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Céad Míle Failte. A worthless cliché? Certainly not at Liberty Grill, busy from early ’til late in Cork’s Washington Street. We called in for our 5.15 booking on a recent Friday and got the warmest of welcomes. And that chatty approach, studded with vital info about the day’s specials, continued from start to finish. We met three helpful and knowledgeable front-of-house people during our meal before we were waved off with cracking smiles. And, I’d better mention the food was superb as well.
The place was packed at 5.15pm. “You should have seen earlier in the afternoon,” our server said. “When I came on it was like Christmas. Great!” So if you’re thinking of going, then be sure and book ahead.
Just earlier we had been in the English Market, buying our Saturday dinner meat from O’Mahony Butchers. Eoin served us his special (pork steak stuffed with Italian sausage and wrapped in Parma ham) and when we mentioned Liberty Grill tipped us off that his 35-day aged rib-eye was on special and was worth looking out for.
So we did, and I ordered it. The Rib-Eye special was one of six listed and the full description was: Char-grilled 10 ounce rib-eye on the bone with Café de Paris butter or Béarnaise sauce, served with sautéd mushrooms and onions, oven-roasted cherry tomatoes and French Fries. I choose the Café de Paris and medium.
I knew immediately I saw it that I was on a winner. Then touched it with the knife and the gentlest of pressure produced the tastiest biteful ever. Amazing steak, one of the very best I’ve had. Everything on the plate was perfect, the button mushrooms, the sweet onions. And terrific value at €22.90!
I wasn’t the only happy camper at this stage as CL was thrilled with her chicken. This was also a special: Amalfi Chicken (16.90), chargrilled supreme of free range East Ferry Chicken served with a warm salad of baby potatoes, spinach, sun blushed tomatoes, roast peppers, and tapenade. This had all the flavour and colour of a Mediterranean dish in the grey dusk of this northern city, a beautiful combination of tastes and textures, so well assembled, so well cooked, the chicken itself juicy, a plateful that illustrates fully that buying the best of local and treating it properly from delivery to the fairly-priced plate will keep the customer happy.
Liberty has always been well-known for its burgers and, while there is mega competition in the field, they are still very popular here. The choice is wide. Aside from six or seven on the regular menu, there were two on the specials: a spiced honey Halloumi (honey from their own hive in Fountainstown) and also a Sienna Beefburger featuring chuck steak and Toons Bridge Smoked Scarmoza.
We didn’t get to the desserts but did enjoy a couple of lovely starters, each from the regular menu. I fancied the Mexican Mille Feuille description: Crispy tortilla layers of tempeh, guacamole and salsa (6.50). A little bit of spice, a little bit of sweet, lost of textures and colours, an excellent starter. CL also enjoyed her Small Plate of Crushed tomato and avocado toast (5.00).
After Liberty, we walked to the “back” of the block to Impala, the new craft beer pub in Liberty Street. Buzzing, just managed to get two seats at the counter. Was looking for the February Flagship special, a pint of Sierra Nevada for a fiver. But it was no longer available so I enjoyed another ale, the Gamma Ray by Beavertown. A huge range of craft (and some mainstream too) available, no shortage of local gins either. And do bring your credit card. Well, they do take cash no problem but tap and pay is the customer’s preferred method of payment here!