Showing posts with label restaurant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label restaurant. Show all posts

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Jacques. Toujours.

Jacques. Toujours.

I can never quite understand the rush of press critics to new restaurants. Some of them are hardly open a wet week and are winning awards. No doubt quite a few are well founded and will last the pace. Like twenty years. Thirty years. Maybe like forty years that the renowned reliable Jacques is now approaching. 

We called there last week and, well, it is as good as ever, maybe even better. The food is top class as is the service. Jacques were one of the first to recognise and support local producers and you know quite a few of them, including craft drink beer brewers and gin distillers, and so on. Have to admit we were on the wine though, a delicious pair at that, a cracking Albarino and a gorgeous Muscadet (biodynamique).

The Barry sisters may be approaching that big anniversary but their menu is innovative, not the least bit old stuff. Sure you can have your steaks and black-puddings and so on but it is the way they vary the dishes, the differing accompaniments, that keep the customers coming back time after time.

For instance, in July, your hake  will come pan fried, with lemon butter, crispy capers, parsley, Ballycotton queens and greens. The other night, a cold one, we enjoyed Fresh Hake, Seaweed, Fennel, Lemon Butter, Crispy Capers, Buttered Cabbage and Beans, Champ (23.90). A superb dish. Variety is the spice of life.
East meets ouest

That was CL’s main dish and speaking of spice, she had Smoked Morrocan Quail,  Spiced Couscous, Apricot, Harissa (11.90) as a starter. Another brilliant combination, bang on up to date with the evolving local cuisine. Don't think you'd have got that here in the early 80s!

And that exciting mix that has come to our plates over the past twenty years or so was very much in evidence in my starter: Asian Miso Seafood Bisque, noodles, vegetables (9.50). An accomplished and warming dish with hints of Asia and the Med, expertly cooked and presented, perfect for the cold.

And that high standard was maintained with my main dish: Fresh West Cork Scallops, Winter Remoulade, Celeriac Puree, Crispy Pancetta, Potato Rosti and a Tomato Relish 26.90. Scallops and Pancetta are a terrific duo but all the other elements played a role too. I took my time with that one and absolutely enjoyed it.

Still room for dessert and this time we broke out and had one each, sharing of course! The Oranges, Mascarpone stuffed Medjool Dates, Almonds, Pomegranate (7.50) were excellent but the winner, on points, was their Tiramisu - The Classic (7.50).

So best of luck to all the new restaurants and cafes that have opened up in the last few months - there are some excellent ones around town - but every now and then it doesn't do any harm to blow the trumpet for the old reliables who have worked their way through recessions and booms and who still come up trumps.

23 Oliver Plunket Street

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Dynamic Duo At Dockland Cork

Dynamic Duo At Dockland Cork

Dynamic duo Harold Lynch and Beth Haughton are behind the new Dockland Restaurant on the very same site where their popular Club Brasserie stood up to a few short months ago. A hectic two month conversion process (= flat-out hard work!) saw a new, brighter, deli cum restaurant emerge to cater to the new lighter and healthier eating trend that has begun to emerge in recent years.

The welcome is as warm as ever. And don't worry! Lots of small bites but If you want your full dinner here, you’ll be in for a treat. Take your time as you make your way through the delicious starters, the array of main courses and the tempting desserts. 

We had missed out on the experience before Christmas but made it Lapps Quay the other night. And, yes, we were there for the dinner! Settled in and studied the menu, starting with the Bites to Bigger Bites. Something here to suit every pocket and taste, from a Bowl of Marinated Olives (3.00), to Baked Ardsallagh Goats Cheese, red peppers, chilli flakes dip, on toasted Arbutus Bread (5.00) to Baked King Prawns, garlic, chillies, olive oil, Arbutus sourdough (13.00).

My pick was the Ballyhoura Mushrooms crostini, cream, tarragon, parmesan truffle oil (5.00). Just love the texture and flavour of this little marvel. And CL’s starter was another gem: Roasted Aubergine, Toonsbridge Mozzarella, tomato fondue, parmesan and pesto (5.00).

There have a list of Pizzas as well but we concentrated on the Main Plates of which there was quite a choice. Mine was the Grilled Sumac Spiced Lamb steak (with tomato, herb cucumber salad, chargrilled vegetable couscous, spiced yogurt, and toasted almonds). What a lovely dish, a perfect balance of flavours and spice, tender and delicious, all for €18.00. 

CL considered the Fish of the Day but in the end went for the regular Baked Hake (22.00). The hake came with gremolata, parmesan crust, piperade, tomatoes, black olives , cream and basil. Lots going on there but the meticulous cooking of Harold Lynch and crew in the kitchen means every little detail was spot on, as was the case with the lamb, and the whole dish was a flavoursome treat.
Something Sweet was the next heading to be considered. CL picked the Yogurt, poached vanilla mint berries, muesli, honey, pumpkin seeds (6.30). This is a new addition to their morning, brunch, lunch and evening menu and perfectly described as “a little sweet healthiness”, which it certainly was. Mine was a little more indulgent but I enjoyed every little bit of the Rolled Meringue, lime vanilla cream, poached plums and toasted almonds (6.30).

The lunch menu is even more extensive and at all times you may spend as much or as little as you with. Drop in for a pair of the small bites and a glass of wine. Maybe just a pizza. If you don’t have time to linger, then join the queue at the Deli counter for take-out. By the way, even though there are 90 seats in the restaurant, you are advised to book, particularly at the weekend. 

Front-of-House is led, as was the case with Brasserie, by Beth. She and her crew make you feel welcome from the opening smile and they are efficient also. The bar is now part of the main restaurant and you may enjoy a favourite drink before you start, a gin and tonic perhaps, maybe a Negroni? Cheers.
“a little sweet healthiness”
City Quarter
Lapps Quay
T: 353 (0)21 427 3987

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!

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

Monday, April 3, 2017

Cork’s Radisson BLU Hotel Reveals Luxurious New Ground Floor Revamp

Cork’s Radisson BLU Hotel Reveals Luxurious New Ground Floor Revamp 
Restaurant is renamed Maestro’s’
Had many an enjoyable evening in Little Island while growing up nearby but last Thursday's event in the Cork Radisson Blu, as they revealed its luxurious ground floor revamp and officially renamed the lovely new restaurant Maestro's, was rather unique.
There was a little nervousness among the Radisson crew early on but soon that dissipated as the guests began to enjoy the occasion. We were greeted warmly with champagne, wines and cocktails.

We were soon seated and the music added to the feel-good mood. The restaurant staff took the chance to show their paces and there were tables groaning with all kinds of goodies. Lots of them! 

Elke O'Mahony recommended the chowder and she was spot-on! It was excellent, perhaps my favourite too. But then the dish alongside it, Salmon Chorizo risotto, also had its fans. Even the bangers and mash were high class. Indeed there was something for everyone, especially when those desserts appeared. Oh my!
A few short speeches then from Shane Fitzpatrick, the hotel's General Manager and from Colette Walsh, Director of Sales & Marketing. Then it was time for fun and games and prizes galore to be won. The big prize was, of course, for renaming the beautiful new restaurant where we were seated.

The hotel ran a renaming contest on social media. Suggestions came through in their hundreds, with people offering names both on social media and at the hotel itself. 
After weeks of deliberation, the team of judges decided to opt for a name that was put forward by a guest staying at the hotel. The successful entrant chose the title ‘Maestro’s’ and given that the restaurant is a finely-tuned machine that is operated with care and with a friendly but professional approach, the name seemed to be the perfect fit.

With the winner opting to stay anonymous, Shane, the  General Manager, decided that the amazing prize of dinner for two for a full year should go to a worthy cause. “We discussed how best to allocate the prize given the circumstances and it was unanimously agreed that it would be a well-deserved treat for the dedicated staff of Cork University Hospital,” Shane revealed. “They collectively do such great work and we would love to reward them in any way we can, so we will be offering the prize to them and we hope they will use it and enjoy it as they see fit!”

While he delighted in awarding such a hard-working team, Shane himself received a phenomenal accolade at the recent Shining Star Awards at the Park Inn by Radisson, Heathrow Airport. Fending off stiff competition in a category that included all GMs from Rezidor in the Western Europe region, comprising approximately 60 hotels, Shane scooped the title of ‘General Manager of the Year’. The prestigious award reflects his exceptional approach over the past 12 months to team building and development, customer service and financial excellence.

Speaking at the launch event, Colette Walsh, Director of Sales & Marketing, revealed Shane's win and paid tribute to her colleague’s amazing achievement and praised both his work ethic and motivational approach.

Also clearly delighted with the success of the hotel’s launch event, Colette said: “We are so thrilled with how successful our launch event has been and more so, we are ecstatic with the reaction of those who attended. Now that we have officially revealed our new look, we can’t wait to welcome both new and regular customers and to give them a taster of what the ‘new and improved’ Radisson BLU Cork has to offer. We are prouder than ever as a team to show off our beautiful hotel!”
The significant project, which incorporated The Great Island Ballroom, the chic hotel lobby, stylish Banks Bar and over 40 bedrooms, culminated in the complete revamp of the hotel’s restaurant. Now sophisticatedly adorned with plush carpets, mahogany furniture and brown leather booths, the restaurant is the cherry on top of the hotel’s brand new look.

Of course, I had to check out that stylish bar too. Having been in quite a few hotels who didn’t offer Irish craft drinks over the past week, I was delighted that the first thing I saw was the trio of taps for the Franciscan Well beers. Great to see this leading international chain supporting local and I drank to their future success with a delicious pint of Chieftain Pale Ale. Cheers Radisson! Here’s to many more years in Little Island.

For bookings and enquiries, visit or call 021 4297000

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Well Fed at Les Années 30

Day 14 (Part 2)
Well Fed at Les Années 30


Crazy Salad and Aspic Bunny featured in the menu that drew us to Les Annees 30 in Chinon last evening. Well not in the restaurant's French language menu, but in the Google translation. Also, we had a recommendation from Sylvie, our hostess here at the gite.

Sylvie has good taste! It was an excellent meal, quite leisurely with French style service meaning a 10.15 pm exit after a 7.30pm entrance. But, in between, we enjoyed four lovely courses, some quite superb dishes and a bottle of excellent local Chinon wine.

Amuse Bouche
Rabbit in aspic, Grapefruit and Ginger, Ice Mustard, Surf Pink Grapefruit, 
Bouquet of Mesclun with Coriander. A superb starter.
Cream Codfish cumbava,Sandre chips and Smoked Salmon, 
Parmesan, Salad, Sauce Beetroot Balsamic Vinegar.
Loved this, especially with the other two fish, the
salmon and the sandre (river perch)
Dorade Redfish Snackée, Mashed Potatoes with Olive Oil and Fresh Cheese,
Espuma of Broccoli, Cream Lemon Tarragon. Five star dish!
Fillet Roasted Duckling Chinon Wine Jam, Duxelle Mushrooms, 
Roasted Pear and Celery Cream of the Tonka Bean.
Another five star!
Red fruit "soup", iced Pistachio with Amarena

Chocolate Mousse Guayaquil and Madagascar (chef's specialty),
Caramel Ice Lavender and Violet. Top class choc!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Enjoyable Stay at Dublin’s Ashling Hotel

Enjoyable Stay at Dublin’s Ashling Hotel

The four star Ashling Hotel  in Parkgate Street, just 200 metres from Heuston Station, was my base for a recent short stay in Dublin. With the station so close, and two Luas stops nearby, and visits to the Zoo and the Guinness Storehouse on the agenda, it was a convenient location.

And also a very good one. The staff, day and evening, were brilliant, at reception, in the restaurant and in the bar. The place was bright and smart and there was very comfortable seating in the public areas.

Anyone for Breakfast?
Chesterfield Avenue is nearby and takes you to the Zoo and the hotel restaurant has the same name. It also has lots of good Irish produce. I thoroughly enjoyed my Silver Hill Duck and Quail Salad. And that was followed by a delicious falling-off-the-bone shank of Galway lamb. The choice at breakfast, also served in Chesterfield’s, was huge, quality all the way.
Chicken and Gammon Sandwich in the bar.
 This being Guinness country, the busy spacious bar is named the Iveagh Bar. No Irish craft beer here but did enjoy a few pints of Erdinger and found the bar food excellent on the one occasion we ate there.

Restaurant dessert
 They are strict enough about check-in and check-out time but will hold your luggage for you, which is a handy facility. There are quite a few attractions in the immediate area, including the gaol and museum in Kilmainham. But it is very easy to get to the city centre. You’d walk it in about 20 minutes; the Luas is very convenient and so too is the bus.

Highly recommended.

Silver Hill Duck and Quail Salad in restaurant

Friday, November 2, 2012

Busy at the Chapel Steps

 Busy at the Chapel Steps

Outside it was gloomy but inside (left) at the Chapel Steps  it was bright and busy. This is Bandon’s newest restaurant, just 8 weeks after its upgrade from cafe status. The signs are promising. It is a lovely space and a big crowd was in last night (Thursday) and great food on the table.

And no great surprise with the top notch food when you are learn that the Head Chef is Kevin O’Regan (ex Electric) and that he is concentrating hugely on the marvellous produce available in the area.

Kevin, along with the owners Sean and Siobhan (her Dad, along his brothers, ran the place as a butcher’s shop from the 1960’s), have instigated a series of speciality evenings.  Wednesday is a great night for steak lovers - choose from an 8oz Fillet, a 10oz Rib-eye or 12oz Sirloin with all the trimmings for only €20 per dish. Thursday is fish night and I took advantage!

 But back to the start and a very warm welcome as we came in from the dark and the wet. Had a chat with restaurant manager Caroline O’Flynn as we settled to the table. We had already been told about the wine special, supplied this month from the McHenry Hohnen vineyard in the Margaret River Region of Western Australia.

Having met founder David Hohnen (he also founded New Zealand’s famous Cloudy Bay and is busy now preparing his Porker legs for the Christmas trade) hardly a month back in Ballymaloe, we naturally went for his wine (Sauvignon blanc Semillon).

Quite a choice of starters and appetisers here. CL went for Pan Seared Rosscarbery Black Pudding - with crubeen croquette, chilli jam and smoked pancetta. Chef Kevin loves his crubeen and this was a great combination to get the meal underway. And so was mine: Home Smoked Duck - with beetroot, port and burnt butter vinaigrette.

Fish, collected early in the morning in Union Hall, is a regular on the menu and there is a good daily choice but an even better one on Thursday. I went for that special: Spiced Monkfish, butternut squash puree, with roast vegetables, chilli, lime and parsley emulsion. Just enough spice to liven it up without dulling the fish flavour. Just loved it, the freshness, the flavours and the combination of the various textures. All for €15.00. A special for sure.

 CL also enjoyed great value even though her €17.00 dish wasn't a special but a regular part of the menu. It was Roast Cod with roast peppers, chorizo, tomato and olive ragu. Another really lovely fish dish and another with a smashing super tasty sauce. Healthy also.

After all that good eating, we treated ourselves to dessert at a fiver each. She really loved the lively flavours of her Autumn Berry and Lemon Roulade with berry coulis and sugared almonds while I was equally happy with my well made Sticky Toffee Pudding with toffee and vanilla sauce, rum and raisin ice cream. This was a piece of real pudding, the sauce an enjoyable addition rather than a disguise.

 Then we met Siobhan who told us about the history of the place and the apprehension ahead of their big step-up from cafe to restaurant. Two months in and it seems that the big step is worthwhile. Early days yet of course but a good start is half the battle. Best wishes for the future then to Kevin, Siobhan and Sean. The Chapel Steps is just a short trip from the city and one that is well worthwhile. No penance here!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Vista Bar And Grill, Hotel Montenotte

Vista Bar And Grill
Hotel Montenotte

I’ve been using some of those better than half price deal vouchers and the most recent was this week when I called to one of my local hotels, the Hotel Montenotte. The Groupon voucher promised a couple of cocktails and a main course each for €25.00.
Hadn’t been to the Montenotte for quite a while but it turned out to be quite an enjoyable experience. The voucher mentioned the Vista Bar and Grill but we were directed to the adjoining restaurant section; both enjoy the same views over the city.
The hotel and dining room looked brilliant. Service was low key, courteous and efficient. The cocktails didn’t materialise. Instead we were served with a glass each of a rosé Prosecco, quite dry and tasty. No quibbles there; only bubbles. There were supplements on the various steaks but again this had been flagged to some extent by Groupon.
We checked out the well worn menus as we sipped the bubbly. CL decided to go for the Poached Darne of Atlantic Salmon (C), priced at €16.75. This turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise. It was served, unusually, on baby potatoes with a fresh mussel and winter vegetable broth, with a side dish of spot-on vegetables. A little different and a very pleasing main course indeed.

Didn’t expect any problems with my sirloin and none materialised. It was done just as requested and I really enjoyed the creamy mushroom sauce and my little bucket of French fries (nice touch!).
Had a look at the desserts but, after two sizeable platefuls (and the fact the Champions League was about to start on telly!), decided to finish off with coffee. Again, this was well up to standard, Bewley's I believe.
There are some other items on the menu worth exploring and you can see the lot here. If you'd like to see more local deals from Groupon click here.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Kerli Estnurm , Mike Ryan and Kate O'Donovan at THE CORNSTORE CORK

Cornstore Restaurant - 
awards finalist twice in one week

It’s been an exciting week for the Cornstore Restaurant Group with the Cornstore Cork restaurant selected as a finalist for one of the Irish hospitality industry’s highest honours; the prestigious Hotel & Catering Review ‘Gold Medal Award for Casual Dining’.

On top of that, The Frawley Group (which comprises the Cornstore Restaurants in Cork and Limerick, the Cornstore At Home gourmet deli, and Aubars Bar & Club) was selected as one of three finalists in the inaugural Limerick Region Business Awards 2011 for ‘Best Large Indigenous Company’.

Eight of the best of Ireland’s relaxed dining sector were selected as finalists for the Gold Medal Award for Casual Dining at the 23rd Annual Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards on Monday, October 24th, 2011 in Dublin.

Run by Executive Chef Mike Ryan, the Cornstore opened in Cork in 2007 and has gained wide acclaim since its launch, not least from the Gold Medal Awards jury this year, who recognised the restaurant’s commitment to promoting the best of seasonal, local Munster produce to diners.

The Limerick Region Business Awards were designed to give a platform to businesses to showcase their accomplishments, celebrating success and highlighting business achievements, innovation and excellence in the region, and were held on Friday October 21st in Limerick.

Commenting on the recognition these nominations bring to the Group, proprietor Padraic Frawley said; “We are delighted to have been acknowledged by both the hospitality sector and the business sector in this last week. It is a testament to our policy of supporting local business in sourcing quality local suppliers. Being nominated for these awards brings a recognition which validates our hard work and determination, and also recognises our hard working staff. As well, it demonstrates our ability to do business in even the toughest of times.”

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Rory Allen and Joleen Cronin

Hard to believe that Nash 19 is just 19 years “old”. It is so much part of Cork City that we assume it has been there for decades.

The name was almost accidental. Claire Nash had to come up with a name for company registration purposes in double quick time. She noted the street number on the paperwork and was inspired to add it to her own name and hence Nash 19.

Little did she know that 19 Princes Street would go on to become one of city’s favourite restaurants. The esteem in which Clare, her staff and her restaurant are held was very evident on Friday night at the 19th anniversary bash, attended by our 200 people including Lord Mayor Cllr Terry Shannon.

 The restaurant has seen a big increase in size since its opening day and other services (eg shop, food to go, catering services and so on) have been added. Read all about it here 

Despite the place being packed, we had a terrific night, with some great little dishes, starting with early season Galway Oysters. Many of her local producers (who are grateful for her encouragement) were present.

The English Market is a regular call for Nash 19 and representatives from here included O’Connell’s Fish and Tom Durcan. Kanturk’s ebullient butcher Jack McCarthy was in top form, kept on his toes by son Timmy, an able dealer himself and well able to match the rapid fire quips from Jack.

Spoke too to Evening Echo editor Maurice Gubbins, there with a party from Fermoy. Kinsale PR ace Jackie Dawson, daughter of the famous international Ronnie, was looking forward to the rugby game on Sunday.

Speaking of internationals, had a terrific chat with Sinead Gunnigan who recalled her trips to soccer internationals (when Jack Charlton was in charge) with her late uncle John, a great man for local soccer in Cork and well known in the drinks business in which he worked.

Sinead was attending the event with her husband Gerry, the Mayoman who heads up the Liberty Wines  operation in Ireland, and he was obviously very happy with the way their  Ca dei Frati (Lugana) was flying. Some good wine in Nash 19 and before we left, Claire treated us to a glass of smashing Turkey Flat Butchers Block (Shiraz/ Grenache & Mouvèdre) from the Barossa – great stuff.

No need for any major formalities on this happy occasion. Claire, who was supported on the night by family members, spoke as did local food pioneer Myrtle Allen. Rory Allen was another Ballymaloe man at the party and he was in top form as was restaurateur and photographer Joleen Cronin from Crosshaven.

While we were enjoying the party, the Nash 19 staff were busy, busy. As always, their usual efficiency and courtesy shone through. Claire herself regularly praises her team and they are a credit to her. I did have time for a small chat with key staff members Mairéad O’Brien and Pamela Kelly. Both were in top form.

All good things come to an end. That was true of the party but Nash 19 itself looks like going on and on. Let’s raise a glass of Ca dei Frati or Butchers Block  to another 19 years.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011



Picture this. The sun shining on a terrasse. Dinners enjoying themselves at the tables. It overlooks the water. Here comes a motor boat with a water-skier going zigzag behind it.

You are not on the Med. Not dreaming. You are at lunch in the Spinning Wheel, the lovely restaurant attached to the stunning Griffin’s Garden Centre in Dripsey. I was there yesterday.
Click to enlarge

When we arrived at the centre to see the newly installed display gardens, designed by Margaret Griffin, we were greeted with some free nibbles. Loved my piece of tart with Ardsallagh Cheese.

First mission though was to take in those new gardens. They are just fantastic, something for everyone here. Most are set to a fairly small scale, some smaller than others, and so will suit the majority of people. The ideas though will suit everyone interested in livening up their space. I loved the use of colour (eg the bright red lamp, the pink wall, the white flowered corner and also the artefacts such as mirrors).

Well worth a visit for the display gardens alone. And particularly so this coming Friday when Dermot O’Neill will be along to officially open them, starting at 11.00am. It is just over twenty minutes from the western side of town.
Click to enlarge

I’m a regular (if infrequent) visitor here and usually call to the onsite Spinning Wheel restaurant which is right on the bank of the River Lee. This place is light and airy, loads of glass and lots of colour too, right down to the serving trays. It is open all day with lunch served from 12.30pm.

You can have light bites, tea and scones for examples, toasted sandwiches or something more substantial. Never shy at the table, I went for the award winning Jack McCarthy Black pudding, wrapped in bacon and served with a mix of summer berries and, of course, a side plate, this of carrots and haricots verts. A lovely meal in a lovely place for ten euro.

You may also but food items to take away here, such as cakes and scones and various preserves, including jams and relishes.

We got down to some serious business after lunch and grabbed a trolley, bought some plants, got some advice (the staff here are very friendly and helpful) and headed back to the car. But not before a look at the indoor shop, so well stocked you’d need a fair bit of time to browse through.

All in all, quite a visit on a sunny day. But don't worry too much about the weather. Quite a bit of the centre is under cover and you always have the shop and Spinning Wheel. If you can't make it on Friday, put it on your list of things to do.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Local food, local lingo

Enjoyed a classy Cork on a Fork meal at the ever reliable Fenns Quay this week. This good value menu, even better now since the VAT reduction, includes mostly local food, such as spiced beef, and the menu card itself is “spiced “ up with some local lingo.

You are encouraged to have a starter by “Give it a lash boy” and a dessert by “Era, go on so”.

The food too is served with a smile and certainly put a smile on my face. Enjoyed my starter of Spiced beef and shredded beetroot. On the other side of the table, her regular Warm Chicken Salad lived up to expectations.

Mains for me was one of the evening’s specials: Baked Hake with herbed basmati rice, sautéed French beans, courgette with fennel and salsa rossa. A terrific combination, light and satisfying.

The other mains was Braised Irish Lamb Shank with Green Saffron Spiced Potatoes. The lamb was cooked to perfection and the spiced potatoes really added to the dish. As they say around here: “Savage Cabbage.”

We agreed on dessert: Lemon pudding served with Baldwin’s Ice-cream and a tiny jug of chocolate sauce. Presentation was inviting and the combination – that ice cream is gorgeous – went down a treat.

Wines were Pazos de Ulloa DO Ribeiro 2009 and Domaine d’Angayrac Costieres de Nimes 2008, each at €5.50 a glass.
Cork on a Fork: 2 courses €22.50; 3 courses €27.50.