Jacques. The Gold Standard.
|Barbecued Smoked Quail|
For 35 years now, Jacques has been setting the standard for restaurants in Cork. With the Barrys' unswerving commitment to local produce and high class cooking, it looks as if the calm and comfortable Phoenix Street venue will be the benchmark for years to come.
Was in there at the weekend. There were happy sounds in the main restaurant and, going by the twitter reaction, these were matched by the murmurs of approval in their adjoining small-plate room that opens onto Oliver Plunkett Street. You may access both from each street. But be sure to book. This is a popular spot, particularly towards the weekend.
I started to study the menu and was immediately struck by the quality of the starter selection, that little bit different. I picked the Barbecued Smoked Quail with a sauce romesco (€9.90). This was superb, a tempting whiff from the smoke, and the flavours were spot-on, the Barbecue element was just so well judged, not too heavy, not too light, the sauce and salad were perfect as well.
CL’s starter was Knockalara Sheeps Cheese, pickled courgette, roast beets, crushed potato and praline (9.90). Again, this was so well put together, the Waterford cheese evenly scattered through the other elements and she was particularly surprised and pleased with the pickled courgette.
We had been looking at the Fresh Crab Salad, served with Bushby’s Strawberries (from West Cork), avocado, lime and pumpkin seed (12.90). Later, another customer told me enthusiastically that this was delicious. Other starters included Fresh Castletownbere Scallops, Fresh Mussels (with white wine and pepperonata) and Organic Purple Sprouting Broccoli (with fried duck egg and Hollandaise). Spoiled for choice!
And it is much the same with the main courses. Goatsbridge Trout and East Ferry Duck Breast featured as did a Ribeye Steak to share, also a Red Wine and Mushroom Risotto and a Brace of Quail (with Japanese Style Noodles & Pak Choy). And more, including their own special Irish Stew.
There were also a couple of fish dishes and we both agreed on the Tuscan Fresh Monkfish with cannellini beans, Italian Sausage and a wild garlic pesto. Exquisite. Bellissimo. A superb combination of flavours and textures and that little bit of pesto played quite a role.
Desserts? I’m sure they were brilliant but we didn't even look! One can have too much of a good thing here. Next time, maybe. Earlier, we did have a generous glass of their Albarino, sunshine and stone on the tongue and in the throat, great with the fish.
Jacques Restaurant is located at the heart of Cork City near the G.P.O. They are open Monday 10am - 4pm and Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 10pm. Lunch is from 12pm - 4pm, side plates and tapas from 5pm to 10pm and the evening dinner menu is available between 6pm and 10pm. Very Highly Recommended. If you’d like to get a good idea of the place, why not try the €24 Two Course Dinner? Or some of their small plates and tapas?