Time Now For Blasket Islands Lamb. At Market Lane, ORSO, Castle Cafe and Elbow Lane.

Time Now For Blasket Islands Lamb

At Market Lane, ORSO, Castle Cafe and Elbow Lane.

Chops and Feta

For the month of October, or as long as stocks last, you can taste one of the country’s most sought after products in the Market Lane Group of Restaurants, scattered across Cork City. Executive chef Stephen Kehoe has created a dozen or so dishes that highlight the amazing quality of Blasket Islands lamb, “arguably the most delicious lamb in the country”. 

Sausage Board, Lamb nearest you
Market Lane annually get a small share of the lamb which is raised on Beginish, one of the Blaskets. There the lambs, which are born in the summer, graze in a marshy meadow full of heather, grasslands and wild herbs, which gives the meat a unique depth of flavour. The meadow is salty from sea spray, and this gives the lamb its highly valued pré-salé flavour.

Delighted to get an invite to Elbow Lane last week to sample the lamb. Lots of other dishes, all very tempting, especially some of the fish ones, but I stuck to the brief, hardly a hardship with that lovely lamb coming in different guises. Actually if you wish to try out a variety of lamb dishes, Elbow Lane and ORSO are the places to go.

Soon, we were seated in the busy restaurant with its bright colour theme. They do of course have a wine list but for me the excellent beers from the on-site micro brewery are always an irresistible attraction. We settled, happy to do so, on the continental style Elbow Lane Lager and the Wisdom Lane (an amber ale that is very versatile at the table).

Lamb neck crostini
The menu here is divided into snacks, starters and mains, sides too of course. On the snacks we spotted the Pulled Blasket lamb neck crostini, grilled peach hot sauce. Just terrific, enhanced by the moderately spicy sauce.

Not mentioned on the night’s menu itself but we were told at the table that the lamb also featured in a starter called the Smokehouse sausage board, house pickles & chutneys. Quite a dish this one, both in terms of quality and quantity. It consisted of three plump sausages. Firstly, I tasted the Lamb (with fennel on the side); the smoothest of the three and packed with flavour. The Duck, with its accompaniments of two different chutneys, was another beauty. And the more rustic Pork sausage with sauerkraut - an excellent combination of taste and texture, perhaps my favourite - completed the hat trick.

Colours of Elbow Lane

Now, for the main event. The Slow-grilled Blasket Lamb chops, ember cooked courgette, pistachio mole, feta, tender and tasty, gave us perhaps the best flavour of the lamb. I’m told the lambs are smaller this year but I reckon the flavour is even better. Beside, the combination with the feta was just spot-on.

Very happy with the meal overall. And here is one reason why. The lamb is leaner, “creating a near-perfect fat to meat ratio” says award-winning Dingle Butcher, Jerry Kennedy, who looks after the lamb when it comes off the island.  “This is the perfect example of produce that is not only free-range, but contains no additives, colourants or preservatives and is vaccination free.” 


Blasket Islands Lamb on Market Lane Group menus (subject to change)

Lamb Shank: Braised Moroccan Blasket Island lamb shank on a bed of turmeric, feta and pomegranate giant couscous served with lamb reduction and pistachio.(ORSO)

Lamb Shoulder: Braised Lamb shoulder served glazed in pomegranate molasses lamb jus, with warm baba ganoush and ribbons of carrot and cucumber in caraway pickle.(ORSO)

Lamb Mince: Batersh - Aromatic ground lamb served on a bed of hot baba ganoush with a side of home-made flatbreads to dib.(ORSO)

Lamb Shank: Lamb Lavaş- Six hour braised lamb shank, pulled, served on in-house flatbreads, with a mango and coriander mambo.(ORSO)

Slow roasted lamb saddle, confit baby potato, lardon, in-house smoked parsnip puree, lamb treacle jus and tender stem broccoli (Market Lane)

Slow cooked lamb rump, fondant potatoes, sunflower seed romanesco, crookneck pumpkin. (Castle)

The busy grill at Elbow

Pulled Blasket lamb neck crostini, grilled peach hot sauce. (Elbow)

Monkfish, lamb pastrami, tomato and horseradish salsa,

mussel emulsion (Elbow)

Smokehouse sausage board, house pickles & chutneys (Elbow)

Slow grilled Blasket lamb chops, ember cooked courgette,

pistachio mole, feta (Elbow)