Sunday, February 16, 2020

Pigalle Bar & Kitchen flying the flag as Cork’s south bank shows signs of catching up with the north.

Pigalle Bar & Kitchen flying the flag as Cork’s south bank shows signs of catching up with the north.

When I enter the restaurant, there’s a long bar on my left, with its polished counter reflecting a row of craft beer taps, shelving behind all a-dazzle with shiny glasses and bottles. The right hand side is lined with booths, a comfortable banquette to the wall, comfortable chairs opposite. The rear wall has a trio of mirrors and behind me, to the front, two windows look out onto the street. Above the counter, French and Spanish posters evoke a continental feeling.  

I’m in Pigalle Café and Bar on Barrack Street. And while there is a continental feel here, it is all based on local produce. Chef Mark Ahern, ex House Café, and less than a year here in Pigalle: “Our menus concentrate on locally supplied natural and seasonal produce wherever possible. An exciting result of this is a menu that is constantly evolving and changing. We are an island with beautiful rich land and outstanding produce that is surrounded by the Atlantic ocean, this must translate on to every dish." 

And here it does. Deliciously. It is marvellous. Just one meal here and it goes straight into my shortlist. Put it on yours. The welcome is warm and soon we are studying the current menu. There are regular changes. We take our time, get all the info we need from our server (we didn't have to ask), and when we are good and ready, our order is taken!

Then we turn to the drink options. No shortage. A pageful of tempting wines, lots of gins, no lack of cocktails. And those beers. Not just craft beers; being so close to South Main Street, the ever popular Beamish is a stalwart here. But we do order craft, a glass of the KPA (€3.00) by Blacks of Kinsale who have three taps here. The taps rotate though. Four of the seven red wines are available by the glass and I pick one for my duck: a 2016 Monastrell from Bodegas Sierra Norte (Spain), a dangerously drinkable velvety juicy flavoursome glass for €9.50.
Turbot charged start

And the meal? Excellent, no culinary uniformity here as the flavours of the sea and the land are impeccably presented in a variety of stunning dishes.

Ox Tongue
There are five starters on offer, including Buffalo Cauliflower Wings with Macroom Buffalo Blue, and Ballyhoura Mushrooms, sticky rice cakes with smoked curry Peanut Rayu. There’s also a Irish Charcuterie Plate, coppa, chorizo, salami, toasts, pickles and chutney. 

And there’s a new dish here: Ox Tongue, Chorizo broth, brioche crumb and watercress. It’s a big hit with CL. The tongue comes shredded (as you might get featherblade) and enclosed in two balls; it is delicious, the broth a stunning enriching companion in the bowl (8.00).

My pick is the Tempura Turbot, Shichimi Pepper and squid ink aioli. The fish, under the thin veil of tempura, is perfectly cooked, white as a new golfball, delicate and delicious and the well judged spice in the aioli enriches the turbot without in any way threatening to takeover the flavours of the sea.
Duck & Greens

There’s a half-dozen mains to choose from. This time CL picks the market fish of the day which is Lemon Sole served with Prawns, Mustard Crust, sprouting broccoli, potato terrine. The delicate fish dish is once again superbly executed. Oh, by the way, we also ordered a side of beef dripping fries. An eye-catching mouth-watering stack was delivered. And heartily demolished, chip by chip.

Our other pick was the Carrigcleena Duck, Cabbage Farci, Wild Rice, black garlic and Plum  sauce (24.00, just like the Lemon Sole). Another accomplished dish from the team in the kitchen. Just superb. Love the robust greens here, from the Coal Quay Market, and there was a bonus when some sprouting broccoli was added to the list. Yum!

Couldn’t raise a gallop when it came to dessert, even though the short list was very tempting! Still, I think I may be crossing the bridge(s) more often, now the south bank is showing signs of catching up with the north.
111 Barrack Street
Phone: 0214323214

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