Showing posts with label Oysters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oysters. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Oscars for Oysters. Market Menu a Winner

Oscars for Oysters
Market Menu a Winner
If I had some Oscar statuettes handy last Wednesday evening, I’d have been handing them out to the crew at Oysters. Best restaurant! Best chef! Best of everything! No doubt I'd have got a few arguments from city rivals but their Market Menu, served every Wednesday, is brilliant and, with four beautifully cooked courses for twenty five euro, outstanding value.

Head Chef Alex Petit is a regular at the English Market and his well trained eye picks out the best available for this weekly treat. You won't have a choice here. But I learned a long time ago, in a small back street French restaurant where the menu had “selon jour” attached, that a no-choice list can be surprisingly brilliant. Besides, you waste no time going through the menu: the job has been done for you.

And that is the case here. As I sipped a Kir and tucked into the lovely breads, served with Lemon Butter and also scallop and herb mousse, we read the short list for last Wednesday's Market Menu and were immediately impressed. Even more so when a terrific amuse bouche - Smoked salmon and poached pear - arrived.

First course were Oysterhaven Rock Oysters, fresh and tangy and the best I’ve had in Ireland with a while.

Piano music was now drifting across the room and we had moved on to the wine, a pretty good glass of Illuminati Riparosso Montepulciano (€8.00), in readiness for the main course: 19 hour braised Irish beef cheek, squash fondant, wild mushroom, smoked beurre blanc. And served with a side dish of tasty potatoes. This was a brilliant treat, melt in the mouth stuff and some great flavours on the palate. It was worth the twenty five euro on its own!

Next up was Bellingham Blue Cheese, served with poached pear and raspberry dressing. This is an award winning cheese from County Louth, a fine full flavoured Irish farmhouse cheese, made from cow’s milk. Very good indeed.
We had a superb lingering finish with the Rosscarbery strawberries and Hibiscus syrup. This looked very tempting and delivered on that promise. The strawberries were cut into tiny cubes and that made us linger and drool all the more. Terrific finish to an excellent meal. Very Highly Recommended.

Oysters, under proprietor Donald Morrissey, is a great supporter of local producers and suppliers listed on the main menu include O’Connell Seafood, Seafood Cuisine (Skibbereen), David Busby (Fruits), Keeling Fruit and Vegetables, Waterfall Farm, Ballyhoura  Mushrooms, O'Mahony Butchers, On the Pig’s Back, Max e’ Mattia Italicatessen, Michelle Wild Seaweed, Arbutus Bakery and Mr Darragh Brady The Clarion.


5 Lapps Quay,
(In the Clarion Hotel)

(021) 427 3777

Be sure and check their facebook site and note the free bottle of wine offer for the month!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tapas, Musica, Vino in the City

Tapas, Musica, Vino in the City
Last Sunday, we joined the Campo Viejo Tapas Trail in Cork and soon we saw why this now annual event has enjoyed such remarkable success, the events sold out (and with long waiting lists) in both Cork and Dublin. First you have the wine, the Campo Viejo 2008 Reserva, also specially commissioned art in each venue, then you have the excellent food at the restaurants and invariably good company and a guide, like our Paul, who pulls it all together with good grace and good humour.

Sunday’s “gang” (there is also a Wednesday trail) joined up at the remarkable Arthur Maynes Wine Bar in the city and the ice was broken with a welcome glass of cava by Campo Viejo. Paul introduced himself and soon each of us had a glass of the Reserva in hand.

Then came the tapas, a selection of three: bruschettas and dips, a lovely chorizo stew and a very popular dish of rustic patatas. This set the pattern for our first three visits; the fourth would be for dessert. There are four groups on the trail, each starting and finishing at a different restaurant. Had we finished at Arthur Maynes, we would have been been treated to Lemon Posset and Fresh Strawberries.
Great platter at Oysters
There were a few on- street stops as well, not for food but for a little local history from our guide. Perhaps his most interesting story was that of Cork born Dr James Miranda Barry. She was born Margaret Ann Bulkley, at the end of the 18th century, before going on to have a remarkable career as a male doctor with the British army. An amazing story. Check the Wikipedia version here.

A big welcome awaited us at Oysters and a classy platter of Savoury Tapas. Loved those pickled fennel and carrot but perhaps the highlights were the Sea Trout (with dill mayonnaise), the spicy Crab, and the American Style Meatloaf. Another group would enjoy their dessert menu: Cafe Gourmand and three miniatures of Chocolate Fondant, Champagne Sorbet and "Flambe" Pineapple.

Paul then illustrated the rise and rise of street art, reminding us that the original artists were fined for their efforts and now they are being paid. How times change. Soon we were in Electric and their three tapas were Tre Arancini Formaggi, Panko Crab Cakes and Moroccan Lamb Meatballs.

Arthur Maynes (left) and Electric
Paul had some vocal competition in Cornmarket Street but got his story told and then there was a musical welcome (by Treble Clef) at the Cornstore where Mags O’Connor greeted us and showed us to our seats and our deserts of Chocolate Negusse, Lemon Roulade and Vanilla & White Chocolate Cheesecake. Had we started here, we would have enjoyed Vietnamese Beef Brochette, Wild Mushroom Risotto Beignet, Smoked Mackerel Feuillett.

The wine throughout was the Campo Viejo Reserva, mainly Tempranillo but with some Graciano and Mazuelo in the blend. Smooth and fruity and with a long finish, and also very versatile as we discovered at the various venues on Sunday, it is widely available in all the major supermarkets, O’Brien’s (where it is currently on offer) and off licences nationwide. RRP is €14.31.

The art on this year’s trail is by renowned illustrator Steve Simpson. His stunning piece, evocative of the sun and the colours of Spain, is in four quadrants and each restaurant had one quadrant and the titles were Musica, Hola, Fiesta and Tapas. See the full art story and read more about the Tapas trails here.

Sweet things at the Cornstore

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Star Meal. Boat Tour of The Arcachon Bassin. Visit to Oyster Museum.

Star Meal. Boat Tour of The Arcachon Bassin. Visit to Oyster Museum.

Today, Friday June 6th 2014, was mostly about the Arcachon Bassin and its oysters. In the morning, we spent a few hours out on the water on an excursion while in the afternoon we visited an excellent little Oyster Museum in the the oyster capital of the region Gujan-Mestras and , just now, at the town centre restaurant Au Mille Saveurs, I had the most amazing oyster starter.

After a lovely amuse bouche, that starter arrived. It was described as Hot Oysters with apple and mango chutney, sabayon of dry cider.  (Huîtres chaudes du Bassin sur chutney de pomme et mangue, sabayon au cidre brut). CL's Ballotine of Foie Gras was also amazing, served with plum confit. (Ballotine de foie gras de canard, pruneaux confits à l'Amaretto et Porto).

Lamb and Beef could describe our respective main courses but would fall so far sort. The Lamb came (mainly) with Courgettes stuffed with Creme Fraiche. (Carré d'Agneau à la sarriette, citron confit et piquillos, courgettes farcies d'un fromage frais).

While the oh so tender beef, flambeed with Cognac, came with mushrooms and a most gorgeous jus. I have kept the French versions along side, if you want to check the flu detail. (Filet de boeuf flambé au Cognac, cèpes aux pignons de pin, millefauille du Sud et jus court parfumé à la truffe)

Then the cheese plate arrived on a trolley and we had our pick of Camembert, chèvre (can’t remember which), Reblochon, Pont L’Eveque, and more.

We agreed on the dessert. Again this was something different, generally not seen at home. It was Rice with a Pineapple and Rum Sorbet.
Catch of the Day.
On the side of oysterman's cabin.

Wine. Oh, I nearly forgot the wine. This was a superb Pessac Leognan 2008 Martillac, Chateau St Eugene.

Our morning excursion on one of the well equipped boats of the UBA (Union des Batteliers Arcachonnais) was billed as a Tour de l’Ile aux oiseaux. While we didn't get that close to the island, there were highlights, such as the two well known and well photographed huts on stilts lying off the island and some of towns, including Canon and L’Herbe, and even a brief stop at Cap Ferret. There was also, for much of time, a view of the huge Dune du Pyla that dominates the landscape almost like Mont Ventoux (on a different scale of course) does in Provence.

While the island is known for the many birds that breed there, it is also, ironically, popular with hunters who lie in wait for their prey in hides. It is also an oyster farming centre and there were many beds to be seen, or at least their markers.
Sea Bream crushes the oyster shell with his jaws and enjoys!

Overall, it was an excellent and enjoyable tour. There were about twenty people on board and the skipper gave a running commentary, all in French (I caught very very little) and it cost sixteen euro per adult and lasted just over an hour and a half.
On tour in the Bassin

If we didn't know that much about oysters when we arrived, we were certainly well educated at the excellent museum in Gujan-Mestras. We certainly got a great welcome and some very good pointers and an English language screening of the informative video was arranged for us.
The huts on stilts

This small town has some seven oysters ports and produces over half the oysters farmed in the Bassin. The museum is in Larros harbour and well worth seeking out as it takes you through the breeding from start to finish and you also get an understanding of the hard work that the fishermen and their families put into the process. The illustrations here are simple yet quite comprehensive, just enough information and well delivered.

After, that we took a walk among the cabanas, some of which were opening and selling the oysters, We were tempted but with dinner booked, we rebuffed the temptation! Another day, for sure!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Mid-week Magic by M. Petit. Oyster's English Market Menu.

Mid-week Magic by M. Petit

Oyster's English Market Menu
Every Tuesday Alex Petit, Head Chef at Oysters, takes a walk through the English Market on the lookout for ingredients that he’ll then transform into a magicial meal for their Mid Week Market Menu, four courses every Wednesday evening for just twenty five euro. The Frenchman turns out amazing food, indeed amazing value. Well worth a try and Very Highly Recommended.

The Menu has been running for a few weeks now and, last Wednesday (19th March) we, along with a group of suppliers and media, were in for the official launch. We were soon checking the menu, a set menu.

Let us start  at the start: Tuna - Avocado, Radish and local leaves. This was cool, in more ways than one! It was delicious, the Tuna tartare and the accompaniments giving us a terrific mix of flavours and textures.

The main course was another delight: Carrigaline Lamb - young Turnips, Beetroot, Potato and Buttermilk. That description is a little understated. And not just because there were some tempting rustic potatoes supplied. The lamb was done two ways as you can see from the picture and it was the slow cooked portions that had people talking. Superb produce, superb cooking and superb presentation and that is what the Mid Week Market Menu is all about.

In these parts, we are used to the cheese course being a cool one. But not on this occasion. The Mature Ardsallagh Cheese Souffle was a warm delicacy, all the flavour coming up to meet you and then spreading a gorgeous sensation across the palate. It was served with Apricot, Walnut and Onion Chutney.

Desserts can often be the weak link in many menus but not here. Pineapple - Jasmine, Pomegranate. That was the simple description. Simple yes but superbly so, a refreshing light experience, a delight for the eye and the palate and easily accommodated by the stomach. If all four course meals were like this! If all cost twenty five euro!

Oysters is an independently operated restaurant in the Clarion Hotel (Cork)
Oysters Restaurant
Lapps Quay
Co. Cork.
Phone: 021 427 3777
Oysters opens its doors to everyone every Tuesday to Saturday evening between 17:30 and 22:00.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Food and Drink Spotting

Food and Drink Spotting
Walnut and Date cake via Lorge Chocolatier Kenmare.
See his delicious chocolate and nougat and more at
this weekend's Kenmare Food Carnival.
Farmer's Market for Camphire International Horse Trials & Festival

Local food and craft producers from across the region are set to feature at the Camphire International Horse Trials which will take place in west Waterford from July 26 to 28.

For those with a sweet tooth Maurice Butler from the Dungarvan based Butler’s traditional Ice cream will be on hand to ensure visitors enjoy some of Ireland’s finest handmade Ice-cream, Baldwin’s Farmhouse Ice-cream from Knockanore and Candy Rock Lane from Cork will also be on hand with sweet treats.

The Summerhouse Café from Lismore will be onsite with their popular local produce along with Helen Murphy’s Catering whilst Volcano Wood Fired Pizza will serve up delicious artisan pizza from their mobile wood fired pizza oven.

According to Festival Organiser, Billy Garvey, “Visitors to Camphire will be able to sample some wonderful local food produce whilst enjoying all the equestrian action of the Trials.  Furthermore, the wonderful views of the Blackwater valley provide a truly unique setting to enjoy what will be a great weekend in our outdoor Village.”

Free Wine and Poetry!
Don’t miss the Free wine at Felix Dennis's poetry readings this week in Dublin and Cork - there's gallons of it, according to Stuart of From Vineyards Direct. Dennis is “one of the most popular, critically acclaimed poets of recent times attracting thousands of dedicated fans across the globe”. Check him out here
 €20 - Tickets / €10 Concessions (Includes pretty much unlimited FVD Wine.....a good time guaranteed). 
Dublin - Thursday 11th July
The Button Factory
 Cork - Saturday 13th July
The Firkin Crane  

Galway’s Masquerade Extravaganza

A carnival of masked revellers, led by a lively band, will wind through Galway’s medieval streets on Saturday 28th September during the highly anticipated Gala ‘Mardi Gras’ style masquerade event, sponsored by Tindal Wine Merchants.

Combining five bands, three venues and one great party, the evening is tipped to be the 2013 festival highlight! Guests are invited to don their most colourful clothes and captivating masquerade masks as they venture on the movable feast. In each of the three venues, guests will indulge in a different course of delicious seafood while being entertained by live performances ’til the wee hours.

The Galway Oyster Festival has been hailed by the Sunday Times as “one of the 12 greatest shows on earth” and ranks in the AA Travel Guide among Europe‘s 7 Best Festivals as well as most recently winning a place in the Independent UK 10 Best Food Festivals.

As this vibrant city pulls out all the stops for The Gathering, 2013 is the year to taste the celebrated hospitality and vibrant atmosphere that is gloriously Galway. More info from

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fish in the City: Oysters

Fish in the City: Oysters
If you like your fish, then Oysters is the place to go in Cork City. Here, you can take your pick of the fish from the nearby Atlantic, fresh as fresh can be and superbly cooked in their excellent city centre restaurant in the Clarion Hotel.

Called in there this week to try out the €35.00 set menu. There is also an A La Carte menu and that is the next target. One thing I like about Oysters is the cloakroom. Your coats are put away and you can relax and read the menu at the spacious table and in your comfortable chair or seat, the place beautifully lit.

They had a little Amuse Bouche for us: Tomato Gazpacho, a lively little shot of it, sufficient to wake up your taste buds. By now, we had settled on our choices and there are quite a few choices even on the €35.00 euro menu. We had also picked our wine, a carafe of Zimmer Riesling 2010 (€19.00) and we were also sampling some terrific breads and butters, one a combination of Fennell Seed and Thyme, the other a magnificent mix of Blue Cheese, White Fish and Sundried Tomatoes.

Soon, we were tucking into our starter. CL’s was probably the more enticing looking of the two: Duck (Croquette, Parfait, Beetroot, Pear, Candied Walnuts, Truffled Dressing, and Brioche). Superb plateful, some great flavours there especially the Candied Walnuts.

Mine mightn’t have looked that well but it sure tasted great: Swordfish - Ceviche, Mango, Avocado, Fennel, Lime Confit, Pistachio, Frisee Lettuce, Citrus Oil. A super thinly sliced cut and my fishy night was up and running. Surprisingly, they had no oysters available on the night! It can happen, I suppose. I remember a few years back, sitting at a sunny table on the waterfront in Baltimore and they had no mussels!

Anyway, that was soon forgotten and we were onto the soup course. Mine was the Oysters Seafood Chowder- Pancetta, Samphire, Potatoes and Light Bisque. Chunky bits and pieces of fish with all the other bits combining to give a really lovely combination. And much the same could be said about CL’s choice: Turnip and Parsnip Velouté- Chestnut, Cep Dust.

A nicely judged gap followed before the mains arrived. We had both picked the same one: Hake- Cep Agnolotti, Smoked Sausage, Oyster Mushroom, Samphire, Pine Nuts. Once again a superb combination of flavours and textures and it certainly looked well also. A side dish of potatoes was also appreciated.

Desserts selection

And now again an appropriate pause before the desserts arrived, along with a couple of glasses of a dessert wine from Jurancon: Chateau Jolys 2009. Mine was Chocolate - Tart, Salted Caramel Mousse, White Chocolate & Banana Parfait, Sherry. Excellent, no shortage of chocolate but not too heavy either. CL settled for Chef’s Selection of Small Desserts, quite a winning selection indeed, especially that Champagne Sorbet.

So that was about it. Soon we had our coats on and heading out into the cool night. The restaurant, thanks to two big groups arriving in, was reasonably busy for a midweek stuck between bank holidays but bookings were flying in for the coming weekend. Popular place by the sound of it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Oysters. The Clarion's New Dining Gem!

Oysters. New Dining Gem in the Clarion!

 Oysters  is a welcome addition to the Cork dining scene and not just because it specialises in fish. It has taken the place of Augustine’s in the Clarion Hotel. Service is friendly and efficient and most importantly the food, fish and otherwise, is top notch.

Made my “debut” there the other day and must I was well pleased with the €35.00 menu (see bottom) which is served from 5.30pm to 7.00pm. Started off with a Tomato and Herbs shot, an Amuse Bouche that brought the appetite to attention.

My second course was also something of a tease. The sea-bass tartare was lively and tasty and left me looking forward to more.  While CL was delighted with her Crab, we agreed that the Sea-bass was a better choice.

Then it was on to the soups. Well, they came in gorgeous soup bowls but were much more than soup. CL had the Chowder and thought it brilliant. And my Velouté struck the spot with the first sip. Both five star dishes!


Now down to the serious stuff, the main course. We both went for the Fish of the Day, in this case cod, a beautiful well cooked wedge, quite substantial too. The Boulangere Potatoes was a tasty stack, lighter and healthier than Dauphinoise and just as impressive, while the Baby Gem stew and the delicious broad beans really demonstrated what a chef can do with a sauce without resorting to cream and butter. The whole dish was a thoughtful blend and a delight to dispatch, not that we rushed it one little bit.
No rush either with the dessert, just a decent pause. CL picked the Strawberries and, oh boy,  was she happy. Presentation was delightful and that fact that the berries were served at room temperature enhanced the experience.

I choose the Cheeseboard, despite the rather stiff fiver supplement. It was good, very good, a well judged mix: Hibernian (from Fermoy), Wicklow Brie and Cashel Blue and some really nice bits and pieces on the board as well.