Thursday, August 3, 2023

Chef changes in Cork. New chef, new name for Midleton's Finin's

 Chef changes in Cork.

 New chef, new name for Midleton's Finin's

Prawn starter at The Black Barrel (formerly Finin's)

Quite a few chefs on the move this past month or so. A recent appointment is at Liss Ard Estate who announced that the experienced Sean Doyle is the estate’s new Head Chef. Sean has experience at L'Ecrivain, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud and the Merrion Hotel. The appointment of Doyle as is a significant coup for Liss Ard. He is a highly respected with a proven track record of success. His arrival is sure to boost the estate's culinary reputation and attract new visitors. 

He replaces Alex Petit who, earlier in the year, joined the Trigon Hotel Group (includes the Metropole and Cork International) as Group Executive Chef.

Ale in Black Barrel

And Good Day Deli are glad to have Chef Mark Ahern on their team in Nano Nagle Place: "We've admired + enjoyed Mark's cooking for many years, we share the same values on food sustainability + we're buzzing to collaborate." Mark is well known and respected locally and most recently worked in Pigalle in Barrack Street, so he's not moving too far!

And there is a new duo leading at Elbow Lane. Brothers Ronan and Harrison Sharpe have been appointed to the two top roles at  Cork’s iconic Smokehouse and Brewery as it moves to celebrate its 10th anniversary next year. 

Ronan (age 28), who is now the new general manager, joins his older brother Harrison Sharpe (age 30), currently the head chef of Elbow Lane, to lead one of the city’s best-loved eateries into its next decade.

Liss Ard's Sean Doyle

Not just a new name at 75 Main Street, Midleton. For decades, it was known as Finin’s and now it has been renamed The Black Barrel. It is very close to the local distillery where one of its most popular tipples is Black Barrel. 

Their new chef is Timmy Warne who has over 20 years of experience in the culinary industry (including working at local places such as Sage and Two Mile Inn). His recent appointment was welcomed by the restaurant who said “he has a passion for farm-to-table cuisine” and  “brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to our kitchen”.

The long-standing and popular Finin’s was taken over by Blue Haven of Kinsale and re-opened, after a period of renovation, under the same name in mid-2022. The downstairs room was full the other night.  The frontage, on the main street, is now painted black and the new The Black Barrel sign is hanging high. 

Black Barrel Chicken Liver Paté

You’ll still get your steaks and burgers here but there have been some menu changes since our earlier visits. We missed the Slow Cooked Oxtail Croquettes and the Pork Belly Chicharrones. No sign of the Toulouse Sausage or the French Onion Soup. Older customers will miss the artwork that Finin's had in abundance on the walls. It has been replaced by bright colourful paintings by Cork artist Alan Hurley (whose work also hangs in Greenwich in the city centre).

But quite a bit remains, not least the delicious fresh Kinsale ales from the tap. More importantly, the warm welcome was still very much in evidence. 

Plenty of info and help for customers. If you want your sauce on the side, just ask. A customer was given two samples of wines as she made up her mind and another customer, a young adult, was able to “specify” the ingredients for his own burger. It seems that their burgers along with Fish and Chips are very popular dishes here; the restaurant caters to family groups.

And, of course, whiskey features on the menu and if you’d like to indulge, they have quite a selection in the bar, along with wine, cocktails and beer.

Indeed, one of our starters was the Jameson Black Barrel Chicken Liver Paté. It was absolutely top drawer and very much enhanced with an outstanding plum and apple chutney. Our other starter was their Chilli & Garlic Prawns (quite a quantity) that come with a piece of warm sourdough bread to take up the sauce. That too went down well.

Will be interesting to see how the menus develop in the coming months, both here and in the other establishments as the new chefs settle in.

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