Local is King at The Imperial Hotel

Local is King at The Imperial Hotel

Producers Reign in the Pembroke
x-food-04Frank Hederman. Macroom Mozzarella. Jack McCarthy. Clonakilty Corn-fed Chicken. Hake from Castletownbere. Black sole from Kinsale. Aged West Cork Hereford Beef.
There’s a strong Irish input to the menu at the Imperial Hotel recently, much of it down to new Executive Chef Nicky Foley who has been known to do a bit of foraging around the Waterford village of Kilmeaden, his native place.
In the plush and spacious Pembroke Restaurant, I just had to start with that Hederman Smoked Salmon with buttermilk pancakes, pickled cucumber and horseradish. Beautiful colours and textures (the soft pancakes and the smooth fish made for each other) but above all the layers and layers of flavour that this expert smoker magics from his fish. Oh my!


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There are increasing examples of heritage tomato salads on local menus and the Pembroke’s is top notch. Sourdough and heritage tomato salad is the full title and it comes with green olives, fried capers and garden herbs. A seasonal delight.
They are rightly proud of their steaks here, all from 28 day aged beef. I went for the fillet, a handsome 8 ounce cube that came, like they all do, with triple cooked chips and a choice of sauces – mine was the traditional pepper. One of the very best steaks in these parts, I’d have to say.
CL went for the Clonakilty chicken with roast garlic and mushroom. Like the beef, the flavour was superb here, outstanding in fact, quite a dish, served with vegetables and potatoes and all for 18 euro.
The desserts are all priced at €5.95 and we made the usual decision to share! And there was quite a lot to share when the Mango Parfait, Coconut and Milk Pudding, and Spiced Pineapple Carpaccio arrived. Not one of your usual suspects! A top class finale to a lovely meal.
Chef Nicky comes from a family of ten, he has six brothers and three sisters and food has always been a huge part of his family life. “My mother is a very good home cook and I was inspired by her love of food and also her attitude to using everything and wasting nothing. I am particularly mindful of using local produce, ingredients that are not forced but have been allowed to grow and mature as nature intended. That’s the real secret ingredient to any great dish.”
Nicky travelled extensively throughout Europe before spending five years with chef Richard Corrigan at Bentley’s in London. “Working under Richard was a fantastic experience,” said Nicky, “he always strove for perfection and encouraged me to be a better chef and to look at food in a more creative and respectful way.”
Some of the highlights of Nicky’s career include cooking live on CNBC news, competing in the Taste of London Live Cook Off and winning the Square Meal CanapĂ© Cup, Critics Cup. He has cooked for the toast of London and is now bringing his own unique style of food to Cork.x-meat-03

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