Very enjoyable and top class from start to finish. We lingered over every tasty morsel as we ate and sipped our way through close on three delightful hours in Fenns Quay last night.
Drank a Kir while studying the extensive menus, the a la carte, the set menu and the long list of specials. Then, after a sip or two, stopped reading to concentrate on the Kir as it was perhaps the very best we’ve come across in decades.
Sipped away until the mains arrived. Had been told that the Chargrilled Slaney Valley Lamb Chump (€22.50) with roast vegs in an olive and tomato sauce with curried roast potatoes was “massive”. It lived up to expectations, a gorgeous piece of meat, cooked to perfection as were the veg and potatoes.
Though 100 per cent happy with mine, I couldn't help glancing towards the other dish: Baked Monkfish (€24.50) with flat cup mushrooms, roast parsnips, rustic potato's and a butternut squash puree. The advisor would have been thrilled with the fish itself but again the accompaniments were also spot on.
The restaurant serves quite a few wines by the glass and I choose Cave de Tain Syrah 2006 to go with the lamb. It is the current house red and a superb example of the type from the northern Rhône. San Giorgio Pinot-Grigio 2008, light and crisp with a good flavour, went well with the fish.
Then on to the desserts, one described as Homemade strawberry jelly with vanilla ice cream strawberry jelly, an understatement, as this was a delicious pot of pureed strawberries, just gorgeous.
I too enjoyed my Bread and butter pudding with custard but I must tell you that I had a glass of Oremus Tokaji Aszu 5 puttonyos 2000 with it and that was a (shared) highlight. Even the tiniest sip of this nectar of the gods made all the sensors of the mouth and nose sit up and take notice as it reverberated gently around, lingering a long pleasurable while.
Kevin Crowley is one of three person team that owns and runs Fenns Quay and is the wine expert: “I have a passion for finding high quality, interesting and great value wines. I tend to seek value in places where others wouldn't; be it places like Austria, Portugal, Sicily, or Greece. Nothing is too strange and uncommerical for me not to consider. If the wine tastes good and is a great price, who cares where it’s from!”
Over a later glass of Cremant D' Alsace sparkling wine – we were celebrating a wedding anniversary – Kevin introduced us to his cousin Kate Lawlor, the Head Chef since 2006 (having started under the previous owners in 2001). The third member of the current group is Kevin’s partner Pennapa Wongsuwan. “Between the three of us, we cover every aspect of our business, but we also have excellent staff who are very dedicated and hard working.”
Fenns Quay’s policy is to use good quality local produce and being in the city centre is a help according to Kevin: “Yes, we are fortunate to have on our doorstep in Cork access to such fantastic local produce, be it fruit or veg, cheeses and artisan products from west Cork and fresh fish and high quality meat from the English Market.”
All the hard work, from sourcing to cooking to service, is being recognised and Fenns Quay has been honoured by Michelin. Kevin again: “We are very fortunate that the restaurant has been recommended in the Michelin guide for a number of years, and with this latest recommendation (2010) it’s very pleasing to have our hard work recognised by a worldwide institution such as the Michelin Guide.”