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Steady as she goes may well sum up Isaac’s Restaurant in McCurtain Street, an essential part of the Cork City dining scene for over 25 years now. And since Michael and Catherine Ryan and Canice Sharkey got it up and running way back when, it has been going steady and going well. And, day or evening (they are one of the few places offering dinner seven nights a week), you can visit with confidence as we confirmed once again at the weekend.
We had been looking at doing a late lunch in the city centre but that didn't quite work out so in the end we called to Isaac’s and enjoyed their early bird. The Early Bird hadn’t been our intention but once we noticed that two chosen mains were on that menu we stuck with it. It is excellent food and, at €25.00 for two courses, €27.50 for three, is superb value too.
They have quite a few regular dishes here on the main menu but it is always freshened up with an impressive list of specials. There were no less than eight last Friday and they included a Fresh Wild Atlantic Crab Salad, a Fritto Misto (Monkfish, Cod and Scallop), Pan Fried John Dory, Pan Fried Cod and a Warm Flourless Chocolate Cake, among others.
So no shortage of choice. No shortage of wines either, regular beers and also craft beer from Eight Degrees and local cider by Stonewell. And local producers are also supported in the kitchen. Service is friendly, helpful and smoothly efficient here.
Both our starters were on the traditional side. I must say it is a long long time since I’ve seen Crispy Fried Brie on a menu anywhere. I was delighted to reacquaint myself with this treat served with tomato, chilli jam and mixed leaves. A lovely mix, the softness and flavour of the warm cheese inside, the sweetness of the jam and the fresh crispness of the leaves. Thumbs up.
And thumbs up too from the other side of the table. Here the dish was a Warm Chicken Salad with rustic potatoes and crispy bacon. A bit more robust than the Brie but full of texture and flavour and very much appreciated (though I did manage to get a mouthful, on a barter basis of course!).
Our table, by the way, was right under the impressive collection (39 in all, I think) of Patrick Scott’s famous Christmas Cards. The Kilbrittain born artist was in the habit of sending these to his friends and you can see the series right here in Isaac’s (itself situated in an 18th century warehouse).
The Early Bird offered four starters and six mains. CL went for the Mild Madras Lamb Curry with Basmati rice and side dishes. We’ve always enjoyed the curry here (their vegetarian curry included) and this was no exception. It was big on quality and not shy on quantity either!
Breast of chicken with buttered spinach and a wild forest mushroom cream sauce was my choice and again this, coming with a side of seasonal vegetables, hit the quality and quantity buttons. Chicken full of flavour, the spinach superb and all enhanced by the sauce. Happy out as we say around here.
We weren’t out yet though. Dessert was to come and from a choice of three we decided on the Bread and Butter Pudding with Creme Anglaise (or custard as we say around here!). This was for sharing though and that proved a small problem as the bread slices were folded over one another and not cut into fingers but it was delicious and worth the effort to cut it down to bite size pieces!
So that was it, just the €52.50 bill to be shared (of course), and off with us into the evening sun.