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Blasket Lamb Buzz at Market Lane. Also at ORSO, Castle Cafe and Elbow Lane
There’s always a buzz when Market Lane announces that its annual allocation of tasty Blasket Lamb has arrived! Well in case you haven’t heard, now is the time for 2017. Just a short window during which you may get it at Market Lane and its associated restaurants: ORSO, Castle Café and Elbow Lane.
Grabbed an opportunity to taste it last week, had it in both starter and mains, and enjoyed every little bit. The Oliver Plunkett Street venue was indeed buzzing as we arrived to a warm welcome and lots of info on the lamb. We had no other interest on the night, well dessert maybe, so that made it easy for our enthusiastic and well-informed server.
Time perhaps for a bit of background.
This story begins with small holder, Donnacha O Ceileachair, who raises a small flock of sheep on the Great Blasket Island. When the April-born lambs are ready, he brings them by ferry from the Island onto the mainland. Award-winning Dingle Butcher, Jerry Kennedy, selects out the premium meat for the Market Lane Group.
“The impeccable provenance of this product is reflected in its quality and flavour; we are proud to be the only restaurants in Ireland to serve it to our customers. This truly is a farm to fork experience with everybody in the supply chain really respectful and excited about the product.” – Pamela Kelly, Head Chef, Market Lane. And we met Pam on the night and delighted to be able to congratulate her and her team on a job well done!
The starter was Spiced Blasket Lamb croquette with Velvet Cloud sheep’s yogurt, crispy mint and pomegranate. All the ingredients, including the mild spice, the chickpeas in the croquette, the smooth cooling yogurt from Mayo, each played a role in a lovely plateful.
Server Yuliyan was coming up with some excellent drink matches but we were keen to renewacquaintance with their own Elbow Lane beers and so he recommended the Wisdom Amber Ale with the starter. He was spot-on with that as he was when suggesting the sharper Elbow lager would do well with the mains.
And, if the starter was five star, then the mains was all of that but even more outstanding, hors catégorie as they say in the cycling world. I’ll give you the full description: Blasket Lamb Rack and pressed lamb belly with fondant root veggies, Elbow beer vinaigrette, and buttermilk mash. This was a duo of lamb to remember, tender and tasty, perfectly cooked and served.
Would we like dessert? Well, we’ll look. Yuliyan recommended the Marmalade and vanilla bread and butter pudding. “The massive one?”, I asked (having had previous). He confirmed with a smile. We decided to share and loved it.
It is just one of about a dozen desserts here. Lots of starters too and the same applies to the mains; here you’ll see the names of local suppliers such as Coolea, Goatsbridge, St Tola, Ballinwillin, Tom Durcan, and Toonsbridge. But, at present, the Blasket Lamb is the star of the show. You’ll need to get in soon as the limited supply won't last for very long!
The Market Lane Group Celebrates Blasket Island Lamb
Across all their Restaurants in October
Jerry and Donnacha
Cork’s Market Lane Group of restaurants will celebrate the unique, award-winning lamb from the Blasket Islands on all their food menus from Wednesday 11 October 2017. This highly anticipated event is now in its 8th year, and given the popularity of this delicious, rare meat, the chance to experience it usually only lasts until the end of the month. This celebration of Blasket Island Lamb is exclusive to the Group.
Chefs in each restaurant (Market Lane, Orso, Elbow Lane and Castle Cafe) create special lamb dishes that reflect their own in-house style of cooking and the full range of cuts will be used. These will be carefully partnered with drinks recommendations from the group’s wine and beer experts.
The habitat on the islands is what makes this product so special and gives it such a great reputation. The animals graze in a marshy meadow full of heather, natural grassland and wild herbs such as rosemary, sage and thyme. The grass is salty from sea spray which gives the lamb its highly valued pre-sale flavour. The animals are free to roam so the lamb is leaner creating a perfect fat to meat ratio.
Pamela Kelly Gough, head chef of Market Lane, who has been working with Blasket Island lamb for many years now says “We are delighted as a group to shine a light on this very special organic Autumn lamb, which is different in many ways from the more usual Spring lamb” she says. “The impeccable provenance of this product is reflected in its quality and flavour; we are proud to be the only restaurants in Ireland to serve it to our customers. This truly is a farm to fork experience with everybody in the supply chain really respectful and excited about the product.”
Lamb Shank at ORSO
This story begins with small holder, Donnacha O Ceileachair, who raises a small flock of sheep on the Great Blasket Island. When the April-born lambs are ready, he brings them by ferry from the Island onto the mainland. There, they are rested for up to a week on Donnacha’s farm in Dun Chaoin, to recuperate from their choppy journey across the Dingle Sound. Award-winning Dingle Butcher, Jerry Kennedy, then picks out the premium lambs which are sent for slaughter. When the annual Market Lane order is delivered, the remaining lamb is sold to the public directly from Kennedy’s Butcher Shop on Orchard Lane, Dingle or via www.dinglebutcher.com
Diners at The Market Group can look forward to dishes such as;
‘Elbow Lager lamb pie, pommes anna and glazed heritage carrots’, “Blasket lamb leg in fish sauce with seaweed gratin’, ORSO ‘Moroccan braised lamb shank with ras-el-hanout cous cous, preserved lemon, pomegranate and red onion pickle’ and ‘Anchovy and rosemary leg of lamb steak, creamed polenta, with caponata and crispy shallots.’
At Market Lane
Check out the new menus, drinks, specials, menu changes and availability of lamb dishes on the social media channels for the restaurants within the group including www.marketlane.ie and facebook; Market Lane.
Enjoyed some fantastic Blasket Lamb at Market Lane on Friday
night. Our special: “Noisette of Blasket Lamb (on spinach) with feta and roast vegetable pie, chap potatoes and
lamb jus.The lambs roam free, grazing on the diverse herbage of the sea soaked
island. This diet of heather, herbs and grasses give the lamb its unique flavour.”
Free range is good but free range besides the sea
is even better going by this experience. It was beautiful, tender and full of
It was probably the best lamb that I’ve tasted -
ever. Much of credit here must go to the chefs at Market Lane. After all, you may
have been give the best gem in the world but you unless you set it off well,
the sparkle is wasted.
And what a setting on this plate. That feta and vegetable
pie was gorgeous; the chap potatoes (which included some minced lamb) even more
so. And the cost was a very reasonable €19.50.
I think you can be assured that whatever lamb this
restaurant comes up with next – the Blasket is running out fast – will also be
treated and served up well! And then there is so much more here on a very expansive
menu. Something like 14 main courses, ranging from €12.96 to €24.49 (for fillet
One that caught my eye for the lower amount was
Slow cooked West Cork ham hock with creamy leeks, baked potato and broccoli.
How about the Pan-fried hake fillet with broccoli, bok choi, bell peppers, sautéed
potatoes and a walnut lime pesto for €16.28.
Enticing starters too. Sweet potato with Crozier
blue cheese, spinach, dates and roasted pine nut oil for €7.63. I had started
with a bowl of marinated olives and my dessert (all €6.00) was Layers of white
and milk chocolate mousse with walnuts and Cointreau sponge. Wines range from €4.90
a glass to €29.50 a bottle and there is also a good selection of other drinks.
You could eat here for a month and not repeat yourself.
And it is lovely lively place. The staff are all courteous and helpful and, on this occasion,
all were very enthusiastic indeed about the lamb. And rightly so as it turned out.
What a treat!