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Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Favourites in Cork

YEAR END RECOMMENDATIONS


ENJOY

Favourite high end restaurant: Jacques

Favourite Bistro: Isaacs

Favourite medium priced restaurant: Market Lane

Favourite Italian: Casanova

Favourite Chinese: Ying’s Palace

Favourite Hotel restaurant: Pembroke Grill in the Imperial.

Favourite pizzeria: The Brick Oven in Bantry.

Favourite Dessert: While the desserts in Jacques are excellent, my vote goes to Jacobs on the Mall for its Date and Butterscotch Pudding.

LUNCH
Hard to go wrong here as you will get a decent lunch in most places in town, especially Market Lane. The outskirts are also well served: try Killumney Inn on the west, The Boot House on the north and the Elm Tree on the east. You will get a good roast of the day in any these.

For something different why not try Boqueria, the Tapas Bar in Bridge Street. On a recent visit I enjoyed a bowl of paella (loads of chicken and shellfish and served with a tarty side salad, for a €10.00). Just to add a note of caution, a glass of wine here (starting at €7.00 and mostly from Catalonia) is a full 25cl, a third of a bottle, and substantially more than your usual glass.

Friday, November 28, 2008

RACHEL'S RIGHT


A VISIT TO ISAACS


Rachel Allen recently proclaimed on TV that Isaacs (McCurtain Street) is her favourite bistro. She has many who’ll agree with her, even if the place was less than half full last night.

We had a smashing meal there. I must admit I was particularly pleased with the “Wine of the Month”, so pleased in fact that I didn't even notice that they charged me €25.00 instead of the €24.00 on the menu. It is a Lugana (from an area close to Lake Garda - see http://www.italianmade.com/wines/DOC10186.cfm ) and is produced by Zenato. One of the best whites I’ve tasted in a long time.

Started off with a lovely plate of tapas between us. Great variety for €10.90. Then on to the main course. I had one of the day’s specials, Turbot on spinach with a Beurre Blanc sauce. Very good. The Advisor went for the Moroccan Tagine, shank of lamb with couscous. Again top class and quite reasonable at €18.80.

Dessert (€7.00) was also quite good and a little different: a Tunisian Orange Cake, served with a berry compote and crème fraîche. The orange taste was not dominant but it had a lovely light citrus flavour. Light and tasty.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

ENCORE

JACQUES SCORE HIGH AGAIN

Got a comment recently from Mel who included Jacques in a short list of his favourite restaurants. It is on mine as well.

Was in there last night and had a gorgeous meal. I chose Brill on a bed of greens with a hollandaise sauce. Absolutely worth the wait, a magnificent combination. There was no doubt that the Brill was the star of the dish, the sauce there to offer appropriate support.

A few days earlier, I had been in Amicus and made the mistake of ordering the Trio of Fish without properly studying the menu. It was smothered in the rich creamy sauce. The haddock wasn't too bad but the other two (salmon and sole) were anonymous. The advisor had Sole with a Butter sauce and her fish and veg were all swimming in the sauce.

In Jacques, they do it properly as they respect the main ingredient. Last night, the Advisor’s main course was an absolutely spot on Monkfish tempura. The fish was gorgeous in a very light batter. Again the fish was the star, the batter the support

Desserts are top class also in Jacques. Last night, I had the most divine Bread and Butter Pudding, with winter fruits (raisins and apricots mainly) sumptuous, scrumptious, while the Advisor had her favourite raspberries with vanilla pod ice-cream.

Wine was an award winning Sauvignon (Luc, I think) from the Beziers area of the Midi. It is the current house wine and costs €22.90. Enjoyed it. Enjoyed the evening.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

EAST IS BEST


FOOD FIT FOR KING

at YING'S PALACE



One of my favourite Chinese restaurants is Ying’s Palace in the Mayfield Shopping Centre. In a very comfortable nicely decorated room, it provides top class meals at a very reasonable price. The only pity is that the restaurant side is poorly supported, though the takeaway is doing very well indeed.

Last night, we took the Set Dinner for Two, cost €20.80 a head. There is also a Set Dinner which is slightly cheaper and another (which I can certainly recommend) that is slightly more expensive. There is also a special that comes in at under €16.00.

But back to the €20.80 menu. You start off with a generous plate of prawn crackers. The first course is a Meat Sung, a beautiful combination of minced pork (or chicken) with cashew nuts served with vermicelli noodles and you can make your own delicious little parcels with the crispest lettuce. Gorgeous.

I need superlatives too for the Chicken and Mushroom soup. Didn't quite know what to expect here but I needn’t have worried. In a clear liquid (chicken stock), swam extremely thin slices of mushroom and little pieces of chicken, along with tiny pieces of spring onion. No additives here, no artificial colouring. Top notch.

The main plates kept up the standard: King Prawn Satay in a bowl, Duck Cantonese style on a big platter. The King Prawn was faultless and the Duck was the most exquisite dish of its kind that I have tasted in a long long time.

They are pretty weak on deserts here (usually jelly and ice cream) and we were happy enough that none was included in this special but we did finish off with a decent cup of coffee and a couple of mint chocolates. With the meal itself, we had a half bottle of a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc that cost €8.90. There is a good selection of wines, all at reasonable prices.

Well worth a visit and I’m really amazed that so few try it out. The total for the meal for two came to €50.50.

Friday, October 31, 2008

ROSSINI'S

When in Cork, do as the Romans do...


I don't think there is much point in going to an Italian Restaurant in Ireland and ordering Salmon or Steak (unless they have Florentine steak on the menu).

Following my own advice, at a far from full Ristorante Rossini this Friday night, I picked Cannelloni alla Bolognaise as my main course while the Advisor went for the Homemade Lasagne. We had no regrets whatsoever. While the plates may have been adjusted to suit the Irish palate (no shortage of mince meat), the taste and eating experience was pleasurable, very enjoyable indeed, all washed down by a €13.00 carafe (50cl) of house red.

The meat and sauce left little room for dessert but I was tempted by the Apple and Caramel tart (served with Ice Cream) and we shared it. Again, it was very enjoyable. We also had two cups of excellent coffee.

Total bill came to €63.50 approx. For that, we had a good meal and also some nice live music (solo guitar).

Rossini's is a long established venue, run by Patricia and Salvatore Toscano. It is in Princes Street, tel. 021 4275818

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

TIGER TWILIGHT?

http://www.barn-restaurant.com


BACK TO THE BARN






Recession beaters were out in force at The Barn last Friday night. Well, maybe not in force, since the expensive venue (on the Glanmire Road out of Mayfield) was half full or half empty – take your pick. The meal here (five course) does cost €50.00 a head. It is invariably good but is it worth fifty? Once rampant tigers, now with lighter wallets, may have be settling for less (then again it was the Jazz Weekend).

In any event, the customers that did turn up were all seated together in the one area, a sensible move. The pianist entertained and the food came at a comfortable pace. The Barn is built for comfort and ease. Service is good and there is never a rush. You can sit in the armchairs at the bar and have an aperitif (€6.20 for Campari and soda) as you go through the big menu.

A selection of tasty breads was offered as we started with a delicious tomato and basil soup. I then had a smashing Duck and Pears Salad starter while the advisor went for an excellent Pastry envelope of Mushroom and Bacon. My mains was a tasty fillet of ostrich (not something you get very often) while the other mains was a crispy duck, both served with potato and seasonal vegetables, both top class.

Then came that tempting fully laden dessert trolley. Both fell for the mille feullie. Gorgeous. And then we had a cup or two of good coffee, served with some very tasty cookies indeed.

Wines start about the €25.00 mark. Ours was a Rioja Crianza, velvety, warming. It had it all: bouquet, flavour and aftertaste, not to mention the 14%. Cost was €28.00. The bill came to €134.00. Comfortable venue. Lovely people. Good meal. If you have an occasion to celebrate or guest to entertain, The Barn (now 30 years on the go) won't let you down. But your wallet will be even lighter!

http://www.barn-restaurant.com

Monday, October 6, 2008

Marks & Spencer

M & S QUICKIE


Starter:
Houmous and Foccacia Breadsticks ---- €1.90
Mains:
Thai Green Curry ----€11.98
Dessert
Tarte Citron -----€3.09

Total for two ----€16.97

Good food, Good value!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

JACQUES


FOR A FEW EURO MORE



Jacques is a Cork institution. It is every bit as good as its reputation, regularly enhanced by the awards that come to the Phoenix Street Restaurant. The only award I have is my custom and, having enjoyed Friday night’s visit, I’ll be back there again soon.

Prices, on the face of it, are a bit stiff: €11.50 for starters, the high 20s for mains. But compare. Two weeks back, I paid €88.00 for a poor quality meal in a Bantry pub. Last night, I paid three euro more in Jacques. The money was similar but the meals were not as Jacques was different class.

I had the Rack of Lamb on Hummus (with mustard), with vegetables and potato (which had been cooked with herbs and peppers). Carrots were included with the veg and they were cooked to perfection, which is not always the case. Indeed, everything was cooked to a tee and it was a gorgeous plateful.

Desserts cost €7.90. I really enjoyed my Plum Clafoutis while the Advisor was thrilled with her Cork grown raspberries (a generous quantity of berries, not your wishy washy puree) with vanilla pod ice-cream.


The wine list is extensive and has its expensive side. For instance, you can pay €300.00 for Hermitage la Chapelle 1985. But we settled for the house red, currently a French Merlot, which cost about €22/23 and was well worth it.

If you want to check out the meals and wines available why not go to http://www.jacquesrestaurant.ie/ and then make your virtual tour into a real one!







Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bantry Bay


Beautiful Bay, Beautiful Days



Enjoyed a few days in this brilliant September weather in Bantry, staying at the well located well run Maritime Hotel on the harbour side.

There is a cluster of eating places at the start of the square just a couple of hundred yards up from the hotel. Don’t miss the Brick Oven Pizzeria and Bistro. Yes, it has a genuine brick oven and you won’t find that in every Italian pizzeria.

Being in Bantry, we went for the Bantry Bay Mussels served in a Provencal style sauce, a beautiful “sauce” that required a big spoon. Salad and Fries accompanied the €17.95 main course version of this dish – you can also get it as a starter. Wine was a Blue Ridge Blanc from South Africa; this refreshing tarty blend of Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc cost €20.00.

The meal, including a couple of decent desserts, came to €68.00, more or less what we paid the previous night at The Snug next door. In the Snug you will get what we Irish call a “good feed”, not always the same as good food.

We had heard quite a bit about the Snug and, frankly, were very disappointed. Again, we went for a fish main course. If you can't get a goof fish dish in Bantry, it is bad news. Battered Cod, served with a salad and fries, was the other order.

I got a plate full, plus the chips in a bowl. The salad didn't impress. The potato salad had been plonked on the plate along with half a carton of coleslaw and a few leaves. The batter used was the old type heavy duty flour batter that smothered the fish, which was a pity as the cod itself, the forgotten about main ingredient, tasted fresh and good. They use the lighter beer or lager type batter in the Brick Oven.

The style of presentation was also evident in my starter, a crab meat salad (€10.00). Again a few lettuce leaves, undressed, were laid in the bowl. Then what looked like half a jam jar of meat was plonked down on it and it was finished off with a spoon or two of mayonnaise. Again it was a pity as the crab tasted very fresh and nice, aside from a few bits of shell that had not been picked off.

The wine list is limited, consisting of four quarter bottles (two red, two white) and four full size bottles. The meal consisted of two starters and two mains. It was a poor opening night but the Brick Oven made up for it.

We took advantage of the fine weather to visit two of the three nearby peninsulas. First trip was to the end of Sheep’s Head. There is a lovely little café there, everything homemade and we had two generous bowls of a well made soup (along with two brown scones), all for ten euro.

On the Mizen, we visited the cafe in the visitor centre where we got good quality and good value. Two chicken wraps, served with a nicely dressed salad (The Snug could take a lesson here) and a little bowl of relish, along with a big pot of excellent tea, came to about €13.00.

By the way, breakfast in the Maritime is top class; there is a big choice and good quality as you’d expect in a four star hotel. Their main restaurant is at the top end price wise but the bar serves good food at reasonable prices (less than what you’d pay in the nearly square) up to nine o’clock.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

BOOTHOUSE LUNCH

NOT A FREE LUNCH IN CORK


Back in the last decade of the last century, the Boothouse Bar in Whitescross (just a few miles from Cork City) won a string of awards for its food and drink.

The smallish thatched establishment is still going strong, still serving food. The only trouble is that the menu rarely ever changes and since variety is the spice of life, I don't go there that often.

Maybe it is a case of if it is not broken, don't fix it. But if that was the case, we’d still be going around on horseback. In food, you just have to have variety, have to take a chance.

I was in the area yesterday and called in and, yes, the blackboard had the old familiar look to it. There are soups, two or three meat dishes, a fish dish, various sorts of open and toasted sandwiches and a few desserts.

I had a decent vegetable soup (€4.00) and took my usual choice there which is stuffed roasted chicken with vegetables and potatoes. All very reliable but nothing out of the ordinary.

The cost for two came to €32.00 and that figure rang a bell. A few months back, I was in Rome and had an evening meal in a small restaurant just off the famous Piazza Navona. Cost for the two courses, including a €10.00 bottle of wine and a bottle of water, came to €32.00! Yes, €32.00 for the two of us, exactly the same as yesterday’s fare in the Boothouse. And I can guarantee you that the meal in Rome wasn't soup and chicken!

Still, in fairness to the Boothouse, the €12.00 main dish at lunchtime (it was €11.00 last November) is more or less the standard in the local Cork restaurants. You will pay more or less that in the Rising Tide, the Elm tree, The Killumney Inn and in many of the places in town. Most people accept it but are we really getting value here.

If you are around town and on shopping expedition, you could do worse than call into the old Riches Stores cafe (now by Debenhams) in merchants Quay. You have quite a choice here but two veteran lady shoppers advised me that there is an excellent salad bar where you can have a fine plateful of meat (chicken or turkey usually) and leaves, pastas, potato and other salads (pick what want) for about €6.00. A glass of iced water costs nothing extra.
* Another bargain at the moment is the early bird in the Imperial Hotel on the South Mall. One of my pals was there last Sunday evening (I'm not sure is the offer is there every evening) and had a starter, main course and tea or coffee for €20.00 and she was delighthed with the meal and the value.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

RECIPE FOR SUCCESS

Hello,

Just a little note to say that Aisling, Mary and Amy from the 'Recipe for Success' production team will be at the West Cork Food festival in Skib this Sunday.
We are there to promote the show and canvas for applicants so please feel free to drop by, ask questions or pick up an application form!

Cheers,
Aisling.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

DUNNES STORES

BETTER VALUE – UNDER YOUR NOSE!!!


Do we foodies look down on Dunnes Stores? Could be guilty myself. Mistake!

Take last weekend. Called in and picked up a tub of crayfish tails for less than €1.99. Add some leaves and mayo and you get much better than your average prawn cocktail, more to get your teeth into and certainly tastier.

Main course? Picked up a half leg of lamb, cost €6.49. Top class traceable meat and very enjoyable, made even more enjoyable by a red from Bordeaux (Chateaux Fonfroide) which Dunnes were selling at half price (€6.99), in a promotion that is still going on.

I didn’t realise it at the time but the dessert I picked up, a Chocolate and Raspberry combination (€2.96), was from Heinz Weightwatchers. It was quite good, a crumbly chocolate base topped by the pureed berries in a jelly.

Good quality all round and good value, made even better value by the fact that there was ten per cent off everything at the checkout.

Monday, September 8, 2008

GAMBIENI'S


HEAVY ON THE SALT


The latest visit to Gambieni’s Restaurant in Carey’s Lane started well. We each had the Spicy Meat Balls, Tasty & Juicy Meat Balls in a Hot & Spicy Sauce. They lived up to the billing and we had no worries ahead of the main course.

The advisor ordered Pollo Alla Romano, a dish we’ve had on several occasions here before. It is Grilled breast of chicken topped with red onion, roasted peppers, mushrooms in tomato & red wine sauce. She tucked in but soon discovered a very salty taste indeed.

I had chosen the Pollo Alferado, Grilled chicken breast with mushroom, red onion, scallions, garlic in a creamy white wine sauce. Very salty also. So salty in fact that I thought they had mixed in salty rashers among the strips of chicken. I even checked it out in the dim light but no, the salt taste was coming from the chicken itself.

We advised the staff and they were astonished, didn't know where the salt had come from. They checked behind the scenes but no answer. We were offered free desserts but instead settled for a cup of coffee each on a rare disappointing night at this city centre venue.

Monday, September 1, 2008

MARKED DOWN - BIG TIME

MARKS & SPENCER
TOP MARKS


Marks & Spencer had a “Dine in for Two” offer, the weekend before last. I suspect it’s finished now but keep an eye out in case of a repeat as it was good quality and good value.

For €12.50, you got a main course, a side dish (veg or potato), dessert and bottle of wine. When my four parts were totted up on the register, they came to about €23.00, so the saving was substantial.

The main course in our case was an excellent Mousaka. The tasty Dessert was a Summer Berry Terrine (easily enough for four) while the wine was a totally adequate good quality Dolphin Bay Shiraz from South Africa.

I’ll repeat it, if they do. Well worth it!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

THE ELM TREE



You can safely add the Elm Tree to your list of lunch venues on the eastern side of the city. It is just beyond Glounthaune on the old Cork Midleton Road and can be easily found if you exit the current new motorway via the Cobh sign but instead of going to Cobh on the first roundabout after the exit, turn back left (1st exit) in the Glounthaune direction.

I was there today. Service is by way of carvery. There is a choice of about six main courses. I took the roast leg of lamb, with gravy and stuffing, along with roast and mash potato and, as she says herself behind the counter, “all the vegetables”.

It was quite a generous plateful. More importantly, it was excellent, well cooked, and very tasty. The roast potato I got was slightly on the hard side but the mashed was perfect . Not bad at all for €12.00.

Reconstruction is taking place there at present, so space is much more limited than usual. Get there early.
The Elm Tree
Glounthaune,
Co. Cork.
Tel: (021) 4351024
Fax: (021) 4524946

Saturday, August 16, 2008

THE ISLAND GATE


EARLY BIRD AT THE GATE



The Island Gate is one of a few restaurants that have recently advertised Early Bird offers. The Four Liars is another and I have heard good reports from a couple who went there within the past fortnight.

The Island Gate has a two course offer at €20.00. You can have a mains with either a starter or dessert.

There is choice of about four starters, including soup. I enjoyed my spicy potato wedges with salad.

Main courses (a choice of six on the early bird) at the table were Pork Medallions with a creamy cider sauce) and a Basil Chicken Dish. Both were good quality, tasty, no complaint at all. As an accompaniment, you may pick two from salad, fries, mash and vegetables.

One of the party finished with a gorgeous Bailey’s Cheesecake, delicious and so light.

The wine list is being changed at the moment. The current house wines come in at a very reasonable €17.50 – let’s hope they don’t change that. The presentation of the wine was a little on the sloppy side. No tasting was offered and there was no keep it cool facility for the white.

Service was friendly, no delays. Overall, the meal was good and so too was the price.

Monday, August 11, 2008

LUNCH IN THE LANE

A TALE OF TWO SOUPS


The Lunch menu in the Market Lane is not that much different from the Evening Menu.

And the Seafood soup (€6.95) is not that much different from the ordinary soup (€4.95). At lunch today, the advisor got the regular soup, a nice tomato one. I got the Seafood variety which was the same tomato soup with cheese shreds, croutons and a few fishy bits added. Both were quite good – no complaints on that score. But I felt they took the lazy way to an extra two euro with the seafood soup.

The Quiche, well made and studded with pieces of tomato, pepper and even nut, was very very tasty and was served with an herby potato salad and leaves (which were beautifully dressed). It was excellent, a lovely main course for lunch.

We opted for the our usual desserts here and, with a half litre of house white, the bill came to €56.90.
Market Lane is highly recommended. The phone number is 021 4274710 (note that they don't take bookings for less than six people).

Sunday, August 3, 2008

FORGOT THE STARTER?

HERE'S A TIP>>>

Staying in tonight? You have your main course and your dessert? But forgot the starter!

No bother.

Just pop in to your local Aldi – they have stores all over now. Get one of the bowls of Les Olives du Marché. They have a variety under the Crespo brand and the one I enjoyed lately consisted of pitted green olives with chilli and parsley. Top class and you get 110g, with cocktail sticks included, for just €1.79.

VIENNA WOODS -- RISING TIDE

Lunch Venues
Just a reminder that if you find yourself on the eastern side of the city at lunchtime, you have a choice. Two recent venues for me were the Vienna Woods (near Glanmire) and the Rising Tide (in Glounthaune). Both are in scenic locations, though the tide needs to be in at Glounthaune if you are to see it at its best. Both continue to do good lunches. I enjoyed my chicken at the Woods and the Lasagne (Irish style) at the Tide.

SCOOZI'S

QUEUESIES....

No problem finding parking downtown last Saturday night. The streets looked deserted. Where was everyone?

Quite a few in Market Lane – no table available for an hour, we were told. Up the street to Scoozi’s. Twenty minutes wait here. They usually overstate it. We waited and were at a table in less than five minutes.

Enjoyed my La Reine Pizza, the smaller one served with salad and chips. Two in the company took the lasagne. This was the usual Irish style dish, loads of meat. Very tasty. The fourth mains was chicken, called Pollo Alla Scoozi, breadcrumbed and stuffed with garlic cream cheese and chives.

No complaints about the food and none either about the house wine: a bottle of Merlot (18.75) and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc (4.75). Total cost, including tips, for a very satisfactory meal was about €90.00.

Then onto the nearby Long Valley for an after dinner drink. This long narrow bar is of the traditional variety and none the worse for that. Quite a popular venue but with many calling for the just the one drink there is quite a turnover and you can usually get a seat, very important if you are of a certain age.

Friday, August 1, 2008

ASK ABOUT FOOD




John Maguire tells us that the site was created in order to provide a forum for the discussion of all things related to food (and drink) in Ireland.
"If there's something you'd like to know about food, have information to offer, or simply want to let Ireland (and the world) know about a food-related service that you provide or that you've tried, then AskAboutFood is the place to be.
The AskAboutFood community is growing fast and we're aiming to be the largest, most comprehensive Irish food information exchange site."


http://www.askaboutfood.ie/

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Harvest Feast 2008

The Harvest Feast, launched in conjunction with the Drumshanbo Flower Festival, will be based in Drumshanbo on the 13th and in the Organic Centre Rossinver on the 14th. For info, click below:.....

http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddtdjkcd_178f6fdvsgd

Friday, July 11, 2008

NOT LIKE MOTHER'S!!

Not like mother used to make it!

That was my first thought as my Orange and Vanilla Bread and Butter Pudding arrived on table during a recent visit to Market Lane, a quite competitive restaurant at the lower end of Oliver Plunket Street.

This was a superb sweet, moist with a very negotiable crust on top and so so tasty. I had to fend off attacks from the other side of the table. I must admit a counterattack or two as well as the Raspberry Sorbet with Fresh Fruit was also a smashing dessert.

Main course was Hake with a Dill crust and Lime sauce, the most expensive on the keenly priced menu at €17.95. The fish, served with scallions and salsify which provided a welcome crunch element, was top class and the meal, which followed an introductory bowl of olives (€2.50), was excellent overall.

From my own point of view, my own taste, I thought the Dill crust was a little on the heavy handed side. Dill, as those of you who poured gripe water into the kids in the good old days will know, has quite a perfume and a heavy application of the curst tended to overshadow the fresh fish. Sundried tomatoes were also part of the dish and again I thought they were bit too much for the hake. On the other hand, the cherry tomatoes were absolutely spot on and very juicy and tasty.

These are small personal points and tie in with my own philosophy on food which is simply: keep it simple - good ingredients and not too many of them.

Wine was a medium dry Chenin Blanc, Cape Storm – South Africa. Pure fruit driven, zingy with a slight apple flavour.


http://www.marketlane.ie

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

EATING & DRINKING IN ITALY

Florentine steak
Bianco, with a little sparkle

Champagne arrival in Venice


Water stop at Spanish Steps, Rome


Dinner on banks of Arno, vantage point for fireworks later that evening

Olive Oil Press

Tuscan lunch venue

Ice cream champ

Burano Island (Venice)


Restaurant on the Venice Lagoon

Feeding time in another Venetian Square


Waiting for Lunch (St Mark's)

Musicians on St Mark's


Venice Hotel



Tastes better than it looks!

More photos from this Italian trip at http://swissroll07.blogspot.com/
or click on Corkman on Tour link on the right hand column

EATING AND DRINKING
While on
TOUR IN ITALY JUNE 2008


Arrived late from Milan to Baveno and went to the Hotel bar for a drink. A large and a small beer was the order. €14.00 was the price! Welcome to Italy. And it wasn't even a pint and a glass as we know them but 400ml and 200ml respectively.

Things got better. Another night in the small town, on the shores of Lago Maggiore, saw us follow the noise, as advised by a friendly waiter in a local restaurant, to a small piazza where a crowd of about a hundred had gathered to see Italy play against France in a vital game in Euro 2008. Great noisy atmosphere as we watched the big screen and the levels rose when Italy took the lead. There was bar service and here the large beer cost just €3.50.

But you don't really go to Italy just to drink beer. One dinner at the Hotel Dino was included in the tour price but we ate the other two nights at a local restaurant La Posta. The first evening, the night of the match, was a very lively one and we enjoyed a fine meal which included great starters, main course of grilled sea bass for me and rabbit, a bottle of water, a bottle of excellent wine. With the usual cover charge, the bill came to €49.00.

We went over the top at the same venue on the next night. Starters, mains (veal and rabbit), plus a plate of three desserts each, yes each, water, wine and cover came to €72.00.

Baveno also had a good selection of pizzerias. Lunch was no problem. The first day in Stresa was at the Pizzeria Central, a modest establishment. Two huge salads, one with tuna, the other with crab, plus a 50cl carafe of a local white came to €19.30.

We got good lunchtime value the following day in Lugano (Switzerland) where two well filled rolls of local bread and a big glass of the excellent local apple juice (invariably good here and in Austria) failed to wipe out the €10.00 note. We still had more than four Swiss francs left which we used to buy 2 bars of excellent Villars chocolate.

The Hotel Dino breakfasts are generous, taken in a beautiful lakeside setting and you really don't need much for lunch. On the Wednesday visit to Como we bought a bag of cherries in the market and enjoyed them at mid-day. On the following day, in a market in Verona, we demolished a carton of the local strawberries.

Dinner is included tonight at a local restaurant on the Lido of Venice where we are staying. There is a beautiful Risotto Cannelloni starter, a surprising main course of turkey and mushroom, a tiramisu dessert (it was apparently invented around here) and plenty of local Pinot Grigio at €15.00 a bottle. Later we enjoy a drink on St Mark’s Square, Prosecco or wine, and sit and watch the musicians play. This is usually very expensive but is included in the tour.

After a visit to the highlights round the square on the following day, our guide instructs us to get lost. We move well away from the square and end up in a restaurant situated on the Lagoon. Here we have a fine lunch. One has with a bountiful salad, one a plateful of Venetian sardines (served with currants and pine nuts). Two beers (€5.50 for the larger one), the cover charge (which includes a basket of bread), and water bring the total to €31.00.


Our Hotel, the Hungaria, has an unusually front (see photo). Just down the street is the Gran Viale restaurant, our venue for the dinner. Spaghetti alla carbonara is the starter. The mains are Scampi Busera (a local tomato based sauce). The sauce was absolutely beautiful but a lot of effort went into releasing the little bits of flesh. That led to messy hands.

The wine was a Ribollo Gialla, well worth the €18.00 charge. We were also charged for potatoes (which turned out to be chips) and water, and the bill was a stiff €84.50. Might have been worth it had the main course been more user friendly.

The next day we had quite a big lunch at the nearby Roxy Pizzxeria. Two Camparis, two pizzas, one water and one 50cl carafe of White wine (€6.00), plus a cover of €4.00 made up the €35.00 bill.

It is Saturday and the included dinner tonight is on the Fishermans Island of Burano. Not surprising, virtually all of the many course are fish but, surprisingly, most are done in batter. The restaurant is the Gato Nero (Black Cat) Trattoria. We get fish pate, the local St Peter fish, scampi, calamari etc and jugfuls of a decent local white wine before finishing off with Zambucco laced coffee.

Sunday we are on the road and heading for Florence. Included dinner is a multi course at a nearby restaurant. All the courses go down well, helped by a €20 bottle of the local Chianti.

Monday takes us on tour to nearby San Gimignano. We sample the World Champions ice-cream and relax with a cappuccino in a restaurant in the square. Both are excellent. Lunch back in Florence sees us stuffing ourselves at a sit down establishment with a €4.00 tramazzini (white bread sandwich, crustless), stuffed with salad, tomato and mozzarella.

The included evening meal is at a hillside restaurant outside of the city and is one of the highlights. We are greeted with generous glasses of a Campari and gin mixture. This is followed by a Risotto demo and a magnificent multi-course meal. One generous fellow at the table orders a slab of Florentine steak. The Chianti was flowing...singing...dancing.. but, what happens on the bus stays on the bus!

Tuesday, after a visit to Pisa, we are taken to a Tuscan vineyard (Montecarlo) for a tour and lunch. Lunch goes on for a while as we sample the six different types of wine (3 red, 3 white), a dessert wine into which we dunk our dessert biscuits, and then a grand finish with Grappa! The meal is good too!

It is St John’s Night and the banks and bridges of the Arno are packed for the fireworks, We stop at a deli for a mozzarella, salad and tomato sandwich and join the crowds to watch the spectacle.

The next dinner is in Rome on Wednesday, in a side street a block or two back off the Piazza Navona. Two courses, one bottle of wine €10.00, and 2 bottles of water, cost us €32.00.

Next day, we are off to Pompeii. Lunch here at the entrance gates comes with a rather stiff price tag of about €25.00 for a plate of pork and sautéed potato. It is a long trip and we look forward to dinner which is taken near the Hotel on the Via Cavour. It is a bit more upmarket than the previous night.

The mains are spaghetti with meat sauce and Lasagne al Forna. They are top class as is the fruit dessert that follows. The lot, including a bottle of win (€12.00), water, coffee, cover charge and a service charge of 10 per cent, comes to €55.00.

The next morning is spent visiting the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s and the Coliseum and we are well up for it by the time the farewell dinner comes around. It is held in a restaurant near the Vatican.

The meal, while a bit touristy, you get photographed with a Roman soldier as you enter (€6.00) and there a two opera singers entertaining (and selling their CD), is excellent and we enjoy the meal, the music and the farewell evening.

The following day, it is back to Ireland and we have to make do with a €5.00 Aer Lingus Panini (ham and cheese) and a little bottle of white wine (also €5.00) as we journey home. All good things come to an end. C’est la vie!
More photos from this Italian trip at http://swissroll07.blogspot.com/or click on Corkman on Tour link on the right hand column

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

COOKERY SCHOOL

Caroline@Bibliocook said... said...
I thought you might be interested in this cookery school call-out for the Cork area. Cactus TV are looking for people who are interested in learning how to bake and who would like to participate in a new cookery series.

Cactus TV (home of Saturday Kitchen and Richard and Judy) are looking for people who are interested in learning how to bake and who would like to participate in a new cookery series. It all kicks off in June so they need volunteers in the Cork area ASAP. More info below.
- Do you love cooking but find the art of baking a bit of a mystery?
- Does your bread fail to rise?
- Do your cakes go soggy?
- Maybe you loved baking as a child but have since lost the skill?
Cactus TV are looking for people to learn to bake as part of a new cookery series – so if you’d like to pick up some top tips from a TV chef, are aged between 20-40, are available at weekends in June, and live in or around Cork, then email us with a photo ASAP at bake@cactustv.co.uk telling us your name, address, age, and why you’d love to be part of our baking school.

More on http://www.bibliocook.com/

Monday, May 19, 2008

VALUE FOR MONEY


SCOOZI’S



Scoozi’s is a Cork tradition, which seems to have been in existence a lot longer than 1993. They say their ethos is good food, inexpensive prices and happy staff with a determination to please. I was there at the weekend and have no argument with that. Food was good, staff friendly.

They don't take bookings so we had to queue for a few minutes. We had heard portions were big so skipped the starters. My main course was Flaming Chicken: Chicken breast skewered with sweet bell pepper mushrooms, red onions, aubergines and courgettes. Baked in the oven and served with spicy sauce. Three man size skewers, well done and a smashing dish for under €17.00.

The other main dish was also chicken, called Pollo Alla Scoozi: Succulent breast of chicken, breadcrumbed and stuffed with garlic cream cheese and chives. Again the price was under €17.00. It was well cooked, though a much “heavier” dish that the Flaming Chicken.

Both, like many Scoozi dishes, were served with a side dish of chips and a side dish of salad. Well worth it. The house wine, a Bougrier Touraine Sauvignon, at €18.75, was also good value. It was refreshing and dry and went well with the chicken and the spicy tastes.

Tiramisiu was the dessert chosen and it too was up to standard.

Enjoyable overall, worth the little wait and worth going again. To find out more, go to http://www.scoozis.ie


About Scoozi’s (by Scoozi’s themselves)
Scoozi's first opened its doors on the 16th of June 1993. From its very beginning Scoozi's has been a very successful restaurant. It originally began in No 3-4 Wintrop Avenue but it is now 2-5 Wintrop Avenue. So we have expanded quite a bit.
We are a group of people who have been together for over 14 years. All our staff are trained and educated about the ethos of the restaurant which is good food, inexpensive prices and happy staff with a determination to please.
Work begins in Scoozi's at 6.00 in the morning when our team of pastry chefs begin baking preparations for the day. We open our doors at 9.00am and begin with coffee, scones, pastries, bagels and our delicious waffles. Around 10.00 breakfast gets into full swing - eggs, bacon, and toast any which way - all cooked to order. At 12 noon we change to our lunch menu plus our specials of the day. Lunch runs until 5.30 p.m. when we change to our evening menu and last orders are at 11.00 p.m.
Ours is a very busy day with chicken, pasta, salad, pizza and chargrilled burgers being our main fare. Our homemade desserts are hugely popular in Cork for all those with a sweet tooth. We have a modest but excellent wine list and also serve Cusquena Cerveza Premium (Peruvian) beer - the gold of the Incas!
We are a friendly family restaurant where kids are made very welcome. We have a Kiddies Menu and also hold a weekly colouring competition where kids have a chance to win a free lunch for themselves and two friends.
We look forward to seeing you....

Saturday, May 10, 2008

BACK TO THE PALACE

HAPPY RETURN

Like Chinese? Like good value?

Then Ying’s Palace (in the Mayfield Shopping centre, 021 4559238) is the place for you.
Called last Thursday night and choose the Buffet Menu. Don’t worry – you won't have to leave your seat to get your grub – everything is served at the cloth covered candlelit table. The Buffet refers to the amount of choice on this four course set menu: nine starters, four soups, a dozen or more main courses and two desserts. All for €13.99 (Weekdays); there is a €2.00 surcharge at weekends.

I had the Shredded Japanese Chicken starter, the Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup, and the Aromatic Lamb. Desserts are not a strong point, either ice cream or jelly, I think. But all in all very good value at a comfortable venue with friendly service.

Possible extras: Coffee €1.80 a cup, House wine, very good too at €16.80 a bottle.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

CLASSY CRAB TOASTIES


EASY TOASTIES


They don't call it a Deli but the Food Hall in Marks and Spencer (in Merchant’s Quay, Cork) is one, a place of delicacies and fine food.

I was in there the other day getting ingredients for tasty Crab Toasties. I picked up Orkney White Crab meat, ciabatta, along with some St Azur soft cheese and got to work.

Preheat Oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Check meat for tiny pieces of shell and remove. Soften the cream cheese in a bowl, and then mix in crab meat and mayonnaise. Add the breadcrumbs and soy sauce, then the cayenne pepper and seasoning to taste.


Spread the mix evenly on the bread slices and place on a baking sheet. Bake for ten minutes and then serve with a baby leaf and herb salad, dressed with vinaigrette.

Ingredients for Crab Toasties
(Serves 3 to 4 as a snack or light lunch)

100g white crab meat (you may use frozen)
100g cream cheese at room temperature
2 tbsp mayonnaise
15g dried breadcrumbs
1 tsp soy sauce
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Sea salt and black pepper
1 small ciabatta or baguette, thinly sliced on the diagonal.
Recipe from the Sunday Times, who in turn took it from the Jason Atherton book called Maze: The Cookbook.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

B€ AWAR€


JACOBS ON THE MALL

Jacobs on the Mall is in the Cork “financial district” (a street, really). The area is well served with ATMs. Just as well, as the prices charged at this South Mall establishment are high.

But if you have no problem with that, you’ll have no problem with the food. It is, in my experience, always well cooked, well presented and served with a chat and a smile.
We called last Friday evening and the place was quite busy with about 80 customers in. While waiting, we were served some very nice breads indeed.

The main course was Baked Cod, with some anchovies and mashed olives alongside, served with a warm potato salad (a lovely cylindrical pile of potato and roasted peppers and little bits of ham). The smell on arrival at the table promised much and I wasn't let down. It was lovely dish even though the price was a hefty €28.00.

Desserts are usually good here. This time, I picked the apple brandy and hazelnut tart, served with a scoop of caramel ice-cream. Good, but not as good as my favourite here which is the date and butterscotch pudding. Cost €7.50.

From the extensive wine list, we choose the Paul Beaudet Macon-Lugny (€30.00). Not bad at all, though I must say I preferred the Macon-Lugny (“Les Genievres” Louis Latour) that I got in the Imperial across the road a few weeks back.

While the big aerial space has been broken up with greenery and the walls are hung with paintings, there is still a kind of hollow feeling to the restaurant. The lower level has two unbroken rows, one with tables for couples, the other with seating for four or more. A few screens here and a plant or a statue there might break it up and improve it and certainly lessen the class-roomy feel of the place.

One other thing, why not get rid of those awful “Formica” tables. I get classier tables in my local.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

ALL FINE AT THE IMPERIAL




TOP FISH DISH AT THE PEMBROKE


Had a very enjoyable main course of Sea Bass on a very recent visit to the Imperial Hotel (Pembroke Grill). The fish was the main ingredient and was allowed to shine, not suffocated by the accompaniment as happened in Ballincollig (see previous post). It was served on a bed (appropriately small) of colcannon, a little Mediterranean style vegetable mix, small potatoes and a shared dish of sautéed potato rings. It was cooked to perfection and a lovely meal for €19.50.

The wine too was superb. It was a Macon Lugny “Les Genievres” Louis Latour. Apparently, Lugny is one of the best areas in Burgundy and is certainly well represented by this particular product.

Finished off with a perfectly done Crème brûlée. The friendly and efficient service at the comfortable venue was with a foreign smile but a smile is always welcome, no matter where it comes from.

· Earlier in the day, we had called to the Griffin Garden Centre (pictured) between Dripsey and Coachford. We were there at lunchtime so couldn't resist the temptation to call to the Spinning Wheel Restaurant in the centre. Quite a selection on offer here. Cod (at €9.90) was one of the main courses of the day but we went for the Lamb at €11.90. Again, the meat was superb and so too was the vegetable accompaniment. If you are in the area, remember you don't have to have greenfingers to enjoy the fine fare at the Spinning Wheel!

Friday, March 28, 2008

A TOUCH TOO MUCH

TREACY’S of Ballincollig

First impressions on a recent visit to Treacy's Bar/Restaurant in Ballincollig were good: busy and lively and it definitely has a buzz. It is well laid out and spacious, though you would want to watch out that you don't end up sitting on a stool at your table (they will get you a chair, but if you are sitting down for a reserved meal you would expect to have a chair there in the first place).

They do a decent range of dishes with a matching range of prices. As regards prices, the only quibble I would have is with their main courses, particularly the fish courses which cost in the mid twenties and could be a lot less – tell you why later.

The starter I chose was a Tapas selection. Cost was about €9.90 and was well worth it. The platter contained fish pieces, chicken pieces, bread with tomato and mozzarella, along with little bowls of piquant olives, sundried tomatoes etc. Quite tasty and enough for two on the one platter.

The main course I chose was the fish of the day, Red Snapper, which weighed in about the €22.00 mark. The fish was good quality but it was overwhelmed by what came with it. It was served on a massive mound of rice which looked like Ayers Rock on the plate. The side dishes were a bowl of roasted Mediterranean vegetables (slight smell of burn here) and a version of potato grattan which didn't add anything other than bulk to what was already an overcrowded plate.


It was just too much in quantity, too little in quality, and a suggestion for Treacy’s would be to take a look at what Market Lane in Oliver Plunkett Street can achieve with such a fish dish. Less can often be more! Quite a lot, certainly of the rice, went back. Now, I reckon, if less was served in the first place, that would bring down the costs and lead to a keener price for your main dish.
The Advisor took Chicken Snitzel at a very reasonable €14.40. Again there was nothing wrong with the meat (in fact, it was of a very good standard) which was served on a bed of fried mashed potato. The tasty enough sauce came in its own bowl but then came the overkill: a plate full of salad and a dish of undercooked chips. Another case of where quantity rather than quality won out.

Finished off with two mugs of coffee, good quality and reasonably priced at €1.90 each. The wine was also excellent. It was a Ca’vive Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie, cost €19.90, four euro less than the same bottle cost in Treyvaud’s of Killarney a few weeks back.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

TASTE OF THE KINGDOM











KERRY TIPS

For your evening meal try Treyvaud's on the High Street, Killarney (064 33062), a popular if slightly expensive restaurant run by two Swiss brothers.

The efficient service and attention to detail starts the moment you walk in the door. The service is not at all intrusive, just sufficient. Obviously the attention to detail includes the food selection and preparation.

Most of our party had fish – I had the Hake special at €24.95, which I thought was a little over priced. The fish was perfect and had been cooked to perfection and the same applied to the seasonal vegetables that accompanied it. Everything was perfect. No complaints.

But for that price, one might have had expected some little innovation or variation, that the chef, with such perfect ingredients, would challenge himself. By comparison with the sea bass dish in the Market Lane (see separate post), the hake, while not at all a letdown, far from it, suffered.

Desserts, all reasonably priced at €6.50, were very good value and I enjoyed my Passionfruit Cheesecake. Other desserts that came to our table included Bread and Butter puddings and Panna Cotta.

A bottle of well balanced Pinot Grigio cost €23.95, at the lower end of the wine list, though the house wine, red and white, cost less than €20.00, if I remember rightly.

If you are in Killarney at lunchtime, Mac’s, near the Tourist Office is good bet, with a huge menu and service with a smile.

If you find yourself on the Ring of Kerry at lunchtime, particularly in Caherciveen, try the Times Square cafe in the Eurospar complex at the southern end of the town. There they do a great soup in the house; it is gluten free and served in a generous bowl, though they term it a cup, and they also sell it in combination with Paninis (6.95) and toasted sandwiches (5.95). They also have tempting pastries and free-trade coffee. Again service is with a smile and there is a relaxed atmosphere in the cafe.

(picture: Carroll's Cove , near Derrynane, 12.03.08)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

SMALL IS BEST



CASTELLI’S IN PRINCE’S STREET


First impression was that this place was so small but as they say the best is to be found in small parcels and certainly the first visit to Castelli's Italian Restaurant in Prince’s Street was well worthwhile. The room is cosy, comfortable and seats about 30. Service is friendly and efficient.

From the nine or starts on offer, we both choose the Mussels (With tomato, onion & basil). The soup-like accompaniment certainly lifts the mussels to another tasty level. Top marks for this one.


My main course was a medium size pizza: Primavera (Aubergine, olives, tomato, pesto, peppers & red onions). It was done to a T, well endowed with the vegetables and a pleasure to polish off. The Advisor plumped for their version of Pollo alla Cacciatora (Chicken, onions, tomatoes chilli in tomato sauce, with fries or potatoes). The difference is made by the chilli and, while this dish too went down well, the extra spice may not be to everyone’s taste, so watch out for that.

A 50 cl carafe of house wine (Soave), medium dry with quite a robust flavour cost just €11.00.


The full bill came to a few cent under €55.00. Great value and it seems their early bird is even better value. So now you know!

Castelli’s own words:
Offering an excellent selection of Italian and Mediterranean dishes, Castelli's is the perfect place to enjoy casual lunches and sophisticated evening meals. The "early-bird" specials are particularly popular: a three-course lunch. The restaurant has daily specials as well as offering a regular selection of pasta, salad, and pizza dishes. Its small, warm surroundings allow for good and fast service. Perfect espressos and cappuccinos are available to round off a good inexpensive meal.
Contact Details: Princes Street, Cork - 021 427 3888

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

BARN STORMER


EXCELLENT RESPONSE

MEAL GOOD ALSO!!!


The Adviser recently made a booking at the Barn and there was an error, on the Barn side. But the response was brilliant. Their hands went up straight away and there was a generous gesture on the next visit.


The Barn, on the Mayfield-Glanmire Road, in case you didn't know, is a reliable fixture at the top end of the Cork restaurant scene. The welcome is friendly, service is good and the seating arrangements are generous in regard to space and comfort. The fixed evening menu costs €50 a head and the wine begins in the mid twenties.


Had a drink at the bar before going in, made our choices from the menu and chose a tarty long tasting Pinot Grigio (which turned out to be a lovely lively wine) for the meal.


Started off with a tasty duck salad, and that was followed by a top drawer bisque. Main course was red snapper with a smoked haddock spring roll, an excellent plate. Desserts comes from a three tray trolley. You are certain to find something sinful to suit you (I took the Mille Feuille) and tea or coffee is available to finish off, unless you want to go to the bar, where you can enjoy a glass of port for €6.00.

The Adviser was well pleased with the evening and we promised to go again, a promise that will be kept.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

ROYAL RECEPTION


AT THE YING PALACE



What a welcome we got at the comfortable Ying Palace Restaurant in Mayfield the other night and, more to the point, what a meal! And what value!


We took Selection C on a huge menu. By the way, in addition to the main a la carte menu, there was an even better value introductory menu where you could get four courses for about €15.00. Our selection cost €19.00 per person.

Starter was Shredded Aromatic Duck, served with a fresh green salad and a hoi-shin sauce and thin pancakes to wrap it in. It was beautiful, a very promising start to the evening.

Next course was the soup; this had a most delicate taste but was so beautiful. It was a crab and sweet corn soup, a little gem.

The main course was a combination of turf and surf. On one hot plate, we helped ourselves to very tender, beautifully cooked fillet beef with a black bean sauce; from the other plate, we picked our tasty king prawns, served with a Szechuan sauce. Fried rice and chips were also served.

And we finished off with a cup of coffee each.

Finished off? No way. Our hostess for the evening had been pleasant, talkative and attentive and as we finished our wine (a Chenin Blanc at €18.30), we were offered a little vase of Saki. So we filled our little bowls (twice) with the warmed liquid which she said was about the same strength as the wine.

But she mentioned she had something stronger and soon she produced that. It was a Chinese Rice Wine. It was about four times stronger than the wine and packed quite a punch! Again, there were two little bowlfuls for each of us in the warmed container and it certainly was strong. What a finish to a delightful evening!

Total cost? About €56.00, plus tip of course.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

BACK TO SOURCE

SILVER SPRINGS ENCORE

An almost accidental return (my first booked restaurant, nearby, was closed unexpectedly) to Silversprings gave me the chance to try out the Watermarq restaurant again. Aside from some over-cooked vegetables, there was nothing to complain about and we paid about €93.00 for two starters, two mains, two desserts and a bottle of wine.

My starter was a Tomato and Mozzarella cheese salad. Nothing spectacular but certainly up to scratch. The other choice, probably the better one, was smoked (lightly) duck breast with salad.

For mains, I chose the rack of lamb. The quality was good and at €22.50 it was reasonably good value. Medallions of venison were also on the table and again it was tender and tasty. The aforementioned veg, though close to soggy, did taste surprisingly well.

Still room for dessert and both choose the Passionfruit mousse. Nether was disappointed with this light tangy ending to a very decent meal indeed.

By the way, the wine list includes six house wines (three white, three red), all in the low twenties.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

TAKE A WALK DOWN THE LANE


MARKET LANE


The Market Lane restaurant, on the lower end, close to Parnell Place, of Oliver Plunkett Street is a welcome addition to the scene in the city.


We called in last night (Friday). The place was very busy but we were soon seated and each of us started with a bowl of delightful marinated olives.


Main course was Grilled Sea Bass (bream normally) with a Mediterranean vegetables and bean cassoulet. It was a happy combination. The fish was the star of the show but the accompaniment was delightful also. This dish needed nothing else, well aside from a 50cl carafe of the house white (11.50). In this case, there was no need for chips or mash or any other bulky stuff to disguise the poverty of the main ingredient. Brilliant.

And the superlatives didn't stop there. There was room for dessert and I chose the Banoffee, a real banoffee this time as the three main ingredients were all present, the banana, toffee and biscuit base all combining to make a very sinful whole. The Advisor had an equally tempting Warm Berry Crumble and spoonfuls were swapped across the table.

The total cost, two portions of olives, two bass, two desserts and wine came to about €65.00. Service was efficient and friendly. So we paid up with a smile and a promise to return.

The Restaurant’s own info:
Market Lane is a new restaurant and bar over two floors that offers great food and amazing value. We use ingredients from The English Market and local artisan producers to make up our menu which has a wide range of fish, salads, meat, game and sandwiches, in addition to coeliac and vegetarian dishes and a healthy kids menu.


We take bookings for parties of six and over. For parties of fewer than six we operate a walk-in policy. Should there be no table available immediately, our large bar is fully licensed. Our upstairs section can accommodate up to 65 people. Reservation queries can be made by telephone to 021 427 4710 or by email info@marketlane.ie . The website is http://www.marketlane.ie/

Monday, February 4, 2008

HOT LUNCH IN THE WOODS


VIENNA WOODS


Quite a while since I was last in the Vienna Woods (where I once slaved in the kitchens).



Lunch was the object of the exercise today and I didn't leave disappointed.



Started with a decent Chowder. For just under 6 euro, I got nothing extraordinary but plenty of fish, plenty of veg. No complaints at all.



Then to the Cajun Chicken Panini with sun dried tomatoes and a nice salad. It was very tasty indeed. The Panini was done to a tee and the Cajun was reasonably spicy. Quite a substantial dish for just under a tenner.



So if you find yourself on the eastern side of the city, you may safely add the Vienna Woods to your list of places for lunch. The menu is packed with choice. Nice staff there too!

MERCIER PRESS SEEKS GRANNY'S RECIPES

Early this week, at 5.00pm today to be precise, Mercier Press will launch www.ourgranniesrecipes.com , a site that aims to collect 101 of Ireland’s favourite traditional recipes.

These recipes will be collected into a book for publication in October 2008 and the royalties from the book will be donated to Age Action Ireland. The book will be called Our Grannies’ Recipes, will be priced @ €14.99. It will be a hardback and will have 192 pages.

Although the site is not replete with amazing design features or fancy software, it is hoped to provide some exciting additions as the project advances:

Polling to uncover Ireland’s ultimate favourite sweet and savoury dishes
Voting on the final cover design
Direct submission of recipes from day one from here:
http://ourgranniesrecipes.com/?page_id=6

A Couple of Notes
Just a few things you might want to know:

Our first post goes live on Monday 4th February @ 5pm so if you do link to the site please be sure that it happens after that.

Monday, January 28, 2008

IMPERIAL DUCK

Downtown on Friday night
DUCK DELIGHT

THE PEMBROKE AT THE IMPERIAL

The waiter at the Pembroke in the Imperial suggested that we get the Roast Farmyard Duckling well done; otherwise we would miss out on the “smell”. He may not have had the words spot on but he knew what he was talking about. We took his advice and enjoyed the aroma of the well done duckling, not to mind the crispy fat.

It was simply gorgeous, very enjoyable, as were the accompanying vegetables and sautéed potatoes. Cost €23.50.

Dessert was a sinfully sweet Sticky Toffee Pudding while the Advisor has the Pear which had been poached in white wine. Happy campers both.

We had a quarter bottle of wine each, a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc which was excellent and a warm and generous tasting Rioja with good body, good flavour. Each cost €5.95. With one coffee ordinaire, the total came to €76.40. And of course, the smiling waiter got his tip!

Monday, January 21, 2008

SUPER SIZED STARTER

The Killumney Utd football team, pride and joy of mine host Michael Sheahan
SUPER STARTER, SUPER MEAL

at the KILLUMNEY INN

You won't be hungry leaving the Killumney Inn. Trouble is you could be full before the finish.

Take the potato wedge starter for instance. It is a huge dish. Better shared. It is quite nice too, the potato served with bacon and topped with cheese.

Main course was baked rack of lamb in a red wine sauce, served with a selection of vegetables, mashed potato and chips. All very nice, all very filling.

Still, there was room for dessert. I had a very enjoyable, very sinkable crepe with a butterscotch sauce and ice cream while the Advisor had the top class lemon meringue pie.

I finished off with a large cup of pretty ordinary coffee.

I must mention the wine which was a velvety Chilean Merlot (de Gras). Absolutely smashing and great value at €17.50 a bottle. It is one of the house wines, three red and three white, all at this good price.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

CASANOVA COOLING

NOT SO HOT SECOND TIME AROUND
BUT THERE WERE HIGH POINTS!

A second visit to North Main Street’s Casanova wasn’t quite up to the enjoyable first occasion a few months back.

Firstly, the little on the house teaser that we got on visit one didn't materialise on visit two. And then, the wine, a Gavi D.O.C.G. S'Orsola €23.70, was much too cold on arrival at the table and we had to wait quite a while to get the full flavour and other qualities of what turned out to be a very pleasant dry white wine indeed. It is produced with cortese grapes in the Gavi.

I went for the Calamari Fritti € 8.70 as starter. Not bad though I felt they were a touch on the heavy tasting side and the spicy tomato sauce on the side wasn’t spicy at all. I’ll be taking a different starter next time but must emphasise that this is a question of taste, not necessarily of quality.

The main reason I’d go back was because the Secondi Piatti was absolute brilliant. It was Pollo alla Cacciatora €18.70: Chicken breast, cooked with peppers, onions, olives and tomato sauce. The meat was spot-on and the sauce was full of taste, yet so light. This was a five star course and probably quite a healthy one.

I enjoyed my Tiramisu (apparently it means pick me up) and the Advisor was welcome to her Panna Cotta. Both cost €6.50. Finished off with an Expresso @ €2.50.
By the way, this is the second Italian establishment in a row that spelt the coffee with an X; Gambieni’s also use the X. I tend to go for espresso and I have regularly seen esspresso. Can anyone enlighten?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

RESTAURANTS AND THE CALORIE COUNT?

IRISH RESTAURANTS COULD IN FUTURE GIVE YOU THE CALORIES FOR THAT STEAK.
NOT THE NEAR FUTURE..
according to foodie Ollie Moore..

I wrote an article recently on compulsory calorie labelling in the US, and asked some chefs and others in the food area in Ireland if the same should happen here. I have to say I wasn't expecting the chefs to be overly supportive of the idea, but I was suprised at the sheer range of disagreement. Compulsory calorie labelling in Ireland might take some time...


Imagine walking into a restaurant and seeing the calorie count of the meal you are about to have on an overhead display or on the menu? Would you think twice about that big juicy option? This is currently the situation in New York, where there has been an inordinate amount of twoing and frowing between representatives of the restaurant industry and fast food chains on the one hand, and food advocacy groups, pubic health officials and Major Bloomberg’s administration on the other.

Want to read more - then go to http://olivermoore.blogspot.com