Thursday, January 2, 2020

Warm Welcome to Blairs Inn Banishes Bleak Midwinter Blues. Amazing Venison Casserole Highlight of a Hearty Lunch

Warm Welcome to Blairs Inn Banishes Bleak Midwinter Blues.
Amazing Venison Casserole Highlight of a Hearty Lunch
No shortage of craft beer in Blairs
There’s something about family run and owned places. And you see it first hand when you enter Blairs Inn, in the countryside close to Blarney and less than 30 minutes from Cork city centre. Brothers Richard and Duncan (the chef) Blair now head up the pub their parents ran for quite some years. Here, the hearty dishes are a personal expression and you find signs of seasonal and local authenticity in the well-filled plates and bowls. 

Provenance is given pride of place on the menus and, while the presentation may not be as eye-catching as in some slicker more expensive operations, it is also a long ways from being slapdash. The aim of the kitchen here is to make a pleasant impression in your belly, not necessarily on your phone camera

We are warmly greeted to the traditionally decorated inn (it is just before Christmas) by the boys' mother Anne, who guides us to our fireside table. Richard is finishing off the day’s menu, we are a little early, but soon those menus are at hand along with some of their top notch stout infused brown bread! Just a little more detail on the bread to underline the Inn's commitment to local produce: Macroom Mills Flour, Treacle and Stag Stout are the ingredients. They also do a Sherkin Lass Pale Ale, Cheddar and Herb bread.

While there is an excellent wine list here, the Inn is well-known for its selection of craft beer (which chef Duncan regularly dips into to use in the various menus). And you will note a beer or a wine suggested with the main courses.
Corned beef classic

Mains include a Roast Stuffed Loin of Timoleague Pork with apple sauce and a Longueville House Cider gravy. Naturally, a bottle of the Longueville cider is suggested here. If you’ve picked the Cottage Pie then they suggest a pint of O’Hara’s Red Nitro. On the Roast Irish Chicken? Then the Cotton Ball’s Kerry Lane Pale is the drink for you.

CL though has picked what is probably the pub’s signature dish: O’Crualaoi’s Corned Beef served on champ and cabbage with parsley sauce and the Sherkin Lass from the West Cork Brewing Co. in Baltimore is a terrific pairing here. We regularly order this dish here and it is a classic and highly recommended.

I’m always on the lookout for game this time of year and the Blair boys are also noted for serving it here. The Casserole of Wild Wicklow Venison & Stag Stout with a hint of dark chocolate catches my eye and soon my tastebuds are enjoying it. The combination, enhanced by various spices and herbs, is magnificent, quite a feast at lunchtime! And the drink? Well that’s an easy one. It’s the  equally magnificent Stag Saor from the crew at 9 White Deer, a gluten free stout stuffed with flavour.

And talking about being stuffed. Well, we were. Along with those two mega dishes, came a bowl of seasonal veg and another full of unblemished and perfectly cooked Rooster potatoes. By the way, the place was filling up nicely now and, above the rising level of conversation, I heard quite a few people ordering the venison.

Aside from the various meats, there’s also about three fish dishes available, a curry, plus various salads and sandwiches. Wicklow Pheasant is also on the menu this time of year as well as a Roast of the Day.

There’s a terrific choice of starters too including a Confit of Twomey’s Pork Belly, McCarthy’s Black Pudding with a Gubbeen Chorizo and Bean Ragu. Check out also the Tartlet of Bluebell Falls goat cheese with creamed leeks and caramelised onions. Those starters are substantial enough but some, such as the Cromane mussels Poached in a white wine and cream sauce, can also be upgraded to a mains.

Indeed, that was also the case with my pick, the Warm Salad of Cashel Blue Cheese, Roasted Pears and Honeyed Walnuts (a delicious opener at €9.40 or a mains at €14.50).  

Those of you who have not been will, I’m sure, enjoy this traditional Irish pub, the unexpectedly quality of the food (all from local produce), those craft beers, the warm fire and the very warm welcome from the whole crew here, a great place for locals and tourists alike. If you are calling at weekends for food, you would be as well off to make a reservation.

Co. Cork
Tel: (021) 438 1470
Facebook Page here 

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