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Friday, October 20, 2017
Great to see the Powers John’s Lane, one of my favourite whiskeys coming out on top at the Irish Whiskey Awards last night. Thanks to the Celtic Whiskey Shop, you can see all the winners below....
Monday, October 9, 2017
Five star grub in a roadside pub
The Tavern, Murrisk.
|Amazing game pie|
It had been a sunny day in Mayo but an autumnal cold had settled in by the time we arrived at The Tavern in Murrisk for evening dinner. We had been looking forward to the special menu, matching local foods with the fabulous Mescan Belgian style beers from a working farm on the nearby slopes of Croagh Patrick. We would not be disappointed. Far from it!
After a chat with host Pat Kelly, we began to study the menu. The Warm Silverhill Duck and Smoked Bacon Salad looked tempting as did their Award Winning Atlantic Seafood Chowder. But we each went for the Tavern Wild Atlantic Way Tasting Board.
This consisted of Cleggan scallops with Kelly’s Gluten free black pudding, bacon dust, rosette of Connemara Smoked Salmon, with Velvet Cloud Yogurt and home pickles, Galway Farm Goats cheese bon bons and homemade quince jelly. You couldn't get much more local than that and you'd travel a long way to get something better. Five star grub in a roadside pub. All washed down with the recommended Mescan beers, the Blonde and the White. A match made in Westport.
On then to the main event. The menu offered Fillet of Angus Steak, an offer hard to resist but resist we did on this occasion. CL went for the Trio of West Coast Pan Fried Seafood: Clare Island salmon, parma ham wrapped monkfish, fresh hake with lemon and dill butter, chive mash and mixed leaf salad.
That piece of salmon alone would have made someone a fine dinner as would the monkfish. Quantity but more importantly quality. And the small things were well taken care also. The dressing with the salad was one of the very best we’ve come across. And to cap it all, the Mescan Saison was a perfect match.
|Trio of fish|
I had been looking forward to the Game Pie since I first saw the list. The mega mix included rabbit, pheasant and venison with a horseradish and cheddar mash and the pie was surrounded by a tonne of roasted root vegetables. And then there was a bottle of Westporter Stout to help it down. A memorable meal.
We should have had stopped then! But, easily persuaded, we shared a selection of desserts, with the Mescan Kriek: Sticky Toffee Pudding, the Tavern’s Homemade Brown Bread and Bailey's Ice-cream and, the star of the trio, Pauline’s Fruit Crumble with Irish Mist Anglaise. Before that, we had enjoyed a wee chat with busy Head Chef Pauline McGovern.
Quite a meal then, one that necessitated a walk in the cool, calm evening air before we called the taxi to return us to Westport and the lovely Clew Bay Hotel. And, by the way, if you in the Westport area and looking for a reliable friendly taxi-driver then try Conor at 087-2413722.
The Tavern Bar & Restaurant
Carrowkeeran, Westport, Co. Mayo.
Tel: 098 64060
Sunday, October 8, 2017
The Skipper’s Next Port?
For the last eight years or so, The Skipper restaurant has been moored at Ventry, overlooking the nearby Atlantic Ocean. And fish from that ocean, delightfully cooked, has drawn customers here from near and far.
But, aside from one or two farewell parties, dinner on September 30th may well prove to be the final fling for The Skipper, at least in this location. If a move is a must, and it looks like it, then owner-chef Paddy Chauvet, better known as Paddy The Irishman, may well turn up somewhere else on the peninsula, though Dingle town itself doesn't seem to be in the running.
But there were no tears, out-front at least, last Saturday night week, lots of humour among the front-of-house if anything. And the blackboard was, as always, in use. The pier is only 100 metres away and so the menu is subject to frequent change. If you're a meat-eater, you'll be catered for - Boeuf Bourguignon was on the menu. And there was even a Vegetarian Dish of the Day.
The wine-list seemed a bit run-down, there were red marks indicating “all gone” but there was still enough on the exclusively French list to satisfy most tastes. As it happened, I left the wine and picked a local beer, the delicious Beal Bán from the West Kerry Brewery which is less than three miles away.
The use of fruit pieces in the salads was a bit unexpected, CL first to be surprised when she started her Smoked Salmon Salad. It was excellent, the fish perfect, the leaves fresh as can be and nicely dressed and the melon and grapes provided an extra dimension.
The wind was blowing hard outside and my Seafood Bisque starter was nicely warm and full of flavour, and wouldn’t have been out of place on a seafront café in Marseilles.
Service was excellent here, casual but efficient, and always a chat or a joke and soon the mains were arriving. I picked the Ray Wing, not usually found on Irish menus. It came with a caper cream sauce and rustic potatoes, leaves and fruit pieces of course. Quite enjoyable and, like most dishes here, well priced too.
CL's pick was the Seafood Gratin, a rather pedestrian name for what turned out to be a lovely dish. The gratin was presented in two large scallop shells with rustic potatoes, leaves and fruit pieces. All the leaves by the way were as fresh as could be and well dressed.
And there was fruit too in the dessert but different! We were unlucky that the French Apple Tart was off so shared the Raspberry and Strawberry Fool. We wouldn’t go back especially for that but would certainly follow The Skipper around the peninsula for his superb savoury stuff. And more so, if they leave those back-breaking church seats behind! Bon Voyage, Skipper!
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Out of the Blue
And only out of the blue!
Out of the Blue, the restaurant with the colourful beach-hut style frontage on Dingle’s waterfront, is a fish restaurant. Nothing else. So, if there’s no fresh fish, there is no opening. They have a few sample menus on their tidy website but you won't know what is really on offer until you get there, indeed, they themselves profess not to know until the boats come in. So it is always something of a surprise, but never a let-down.
Do book in advance though especially when there is a festival in town. We were there last weekend and reserved a table for Friday night, the night that the Food Festival launched. You don't get a menu in your hand. A large blackboard is positioned on a nearby chair and you are given plenty of time to consider the long list, everything from mussels to lobster, from pollack to black sole. We made our choices as we sipped a glass of cool prosecco.
If the outside looks like a hut, the inside is solid and comfortable, lots of paintings hanging there, including a lovely Currach by local artist Liam O'Neill. We had time to look around before the starters arrived.
Pan fried curried plaice fillet with mango salsa was CL’s choice. And mine was the Duo of home cured and smoked salmon with citrus dressing. Indeed, it was an agreed choice and we went half and half. Both were excellent, the salmon smooth and easy, the plaice enhanced by the mild curry treatment.
Jean Marie Vaireaux has been chef here for the past ten years - he has been in Dingle for much longer - and we noticed that was demoing his Scallops flambéed with Calvados on the following day. We didn't pick that as a mains as we thought we’d catch him at St Jame’s Church, the demo venue for the festival. But we got side-tracked by the Taste Trail!
Back to Out of the Blue and the mains, where there were many choices. Mine was the Char-grilled Halibut fillet with garlic butter. An excellent dish, superbly cooked and delivered to the table.
I enjoyed that and CL was very happy indeed with her Pan fried Plaice fillet with Ratatouille Provençal, another simple dish, superbly executed.
Oh, almost forgot, We have wine. The list is large enough to cover most tastes and the majority of the wines are European. Not a great fan of Picpoul de Pinet but the Cave L’Ormarine Preambule from the Languedoc could change my mind! Crisp, smooth, fruity, and mouth-watering, it proved an excellent match all through.
Dessert? Tempted yes, but in the end settled on a share of the cheese offering that featured Gubbeen and Crozier Blue and we finished off with that and a glass of port. Delicious end to a lovely evening and then a short stroll back to the hotel.