Showing posts with label MacCurtain Street. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MacCurtain Street. Show all posts

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Friday evening at Greene's. Almost like old times. Almost!

Friday evening at Greene's.
Almost like old times. Almost! 

In the car of a Friday evening and heading downtown. Park up and walking over to Greene’s Restaurant in MacCurtain Street. It’s almost like old times. 

Almost. We have clicked and are on the way to collect, all comfortably within the 5km limit. It is our first venture into the city since the lockdown began and, as it turned out, quite a worthwhile one.

You know there’s been some dispute among the restaurant fraternity about the value of click and collect or simply takeaway. But it keeps open the links with both suppliers and customers and also keeps some staff involved. And it also makes the possibility of slippage to processed food a little more remote, the processed food that ace American chef Dan Barber called “the lowest bar”, “It’s an insult.” (New Yorker May 24th, 2020)

Greene’s is one of the restaurants nearest to us and you just knew, takeout or not, there’d be no slippage in standards - just because there is a crisis doesn't mean you can't cook creatively - and so it proved as the quality of food they provided was so much better than regular takeaway. 

We stepped under the arch and entered to a big smiling welcome and were presented with our dinner in a long sleek box, packed full of good things to eat, each section neatly stored separately within. 

And inside also was one other very important item: a typed sheet with details of each element along with detailed instructions on how to finish the cooking! And, if you needed more help, you could look up Chef Bryan McCarthy’s video instructions available on both their Instagram and Facebook. 

Would you like a wine to go with that? No bother. Have a look at somm Frank’s suggestions videos on Facebook and make your choice. And of course the crew in Cask will sort out a cocktail for you.

At present, they are doing "Greene’s and Cask @ Home" three days a week: Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The menu has variations each day and vegetarians are also catered for. 

Black Pudding and Pork Belly Beignets was our chosen starter and that came with an apple and celeriac salad with a superb dressing. Eight minutes later (that’s how long it took to heat up the beignets) we were tucking into it.  No bother admitting this was different class, even the salad came totally alive with that dressing and the beignets, with an aioli mayo, were also superb. A very satisfactory beginning indeed!

The other starter available was a Ballyhoura Mountain Mushroom Risotto (with pickled mushroom, Cep powder, and Coolea Cheese). Next time!

A break of ten minutes or so then as we “worked” on the main course: the Venison Pie. Would probably have been a few minutes less had we chosen the Pan Seared Hake (with Dashi cream and pea risotto). The third choice was the Vegetarian Jackfruit and Chickpea Stew (also about 10 minutes).

Anyhow, back to the very satisfying pie! Terrific chunks of meat with jus, big cubes of root vegetables and broccoli, not forgetting the spuds and extra mash. Superb. And a nicely judged quantity also.

The offer is two courses for two people for forty euro. You may also add sides or extras, maybe a meal for a 3rd person. Friday’s dessert offers were a Summer Berry Cheesecake, Sweet Woodruff Panna Cotta and Chocolate Brownie.

Didn’t get to study the wine list but one that I can recommend is the unoaked Flor de Crasto, a young, fruit driven easy-drinking Portuguese red wine produced from local grapes (Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Vinhas Velhas).

Our first experience of Click & Collect turned out to be a winner. We’ll be back to MacCurtain Street!

* Click and Collect at Greene’s and quite a few other restaurants use software provided by TablePath. I had some info up on that recently and you may check it out here

Greene's Restaurant

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Class Cuisine at The Glass Curtain. New Kid on the Thompsons Block

Class Cuisine at The Glass Curtain
New Kid on the Thompsons Block

The Glass Curtain has made an impressive debut on MacCurtain Street, the latest food outlet in the bustling area of Cork city, with something for every palate and wallet. And the buzz goes on - lots more to come. Much of it in the old Thompsons Building, once a key bakery for the city. 

Brian Murray’s Glass Curtain is one of the smaller developments in the cavern of a building. There is much more space being filled between the street back as far as Wellington Road. Another restaurant, a bar and a micro-brewery are coming soon as the Lynch family (who own the Cotton Ball brewery) continue the exciting development.
"Low Fashioned" on the right

But back to Brian and the Glass Curtain. He is very much  supporting local and indeed the craft beers on offer are from the Cotton Ball. They also have about a dozen tempting cocktails including one that I enjoyed on my recent visit. The “Low Fashioned” is a very tasty combination of Kinsale “Wild Red” Mead, Angostura, Demerara and Orange. 

Other local drinks featuring in the cocktail list include Longueville Apple Brandy, Blacks Gin and Kalak Peated Vodka. And one cocktail that you may well fancy, some of you for nostalgic reasons, is the Turkish Delight (Lychee liqueur, rose, orange blossom and soda). Those of you who remember Thompsons in its prime probably know that Hadji Bey Turkish Delight was made across the road. Quite an extensive wine list also and spirits too. So that’s the drinks. What of the food? 
Pic courtesy of The Glass Curtain.

Those of you on social media will have seen the Glass Curtain publish their first food pic (above) in mid January. In the comments, chef/owner Brian said “the menu has been a living restless thing since we opened last month. Changing daily, still defining our style and still a lot of work to be done. Here’s one our guests and ourselves have taken a real liking to: the tandoori monkfish, chargrilled, with roast cauliflower, mussels, saffron and baby leeks.” 

As it happened we were in the evening the photo was taken and one of our mains was that very dish and we gave it a big thumbs up. Don’t think there’s too much work to be done on this one, aside from seasonal variations of course!
Pork and cabbage and "gravy", but not like Granny's

My mains that evening was based on a collar of pork. You don’t see this very often on local menus. More’s the pity as it’s absolutely delicious. And the Glass Curtain version was even more so. Pork collars are a familiar item in Europe and because of their intense marbling are used to make traditional sausages such as coppa. 

The collar is cut from the shoulder portion that runs from the neck to the tip of the loin. Bord Bia have a recipe on their site here and say that the cut is very good value and that leftovers can be used in pulled pork sandwiches.

Brian, who cooks with “a lot of love and a little fire”, declares on their website that “flavour is our holy grail” and he certainly got that spot on with this dish, the umami of sauce an outstanding factor. The menu description is: Pork collar, miso, grilled winter cabbage and peanut rayu. Tender and delicious. Go for it!
Hake starter

Starters here are called Small Plates. CL enjoyed her Confit Hake, house XO sauce, and grilled broccoli, while my Cured red gurnard in roast onion dashi also went down well. That dashi was probably the star and I asked for a spoon to make sure I didn’t leave one delicious drop behind.
Gurnard and dashi. Should have had a sake with this!

Just three desserts on offer and, while our shared Honey Custard Tart (with nutmeg and fresh cream) was not quite on a par with the earlier courses, it was nonetheless polished off. Perhaps you may prefer the cheese offering: a selection of Irish cheese, Peter’s Yard crackers and honey.

The place itself is comfortable, seats about 35, and the service is excellent. Some seats will give you a good view of the open kitchen. We were absorbed when they started cooking their Beef Chop. This “monster” is about three  inches thick, I guess, and is for sharing. It is 35-day aged and they grill it on the bone. You may need one of the side dishes here, perhaps the  Smoked Heritage Potatoes with Beef Dripping! 

Thompson House
MacCurtain Street
Tel: (021) 451 8659

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Metropole Heritage Day Tour & Lunch

Metropole Heritage Day Tour & Lunch
This smart fellow
looks over the Lynch Suite

“The hotel was dry for the early decades,” concierge John Coleman (right) told our group as he took us on a Heritage Day tour of the Metropole Hotel, founded 122 years ago by the Musgrave family. The hotel quickly became known as The Met and the name endures. Guests around the turn of the century were mainly travelling salesmen.

What you may not have known, or may not remember, is that the ground floor of the building was given over to retail, with two shops on each side of the entrance. One of those, Hadji Bey, an Armenian that specialised in Turkish Delight, went on to become a Cork institution. Indeed, John told us The Met still serve the sweets,  now produced in Kildare rather than in Cork, to their guests.

The Met was also a great wedding venue, capable of handling up to seven weddings a day, wedding breakfasts in those days. I remember going there in the 1960s to a triple wedding featuring three sisters from the southside.

Afternoon tea?
John’s tour took us through some of the meeting rooms, all named after well-known writers. And there was a stop also at the Jack Lynch Suite to see the period detail, including an original radiator (still going strong). The current taoiseach has also stayed in this suite. Good views form the upper floors over the neighbours on MacCurtain Street. On the fourth floor we had a splendid views over the new Mary Elmes Bridge.

And John ensured we didn’t leave empty-handed as we were presented with a discounted offer on their classic afternoon tea and, after all those stairs (there was a lift too), we enjoyed their splendid homemade lemonade.

O'Flynn's Sausages
Last year, new owners (Trigon Group) spent millions on a refurbishment that included all the bedrooms, the new MET bar, restaurant and tea-room. Classy and comfortable is the result and do check out the snug too!

I had been checking the lunch menu here from time to time, thinking there was a nice bit of variety in the list and so, on Saturday, took the opportunity to try it out.
View over MacCurtain Street

Meeting rooms named
after famous writers
Just to give you an idea of the variety on offer, we could have had a Calamari Salad, a Classic Chicken Caesar Salad, a smoked Carrigaline Cheese, Fig and Onion  Tart (topped with crispy egg), the Mary Elmes Beef Brisket Burger and more.

All their beef is Irish and local producers such as Carrigaline above are supported. My pick was O’Flynn’s Pork and Sage Sausages with spicy roast red pepper and chickpea stew, crusty sourdough bread. 

The new Mary Elmes Bridge

Appropriately enough for Heritage Day I thought, as O’Flynn’s have been around long enough now to be considered part of the food heritage in these parts, a very enjoyable part indeed as Saturday’s lunch proved once again.

The Sticky Pulled Pork Sandwich with onions, toasted sourdough, fries, and a spicy slaw was CL’s choice and it too was excellent, full of flavour and the fries (which may not have been mentioned on the menu) were superb (I did steal a few).

Washed it all down with a glass of Murphy’s Stout, getting a little practice in for the upcoming Oyster Festival  that will be headquartered here in the Metropole but which will have events all over town and beyond from the 20th to the 22nd of September.

This Grand Old Dame of the Cork Victorian Quarter may well be 122 years old but she is still going strong, still able to teach the younger acts a hospitality trick or two. Well worth a visit!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Gallagher's GastroPub Rocks

Gallaghers GastroPub Rocks

Funny how things work out. Didn’t intend to spend all of last Sunday night in the company of old rockers. But that’s what happened. Can’t really take full credit for it but it turned out to be a terrific night with a super meal in Gallagher’s GastroPub and a lively charity concert in the Everyman with Dezperado (an Eagles tribute band).

The first plan had been to call to the White Rabbit at the exact opposite end of MacCurtain Street to Gallagher’s and try something from the grill there along with a glass or two from their renowned Bourbon selection. But a block-booking at the Rabbit snared that one and so we, four of us, ended up in Gallagher’s, taking in the view (and the sun) from our window seat that also allowed a view across towards Shandon.

The reservation here had been online, made with D***a, and she was back confirming it within a few minutes. And that kind of customer service continued in the bar/restaurant when we met and chatted with R****n. Service with a smile is always a big help.

I did have a quick look at the menu online before I booked and had a good feeling. Choices looked tempting. Starters included Burnt Maple and Cider Glazed Baby vegetables, Ras el Hanout Cauliflower Purée and Dukkah and also Skeaghanore Duck Leg Confit, rolled in Parma ham, corn and thyme purée, Kale red cabbage slaw and spiced plum gel.

There are impressive sharing boards, a choice of meats and a also a choice of fish. Other mains include a Crispy pan-roasted kale and leek “Bubble and squeak” Jerusalem artichoke velouté, roasted artichoke, charred apple, Cashel Blue crumble and truffle oil. Being Sunday, you might go for their signature pie: Irish Beef and Cork’s local stout “Beamish” with root veg, topped with puff pastry and served with fries.

All very tempting but our two friends had a few tips for us. Firstly, the fish and chips is excellent and secondly be sure and study the Cork on a Fork Special. So we read that board: Hazelnut crumbed duck leg, asparagus, candied beetroot, charred baby gem, celeriac purée and duck fat potatoes (21 euro).

Three of us went for that and it was superb, not just the delicious duck but also the asparagus, the beetroot and the gem, not to mention those spuds! Gastropub is no empty title in this establishment. The fourth diner was following his Fish ’n Chips tip come what may and he too enjoyed a very satisfying mains. Described as locally sourced catch of the day (Haddock in this instance) in a Franciscan Well Chieftain IPA beer batter, fries, mushy peas and tartar sauce (18 euro).

Speaking of Franciscan Well, we enjoyed a few glasses of the Rebel Red and it was four very happy customers who said goodbye to Rock heroes Rory Gallagher (his portrait looked down on our table) and Phil Lynott (you’ll see him on your way downstairs to the toilets), and headed down the street to see the sold out Dezperado gig in aid of MS Ireland.

Veteran musicians from the Cork area formed the band - not all veterans by the way, young guitarist Sean Hegarty (playing with his dad Ray) showed enormous promise.  Lead vocalist Der O’Riordan and also Ken Healy belted out the well-known classics of the American band. Backing vocals were provided by Anita Curtin and Neasa de Baróid.

Earlier, Neasa and her band opened the evening and included her new single Rain due to be launched upstairs in the Spailpín Fánach on Friday evening (9.30 sharp). Neasa, a relation of CL's, is quite the composer and other songs enjoyed by Sunday’s audience included Mrs Murphy’s Moving On and Tabhair dom do Lamh.

Perhaps you’ve known before now that McCurtain Street, with its hotels and theatre, its classy restaurants, its world class cocktails and buzzing bars, its ethnic cafés, and its  burger & down-home BBQ joints, really rocks. Now you know for sure. Don’t know if I’ll ever need to walk southwards over Patrick's Bridge again!