet) from a selection of menus: the Early Bird (two course for €25.00), a 3-course Gourmet menu for €35.00, and the A La Carte. And then they do lunch everyday, with brunch on Sundays.

And, of course, there are the specials. Not just one to two on a board. On Wednesday, for instance, there were two extra starters and four extra main courses. Indeed, it was from the specials that we choose most of our meal.

The staff here rarely stand still but at the same time, they are courteous, friendly and helpful. Great to be in out of the cold, studying those menus, the wine list (with lots of helpful hints), the cocktail list, the beer list, the whiskey lists. I could go on… 

Our drinks, in the end, were a glass of a gorgeous Colleita de Martis Albarino (what a finish, and perfect for the fish) and one of a smooth El Bar Malbec from Argentinian with ”an alluring nose and blackberry flavours” that lived up to the blurb as it mixed with the Brazilian style steak, Tango and Samba.
Cheese fritters

My starter pick from the specials list (don’t worry about boards, it comes with the menus) was the Duck spring rolls with spicy sesame hoisin dipping sauce. A pair of tasty beauties, nice little salad too.

CL was enjoying her generous Goats cheese fritters, red pepper, black olives, tomato, fig purée ad balsamic reduction. The superb accompaniments enhanced the cheese no end.

And then for the South America touch. My Picanha steak had been Dry aged for 60 days and was served Surf & Turf style with a Prawn skewer, a shrimp & cod mash, Prawn skewers and a Béarnaise sauce. They recommend medium for this cut which you may see on a video here. The beef was perfect and I must admit I was really delighted with the mash!
Sole

The beef came from the specials as did CL’s pick: the Poached Roulade of Lemon Sole, stuffed with mussel mousse on potato confit, samphire and sauce Veronique. Again, the fish was perfect, tender and moist and the stuffing was outstanding.

I’m sure the desserts would have been special as well but our two courses had already filled us and soon we were waddling over to Patrick Street to catch the bus home, happy out!

The Cornstore are always ready and willing to take part in special events in the city and will be one of the restaurants on the Gourmet Trail (23rd Sep) during the Oyster Festival the weekend after this. You can check what they doing and even win two tickets for the Trail here

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Cask’s Andy Ferreira: Top of the Cocktail World


Cask’s Andy Ferreira: Top of the Cocktail World

Andy Ferreira of Cask (Cork) was one of the 55 bartenders who competed in the recent World Class Bartender of the Year in Mexico City, a competition geared to “change the way you drink in 2018”. Kaitlyn Stewart from Canada emerged as the overall winner.

Andy, who won the Irish competition, didn’t make the final round but won’t be looking back with self-pity, far from it as you can gather from his reflections after his exit. “So my World class adventure has come to an end. Incredible two days competing and I gave it everything. No regrets, which is great. Can't wait to see the top 10 in action tonight. Thanks for all the love y'all. The support was unreal.”

Andy’s road to Mexico involved a number of varied challenges. Nial Molloy, World Class Ireland Brand Ambassador, told me all about it: "Andy was first selected for the final 12 from over 40 top calibre entrants from all over the island of Ireland. He then went through an in bar judging stage which whittled the competition down to a final six. Andy then won out the Ireland leg of the competition in a live final which involved a number of challenges such as creating sustainable and signature cocktails for Industry leading judges followed by a speed round in front of over 200 of Irelands top industry professionals.  

In Mexico Andy competed brilliantly. Keeping his signature style and Irish charm consistent across the four challenges set for him.  He was particularly well received in his Mex Eco and Signature Cocktail challenges where he got to showcase his style of bartending to some the World’s leading talents and judges. As Ambassador for World Class Ireland, I personally couldn’t be prouder of his efforts and achievements there. And needless to say he was much loved by judges and competitors alike. The competition boasts an extremely high calibre of Bartenders, with many coming from the Top Fifty bars in the world, a place I have no doubt Andy will bring Cask to in the not too distant future."

Hospitality is in Andy’s blood. His parents owned a successful restaurant which gave him exposure to the fast-paced industry from a young age. After furthering his trade in Dublin, he’s spent time in the USA, Australia, Africa and Asia. 

He’s managed venues in the Thai mountains and rural Ireland, has won several awards and even set up a consultancy! His drinks programmes have introduced nature to his customers, using local produce. 

Cask is the bar he manages in Cork and hopes to make it the best cocktail bar in Ireland! Indeed, while he was in Mexico for the finals, Cask was voted the "Best cocktail bar in Ireland”.

The organisers’ press release (from here down) say Cocktail culture is skyrocketing internationally. Almost 9 out of 10 younger drinkers (88%) now enjoy cocktails on a night out. With Asia, the Middle East and Latin America now represented on the World's 50 Best Bar list, the people leading this revolution are from across the globe. They are bringing new ideas, techniques and cultural influences, leading to a dynamic fast-paced industry where new trends are emerging, inspiring people to drink better the world over.
The World Class Bartender of the Year Finals is the world's biggest bartending competition. Nearly 10,000 bartenders from 57 countries have taken part to win the crown of best bartender in the world.
In between judging the finalists, leading lights from the food and drinks industry got together to uncover the main trends they expect to see next year.

Diageo Global Cocktailian Lauren Mote led a discussion including mixology legend Dre Masso; Australian MasterChef host & judge Matt Preston; Alex Kratena (formerly of Artesian - three time winner of World's Best Bar) and the WORLD CLASS BARTENDER OF THE YEAR 2014, Charles Joly.

Made in Cask! Home of the champs!
The trend panel predicted a rise in sustainability, signature serves, the link between mixed drinks and fine cuisine, and the increase in crafting cocktails at home. Some spectacular cocktail serves were produced as examples at the event.

Sustainable Serves - In a recent consumer poll, nearly one in two customers expressed a willingness to pay a 10% premium for socially responsible and environmentally friendly goods. So as well as helping the environment, going down this route could also make sound business sense for bar owners. 
Dre Masso commented: "Sustainable and re-useable methods and ingredients are becoming increasingly important. The mixologists who embrace this new reality are the ones who will flourish.” Read more about sustainability in the cocktail bar here

Signature Serves - One of the original cocktail innovators, Giuseppe Cipriani, created the Bellini in Venice in the 1930s, and today the home of the Bellini - Harry's Bar - is a must-visit. So with people now spending 5% more on luxury experiences than luxury goods[3], bar owners and mixologists who tap into this desire can thrive in 2018.

Alex Kratena said: "I expect to see more switched-on bar operators and bartenders creating unique drink experiences that go beyond 'what's expected' and push signature serves to become the answer to what tasting menus are in the restaurant world.'

Culinary Cocktails - This trend can be seen in some of the world's top bars with occasionally eyebrow-raising results, whether it's a foie gras and salted caramel infused Manhattan; or even a 'Margherita' pizza cocktail.

Matt Preston said: "With the rise of celebrity chefs and the increased interest in cuisine, the most enlightened mixologists will explore and experiment with flavours, textures, ingredients and techniques borrowed from their peers in the world of fine dining.

"From shock cuisine and hard core fermentation to extreme locality and the growth of restless "palate syndrome" there is so much the culinary and bartending worlds can learn from each other."

Cocktails at Home - Research indicates that 73% of younger drinkers enjoy cocktails at home on special occasions. They are switching-up the ingredients they keep in their kitchen cupboards for more adventurous cocktail-making.

Charles Joly said: "Rather than just cracking open a bottle of wine when guests arrive, it's the logical next step for cocktail lovers to be able to craft beautiful cocktails at home when entertaining friends."
Lauren Mote added: "The aim of WORLD CLASS is not just to find the best bartender in the world, we also want to inspire cocktail enthusiasts around the world to drink better, to give 'home bartenders' to the courage to explore what's possible, creating their own signature cocktails in their kitchen."


Lauren brought the four trends to life at the session with the following recipes:
Sustainable Serves: Café Cantata 
Ketel One Vodka, Banana, Vermouth, Cold Brew Mexican Espresso, Tea Leaves & Flowers, Bittered Sling Arabica Coffee Bitters
Signature Serve cocktail: Juniper Cream Soda 
Tanqueray No. TEN Gin, Campari and Manzanilla Sherry, Clarified Watermelon Juice, Mexican Vanilla Bean, locally-made Kombucha, Bittered Sling Plum & Rootbeer Bitters (entire mix should be carbonated, bottled and capped)
Culinary Cocktail: Kernel Horchata 
Ron Zacapa 23 YO Rum, Calvados and Oloroso Sherry, Starchy Rice and Almond Milks, Cacao, Mexican Spices, Bittered Sling Moondog Latin American Bitters
Cocktails at Home Cocktail: Pantry Punch 
Johnnie Walker Black Label, Red Vermouth, Mango & Black Pepper Shrub, Cold Brewed Ceylon Black Tea, Bittered Sling Kensington Aromatic Bitters

Visit Diageo Reserve makeitworldclass.com for the latest trends and recipes.

Friday, July 17, 2015

St Patrick's Distillery Launch

St Patrick's Distillery Launch
At Coughlan's (l to r): Andrew Desmond (Whazon), Cyril Walsh and
Barry Fitzgerald (both St Patrick's)
The team at St Patrick's Distillery in Douglas could hardly have picked a better venue for their recent launch than Coughlan's Bar in Douglas Street and will be hoping that some of the pub's longevity will rub off on their new venture. Coughlan's is close to 200 years old, a very lively 200 years as it is a recent winner of the IMRO Music Venue of the Year Award. Check it out here.

Lovely, lively old pub in Douglas Street

The St Patrick's Range.
It includes four gins including an Elderflower and also a Sloe and Honey. Indeed that Sloe and Honey featured in the most popular cocktail of the evening, the Sloe Heaven!


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Taste of the Week. Cocktail in a Tea Pot!

Taste of the Week.
Cocktail in a Tea Pot!
At Blairscove House.
The Woodward Rose cocktail
We were checking the cocktail menu before dinner in Blairscove House in Durrus last week and CL decided on the Woodward Rose. The description looked promising: Hendricks Gin, St German Elderflower liquor, Karmine Pressed Apple Juice, and Raspberries. She got a bit of surprise though when she was served with a tea pot, sitting in a cup.

The cocktail was in the tea pot and it was then poured into the cup and was perhaps the best cuppa she ever had, our Taste of the Week! In the bad old days of prohibition in the United States (1920-1933), people used all kinds of containers to hide the alcohol, the tea pot being one suggested by Hendricks. By the way, dinner in Blairscove was top class as you may read here.

See also (from this trip): Dinner of Delights at Blairscove House
Walking on Sheep's Head Peninsula
Castlefreke and Rathbarry, The Castles And The Wood

Staying at Blairscove House. A Perfect Place.





Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring Time at The Cornstore

Spring Time at The Cornstore.
Day and Night Delights

Aged beef and amazing béarnaise sauce
The Cornstore has marked the coming of Spring with a trio of new menus: new Cocktails, a new Lunch line-up and a stunning Early Bird which gives you quality at an excellent price.


I sampled the Early Bird in mid-week and was very happy with it. No shortage of choice here. You have five starters to pick from, six main courses and four desserts. It is available Monday to Saturday and the three course menu will cost you a very reasonable twenty five euro but do get in before the cut-off time of 6.30pm.
Both the starters were perfect. CL’s was Buffalo Mozzarella and Beef Tomato Salad (Toonsbridge mozzarella, pea shoot and balsamic). The cheese was so fresh, hard to beat unless maybe you go to the dairy itself. My Duck Parfait, served with their own award winning Fig Whiskey Chutney and Sourdough Toast, was another perfectly judged gem.

Cornstore always have their eye on the season and wild Garlic featured in CL’s delicious mains: Roast Cod on a Wild Garlic Risotto with tomato vinaigrette. Here were aromas and flavours to beat the band, a top notch combination.
Starters

And so was mine, though it carries a modest three euro supplement. The Cornstore are renowned for their aged beef and so I couldn't resist the Aged Beef Fillet Medallions with Caesar dressed leaves, home cut fries and béarnaise sauce. Oh my! I could have eaten each element on its own, nothing else, and been happy. But put them all together like this and my palate was beyond happy!

Good variation on the mains on offer. Also available were: Brazed Flat Iron Steak, Oven Roast Chicken, Truffle Burger (this is mega!), and Thai Green Vegetable Curry. Other starters on the night were Soup of the Day, Quinoa Salad and Peppered Calamari.

And the seasonal theme continued as we moved to dessert. My delightful choice was the Rhubarb and Lime Posset with Madeline biscuit while CL enjoyed her Fruit Salad with a Raspberry Sorbet.

There are Lite Bites, To Share plates, and a long list of mains on the Lunch Menu. But the section that caught my eye was the Set Lunch. Here you may have 2 courses for just 15 euro, picking from five starters and five mains (including that Truffle Burger). Three course come to twenty euro.

The Cornstore cocktails aren't just a fast drink. Did you know that preparations can take up to 14 days! Didn't get a chance to sample the new mixes but Cornstore’s Mags O’Connor is enthusiastic: “The final exclusive menu, just launched, will delight everyone from the cocktail connoisseur, to the person taking their first ever sip of the clever creations”.   

“Vodka, gin, whiskey and rum are infused with various fruits and vegetable based elixirs for up to 14 days. Time works its magic to create infusions that are at their ultimate flavoursome peak. Think vodka infused with chilli, gin infused with Earl Grey tea, lemon and peel, whiskey infused with plums or rum infused with dried apricots.”

Desserts

Friday, October 31, 2014

Island of Asian Street Food at Phô

Island of Asian Street Food at Phô

Hawkers Corner in City Pub!

The Phô Mule.
The island of Penang, part of a Malaysian state of the same name, is renowned for it street food. Not surprisingly, as it is a melting pot of many cultures with India, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and the Malaysian mainland itself all relatively close by. 

Here, hawkers with their rickshaws join together in the marketplace. These are specialists, one an ace in Prada, the other in curry, another in noodles, this one in Rendang. People come from miles around to sample their wares.

Thankfully, you don't have to go to Penang. Chef Prakash, known locally here as Kash, who grew up on the island surrounded by it rich culinary landscape, has brought the authentic know-how with him to the new Phô in Douglas Street. 

The menu is extensive and there is also a Phô Kids Menu. Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Kids and the strength of the spices (1, 2 or 3) are all clearly marked on the menu. No shortage of drinks either, non alcoholic, teas, coffees, wines, and local craft beers all available. And also a list of very original cocktails!

Okay. Where to start? The Roti Prata is proving very popular. This is an Indian influenced flat bread, fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside, and Kash tells me it is “an all day thing in Malaysia, 24/7”. It is proving very popular in Douglas Street. You may have it plain with a fragrant Lentil Curry (I enjoyed that very much) or with a number of fillings, including Chicken or Egg or Curry. Phô customers use it as a sharing dish while they wait for their main course.

Rice dishes include Thai and Malaysian Curries. The latter are spicy gluten free, originating from Penang Island. And, of course, there is Rendang, a spicy (#2 on the spice scale!) meat curry, served with Jasmine Rice. I loved the beef version but would happily try the others.

Beef Redang, served with Jasmine rice (not in shot!).

The next section comes under the Hawker Corner label. You, or the kids, won't go wrong here, even if you may not get the pronunciations right.  Try the gorgeous flavours, textures and aromas of the Khaw Pad Bay Krapow, Thai stir-fried rice with prawns and sweet basil.

Flat noodles feature on the Char Koey Teow, Malaysian stir fried flat noodles with prawn, slow smoked duck and pork sausage, bean sprouts, dark soy sauce and duck eggs. Phew, hard to pronounce but easy to eat and one of my favourites. Talking of pronunciation, Phô is pronounced “Faa”.

More noodles, big fat roundy ones, on the simpler Hokkien Mee. These are Udon style noodles cooked with pork liver and soy sauce. Delicious. Other noodle dishes include Phô Bo (from Hanoi) and Penang Prawn Noodles.

Vegetarian dishes look inviting with Pasembur and Poh Pia available. Indeed, next time I go back I might well pick the Pasembur as I had a sample of the Sweet Potato and Peanut Sauce and it is superb.

And everyone can tuck into Phô’s one desert. Indeed, everyone should try this at least once. It is a gem called Ais Kacang, shaved ice with screwpine jelly, grass jelly, rose agar agar, palm seed, rose water syrup, palm sugar syrup or ice cream. The most delicious glassful you'll get anywhere for €4.50. Cooling too if you’ve indulged in the spicier dishes!


Dessert (left) and right, from top, Hokkien Mee,
Char Koey Teow, and Khaw Pad Bai Krapow

While I was sampling, I kept cool with another lovely drink, a Lassi. This is a popular refreshing Indian influenced yogurt-based drink. Mine was Mango flavoured and you can also get it in Peach!

They are very proud of their Cocktail list here and rightly so. You will see one or two old standards there, including the Singapore Sling, but most of the cocktails have been created specially for the new restaurant/bar and are inspired by the South East Asian regions.

I had to sample one before heading off. The Phô Mule was recommended. “It’s a bomb,” I was told. Pandan leave infused Absolut, Kumquats, Lemongrass and Ginger Syrup, Lime and Ginger Beer. Not like any cocktail I’ve tasted before, it is superb, some beautiful refreshing flavours smoothing down the alcohol. And don’t gulp it down. Sip through the straws and enjoy it all the more.

How about the Phô Mojito? This is made with Cucumber, Coriander, Rum, Lime, Sugar and Soda Water. Kash’s own favourite is the Penang Twang. Ingredients here are Grapefruit Vodka, Lemongrass, Green tea, Lemon juice and Sugar. Cheers!

And best of luck to Brian and Kash. Both men are well known for their successful Fresco Bistro, attached to the Glucksman in the grounds of UCC and very popular in the college and surrounds. No doubt some of their customers there will be among those turning up in Douglas Street to try the well priced well cooked meals. All food is “homemade” in Phô and sourced locally where possible.


Roti Prata


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Enjoying the Cornstore’s Summer Of Aged Beef, Seafood and Cocktails

Enjoying the Cornstore’s Summer
Of Aged Beef, Seafood and Cocktails
Balsamicotini
Cork’s immensely popular Cornstore Restaurant, on Cornmarket Street, is flying high this year, powered by four “engines”: Aged Steaks, innovative Seafood dishes and a whole squadron of cocktails (led by the special infused mixes). The fourth engine is the service team, smiling, chatty, friendly and efficient.

Got a great chance to try it out when I won one of their recent photo competitions and the prize was a full dinner and cocktails. Got a terrific welcome from Sarah and her front of house team.

First, to the cocktails. My opener was the Cornstore Whiskey Old Fashioned: Plum infused whiskey, angostura bitters, orange peel, and plum jam. Loved it but wasn't quite ready for the concentrated shot of whiskey when I ate the plum at the end!

John Dory
Later on, I absolutely enjoyed the Cornstore Rum Old Fashioned: Apricot infused Rum, vintage port, angostura bitters, orange peel and apricot jam. The Port and Rum worked a treat in combo and, taking my time on this occasion, that apricot at the end proved very enjoyable indeed.

CL’s opening cocktail was one of their “Luxury Cocktails”, a Taiwantini: Hendricks gin, lychee liqueur, cucumber syrup, fresh lime juice, topped with Prosecco. A very cool cocktail indeed, refreshing and, like most of them, easy-drinking!

On manager Mike Ryan's recommendation, she stayed on the luxury loop for her second one, the Balsamicotini: Grey Goose, fresh strawberries, balsamico, fresh basil, fresh lime juice, cranberry juice and strawberry syrup. Another superb combination, so well mixed by Stephen at the bar as we watched in wonder!
Steak
The food was absolutely outstanding and it seems to me that the dishes produced by the Cornstore chefs are just getting better and better. Take mussels for instance. They have three takes here and the top one is the Full Irish: a very successful pairing indeed of the mussels and black pudding. Could hardly believe how tasty this proved, helped by the addition of craft cider and chive cream.

Jack McCarthy’s black pudding is also used with the Pan Seared Wexford Scallops but CL went for the delicately delicious Scallop ceviche with baby potato, caper and shaved fennel salad.

Jack’s black pudding is one of the many ways in which local produce is used by the Cornstore. Indeed, they buy local as much as they can and the scallops for instance come from the Amber Mist trawler in Wexford’s Kilmore Quay while the mussels that I so enjoyed are supplied by Kinsale’s Jamie Dwyer. Oh and by the way, it isn’t all cocktails here as you can also choose from a range of local beers by Eight Degrees and Dungarvan Brewing and Stonewell craft cider is also available.
Sorbet still life.
Back then to the main courses. CL spotted a fish dish on the specials: Pan fried John Dory with Queen scallops, sautéed potatoes, organic leaves and a saffron and garlic aioli. The fish was flawlessly cooked on the bone and was totally delicious.

Earlier in the summer, the Cornstore announced that they were aging their own beef and using Himalayan salt in the process (28-35 days is the period). Still plenty of beef left and I picked the simply grilled Fillet, served with mushrooms, onion fricassee, vine roast cherry tomatoes and a foie gras and truffle butter.

It is “the best tasting steak we can produce for our customers”. I think it is the best tasting steak I’ve ever had. Now, I’m told that their Tomahawk cut (for sharing) may be even better. Next time!