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Sizzling Dishes At Quinlan’s Fish in Princes Street
Sizzling deep-water Atlantic prawns, in olive oil, chilli and garlic served with a mixed leaf salad and sourdough bread, were the star of the show when we visited the busy Quinlan’s Seafood Bar in Cork recently.
It was a Monday and I didn’t expect it to be so busy - but it was abuzz, people were being turned away. Just as well we had booked a table. We got a nice welcome and service was pretty good too throughout.
Fish direct from tide to table, they say, claiming to be “unique in Ireland as we source all our Fresh Fish and Shellfish from our own boats and fish factory at Renard Point, Caherciveen”. Fresh Hake, Cod, Haddock, Whiting and Plaice, from Dingle Bay are available throughout the year. The mussels come from Oysterhaven.
But back to those sweet and delicate prawns. CL had them as starter (12.00) while I enjoyed them as mains (19.00). The “soup” of oil, chilli and garlic was nicely judged so that the texture and flavour of the fish came through. The well dressed salad was excellent while the average sourdough was put to good use in mopping up! No Picpoul de Pinet or Muscadet on the white wine list but the listed Albarino would be a good match.
Quinlan’s always have a list of specials and it was a tempting one the other night with Black Sole and Lobster included. I went for one of the special starters, the Prawn and Smoked Salmon croquettes, served with salad and Asian Aioli (12.95). Quite a substantial dish and very tasty too!
It wouldn’t be a fish bar if you couldn’t get Fish and Chips. And here you have a choice of fish: whiting, plaice, haddock, cod, hake or fish goujons. And those fish and chips are served with a batter they “have developed to complement our super fresh fish”. For a healthier option you can have the fresh fish pan-fried in olive oil. And you can also choose salad instead of chips. In any event, those Fish and Chips seemed to be flying on the night as were those sizzling prawns.
Along with the specials, you have a fine choice of main dishes here including Dingle Bay Wild Squid and Portmagee Crab Claws, even a Portmagee Crab Bake. Also simpler dishes with Hake and Salmon. CL went for the Pan-fried fillet of Salmon served with Lyonnaise potatoes, asparagus, carrot purée and basil pesto (19.50). Quantity yes but quality too.
The Kerry family are well known too for their award winning smoked salmon and we had that as a lunch dish in their Killarney restaurant earlier in the year served as an Open Sandwich on brown bread and it came with a straightforward salad and lemon wedge. The amount of “smoking” was nicely judged and the flavour of the salmon itself is not diminished but rather enhanced by its engagement with Irish oak. So watch out for that too.
And what did I have at that lunch in Killarney? Yes, you’ve guessed it, those prawns again but this time served in a light tempura batter. A different dress then but still beautiful!
The summer was back as we headed towards Bastion in Kinsale on Wednesday last. Late in the season, but the town was still busy, tourists walking around and checking the menus. With the water sparkling and the colourful marina packed, it could have been the Med. What we ate in the Bastion could sit easily on Europe’s top tables. And that puts it in the top rank here.
We even have a window table (good light for the pics!) so the signs are good from the start. And it continues that way with the two breads, a hard to match sourdough and a matchless Brioche. Hard to decide then between the Treacle Butter and the Olive Oil with Balsamic. But no decision necessary - enough to share!
There is a mega wine-list here. Take the reds for example. You may start with a €27.00 bottle, a very nice Vina Albergada for example, and go right up to the famous Penfold’s Grange. The Grange will set you back nine hundred euro or €180.50 per glass. They use the Coravin here so you can indeed sample some of the more expensive wines by the glass.
They have Prosecco on tap and some very interesting Prosecco based cocktails. The Kir Royale (cassis and prosecco) is a superb example of its kind while I was absolutely delighted with my Pisco (elderflower, orange bitters and Prosecco).
By now, the first of our five courses, from the Early Bird Tasting Menu, had arrived. A local oyster, from Oysterhaven; served with apple yogurt, purée and jelly and pickled fennel, this bracing delight of the sea had the taste buds standing up.
The Celeriac Velouté was next, an unctuous sauce in its own container, and, on a little dish, pickled giroles, apple, celeriac mousse and hazelnut oil. Now those taste buds were on full alert.
And their reward was a gorgeous Smoked and Cured Organic Salmon dish. That salmon was superb but the accompaniments, especially the soft goats cheese and the salt-baked beetroot, were also outstanding and the candy walnuts got into this tasty act as well.
The main event was now at hand: Lamb rump, with peas, turnip and preserved lemon. The peas were good but the turnip was something else and there were some pickled rounds of it also. Needless to say, the lamb from the Kerry hills, in its two manifestations (roast and slow-cooked), was spot on.
Desserts, occasionally, don’t match the rest of the meal. Not the case here! Our White Chocolate Panna Cotta, with Pistachio Sponge, cherry sorbet and cherry granola, was a delightful finalé, served in an eye-catching fine china cup.
This superb restaurant, which has gone from strength to strength over the past three years under Helen (front of house) and Paul (Head Chef), supports local producers. In this menu alone, suppliers include Horizon Farm, Padraig O’Donovan fish, while the cheese, the beef and the lamb are all Irish.
It holds the only Michelin bib in Cork city and county and everything you eat here, from the bread to the sweet treat with your coffee, is made in-house. While Bastion faces the same challenges as most other restaurants and cafes in staff recruitment, their service is friendly and attentive (without ever being in your face).
As we walked earlier in the warming September sun towards town centre Bastion, we spotted, in the backwater under Man Friday, a quartet of herons in different trees, all on the alert. There were fish jumping, seemingly without a care in the world. On our return, there were no fish jumping. And the herons looked well satisfied. Like us, they had enjoyed a very good meal!
Kinsale’s Supper Club, in its new location at 2 Main Street, was buzzing when we arrived on a recent Wednesday. But no problem to the crew there who kept serving up delicious food with a smile.
Maybe we should talk about the drink first. Did you know that all the wines, including bubbles, are available by the glass? And there are some super wines on the list, ranging in price from six euro to over twenty per glass.
The Irish whiskey list is also striking. It’s a long one with well over twenty offerings from Teeling’s Small Batch to the Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve. And then they have cocktails galore, divided into Classics and House.
You might never make it past the bar. And that’s all part of the Supper Club, also a social club. Come in for a glass of wine, a cocktail, a beer or a whiskey and have a few nibbles with it, such as a few oysters (from nearby Oysterhaven of course!) to a Charcuterie Board.
The food menu is not as lengthy as the whiskey one but you do get a great choice, further enhanced by the fact that certain dishes (mussels, risotto, the charcuterie board) come in large and small sizes.
Coq au Vin
For my starter I was looking at the Crumbed Durrus Farmhouse Cheese with Roast Shallot & Cranberry Relish before going for their €8.00 Classic Chicken Caesar Salad (Crispy Cos Lettuce, Caesar Dressing, Garlic Croutons, Parmesan Shavings). Delighted with it, one of the best around. CL too was happy, having picked the Thai version of the Steamed Pot of Oysterhaven Mussels (9.00). The other style is Chardonnay, Garlic, Fennel & Cream.
Our wines were now being put to the test and each came up trumps. We had settled on the Guillemarine Picpoul de Pinet (8.10) from the Languedoc and the Rigal Malbec (8.10) from Cahors.
Time then for the mains and the high standard was maintained, the staff busy but going about the place with pace, precision and patience, always time to answer a query or check if everything was okay. And it was, all the way.
CL picked the Coq au Vin (18.00) and enjoyed the Kinsale version (as against the Dordogne version!), a superb Breast & Thigh braised in red wine with shallots and mushrooms, Baby Carrots, Truffle Mash. The mash, by the way, was outstanding. My sauce, a tomato and wild garlic seasonal one, was also outstanding in my Fish of the Day dish, a fresh as could be and generous piece of John Dory (26.50).
Dessert was offered. It comes in two series, the usual “solid” one and the less usual “liquid”. The latter included a Tiramisu Cocktail (Absolut Vanilla, Kahlua, Creme de Cacao, Butterscotch, Cream, Mascarpone), also a Lemon Meringue Pie (Absolut, Limoncello, Lemon Curd, Meringue).
We resisted and were tempted by the Apple Tarte Tatin but then spotted the Salted Caramel Crème Brûlée with Hazlenut Puff Pastry Swirl (7.00). We shared that beauty and were hardly a mouthful into it when we were thinking we should have ordered two! This is so good. They’ve put a fair bit of work into getting this right, we were told, and it is right, more than right, very highly recommended if you get the chance, as is indeed the Supper Club experience itself.
It was seafood all the way at the new Seafood Cafe in the Blue Haven last week. And why not? After all we were on the Wild Atlantic Way. Not that there much wild about it on one of the best days of the summer. Naturally enough, by the time we arrived after a noon cruise around the harbour, the sunny outside seats were taken and we were accommodated inside. No hardship there.
Both the starters came from nearby Oysterhaven. Jamie’s Oysterhaven Mussels, a big pot of them for €9.95, were served with a garlic, white wine, parsley and cream (lots of it) sauce and garlic crostini. Very tasty.
For €6.95, I got the oddly titled Quarter Dozen Oysterhaven Oysters, served on crushed ice, with a Guinness shot, lemon, and seaweed soda bread. The Oysters, all three of them, were top notch, a taste of the Atlantic for sure.
By the way, my server suggested Carlsberg and Heineken when I asked for craft beer but a few friendly words later and I was sipping a delicious local pale ale from Black’s Brewery. Indeed, they have a bunch of craft beers here and also that gorgeous local cider by Stonewell.
On then to the main courses. I thoroughly enjoyed my Char Grilled Swordfish Nicoise Style with Green beans, fondant potatoes, mixed olives, soft boiled egg, sun blushed tomatoes, pea shoots. The fish was perfectly cooked and the rest of the dish added more texture and flavours. (Cost €21.95).
CL was happy too with her Jamie's Claypot King Prawns and Gubbeen Chorizo, with chilli and garlic butter, shallots, parsley and served with garlic crostini. Another good flavoursome mix here for €12.95.
Two Affogatos later and we were back out in the sunshine.
The warm weather draws us to the seaside and Wednesday was no exception. Enjoyed a short walk along the waters leading to Crosshaven and that soon led to a lovely lunch at Cronin’s Pub in the village.
Didn’t expect so much choice here. Soups and Pate were available. Could have had a lamb burger or the vegetarian dish of the day. Lots of fish choices including oysters, squid, fish and chips, salmon, mussels (regular or large serving) as well as Fish Plates and Meat Platters.
Great to see local craft beers taking their place on the counter of the popular bar and no shortage of bottles in the fridge. With the day being so hot, I sipped from a bottle of that delicious Stonewell Dry Cider, made locally in Nohoval as I studied the menu.
Rope reared Oysterhaven mussels, large portion please, was the order. No sign of the rope but the mussels were plentiful, and certainly very tasty indeed. CL was very impressed with her Fresh organic Irish salmon, poached in white wine, served with garden leaves, homemade salads and brown soda bread. The salmon was gorgeous, really well cooked and the leaves and salads were also high class, all for twelve euro.
Tempted by the desserts but had to pass a menu that included Banoffee Pie, Knickerbocker Glory, and Apple Pie (Dutch style).
As you can see, and as you’d expect given the location, fish is a big part of the lunch menu and that theme continues into the evening, including the cleverly named Seagull Menu (Early Bird to you landlubbers!).
The full dinner menu, available Thu-Sat evenings, starts with their Mad fish soup Not your typical fish chowder! Pan seared scallops (GF) make na appearance here. And there are a couple of specialities including Mad Fish Dish, a tomato based Mediterranean fish stew filled with delicious fresh fish and everything that the boats have brought in from mussels to monkfish. Topped with a Galway Bay whole prawn and crispy potatoes. Then you have the Shellfish platter to share, locally sourced shellfish, depending on availability. Served with salad, home baked soda bread and chips.
Meat eaters are well catered for with tempting dishes including Spiced beef carpaccio Spring lamb ribs, and Sirloin steak. In addition, if fish or meat isn’t your thing, Homemade Ravioli (Please ask your server for current filling) and the Vegetarian dish of the day are available.
All in all, quite a choice. And you’ll be well taken care of. Service at this week’s lunch wasn't the least bit fussy, with time for a crack and a chat, and still very efficient. Details
Monday – Friday : 12.00 – 14.45Saturday : 12.00 – 15.30. Sunday : 13.00 – 16.00 View Lunch Menu
Thursday, Friday & Saturday evenings : Open from 18.00, last orders 21.00. Bookings advised. Call now on 021 4831829 View Mad Fish Dinner Menu
Thirty degrees plus in Ireland! My Mama never told me there'd be days like this. Maybe she did but I didn't hear her as she plastered on the oil, you know, the one that ensured you burned a nice even brown! Big boy now, so had my hat on as I took my seat at the outdoor table in the Courtyard Cafe at Oysterhaven's Walton Court yesterday. Moments earlier, Christine Girault, who runs the cafe and also the Garden Room, the weekend restaurant, had taken our order.
Soon, we were tucking in. The colours of the food matched the mid-day
sunshine and Christine herself was in sparkling form, even throwing in a cúpla focal as we chatted. CL thoroughly enjoyed her Smoked Salmon while my Hummus,
with a wee bowl of tapenade added, matched it for quality. You can see the
current lunch menu below.
is available here but I enjoyed a bottle of traditional French lemonade while
CL supped her sparkling Elderflower Cordial. Lots of drinks here, including Dungarvan
Brewing Company’s beers and a locally roasted coffee.
menu is augmented for the weekend evening meals (Tapas and Casual Dining) in
the larger Garden Room. You'll have catch of the day and do watch out for the artisan Aldudes Valley ham,
Chorizo and Urepel Brebis Cheese, (also from the Pyrénées) and, from closer to
home, the tapas menu may well include Apple Wood Smoked Prawns from the local
Oysterhaven Bay Smokehouse.