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On the road again. Thinking about a light lunch. Mitchelstown comes up on the signs and immediately I think of O’Callaghan’s, a restaurant cum deli right in the middle of the town.
On the way, we pass the sculpture of Fanahan, the local saint, who looks well fed himself. The O’Callaghan’s building is also looking very well in the weak December sunshine. And, inside, it’s very busy too.
One look at the menu tells me why. I know l’ve come for a light lunch - there is a big dinner ahead in Kilkenny that evening - but if I had come for a “proper” lunch I’d also have had hit the jackpot. And if I had wanted a salad bowl to take back to the nearby office, then I’d have been well catered for as well. And, by the way, there is also a children’s menu with lots of choice.
The menu changes daily (local and seasonal) and, on this Wednesday, lunch was being served from 12 noon until 4.30pm. There were no less than three soups on the specials and also a tempting starter based on Crowe’s crispy pancetta. Crowe’s are just one of their many local suppliers - see the full list here.
Lots of main course specials, all priced around the 12 to 14 euro mark. There was a Red wine braised boeuf bourguignon, a pan-fried fillet of cod, Vegetarian baked flat mushrooms, and a vegetarian quiche,just to give you an idea. All substantial dishes indeed.
There were salads and sandwiches of course. And here I found just what I wanted: a Caesar salad, with baby gem leaves, so fresh and crisp, Caesar dressing, Parmesan, a scattering of anchovies and croutons, for about seven euro if I remember rightly.
Meanwhile CL was tucking in, enthusiastically, to a Cajun Chicken Wrap with tomato and onion (7 euro approx). I sampled that too and it was also excellent. Everything here is done to order. And service is top notch, friendly of course.
We enjoyed those and just regretted the fact that we couldn’t have tried the big plates! As we made our way out (checking the goodies on the shelves), punters were still piling in, some to eat, some to get a takeaway, others to order cakes and pastries (they also bake here, five different types of bread daily, four different types of scones). And they know what they are doing - their customers have been supporting them since they opened in 1988. And don’t worry if you see a queue as they can seat 130 people!
O’Callaghan’s Café serves food all day with extensive Breakfast and Lunch menus. As they say themselves, O’Callaghan’s is the perfect place to break a journey, whether you have time to eat in or prefer to eat on the go, O’Callaghan’s can offer everything you need!
It’s lunchtime Saturday and I'm sitting at a table in the Sternview Gallery at the back of Nash 19 (most of the tables in the front end were full) in Princes Street Cork and looking, admiringly, at a big tempting slice of bacon loin. And my mind goes back about a week when I got a shiny plastic-y slice of ham in a small cafe in Trim. Hard to believe that both came from the same planet, not to mind the same type of animal.
The one in Nash 19 comes from Crowe’s in Tipperary , is big and thick, moist and packed full of flavour, an itegral part of my Eggs Benedict (12.00). It is parked on a mega slice of sourdough that stretches right the diameter of the plate. On top are two perfectly poached eggs and all around there is Hollandaise sauce. A classic combination, top notch produce so well handled, as is consistently the case here, and beautifully presented as well.
Across the table, CL has quite a dish in front of her, again very well presented. It is the Chicken Korma Curry, Basmati rice, Mango chutney and Papadum (13.00). Nothing overly complicated here but the big chunks of locally supplied chicken chicken are key, full of flavour and so tender, great stuff. Had one or two myself from this oh so enjoyable moderately spiced curry.
And speaking of moderate spice, we had each started with a cup, quite a generous size, of one of the soups, the Squash and Ginger (3.50). There was also a bowl option for €5.50. Seafood chowder and a goat's cheese salad were also available as starters and, if you were in the mood, a dozen of Jamie Dwyer’s market fresh Pacific Oysters.
Speaking of markets, the mains list featured a Taste of the English Market (just across the street). For sixteen euro, you could treat yourself to a plateful of meat, fish and cheese, served tapas style. Recommended! Their own recommendations on the day were the Kerry Crab Sandwich and the Nash 19 Cod Fish and Chips. Indeed there is a great selection on a menu that sees some change daily!
And if you feel like more, then you can treat yourself to some of the great local produce at the little shop on the way out. And if you are too busy to dine here, if you need to have lunch in the office, then check out Nash to Go.
As we dined, owner Claire Nash herself was busy handing out samples to and then chatting with a group of visitors led by Alice Coyle of Fab Food Trails but not too busy to check around the restaurant and see how the various customers are doing. And if Claire doesn't get to you at least one member of her superb staff, friendly and efficient, will.
As its 19th birthday approaches, Nash19 would be forgiven for slipping into a routine. And, yet, there is a routine here: top class food and excellent and friendly service.
The ingredients are familiar, local gems such as Jack McCarthy’s beef, Crowe’s bacon and Durcan’s beef. Quality is assured by this policy and variety is ensured by the imagination of the chefs. You won't be bored with what comes out on your plate.
The policy works. Just look at the customers coming through. We were in early for lunch today (Friday) and, sure enough, the place was more or less full shortly after one and they were still coming in at two.
Started off with a couple of cups of soup (you may also get bowls). Sweet potato has really shot up the popularity charts in recent years and the Roast Sweet Potato and Cumin soup was tasty, spicy and excellent. I went for the Tomato, Bean and Bacon blend and this too hit all the right boxes, plenty of tasty bits, eating and drinking in it!
Main course for me were the Tuscan Style Meatballs (Durcan’s Beef) in a rich tomato sauce on organic spaghetti. An excellent combination of the three main ingredients, well balanced, light yet substantial.
No shortage of substance either on our other main course: Crowe’s farm reared Bacon Loin with Apricot chutney. This was a tempting combination of excellent tender meat matched by the sweet fruit though the accompanying sauce was a bit on the piquant side.
Christine was looking after our table (it isn’t every day you get served by a Master Chef contestant) and was quite proud of their new wine list. CL had a glass of the Amador Parreno Organic Tempranillo, a nice bit of spice and fruit quite typical of the grape and an attractive price of €4.50 a glass.
With my main course having an Italian slant, I picked the Masseria Pietrosa Malvasia Nera. This comes from the south of Italy and has lovely black fruits with hints of spice.
At this point, we could manage just the one dessert between us and the Strawberry Victoria Sponge with a rich vein of cream was well up to the task. Two cups of classic Bewleys coffee brought the total to a little over €57.00.
Always a pleasure to visit Nash 19 and yesterday’s lunch time date with two colleagues was no exception as a warm welcome was followed by some top notch food and service, including a drop or two of mulled wine.
Quite a few of you will have seen Tipperary’s Crowe's Farm featured in RTE’s Ear to the Ground earlier in the week. And their bacon was the main feature of my lunch. It was served with, among other things, an apricot chutney, and the combination was first class.