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Fred is back in town. Frederic Desourmeaux*, the big French chef with the magic touch in the kitchen, is back in town and heading up Brendan Cashman’s impressive team in Huguenot, the new French Bistro and Wine Bar in Carey’s Lane. The venture marks a return too for Brendan to the city centre where he previously enjoyed enormous success with Augustine's.
And it is a French bistro. Make no mistake about that. Lots of produce being sourced from the Cork area but the dishes are unmistakably Gallic. Classics such as French Onion Soup, Coq au Vin and Tarte au Citron (all keenly priced) stand out in the menu as do French cheeses and French wines.
For me, it’s like strolling down town and going on holidays. Even the menu is in French. But worry not! It is also in English and there are some daecent Cork accents in among the European. It is a lovely restaurant, spread over four floors. Downstairs you have reception and a place to enjoy a wine or a coffee and the next two floors is where you'll dine in space and comfort.
Grilled Morteau sausage
We settled in in midweek and took our time with that new menu, nibbling on some fresh French bread and sipping some Bordeaux (Chateau Gait Garriga Semillon and the Chateau Ste Marie Merlot/Cab Franc).
Settled on Stuffed Chavignol Goats Cheese on toasted brioche, beetroot, herb salad and pesto and the Grilled Morteau sausage, warm Puy lentils salad, parsley shallots vinaigrette. The Cheese looked amazing and both tasted delicious. We were winning.
And the meal continued on a high note. My mains was the perfectly cooked Pan Fried fillet of Hake, Ragout of squid, chorizo and roast pepper, garlic Aioli and pesto. Small things can make a big difference in restaurant meals; at the very least they are an indicator of quality. And the small things here, the chorizo for instance and also the exquisite mashed potato that accompanied the mains, made a difference and underlined the quality of the kitchen.
CL had chosen the Braised Beef Cheeks (above), glazed baby vegetables, mousseline potatoes, and smoked bacon crisps. A superb offering, all done to a “t” including those baby vegetables. The beef itself - I had a few mouthfuls, there was no shortage - was magnificent, melt in the mouth stuff.
Took my time choosing dessert. Was tempted by the Cafe Gourmand but narrowed it down to a final two: the Forest Fruit Clafoutis and the Lemon Tart. Finally took the Tarte au Citron and its Raspberry Coulis. More culinary magic from M. Fred! Will just have to go through everything on that dessert menu.
Indeed, a quick return to Huguenot is on the cards. Very Highly Recommended!
* Just to let you know....Fred is no longer working at Huguenot (this update 28.09.14)
Promise yourself a stop in Fermoy one of these days. Indeed, why not treat yourself to a visit. And go and see Fred Desormeaux. You’ll find the ex Greene’s Restaurant chef now doing business in the pub called Charlie Mac’s on the main street.
Quite a nice pub. It has big screens, racing or football, maybe even rugby. Plenty of comfortable seating. But the main attraction now, since Fred took over a couple of months back, is its outstanding food. Be warned. Fred’s pub grub is good, very very good.
Take 2: Fred's Chowder
Called in there this Thursday for lunch and here are four items that I can recommend. Indeed, there are a whole pile more. There is a terrific menu from about noon ‘til eight most days and this is supplemented by a very impressive list of daily specials. But you’ll have to check those out for yourself.
Let us start at the start. Frenchman Fred is a big fan of local producers so it was no great surprise to see Ballyhoura Mushrooms on the menu: Ballyhoura Wild Mountain Mushrooms on toast with a cream of Porcini dust (€7.95). A fantastic starter at a great price. If these mushrooms were a wine, they’d have their own AOC.
Take 3: Cod goujons
Take two. Another starter. Fred’s own Mediterranean fish and seafood Chowder (€7.50). Feckin’ hell, just 7.50. I mean this is a huge bowlful, would certainly do you as main course at lunchtime. It is super tasty, lively, a little bit spicy, quantity combined with real stand-out quality.
Okay, move on now, cautiously, to the mains. Fresh cod goujons, with warm potato salad, with sweet chilli, lime and coriander mayo (€12.95). The cod is brilliant, the salad is massive. Underline this: portions here are generous!
Take 4: Liver & bacon
I went for one of his classics: Pan-fried Lambs Liver, on root vegetable mash, with crispy bacon and rosemary jus (€11.50). And did I want it well done or medium? A classic dish but not a regular on pub grub menus in Ireland where your standard roast is the order of the day. This, by the way, was presented well and tasted even better.
Just another generous piece of quality in Fermoy. Worth a detour, for sure.