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Showing posts with label Gubbeen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gubbeen. Show all posts

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Exquisite New Seasonal Menu at Montenotte's Panorama.


Exquisite New Menu at Montenotte's Panorama.
Superb Food. Great Views Too.
Hake

The foyer of the Montenotte Hotel is abuzz as we enter last week. Lots of shiny suits and colourful dresses fill the comfortable spaces. And the buzz continues into the Panorama Bistro where we thankfully have a booking (they are turning people away) and where we are about to enjoy a surprisingly delightful meal.

Well, maybe not that surprising! We have been studying the menu and it looks very inviting indeed. At the table, among the family parties celebrating their new graduates, we see that this evening there are no less than nine specials, three under each of the main headings. Besides, we have some inkling of what new chef Liam Kirwan is capable of as we enjoyed a delicious lunch during the summer at Mikey Ryan’s in Cashel (where he was then employed).
Crab

And big kudos too to the Panorama staff. They were busy but, nonetheless, they performed very well indeed, always with a smile and even finding time for a quick chat or two. So efficient were they, that there were no delays in getting the food to the tables. We were in early and some customers were leaving but soon the restaurant was full again, those with tables near the long window getting the full benefit of the great view over the city and, just underneath, over the lovely new gardens here.

But our eyes were on the menu, my hand on a pint of Chieftain Ale as they do offer the Franciscan Well beers here. You could well start with one of their Snacks, a Cashel Blue Rarebit among them, but we go for the dishes under Starters and get two beauties.

CL picks for the Crab Gratin with Wheaten Bread Crust. Clearly stated. No big highfalutin phrases on this menu. But the dish is high class, packed with flavour and a little spice and she declares it as one of the best crab starters she’s ever had.

But, we agree, mine is even better. The Roast Jerusalem Artichoke and Shallot Jam Tart with walnut ricotta, is pleasing to look at and its melange of flavours and textures is hard to match. Not too sure that any starter I’ve had in recent months comes anywhere near this gem!

CL is a Hake lover (Hake’s not my pet name, by the way) but not so much if this delicious fish is smothered in a creamy sauce. No danger of that here (none of the four fish dishes, including the two on special, has a cream sauce). Her Saffron Poached Hake, with Gubbeen chorizo, butterbean and charred Padrón pepper casserole is a magnificent melange of flavour, texture and smoky aromas. Really top class.
Venison Wellington

My mains is deceptive, looks like a small pie in a big dish. Maybe I should have had ordered a side. But the Ballinwillin Venison Wellington is loaded with the aromas and tastes of Autumn in the wild - that “little pastry” packs a powerful punch of flavour and texture, with no little help in that department coming from the cavolo nero (the kale of Tuscany), the dark chocolate jus and the roast celeriac. As you can see from this dish, the new menu is seasonal and local (Ballinwillin is in Mitchelstown).

Quantities here are, like the quality, very well judged indeed. You won’t really be stuffed, unless of course you wish to be and indulge in some of the tempting sides which include Truffle and Rosemary Fries, Buttered Greens, and Creamed Spinach to mention just a few. 
Plum Pie
So we had room for dessert and went for the one we had noted when we first got our hands on the menu: the Mulled Plum Pie. Another beauty and another seasonal dish, so you’d better get in there quick and, don’t forget, make a reservation!

Excellent choice of desserts (again three extras on special) but I’d better tell you about the cheeseboard as it illustrates the kitchen’s commitment to local. The description is Milleens, Crozier Blue, Daru, Cooleeney Camembert, oat cakes, whiskey honeycomb, barm brack, walnut brittle, pear. If you get that, sit back and relax and hold off on that taxi for a while!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Fish Kitchen’s Special. A Taste of West Cork Waters


The Fish Kitchen’s Special
A Taste of West Cork Waters

As we walk up the stairs to our Bantry restaurant, the multi-event A Taste of West Cork festival is in full swing, heading for its closing weekend. Many attractive food options around the towns and villages but knowing punters make their way to the Fish Kitchen and a packed house enjoys the best produce from the local shores and seas. The Kitchen crew are busy but not a bother as the delicious meal is served.


“Freshness, simplicity, quality” is what they promise here and that is exactly what we get. Excellent service too, a good choice of wines and craft beer and good company too at the long tables. We enjoy the chat with Esther and Joe from Cappoquin and Jim and Barbara from the town.


Diarmaid, who owns and runs the Fish Kitchen with his wife Ann-Maria, served us a simple Amuse Bouche, a sharing plate of Sheep’s Head periwinkles with garlic. Hard to get them out of the little shells but well worth the effort!

Next up was a trio of Smoked Salmon, Prawns and Oyster. Tasty stuff. Excellent salmon, amazing prawns from the bay outside and a superb Carlingford oyster. Quite a hat trick of flavours.

We were very happy with that and got even happier with the next round: Steamed Bantry Bay mussels with Stonewell Cider. We had been out on the bay earlier and had seen the lines and lines heavy in the water with rope-grown mussels. And here they were now on our plate, meatier and tastier than any I’ve tried in recent times.
Croquettes

Another course was on the way as the Salterio Albarino level in our bottle was falling and this was another handsome combination: Union Hall Smoked Pollack and crabmeat croquettes, served with a simple salad.


Now for the big one: herb crusted Castletownbere Hake with sun-dried tomato and Gubbeen chorizo pesto. Sometimes in Ireland we smother delicate fish with heavy sauces. Not here. The Hake was the star, the others there just to show it off to perfection. And, yes, it was perfect, as were all the courses.
Hake

And of course there was dessert. Here we had a choice and the Plum Crumble won hands down at our table; maybe the lavender infused pannacotta found takers at the other tables!

While this was a special dinner (we paid 45 euro a head) for the festival, you will get the freshest of fish, skilfully handled and simply presented at a fair price every day, lunch and dinner, at this town centre venue. And, if you are eating at home, then grab some fresh fish from the family market on the ground floor!
Crumble

New Street
Bantry 
Co.Cork
(027) 56651


* Diarmaid was our host on our earlier trip around the bay - check it out here. He has been doing it a bit over the past summer and intends to make it a permanent feature next year. A proud native of the area, he is a superb guide to the huge bay, its geography and amazing history. His sturdy rib will take six paying passengers so keep an eye out for that in 2019.



Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Bayview's Feast of Fish. Flavour and Fun, thanks to Ciaran & Team


Bayview's Feast of Fish
Flavour and Fun, thanks to Ciaran & Team
Seafood Cocktail

Stephen Belton, GM of the Garryvoe Hotel, welcomed the guests to host venue the Bayview (where he is also GM), for the first big event of Feast 2018. Speaking of Bayview Chef Ciaran Scully, Stephen said he’s never met anyone with “such a passion for food”. And a mischievous sense of humour too as you can see by the second dish being called My Ding A Ling. “Enjoy the flavours and the fun,” Stephen concluded.

Kevin Ahern of Sage was introduced as the driving force behind Feast but he quickly countered that he wasn't the only person pushing the expanded and expanding festival. “We are proud of Midleton’s past festivals but now we want to drive it forward. We see East Cork as a food destination, both nationally and internationally. We want to create revenue in the area, not in just one town. We are very happy with it so far, so many nights booked out already.”
Ciaran's Ding A Ling

The wines for the evening were provided by James Nicholson Wine and their man on the
spot was Richard Reeve. “The wines chosen are a little left field, not the obvious ones (not even a Sauvignon Blanc!)”.  The pairings were excellent and we got more info on the individual bottles as the evening went on.

The first offering from the kitchen was a rather spectacular Seafood Cocktail (Ballycotton Brown Shrimp, smoked eel, herring, trout caviar, confit of tomato, pickled apple, Bloody Mary Jelly, Samphire, Sea purslane, Fried sea lettuce). Lots of flavours and textures there. And the wine chosen, was the Bodegas Coloma Pinot Noir Rosé from Extremadura in Spain. This early release wine has quite a bit of heft compared to the normal rosé and was certainly a winner with the mix in cocktail. A terrific opening all round.
Mackerel

The high standard would be maintained. Next up was My Ding A Ling (torched Ling with Salt Baked Celeriac, Little gem, Hazelnut & Gubbeen Pesto, Smoked Skeaghanore Duck-breast).  A superb combination with that celeriac playing a key role. And the wine here, the vibrant South African Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap white, was terrific and again a great match, with its fantastic aromas and flavours.

Holy Mackerel was the title of Ciaran’s next offering. Basically it was all about the humble fish, the flavour packed pan-fried fillet enhanced by a Roast Miso Aubergine, Pickled mushrooms, peanut powder, Nasturtium, rice crackers. A good fresh wine to cut the oily fish was required here and Richard had just the job in the Umani Ronchi Vellodoro Terre di Chieti Pecorino. An intense aromatic wine with clear mineral notes, fresh with ripe fruits, it matched the mackerel well.

Fish and Chips

Now it was time for the Fish & Chips. The Bayview’s version: Deep fried monkfish, octopus, pea, lemon and potato purée, fried capers, oyster mayonnaise, Jerusalem artichoke chips. Another amazing effort from the kitchen. Richard didn’t have a Sauvignon Blanc but he did have a Chardonnay. The Domaine Bellevue from the Touraine, Loire Valley, was unoaked with excellent depth of fruit and that with its northern freshness gave the wine a lovely mouthfeel, another excellent match.

Time now for the sweet finalé. The Chocolate Trinket Box contained Jameson and Burnt Orange Chocolate Mousse with a Beamish Stout Ice Cream, rich and delicious. The dessert wine came from the Quady Winery in California, the Essensia Orange Muscat 2014.

A superb night of fish and wine again at the Bayview. Great how Ciaran chooses these events to highlight the super qualities of fish that we don't always rate in Ireland, such as the Ling and the Mackerel in this case.

Still lots to do in Feast. Check the remaining events here

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Seamus Goes Solo at Rum Bar And Kitchen

Seamus Goes Solo at Rum Bar And Kitchen
A yummy rummy dessert!

Quite a menu at the Rum Bar and Kitchen in Marlboro Street. A few nibbles, a long list of small plates (you may order one or two in bigger sizes), some excellent large plates, and also a few tempting desserts! Took us a while to make up our minds but many of the dishes are shareable - indeed they have some large platters, mainly charcuterie and cheese, to share -  and that makes choosing that bit easier.

No matter what we ordered we were going to omit some very desirable choices such as that €12.00 Cheese Platter (Cashel Blue, Gubbeen Smoked and Tipperary Brie with apricot chutney, candied walnuts, grapes and crackers).

But we wouldn't be disappointed. Far from it. We started with three, from the small plates. One choice was the Spanish Fries (4.50). The fries, served with chopped olives, grated cheese, aioli and pesto, were a delicious delight, quite a change from the usual Patatas Bravas.

The Crispy beef brisket Bon Bons (four for 7.50) enhanced by a red wine jus were full of flavour, the jus superb. And the hoisin sauce with the home-made duck-leg spring rolls was also top notch and added to another very enjoyable small plate (8.50). 

Other small plates available include: smoked Gubbeen and honey roast ham croquettes, English Market Chicken liver paté, and also their own house chicken wings. See the full menu on their Facebook page below.


So, after those excellent small plates, how would the large plates measure up? They hadn’t been open a week when we called but our mains were top notch too.


The Seafood Fricatta (14.50), a fresh seafood selection in a tomato sauce, was well cooked, neatly presented and at the correct temperature (as were all the dishes), no shortage of fish and slightly spicy.

But our favourite of the two was the Classic Meatballs (14.00). The dish was choc-a-bloc with those meatballs and linguini in a spicy Italian herb tomato sauce with shaved parmesan. A simple classic and simply excellent.

Would we have dessert? Yes please, we’d love the Rum Baba. And we did. The sponge cake was soaked in the rum, came with fresh cream and fruit. It vanished very quickly indeed. By the way, all desserts are a fiver. Very reasonable, as are all the food prices here, considering the quality and the friendly service.

The Rum Bar and Kitchen is Seamus Healy’s new city centre bar serving tasty bites with a fantastic drinks selection and, yes, there are some lovely rums there too. And cocktails of course including classics such as Mojito, Long island, Pino Colada, Daiquiri and Margaritas. But, on an invite from Seamus, we were there for the food (mainly!). 

Seamus has quite a few years of experience in the hospitality sector, mainly in local hotels. He has been encouraged by the comments since their “soft” opening on June 8th. This is the ex soccer player’s first solo venture and we wish the former Albert Rovers man all the best!


Rum Bar & Kitchen
32 Marlboro Street
Cork
Tel: (021) 427 4707
Message: @rumbarandkitchen
Twitter: @RUMbarkitchen 


Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Lifeboat Inn. Courtmacsherry's Gastro Pub Up and Running


The Lifeboat Inn.
Courtmacsherry's Gastro Pub Up and Running

The Lifeboat Inn in Courtmacsherry is not open a year yet but is making quite an impression in the village. Serving good local food, much of it from the nearby waters, in a casual atmosphere has been the aim of David O’Halloran and chef Martin Buckley since they started here last summer and already it is paying off for them. 

Indeed, they have “expanded” across the road where an inviting terrace has been set up with views over the water. I reckon that will be buzzing in the months ahead. So, a tip for motorists: drive slowly here and allow that server (it may well be David as he looks after front of house) get across the road!

We were there recently and the menu , as promised, has lots of fish and seafood: cod, black sole, John Dory, crab claws and prawns. And quite a bit more as well. The menu is short enough but I prefer to see a short list and high quality, and that's what you get here.

Surprisingly enough, the wine list is a long one with lots of choice. The outstanding Craggy Range Te Muna Sauvignon Blanc features but the New Zealand wine is one of just a few from the New World. We enjoyed the Tandem Wines Casual Rosé and an Albarino, both from Spain, two of about ten whites available by the glass. 

A few more from the New World in the reds, where I spotted the lovely Finca Florencia Malbec from Argentina; some excellent European offerings too, ranging from 22 euro to 130. And there is a bar right there in the middle offering the usual suspects plus an outstanding local craft beer by Blacks of Kinsale.

We had five starters to choose from and my choice was their Prawns in garlic and white cream with crispy sourdough on the side to soak up the cream. A simple enough dish, delicate and delicious and pleasurably dispatched. 

CL’s opener had more texture, more flavours, also a little bit more robust, and the warm Haulie’s Black-pudding salad served with apple, walnut and crispy hen’s egg was also a winner.

Aside from the fish dishes, the mains may also include a Beef Burger in a Brioche Bun with Gubbeen Cheese and Tomato or a Sirloin Steak with all the trimmings.

My choice though was the Wild Mushroom Risotto with herbs and shaved Parmesan. This was one of the best I've had, just perfect and, at €14.00, good value also.

CL meanwhile also struck gold with her Cod with a Parmesan crust, baby potato, roast cauliflower, and wild garlic (no doubt from the local wood where we had earlier walked through swathes of it in flower). The fish was pristine, the whole dish a delicious combination of textures, flavours and aromas (19.95). Go for this if it is on when you visit!.

We were tempted by the desserts but eventually decided to share the cheese board. And we got a generous selection - Milleens, Hegarty’s Cheddar and Cashel Blue - served with an outstanding pear and fig chutney and plenty of bread and crackers. Another one to look out for!

Probably not surprising that the offering is so good here. Both David and chef Martin have put in long years learning the trade in London and Dublin before settling in Courtmacsherry. Their Gastro Pub is truly up and running and well worth a call, even if it is just for a glass of wine or beer on the terrace.

While we were among just a few diners - we were in very early - it would be advisable to book ahead, especially if you are going down just for the meal as they tend to get full early on at the weekend.

The Lifeboat Inn
Main Street
Courtmacsherry
Co. Cork
Tel: (023) 886 4656
Twitter: @the_lifeboatinn 
Web: www.lifeboatinn.ie 

Other recent posts from this area:
Courtmacsherry Hotel


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Dining Under A Gilded Dome At Killarney’s The Great Southern


Dining Under A Gilded Dome At Killarney’s Great Southern
The Garden Room (pic: Great Southern)


No doubt about it. You will look up, more than once, when you dine in the Garden Room, the principal restaurant in Killarney’s Great Southern Hotel. It is indeed a superb room in the old hotel, comfortably furnished and beautifully decorated and that high dome, with all that gold leaf, is eye-catching.

The food, by the way, isn't half-bad either, well presented too and served with a smile. Here you start with some of their breads (no charge) and a flavoursome amuse bouche. 
Pork Belly starter

Fancy a wine or a drink from the bar? No problem. Our wine, from the Duoro, was the Ferreirinha Esteva (30.00), a red blend, perfumed and intense, smooth on the palate, long and elegant on the finish, welcome at the table!

Cordal goats cheese is really making its mark in Kerry and in the Garden Room it is served, as a starter, in a lovely mousse with beetroot, saffron pears, candied walnuts, red cabbage purée and focaccia crisp.

Another impressive starter was the Lime and Chilli Crab Tian which consists of Crab Claws, red pepper coulis, and wasabi Mayo while another of the party was well pleased with the Wild Atlantic Seafood Chowder. A sorbet follows.

One of our group goes for the char-grilled sirloin of local Hereford Beef, served with shallot, mushroom, horseradish crème fraiche and Port Jus is your choice. Another picks the Ring of Kerry lamb.

The Carrigcleena Duck Breast may be incorrectly spelled on the menu but the dish itself is top of the class. Pan seared, it is served as a main course with carrot and ginger purée, curly kale, grilled asparagus, and sultan jus.

More top class poultry in the Supreme of Chicken (from Manor Farm), with sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan farce, lentils, pancetta crisp, roasted garlic jus. Four punters well satisfied, so satisfied in fact that nobody orders dessert!
Cordal cheese starter

I must admit I was rather tempted myself, especially by the day’s special: the Steamed Orange pudding - here the specials are conveniently listed on the menu. The Garden Rooms certainly support local and that is underlined by an excellent cheeseboard that includes Gubbeen, Cordal, Knockatee, and Cooleeny.

We were ordering from the Table d’Hote dinner, two courses for €36.50. So time to pay up and take a final look up at that amazing dome and head out through the Grand Foyer complete with grand piano.
Lamb

“Spectacular architecture melded with effortless service and genuine hospitality has made Great Southern Killarney an iconic retreat for over 160 years.” It has had its ups and downs in those years, but it seems to me that it is now, as part of the Hayfield family, once again on the up. Long may it continue.

Grey outside; gold inside!


Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Rich And Famous (and me) Stay At Glengarriff's Eccles Hotel


The Rich And Famous (and me) Stay
 At Glengarriff's Eccles Hotel

I recently added my name to a list that includes William Makepeace Thackeray, George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats and, of more recent vintage, Pippa Middleton. They all stayed at the Eccles Hotel in Glengarriff. The splendidly situated hotel opened in 1745 and is currently undergoing renovation under new owners but is fully open for business.

Visitors are invariably impressed. Thackeray wrote “What sends tourists to the Rhine and Saxon Switzerland? Within 5 miles of the pretty Inn of Glengarriff there is a country of the magnificence of which no pen can give any idea.” There is still a room named after him in the hotel.

Punch Magazine, in a kind of 1870s Trip Advisor review, wrote: Glengarriff – Eccles Hotel, charmingly situated. Facing the bay and on the road. Old fashioned, covered with creepers and roses with bedrooms commanding the bay view. The Eccles is worth more than a passing visit. I am delighted with it. It is, as far as attendance, cuisine, and general comfort the best hotel I’ve been in.

So how did I get on there? Very well indeed. The hotel, just off the main road, is as you probably know situated on a little height overlooking the bay. You will see splendid views even from the bar on the ground floor. Stroll across the road and you may get a boat to Garinish Island and I did just that, taking in the island, the basking seals and the eagle’s nest (a new temporary attraction here).

I stayed in one of the renovated front rooms at €100.00 per night with breakfast; the room had a bay view and cost a few euro extra. While not the biggest, the room (with its old fashioned high ceiling) was very comfortable, nicely decorated and both it and the bathroom were well equipped
Gubbeen crubeens starter

They serve breakfast upstairs in the Garinish Restaurant, a splendid room indeed. And breakfast was rather splendid too, excellent service too. An eye-catching table was laden with all kinds of good stuff: fruit juices, cereals and breads while you could also order something hot, including the full traditional Irish, from the kitchen. My order was Eggs Benedict and that got me off to a good start for the day.

Local producers get a fair crack of the whip here. They featured at breakfast and also in the dinner that we enjoyed, not in the Garinish (which will serve dinner later in the year), but in the Harbour Bar downstairs.
Hake

At first glance, the menu seems ordinary enough but do study the bits and pieces that come with your meat or fish and you will note some combinations that are a little different and, in this case, more than a little better, than usual.

We were by the sea, so you'd expect salmon on the menu. But the Eccles version is something else. I thought it worth exploring and was delighted with my Cork Whiskey and Vanilla Cured Salmon (Braised Barley, Apple, Prawn, Radish, Herb Cream).
Caramel Apple & Raisin Oat Crumble

There’s a pretty good choice here, augmented by specials on the board. Indeed, CL picked from that board on the bar counter and came up trumps with her Herb Crusted Baked Hake, served with a red pepper confit. Both mains were fairly priced in the mid-teens. Other options included steak, chicken, lamb, and burger.
Salmon

No shortage of starters either, including cheese and meat platters with Gubbeen featuring. Gubbeen too in my starter: the flavourful Crubeens (Smoked Gubbeen Bacon Hock, Piccalilli, Gem, Pickled Onion.). CL’s Bantry Bay Mussels came with an rather unusual but excellent Cider, Apple and Barley “sauce”.

Service was pretty good throughout our short stay and the WiFi was excellent in the room. 

Indeed, the only thing on the downside was that they seemed to be running down their stock of craft beer. They had a tap for 8 Degrees Howling Gale but no beer. So we asked for two bottles of the Full Irish - they had just one. In the end we shared a larger bottle of Mountain Man’s Banjo’d and noticed, just as we were about to finish, that it was well out of date. On the other hand and to finish on a good note, we later enjoyed a couple of glasses of the local and excellent Beara Gin.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Excellent Lunch at Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder


Excellent Lunch at Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder
Fill your own bottle

Three of us visited the Celtic Whiskey Bar and Larder in Killarney for lunch last week. And not one of us tasted a drop of whiskey! Despite being surrounded by 100s and 100s of bottles from Ireland, Scotland, United States and the rest of the world.

Actually, it can be quite difficult to make a choice on the spot. My advice would be to check out the many whiskies on their website and make a short list. Then you’ll be ready for action.
Not just whiskey

You can use that same website to make a reservation too for your food and even for their whiskey masterclasses. I used it last week and it worked like a dream, as it had on earlier occasions.

Of the three, one was a Killarney resident and had not been here before. I reckon they have a new fan, well impressed with the food. By the way, while browsing the listing, my eyes spotted the Blackwater Distillery's Gin with Barry's Tea.
Blue cheese & pear

I had that in mind for a lunchtime tipple and our server said, yes, they had it and that it was proving very popular. I had missed out on it during the Christmas lunch and was delighted to get a taste, even if I had to share it!

You may eat as much or as little as you like here in this friendly place, anything from soup of the day to a substantial pie. Speaking of which, one of our choices was the very tasty Chicken, Leek and Mushroom pie (11.00).
Chicken, leek & mushroom

I was on the look out for a dish I had througoughly enjoyed on a previous visit: the Lamb Liver, with streaky bacon and slathered in a delicious onion gravy and served with sourdough toast.

This time, with no sign of the lamb, I choose the Roast Barbary Duck Salad (11.00). The duck is warm and very flavoursome and is served with a fresh and crunch salad of Apple, Fennel and Celery and also a mustard vinaigrette. Recommended!
Duck salad

CL was also well pleased with her pick: Pear and Blue Cheese Salad (8.00) which combines these classic ingredients in a slightly innovative and tasty way. The pear is sliced. It comes with pickled walnuts and watercress and those nuts were quite outstanding. Again, the salad, just like mine, was excellent, well prepared.

For details of a previous visit, a little more whiskey involved, click here.  

Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder
93 New Street, Killarney, Co. Kerry
Tel: 64 663 5700

Take your pick!
The Yew Tree at The Muckross Park Hotel
36 Hours in Killarney, inc Killarney Brewing