Monday, August 31, 2009

The Cotton Ball in Cork

The Cotton Ball is one of the oldest in the city and one of the best. It is divided into Bar and Lounge. The latter was refurnished a few years now. It is much bigger than the bar but the big square box feeling is avoided as it has been divided up into a few smaller areas.

The Cotton is not really a sports bar but you can watch the games there and more and more are now doing that on the screens which were placed in most areas.

The venue, in the Lynch family for decades, was once famed as a music venue but those days are long gone. There are mixed feelings. Many people enjoy the music but other go out for the conversation and that can be drowned out if the music is loud.

But it gets on well without the music. There is a good staff there and service, of a wide variety of drinks (including wine at just €4.00 for a quarter bottle, is usually with a smile.

You can also pop in there for lunch these days. Nothing major on the menu but you can get soup and sandwiches and Panini’s and snacks of a similar nature.

This is a well run house with a good ambience. It is also a fairly comfortable meeting place where yourself and the ball and chain can find a corner but which can also accommodate a large group of friends and relations for a milestone birthday celebration.

Check out my review of The Cotton Ball - I am cork - on Qype

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mo Chuisle Bar

Mo Chuisle Bar

Dropped into Mo Chuisle Bar in Blarney Street on a recent Saturday evening (early) . It was quiet enough at first but soon a fair crowd gathered, mainly to see Utd and Arsenal on the telly. No bother to the lady behind the bar. She gave great service to one and all with a smile.
The bar is comfortable and spacious, plenty of large screens around to satisfy most sports fans and the drink is good and keenly priced. Add in that excellent service and what more would you want!

Check out my review of Mo Chuisle Bar - I am cork - on Qype

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Elm Tree (Glounthaune)

Cork - Eating & Drinking - Restaurants


This was a disappointing visit to the newly refurbished Elm Tree. It was busy but understaffed, leading to long delays in table service. Customer service, how are ye. Delays at every course and even a long wait for the bill as the harried staff had too much on their hands.

It is something of a food conveyor, a popular one by the looks of it. You get chips and salad or potatoes and vegetables with every dish, no thought given to matching with the meat or fish or whatever.

The food factory feeling continued with the dessert. The apple pie was a disaster as the apple inside was the kind you of goo you can get in large tubs in wholesalers and the concrete like meringues (along with the summer berries) must have come from a similar source.

It started badly. I choose the Ballycotton bay chowder. Ballycotton is equally famous for its potatoes and there more than a few chunks of spud along with an admittedly decent amount of fish. But why spoil the fish with a heavy handed application of cream? The main ingredients must be respected.

That was more the case with the main course, cod, with a ham wrap and ratatouille. The cod was quite good but the square of ham was like a rock. It would all have been a reasonable dish had the ratatouille been up to scratch. It wasn't. Some of the usual ingredients (peppers, red onions, courgettes) were present but they were barely cooked and there was no sign of the key ingredients, namely tomatoes and aubergines. I know there is some debate about how to cook this dish but the Elm Tree version was so far off what they serve in French restaurants and traiteurs, it was unreal and unworthy of the name.

Quite a good spread of prices for meals and wines, though €30.00 for fillet steak is well over the top. But good prices mean little unless you are getting value for money and we certainly didn’t.

Check out my review of Elm Tree - I am cork - on Qype

Friday, August 14, 2009

Brittany Ferries Pont Aven


Made the close on 600 km to Roscof, so had to make a few stops on the motorway.
One of the best is Aire de Vendee. I got a triple chicken sandwich here (3 slice of ordinary bread), a bottle of Coca Cola and a dessert yoghurt (with spoon and serviette) for 5.90.
Bits and pieces of fruit, travel sweets, more coke, kept us going.
We didn't need much by the time we boarded the Pont Aven which was a pity as le Flora was open!
But we tried the self service. They had a range of hot dishes for around the 8 euro mark, also loads of salads, desserts, drinks etc.

Two Canneloni, two desserts, plus two small bottles (25 cl) of wine cost €27.65. The food was adequate (nothing special) but overall the value was decent.

Check out my review of Pont Aven - I am cork - on Qype

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Meschers sur Gironde

Change of month but no change in the weather, temperatures still in the high 30s, pool temperature at 28 in morning.
Mainly the same course of “action”: read, pool, beach, pool. Tough going.

Still enough action to work up an appetite and the best place to satisfy that in these parts is La Foret. Have myself a Pineau Rose aperitif while studying the huge menu. We settle for the Medallions de Merlu (hake), cooked in a court bouillon, and served with various vegetables, including tomatoes, the plate further enhanced with four or five split (large) prawns. This dish cost €24.00 and was worth every penny.

Desserts were described on the bill as Tarte Au Citron and Tiramisu but, believe me, were much more than that. Both were gorgeous though I think the Advisor’s Tarte was the better choice. Finished off with an espresso (1.80, much cheaper than the 3.50 Jacques outrageously charge).
Presentation was again fantastic and it was a good end to a good day.

Check out my reviews - I am cork - on Qype

La Kaz in Talmont

Talmount Sur Gironde

Surprised to find La Foret closed on this Tuesday evening; headed down to Talmont to La Promontoire but that too was closed.
Lesson: check before you go, as many restaurants close for both Monday and Tuesday, others for just one of those days.
La Kaz, another establishment in Talmont, was open; we got a table there and soon the place was packed, putting pressure on the two serving, though our flamboyant fellow didn’t show it. They did their best but service was slow. Nothing great on the menu here so settled for a lovely pizza (11.50). Also enjoyed my dessert of Poire Belle Helene and the wine which cost €5 for a 50cl carafe.

People were expecting a thunderstorm and there was a little nervousness when one or two of the sheltering sunshades began to rattle in the wind. But nothing, only a few heavy drops, followed and there was a beautiful sunset on sea and cornfields as we drove inland to the gite.

Check out my review of La Kaz - I am cork - on Qype

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chez Mémé in Royan

Royan - Eating & Drinking - Restaurants - Italian & Pizza

Five in the afternoon, we hit the road to Royan and walked across the main sea front to take a look at a couple of smaller beaches on the western side.

Having eaten well at lunch time, we didn’t need a big meal again.

No problem in Royan which has some three hundred eateries, quite a few of them along by the marina and Front de Mer.

We settled for a pizza in in Chez Meme, one of a string restuarants in the sea front arcades. A couple of pizzas (9+9.5), 50cl of wine (5.50), two desserts (5.50 & 6.50) filled the belly.

Service was excellent and friendly and the food wasn’t bad either! Sun still belting down strongly on the beach as head for the gite.

Check out my review of Chez Mémé - I am cork - on Qype

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

La Forêt

Meschers sur Gironde - Eating & Drinking - Restaurants

Back to the gite but the cupboard was bare so headed out to the generous plates of La Foret.

Take this meal for value. A pave de Saumon au four (oven cooked darne of salmon), well garnished, and served with some tagiatelle (15.00), followed by Tarte Normande, apple and rhubarb (5.50), a half bottle of wine (3.00), and a coffee (1/80), total an incredible 25.80.

Another worthwhile visit to a restaurant that is very popular with the French –didn’t see any other foreigners there!

Check out my review of Restaurant La Forêt - I am cork - on Qype

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Cork - Eating & Drinking - Restaurants - Irish


Downtown Friday night and time on your hands before mealtime? Call in to Counihan’s. Enjoy a glass of wine and live jazz (starts at 6.00pm).
Did just that last night and then headed for Market Lane. It is a no booking establishment so we had to wait a few minutes for a table.
With a glass of excellent Chenin Blanc (5.90) at hand, I tucked into the Pan-fried Sea bass with sweet potato mash and a chunky salad (the spring onion pieces were quite robust, perhaps too much so for anyone whose teeth aren’t what they were), wilted greens and tarragon butter sauce €18.95. I had no problem on that score and enjoyed the good quality dish.
I wasn’t as impressed with my dessert: Orange and vanilla bread and butter pudding. It was well presented but quite ordinary and I could not give more than five out of ten. However, the other dessert at the table, a Mango and passion fruit sorbet with fresh fruit, was very highly rated.

All in all, it was another good meal at a reasonable price in the deservedly busy establishment. A good way to sample the cooking here is the Early Evening Offer: soup, main course (big choice), mini chololate pot and tea or coffee for €20.00, Mon - Thurs.

Market Lane, 5 Oliver Plunket Street, Cork. 021 4274710,
Check out my review of market lane - I am cork - on Qype

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

L'Ilot, harbourside cafe in Boyardville (Oleron)

On a clear can see La Rochelle from Chassiron


Weather uncertain as we headed for the island – Ile d’Oleron – this morning. But we need not have worried. As we reached the Viaduc, the sky was clearing. We headed for Le Chateau d’Oleron to watch the oyster farmers at work. Best viewed form the heights of the citadel – there you have a terrific view of the harbour and the estuary and the fleet of flat bottomed boats coming and going to the oyster beds.

Then up the coast to Boyardville and a little lunch – moules a la Italienne + frites, cost nine euro - at a little place near the main parking for the beach called L’ilot. On then to the tip of the island to see and climb the lighthouse, the 150 year old Chassiron.

Climbed the 224 steps no bother to enjoy great views, large over the sea in all directions and small to the foot of the building where a very nice garden (a new feature) has been laid out. Great value for just €2.50.
Back down the other side of the island to make a call to La Cotiniere where the fishermen land their catches and where the fish auctions take place. Saw some very big “meagre” delivered to the auction rooms.
Then back to the gite, the pool and the barbecue. It is now gone 8.30pm and the sun is still shining strongly on the back of the gite. C’est la vie!.

Check out my review of Phare De Chassiron - I am cork - on Qype