Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Copper Hen Adds a Royal Touch to Tramore Food Scene.


The Copper Hen Adds a Royal Touch
 to Tramore Food Scene.

The Copper Hen has flown its original home at Fenor and has perched in Queen Street, Tramore. And here, in a beautifully decorated building, you may now enjoy the superb food produced by owner-chef Eugene Long and his team. There are no less than three dining rooms in this long town centre building and, when the sun comes out, there’ll be al fresco dining in the garden patio as well.

They seem to have hit the ground running. Despite being newly opened, there were no hitches the other day when we called for lunch. Quite the contrary - everything was perfect, the food and service top notch.

Lunch is offered on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays while dinner’s available Wednesdays to Saturdays (from 5.30pm). You can expect extended opening hours when the holiday season kicks off in earnest. While the quality is very high here, the prices are not. And you can get even better value with the evening Early Bird offer, two courses for €24.00, three for €29.00.

We had spent the previous evening and indeed some of the morning at the West Waterford Food Festival, so weren’t exactly starving when we arrived in sunny Tramore. 

There was a soup on offer but we went straight to the mains. From a good choice we picked what turned out to be two gems. I thought the Beer Battered Cod with lemon mayonnaise and handout chips (€14.00) would be good but the prospect looked even better when the cod ran out and I was “upgraded” to John Dory. Probably, the best fish and chips ever!

We were enjoying the food and the service and a lovely glass of wine. This was the Atlantik Albarino (7.95), aromatic and full of flavour and ideal for fish. The wine list here may not be the longest but it is very interesting (as you’d expect with Wines Direct as suppliers). All are available by the glass, by the way, which is great for the customers. For instance, if you start with mussels and a white, you can order a glass of red for your meat course.

Anyhow, that Albarino was superb with the John Dory and also with CL’s choice: Tiger Prawns tossed with garlic, Gubbeen chorizo and herb butter served with Seagull Sourdough (11.00). Another excellent and very enjoyable dish.

The Copper Hen is a terrific supporter of local produce and you’ll hardly get more local than the sourdough as it is made around the corner in the well-known Seagull Bakery, a very impressive bakery indeed. The Copper Hen make their own brown bread and that went down a treat, not least with a group of American ladies at another table.

Would we have dessert? Yes was the answer, but just the one, to be shared. There was a choice of five, all at €7.50. On the face of it, our Apple and Berry Crumble wasn’t the bravest of picks but it turned out to be a gem, beautifully made and presented - apparently they have a bit of a reputation on this one. If you do get the chance, do order one. One each!

20 Queen Street
Tramore
Co. Waterford
Tel: 051 330179








Taste of the Week. Crab Claws at Naughton’s Kilkee


Taste of the Week
Crab Claws at Naughton’s Kilkee

Naughton’s, a pub dating back to 1856 on O’Curry Street in Kilkee, Co. Clare, is very popular and is noted for its seafood and fish. It was here that I found my latest Taste of the Week: West Clare crab claws.

They are cooked in garlic and wine served with a tossed leaves salad. The delicious dish is available both as mains and starter. If you’re having it as mains, you’ll also get a large serving, a bucket, of their excellent fries. Portions are generous here. But hard to get enough of those exquisite claws! Washed them down with a bottle of craft beer from Western Herd in Ennis.

While they also do meat dishes, the bounty of the Atlantic is the main draw here. 

Also in Clare recently:
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park
Hazel Mountain Chocolate
The Burren Brewery
A Tour of Clare
St Tola Goats Cheese visit
Burren Gold Cheese

Monday, May 20, 2019

A couple of French classics that unexpectedly landed on my table

A couple of French classics that unexpectedly landed on my table


Château Vincens “Les Graves de Paul” Cahors (AOC) 2009, 15%, 

A village, on the River Lot, in the Cahors area
I needed a Malbec to go with a steak in winter and pulled out this one from Cahors, a gift from a friend, from his own stock. If you use wine-searcher.com I’m pretty sure you’ll find an Irish supplier, and the search will be well worth your time for, while Argentina Malbec is popular, the expertise of centuries in Cahors has not suddenly vanished, a point well illustrated in this bottle.
Hard at work in a Cahors vineyard


Chateau Vincens is in the heart of the region and Les Graves, aged from 20 to 22 months in new oak barrels, is Very Highly Recommended. Old vines from the best low yielding (gravelly) parcels of the estate are the basis for this intense concentrated gem.

Colour is a deep red, almost black. Intense dark fruit aromas, vanilla too. Harmony is perhaps the word for this, now that it has survived to 2019. Harmony of fruit and oak as this powerful wine purrs over the highways and byways of the palate, tannins close to smooth, the final stretch long and very satisfying indeed.

While a glass went down well with the steak, the winery suggests pairing it “with a duck with figs or a tagine of lamb with prunes”.








Joseph Domaine de Bellecours Sancerre (AOC) 2016, 13%, imported by Longueville Wines

This is Sauvignon Blanc from the quiet country hills of Sancerre. No salty aromas here from where ocean meets land, though the ocean has been here, twice, in ages past. No ocean spray here now, no high grass bent by the fresh wind, sun yes but nothing blinding in the calm countryside, just the calm of centuries of crafting the vine and its fruit. Une vieille verité dans le verre.

Since 1513, the Mellot family have worked in the vines and cellars here. Once, one of them was wine adviser to the King of France himself. Their customers now, in forty countries worldwide, are somewhat more modest (presumably!), especially for this young wine with its light straw colour and aromas of pears and peach. The palate of fruit and freshness has brio and balance. Highly Recommended. Their Cuvée Pierre Etienne 2015 would be Very Highly Recommended.

Food pairings. Shellfish (Oysterhaven mussels) and a Seafood Bourride  (the Provençal bouillabaisse) have worked well for me. The producers recommend Grilled sole, fried langoustines, scallop terrine or goat's cheese.


Bunratty Castle & Folk Park. Banquets. HB Ice Cream. Cahill’s Grocery. The Doctor and The Pawnbroker.

Bunratty Castle & Folk Park.
Banquets. HB Ice Cream. Cahill’s Grocery. The Doctor and The Pawnbroker.
Banquet Hall

Banquets. HB Ice Cream. Cahill’s Grocery. The Doctor and The Pawnbroker. You’ll come across all this and so much more on a visit to the Bunratty Castle and Folk Park.

I’ve passed this County Clare attraction scores of times on my way up to Mayo, Galway, Sligo and Donegal, and to Clare itself. Never called. But remedied that recently with a deliberately planned visit.
Pygmy Goat

Didn’t plan to visit the doctor though. But that happens when you stroll through the “Village Street”, a street as it was over a hundred years ago. The doctor was checking the herbs in his garden and invited us, and some French visitors, into his parlour cum surgery. He showed us all his dangerous looking implements but it was too much for some of the French when he pulled his amputation saw out of a drawer and he emphasised the shock by saying no anaesthetic!

Bunratty is probably best known for its banquets. They are held all year round, twice nightly!  And that room was one of the first we visited when we reached the castle. The earlier Kings and Earls (of the O’Brien family) though dined in the Great Hall, also a place of judgement. Many other rooms, including the dungeon, to see in the restored castle and, when you reach the top, you have marvellous views over the countryside, including the Shannon.

Ardcroney Church
So out and about then to the park, with all kinds of old buildings, from a Weaver’s Shed to a Blacksmith’s Forge, from the one-roomed Bothán Saor to the late Georgian Bunratty House. Some of the buildings have been removed en bloc(k!) from different locations. The Shannon Farmhouse, for instance once stood on the site of the main runway at Shannon. The Ardcroney Church was moved, stone by numbered stone, from the village of that name in Tipperary.

All the walking around can make you hungry. And aromas of baking draw you in to the well-appointed Golden Vale Farmhouse where herself is baking a delicious looking apple-tart. To get yourself a slice, stroll over to the Tea Room and enjoy. You can also call to Mac’s Pub in the village for soup and sandwiches, an Irish Coffee, or a full lunch.

Hungry Piggies
It was also feeding time for some of the animals as we got to that part of the park. The pigs were really anxious, squealing with anticipation, as they saw the hens getting fed nearby. Their turn came soon enough. You’ll also see the hens around the place, some pygmy goats, some strange-looking sheep on your walk. And you’ll also spot a couple of impressive and friendly wolfhounds, either in their compound or being walked around the grounds.

You’ll see a collection of farming tools and machines in the Talbot Collection, small scale yet well constructed engineering works such as the working vertical and horizontal mills. There’s a Regency Walled Garden. The Village Street has a Post Office (with red post box), a hardware store, a printworks and a grocery etc.

And in that grocery, and also in a few other places, you’ll spot “foodie” reminders of the past like Irel Coffee and Chicory, Harrington’s and Browne’s Mustard, Daniel Dunne’s Teas, OXO cubes, Seven Seas Cod Liver Oil, Carnation Evaporated Milk, Riley’s Toffee Rolls. Not all household names but I do recognise a few of them. I also spotted a can of liquid Cardinal Red floor polish - I’ve been told that I once ate a tin of the solid version. Don’t remember it though. Or the resultant napkins!

There are a couple of large houses on the walk  including Hazelbrook House. Built in 1898, this was the home to the Hughes Brothers who started a dairy industry in the 1800s and later produced HB Ice Cream which went on to become a household name.
Hazelbrook House, home of HB Ice Cream

It is quite a park, especially with all those steps and stairs in the castle included. It has something for everyone and you’ll get three or four hours of interest here and while the €16.95 entry fee may seem a bit steep at first, you will get value.

After all that, you may feel you deserve a drink and Durty Nelly’s, the well-known pub outside the gate, has that for you. Always busy here methinks and had to inch my way to the counter for a couple of ales which were thoroughly enjoyed on the wooden table and benches in the sun outside. By the way, if you are feeling peckish on arrival, you can get some decent snacks at Mr O’Regan’s café at the entrance to the castle before you get your ticket. There is a also a large souvenir shop here.




Sunday, May 19, 2019

Wine, Whiskey, Beer and Pizza at Franciscan Well. With ace cooper Ger Buckley the star of the show.


Wine, Whiskey, Beer and Pizza at Franciscan Well
With ace cooper Ger Buckley the star of the show.

Ger (right) doing a bit of barrel charring! Note fire exit and hose close at hand

After the flames...
“It’s a thrill to be back ‘working’ in the North Mall,” said Irish Distillers much travelled master cooper Ger Buckley as he introduced himself at the start of an evening of wine, whiskey, beer and pizza at the buzzing Franciscan Well Bar last Thursday night. The link between the three drinks (the whiskey, the wine and the special Franciscan Well stout have all spent time in barrel) is of course the wood. Ger will tell that it accounts for more than fifty per cent of the input to the final bottle of whiskey and many distillers will agree with him.

Many years ago, Ger started his cooperage apprenticeship, with his father, in the distillery on the Mall, remembering not just the smell of the whiskey but also that of leather as there were tanneries in the area. There was quite a tradition of coopers in that part of town, and an earlier source of employment for many was the Firkin Crane in Shandon, part of the renowned butter market.

Ger still has, still uses, many of the tools, some as much as 200 years old, used by his father and ancestors including the hammer, the driver, and the adze. On the hammer he said: “Let the weight do the work.” “Hold that driver properly. My father used say you’ll pay for your mistakes, in lost finger-tips and worse.”

The adze has an amazing and long history, used by ancient ship builders and log cabin builders; it was a sacred tool in the Maori culture. “It looks clumsy, “said Ger. “But it’s great to remove excess wood and gives a great finish.” Another tool he uses is the compass. “Everything I do (measure) is by eye. The compass, a Cork tradition, is my only aid. This craft goes back 4,000 years. I don’t do much that’s different from those early coopers.” 
Sophia brings us the wine

Ger would soon show us how to use those tools, or at least, how he uses them. But now it was the turn of Sophia and the Australian introduced us to the Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon, a premium wine finished in aged Irish Whiskey barrels. Blackcurrant on the nose and on the palate, smooth integrated tannins and a satisfying finish. Those charred barrels certainly played a part in this rich, deep, smooth and quite impressive wine.

The cooper returned to centre-stage and used those tools as he first demolished a barrel (see video below) and then, stave by stave, put it together again, working away with amazing precision while still keeping us entertained with yarn after yarn of his days in the North Mall. While reassembling the barrel he remarked to the incredulous audience: “It becomes second nature after a while. I know how to match the various stave sizes by eye”.
Sharp operator

In his days in the Mall, the coopers would be repairing barrels, always keeping an eye out for a few drops of whiskey in the bottom, often enough to fill a couple of bottles. But how do you fill a small container from a very large one? With great difficulty. They’d start by borrowing a tea pot from the canteen and then the fun began.
Paudie told us the
Caskmates story

“Can you two imagine langers, maybe each already half-langers, trying to hold a barrel over a tiny teapot and trying to pour the contents out of the big one and into the small one. Quite often they succeeded but there were regular failures too and broken teapots. So then the apprentice was sent down town to buy a new teapot for the lady in charge!”

He kept working and talking. “I live by Blarney, tells you why I talk so much,” he joked. And then more seriously, as he hammered a hoop into position. “Use the weight of the hammer but you must make the right contact. If you don’t, the hoop will bend - bad news!” He demo-ed that too!

Liam and Black Barrel


And then the Jameson rep Liam was introduced to tell us all about their Black Barrel whiskey, “one of the best quality whiskeys with its depth of flavour and spicy notes”.

Nowadays, Irish Distillers have some 1.5 million barrels in total stored in Midleton. But years ago, many were stored outside and weren’t in great condition when they were brought in for filling. “So they were charred to a greater degree than normal, were filled with whiskey and the result was Black Barrel.” 


He told us how to smell: “Put your nose inside the glass, open mouth slightly and breathe in that hint of vanilla sweetness and exotic fruit” We then went on to taste, getting that trademark Jameson spice (“from the unmalted barley”) and, “from the charred wood” came vanilla, butterscotch and caramel. “One of the best, pound for pound,” he concluded and there were nods all around.

Video of barrel collapse

"Here's one I un-made
earlier"
A collaboration between Jameson and Franciscan Well led to Caskmates and that was explained to us by Paudie of the Well. Firstly, the brewery made a stout in six barrels that previously held whiskey and it turned out stronger than expected due to the whiskey in the wood. Later, the returned barrels were filled with Jameson in Midleton and Liam told us an extra long finish resulted and was called Caskmates.  “It is very popular as a sipping whiskey”. We sipped and enjoyed it as we enjoyed the delicious stout. Every second sip!
Cabernet Sauvignon Pizza, boy!

Ger then talked about another tool, the Croze, “the one tool I must have” and “that’s why I named my whiskey after it”. The Cooper’s Croze is one of three relatively new products from Midleton; the others in the set are Blender’s Dog and Distiller’s Safe. 

A croze? Ger has used a croze all his working life. He uses it to cut the grove along the top of the staves to hold the head (the circular cover) in place.

“Now,” said Ger. “The pizza is ready. The best pizza in Cork to go with the best beers in Cork, in my opinion.” Pompeii Pizza are the resident producers here in the Well and they had three specials for the occasion.

We enjoyed the Cabernet Sauvignon Chorizo (tomato sauce, Gubbeen chorizo roasted in Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon, black Kalamata Olives, Fior di Latte Mozzarella, Oregano).

Matching the whiskey was the Smoked Cheese and Caramelised Onion (featuring Carrigaline beech smoked cheese and Black Barrel Whiskey). For the beer lovers, Pompeii came up with the Shandon and Sausage (with Shannon Stout and Jack McCarthy’s Bramley Apple sausages in the mix).

Another brilliant night at the Franciscan Well.


From a Wedding Dress to a Michelin Star. Miyazaki tells the tale at DesignPOP


From a Wedding Dress to a Michelin Star.
Miyazaki tells the tale at DesignPOP

In 2012, a bride to be and her sister visit Cork to shop for a wedding dress. Six years later, her now husband’s restaurant wins a Michelin star in the city.

When Stephanie arrived back in the midlands, she was enthusiastic as she told husband-to-be Takashi: “You have to move to Cork.” So he came down and tried the place for one night. He was converted. “Two weeks later, we moved,” he told the audience at the DesignPOP event in Thompson House in MacCurtain Street last Sunday afternoon. “I was so happy.”
Conversation Piece. One of the DesignPOP pavilions in the city

And it got better. But not straight away. Takashi Miyazaki was determined to open a Japanese restaurant to show Irish people what they were missing. But he couldn’t afford a premises until 2015 when he found a tiny place at the junction of Barrack Street and Evergreen Street. It was small, very small. But he thought: “Why not start small? Take the window of opportunity.” And so Miyazaki was born. 

He gave it everything. “I had so many different things to show and share. I got great support. Was so busy.” As the tiny takeaway - it has a handful of high stools - prospered, people asked: What next? Are you coming to Dublin? “No, Cork,” I answered.
Ichigo Ichie

But he was always dreaming about a high end restaurant. “I had the experience. I had the palate from my grandmother’s food.” And so he went on to learn more and more, to enhance and fine tune what he already had.

He has quite a lot going for him, not least the ability to turn dreams into reality. When he was 18 years old, and a master of Martial Arts,  he started cooking part-time in a local café, “toast, frozen stuff”. Then he did “easy stuff” for friends. They loved it and said “You great chef. Can you cook again?”

He knew he wasn’t a great chef but loved the cooking and wanted to be a chef. His parents were not at all keen on the idea. And they also stopped him following another possible career in the graphic arts. At university he continued to cook for those lucky friends and again he decided on a career as a chef. This time, he was a man and there was no stopping him.
Miyazaki at work
His first job was in a 5-star hotel but he was a slow learner and admitted it wasn’t until he was 32 years old that he felt he had mastered it. The “slow learner” travelled the many Japanese regions and learned lots of different dishes and styles.

Even learned lots of Irish dishes, including fish and chips! Yes, while working in an Irish pub in Hiroshima, a Galway chef showed him the Irish way, including one of the best fish batters ever. While in the pub, he met Stephanie and the road to Cork started. First they moved to Offaly. He missed his Japanese food. The local sushi wasn’t up to scratch and his desire to open a Japanese restaurant was born.

There was an early setback as the restaurant that gave him his first job (in 2008) closed after just four weeks. “I was so upset. I can’t go back to Japan. What can I do?” He had sampled some Irish Japanese restaurants “but that was not Japanese food”. “I have to do something. I was dreaming, dreaming, dreaming!”
Window at Emmet Place pavilion

And that dream came true in Ichigo Ichie last year. And it wasn’t just his cooking skills that were tested. He brought his artistic skills to bear too in the plating, on the printed menus and indeed on social media.

“I had no idea about Twitter and Instagram. But my wife and friends encouraged me. Instagram gave me the opportunity to show the colour of the food, the real green, the real red.” And so he started painting. And these are the little paintings that you’ll see on the menu cards, including the wine list.

“I am still doing the food I want to do. I keep sketching for my plate. Why not a painting of the dish, so I keep drawing? So happy now, I can design, paint, sketch and cook, all on a plate. It is very unique, all my experiences, my history, my childhood memories.” And his customers are so glad that he decided to share with us.
"Stained glass" lollipops, by Banana Melon, in DesignPOP pavilion, some for sale.

But what did that Michelin star mean? Someone asked. “It was amazing. My life has changed. Bookings were slow that particular month but once the star was announced we immediately booked out. Still I want to focus on what we do.” He admitted the star was a motivating factor but promised “I won’t change too much.”


But he will change for the seasons, though he has had trouble with the Irish seasons, especially the short summer. Will he go all vegetarian? “No. The menu is a story over 12 courses. I need fish, I need meat, to make the story.”

It is indeed quite a story and you can catch all 12 chapters in Ichigo Ichie. And if you want a short story, why not pay a visit to the original Miyazaki!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Amuse Bouche


When he looked again, the spoon had carved a well in the butter.
With her mouth full, the old woman stared at the glass top of her tea table with the fixed, unthinking gaze of a ruminant that savours her feed. Grease lined her lips, turning pink with the rouge she’d hastily layered on them upon his arrival. Only when she was satisfied with her snack did she dab her chin with a crumpled handkerchief.
….Bora choose to remain standing.
Gospozha, I do need the rest of the information I came for. As you see, I’m upfront about it.”
Without answering him, Larissa ogled the butter.



from Tin Sky by Ben Pastor (2012). Highly Recommended.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Randles Killarney. A Splendid and Friendly Stop on the Ring of Kerry.


Randles Killarney. A Relaxing 
and Friendly Stop on the Ring of Kerry.

Killarney, as you all know, is a busy spot and Randles Hotel on the Muckross Road, itself part of the famed Ring of Kerry, is one of the popular venues in the area. The Randles have been welcoming guests since 1906. 

Ready for your morning juice?
As we arrived last week, we found a champagne reception for a French touring group in progress on the terrace. The space is high above the road and looks out at the mountains which were a splendid sight in the May sunshine.

But it’s not just touring coaches that the hotel caters for. Manager Tom Randles told me that golfers are a major factor in the hotel’s business. He pointed to the location, a central location that can allow the dedicated golfer play at a string of top quality courses over the course of a few days. These include Killarney, Beaufort, Tralee, Ring of Kerry, Dooks, Ballybunion, Waterville, even the Old Head of Kinsale, all within two hours. And if you need to go further, or faster, Randles will arrange a helicopter.
Dessert in the Lounge

Walking, Hiking, Climbing, Biking & Horseriding – Make your own way or join one of the many guided experiences. But not all of us will want to be that active during a break. And here the hotel is very well placed indeed for more leisurely sightseeing with the National Park (including Torc Waterfall) and both Muckross House and Killarney House a few minutes walk away. And the racecourse is easily reached by car.
A spacious and well-equipped junior suite

And even more relaxing possibilities in the hotel itself where leisure facilities include spa treatments where guests can unwind with an extensive range of holistic, non-clinical treatments and massages available.  The Leisure Club offers you the chance to enjoy an invigorating dip in the 20m indoor pool or relax in the steam room or sauna.

Our host Tom was talking to us in the renovated lounge where we were having an evening meal. The bedrooms have also had a makeover in recent times. Tom says there’s more to be done but he’s finding it hard enough to get tradesmen. He thinks they have all gone to Cork! 
Comfy corner in the Lounge

In any event, he has quite a team of employees in the hotel here. Service was excellent from start to finish, here in the lounge, at breakfast in the morning and at the reception desk both coming and going.

That lounge, which essentially encompasses a bar and two tidy spaces, one dedicated to eating, the other to just sitting down and relaxing with cup or glass perhaps. Both are superbly fitted out and once you get to sit in one of those comfortable chairs, you won’t be in any hurry to get up. 

The hotel also has two larger restaurants but the lounge is more informal, the menu including everything from soup to nibbles (eg hummus on pitta bread) to pizza to sharing boards to salads to grill (28 day dry aged Angus fillet). 
The pool

We sampled a few dishes here including olives, Mexican Chips, a grilled chicken salad and an impressive Wagyu Burger (the beef raised locally by Jim Good). Drank some lovely wine too, most of it available by the glass, the 250 cl measure or bottle.

The high standard of food continued at breakfast which is served in The Court with its spectacular ceiling. Right along side is Checkers Restaurant with its distinctive black and white floor tiles and a classic mural all along one wall. There were quite a few at breakfast, probably a tour group included, but it made no difference. The food and the service were excellent and there was no delay at all. Practice makes perfect!
Ready to go in Checkers

The Drawing Room is there for the guests to enjoy. Sink into the comfortable sofa with a book or complimentary newspaper while the fire blazes away. Or enjoy the views to the Kerry mountains while just soaking up the atmosphere of this room filled with antiques and comfortable sofas, harking back to the days when the original house was a splendid family home. And it is here also that you can enjoy their lovely Afternoon Tea experience.

Weddings are also well catered for in Randles and General Manager Tom will personally oversee your big day ensuring that you are pampered, taken care of and spoilt as your new life journey begins. Here, the big day can be as elaborate or as simple as you wish, from a small simple private affair to taking over the whole hotel and its close to 80 rooms.
French Toast in the morning

Our own bedroom was rather splendid also, with a excellent view out towards those mountains. This Junior Suite was perfect and that luxury bed meant a great night’s sleep. They are ideal for getting work done on your laptop and tablet, and with WIFI available throughout the hotel, you will be able to catch up with family and friends through social media and email. Widescreen TV, tea-making plus Espresso machine, bathrobes, toiletries, everything you’d need. And if you have a particular request, then there’s a 24 hour room service available. And, by the way, there is a security clasp inside your door so you can check who's knocking!
Randles has quite a depth to it, that you don't notice from the front.

The family also own the adjacent Dromhall and indeed some of the facilities are shared between the two. We had strolled over the few yards to the Dromhall to enjoy a drink in the more informal Kayne’s Bar (there’s a popular bistro upstairs). Sipped a local ale here (it is produced across the road by Killarney Brewing Company, another possible visit for you!) and we could see straight away the importance of golf in this area. There was an international tournament on the screen (no sound, of course) and a few golfers checking the play while enjoying a plate of food at the bar.
Wake up to this in Randles!

Soon we were on our way, up the shortcut steps, past the champagne reception and about to make a real start to our very enjoyable short break in Randles.

Car-parking is not a problem here. There is limited room at the level of the hotel and the includes set-down. But there is a spacious underground car park as you drive in from the road. Lighting is automatic and excellent and a short set of steps takes you up to that lovely terrace and the entrance doors. And you may ring if you need help with luggage.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Gallagher's GastroPub Rocks


Gallaghers GastroPub Rocks

Funny how things work out. Didn’t intend to spend all of last Sunday night in the company of old rockers. But that’s what happened. Can’t really take full credit for it but it turned out to be a terrific night with a super meal in Gallagher’s GastroPub and a lively charity concert in the Everyman with Dezperado (an Eagles tribute band).

The first plan had been to call to the White Rabbit at the exact opposite end of MacCurtain Street to Gallagher’s and try something from the grill there along with a glass or two from their renowned Bourbon selection. But a block-booking at the Rabbit snared that one and so we, four of us, ended up in Gallagher’s, taking in the view (and the sun) from our window seat that also allowed a view across towards Shandon.

The reservation here had been online, made with D***a, and she was back confirming it within a few minutes. And that kind of customer service continued in the bar/restaurant when we met and chatted with R****n. Service with a smile is always a big help.


I did have a quick look at the menu online before I booked and had a good feeling. Choices looked tempting. Starters included Burnt Maple and Cider Glazed Baby vegetables, Ras el Hanout Cauliflower Purée and Dukkah and also Skeaghanore Duck Leg Confit, rolled in Parma ham, corn and thyme purée, Kale red cabbage slaw and spiced plum gel.

There are impressive sharing boards, a choice of meats and a also a choice of fish. Other mains include a Crispy pan-roasted kale and leek “Bubble and squeak” Jerusalem artichoke velouté, roasted artichoke, charred apple, Cashel Blue crumble and truffle oil. Being Sunday, you might go for their signature pie: Irish Beef and Cork’s local stout “Beamish” with root veg, topped with puff pastry and served with fries.

All very tempting but our two friends had a few tips for us. Firstly, the fish and chips is excellent and secondly be sure and study the Cork on a Fork Special. So we read that board: Hazelnut crumbed duck leg, asparagus, candied beetroot, charred baby gem, celeriac purée and duck fat potatoes (21 euro).

Three of us went for that and it was superb, not just the delicious duck but also the asparagus, the beetroot and the gem, not to mention those spuds! Gastropub is no empty title in this establishment. The fourth diner was following his Fish ’n Chips tip come what may and he too enjoyed a very satisfying mains. Described as locally sourced catch of the day (Haddock in this instance) in a Franciscan Well Chieftain IPA beer batter, fries, mushy peas and tartar sauce (18 euro).

Speaking of Franciscan Well, we enjoyed a few glasses of the Rebel Red and it was four very happy customers who said goodbye to Rock heroes Rory Gallagher (his portrait looked down on our table) and Phil Lynott (you’ll see him on your way downstairs to the toilets), and headed down the street to see the sold out Dezperado gig in aid of MS Ireland.

Veteran musicians from the Cork area formed the band - not all veterans by the way, young guitarist Sean Hegarty (playing with his dad Ray) showed enormous promise.  Lead vocalist Der O’Riordan and also Ken Healy belted out the well-known classics of the American band. Backing vocals were provided by Anita Curtin and Neasa de Baróid.

Earlier, Neasa and her band opened the evening and included her new single Rain due to be launched upstairs in the Spailpín Fánach on Friday evening (9.30 sharp). Neasa, a relation of CL's, is quite the composer and other songs enjoyed by Sunday’s audience included Mrs Murphy’s Moving On and Tabhair dom do Lamh.

Perhaps you’ve known before now that McCurtain Street, with its hotels and theatre, its classy restaurants, its world class cocktails and buzzing bars, its ethnic cafés, and its  burger & down-home BBQ joints, really rocks. Now you know for sure. Don’t know if I’ll ever need to walk southwards over Patrick's Bridge again!