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.