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Thursday, January 18, 2018
The Old Bank Café
New Eating and Meeting Place in Mayfield
Cork suburb Mayfield has a lovely new meeting place. The Old Bank Café, that the O’Connor butcher family opened last month, is quickly becoming the place to eat and meet in the area.
It has the field to itself as, amazingly for a place of its size, there is no other café in the area. Why Old Bank, you might ask. Well because the new building stands on the Iona Road site occupied for many years by the Permanent TSB bank.
O’Connor family member Sinead manages the Old Bank and is open for business from 8.00am. We arrived much later than that to try out the lunch menu! The café was quite full about 12.45pm and, as the first wave of diners left, they were immediately replaced by others. And, as we ate our excellent and well-priced dishes, we could see why it has taken off.
We could have had their excellent Roast of the Day, the healthy House Salad, or their highly regarded honey glazed ham, but we had been tipped off on two dishes in particular.
One, my pick, is their take on Eggs Benedict. The Old Bank Café style Benedict poached eggs come on sourdough toast with hollandaise or with salsa verde and is further enhanced by a choice of slow roast tomatoes, sauté spinach and roast button mushrooms or home cured bacon and slow roasted tomatoes.
I went for the hollandaise, spinach and mushroom version. It is absolutely superb, terrific flavour and textures, well executed (eggs perfectly poached) and presented. And excellent value at €7.50. Both this and CL’s choice below are available all day (8.00am to 4.00pm).
CL meanwhile was tucking into her modestly named House Dish (again great value at eight euro). This includes crispy home-made potato hash, smoked ham hock, smokey baked beans, poached egg and salsa verde or hollandaise. That hash, the potato is done rosti style, is excellent and lots of flavour come through from the other ingredients.
We were feeling pretty satisfied after that - they are both large dishes - but were tempted by the pancakes, newly added to the menu. These are American style and are made in house and served with cream, maple syrup or lemon curd. Delicious, with a beautiful texture, and, with a cup of well made coffee, we had no bother in finishing them off. Happy out!
* In the same building as the café, the O’Connor family also have a butcher’s shop and a food hall. See more on the complex here.
The Old Bank Café
(021) 453 0541
Sunday, December 10, 2017
Meet You at The Old Bank!
O’Connor Butchers Expand. New Mayfield Cafe & Food Hall
Saturday December 2nd was a big day for the O'Connor family. What would the weather be like? They wondered. But they needn’t have worried. The sun shone and the music played, a big crowd showed up, even Santa appeared, as they officially opened their impressive new premises in Mayfield, a new premises that incorporates their long-running butcher shop business plus a brand new Food Hall and the lovely new Old Bank Café.
Why Old Bank, you might ask. Well because the new building stands on the Iona Road site occupied for many years by the Permanent TSB bank.
|All quiet on a Sunday morning.|
I met Sinead Daly, the café manager, one afternoon last week and she proudly filled me on the story of the O’Connor family. The business started back in 1988 with the closure of Byrne’s in Ballincollig. Cormac O'Connor took a chance and, starting with a small van, began to fill the gap and now they deliver in both west and east Cork, to hotels, butcher shops and more.
By 1996, Cormac opened his shop on Boherboy Road, just off the North Ring Road, in Mayfield. And now, twenty years later, the tireless entrepreneur has moved that business the short distance to Iona Road to a purpose built building that includes the Food Hall (hot and cold deli) and the busy café, the first and only facility of its kind in the area.
So great credit to Cormac. From that one man in a small van, the business has grown to twenty employees! Sons Cormac and Rory are now on the road, delivering east and west. The O'Connor family specialise in pork and bacon.
Sinead says they are now busy with Christmas orders, turkey and ham of course. Their traditional Christmas Cub is very popular. And another popular tradition is their Spice Beef. "Great aromas around the back these days!"
The Deli in the Food Hall opens at 7.30am and closes at 6.30pm. The Breakfast Bap is flying out the door. It is well priced: a fiver for the packed bap and tea or coffee. Another popular product here is your dinner on a plate: meat, vegetables and potatoes, fresh from the kitchen. A big ready-to-cook plate for €5.95 or two for a tenner. Good value and very convenient also.
The Food Hall is well stocked. Some good locally produced products on sale there such as Spice o’Life Sauces from Dunmanway and baked goods from Hassetts in Carrigaline. Watch out for the weekly offers and also popular, among the sporting fraternity, is the Protein Pack.
Sinead opens the Old Bank at 8.00am and soon the breakfast orders are coming in. The Full Irish (with tea or coffee) is in demand at €9.95. And you can have the mini-version for €5.95. Their Eggs Benedict, she has been told they “are the nicest in Cork”, is very popular and available for most of the day.
If your morning appetite is on the “small” side, why not try the Soft Poached Eggs or the Smoky Beans on Toast. Looking for something on the healthy side? They've got a Puffed Spelt and mixed nut granola and Porridge comes complete with Lemon Curd, seeds, berry compote, banana and honey.
Moving on then to lunch-time, you’ll be spoiled for choice. There’s their Roast of the Day and the Burger (all local meats by the way). Did you know that O'Connor’s hit the foodie headlines when their Glazed Ham was chosen to feed the hungry crews of the Clipper 09-10 race on Lapps Quay? Well that very ham is also on the lunch menu along with various salads and toasties.
Aside from breakfast and lunch, there are mid-morning and mid-afternoon opportunities to call in and relax with tea or coffee (loyalty card for regular coffee drinkers) along with scones, croissants, and pastries and more (Eggs Benedict for instance is on all day). And you can bring the kids. They’ll enjoy some of the usual suspects but also have their own ham or chicken sandwich and will certainly be delighted with the highly rated Baldwin’s Ice-cream.
Baldwin’s are a farm in Knockanore, West Waterford and their inclusion on the menu is one way in which the café’s policy to use “the best seasonal and artisan produce available” is being achieved. The place was more or less full in mid-afternoon last Tuesday and it looks as if Sinead’s aim to make it “a great place to meet, socialise and eat” is on its way to being realised.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Arbutus: Five Star Bread
|He can talk the talk|
Go easy on the dough. Don’t beat the shit out of it.
That was the advice from founder and owner Declan Ryan as he welcomed a group from the UCC Fermentation Society to his Mayfield bakery, Arbutus Bread, this week. He recalled various enthusiastic people hammering the dough all over the place but gentleness is the answer. Apparently Jamie Oliver was one of those overly eager bakers, not in Mayfield though. But he took the advice and said that not only did his bread-making skills improve but so too did his love-making.
|and walk the walk!|
Declan has been in love with bread-making for a long time, even when he was scaling the heights of cuisine back in the day when the family’s Arbutus Hotel was the place to eat in Cork. And not just for locals, particularly after Declan was awarded Ireland's first ever Michelin star.
But then things changed for Declan. The old enthusiasm wasn't here any longer. “I got burned out…. was tired as a chef.” Retirement, he knew, wouldn't suit him and so, he turned to his hobby which was baking.
And he began Arbutus Bread in his converted two car garage, making the deliveries himself by jeep. Now an new enthusiasm fermented and he learned more about the trade and the art from some of the very best. He tracked down a course in France and here his two tutors were two of the top bakers in France, Pierre Nury and Xavier Honorin “who were inspirational in their enthusiasm”.
You may read more about the early days of Arbutus Bread here.
Declan met us himself and showed us some early vessels associated with bread, one of a type used in the time of the Pharaohs. Spelt was the grain used at that period. Then he showed us a Greek urn from 340 BC and by now the bakers were using wheat. He had a trio of harvest masks on display including a very impressive one from Nigeria.
|Harvest mask from Nigeria|
Arbutus breads are based on the French artisan tradition and he uses a French wheat Bagatelle Red Label La Farine Type 65, no less than four tonnes a week to produce 2,000 to 3,000 loaves a day! You may see the full list of their breads here.
That two car garage has long been left behind. Indeed, five years after its founding, Arbutus moved to the current premises in Mayfield and, just a couple of years back, they doubled the space but stayed in the same site. Now they have 17 employees, spread across five nationalities.
|The barrel sized sourdough maker and keeper,|
the heart of Arbutus.
While Declan’s ingredients are limited to the traditional three or four (unlike the multiples of that seen on many commercially made breads), there are other factors that are critical to the production. One is temperature and here you have to bring all the elements to an average of 23 degrees for the dough mix. Salt too is critical, not just for taste but “for structure”.
And then there's the butter story. Arbutus do produce some sweet things, eg Brioche but especially croissants. You need butter for the latter, a special “dry” butter. Kerrygold produce it but it is not available here. It is exported to France by the container load. Then it is bought by various companies over there. One is Elle & Vire. They package it nicely, with the Eiffel Tour and the French tricolour prominent and sell it in France and some of it finds its way back to Dublin where Declan purchases it for his croissants!
And the determination that only top notch ingredients be used for Arbutus Bread is further underlined in their Pain aux Chocolat. Many would settle for ordinary chocolate but only the best, Valrhona, will do for Declan.
|That sourdough culture taste is ...well.... Sour?|
As the tour drew to a close, he found time to hand out great praise to a hero of his, Donal Creedon of Macroom Mills, an outstanding producer and "one of a kind". And credit also to his grandmother. The Arbutus Soda Bread recipe (with only slight alteration) came from her. And then it was time to tuck into tea, breads and some sweet stuff that he had lined up for us.
A big thank you to the UCC Fermentation Society for the invite. Other recent Society events included a Tasting Quiz, a wine basics trip to L’Atitude 51, and a visit to Rising Sons Brewery. For future events check out their Facebook page here.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
THE BEERS SESSION
Great to see the award winning O’Donovan’s Off Licence open a store here in Mayfield.
They are well known for their big selection of wine but, just to be contrary, my first call was for some cold beer. And, with courteous and informed help from the staff, I hit the jackpot, taking home five 50cl bottles of premier continental beer for just €10.00.
I’m not a big fan of wheat beer but included the Grolsch Weizen, the best wheat beer of 2007, in my bag. This 5.3% Dutch beer, a cloudy one, is brewed according to German standards. I made it the first of my tastings and enjoyed its aromas and taste more than previous wheat beers, though I wouldn’t want it for a session beer.
Didn't know that it needed a special pouring technique until I visited the website so maybe the next one will be even better.
Next up was the Warsteiner Premier Verum, a German effort with an ABV of 4.8%. This Pilsner was light and tarty and more my style then the Grolsch.
With a golden colour and a smooth taste, and well balanced, I had no doubts about opening my bottle of Budejovicke Pivo 1795. I like the Czech beers in any case and this, with its Protected Geographical Indication, is one of the best. The ABV is 4.7%.
Finished off with my old favourite, the Staropramen Premium Czech Lager with an ABV of 5%. This is widely available and well worth a try. The brewery says it contains the spirit of Prague. Not too sure about that but it is smooth and well balanced and I find it easy and pleasant to drink.
I reckon I’ll be staying with the Czechs for the time being but I am on the lookout for a local lager. Must call soon to Bradley Off Licence for advice but, in the meantime, I’m open to suggestions!