Showing posts with label Richy's Bar and Bistro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Richy's Bar and Bistro. Show all posts

Monday, June 18, 2018

Clonakilty Street Carnival. The more we pull together, the further we will go.

Clonakilty Street Carnival. The more we pull together, the further we will go.
Volunteers

I spotted a demi-sphere in a Clonakilty back-garden last Saturday. It was made of old bicycle wheels. Inside there were a few hens and outside it supported some thriving peas. It struck me later that this kind of inventiveness, this ability to think outside the box and to cherish those who do so, is part of the town’s success. 
Chris O'Sullivan introduces Mayor Gretta O'Donovan

The motto at Richy’s Restaurant, now celebrating 16 years in the town - Think Global, Eat Local - is another example, another spur to raise the bar. Richy is full of enthusiasm. He doesn’t see barriers, he says. Richy doesn’t hum and haw. “If you want me to cook a meal on top of Carrigfadda Hill, I’ll do it.” 
Work to be done!

And they do support local here as was underlined the following morning when we sat down to breakfast at Glendine, a lovely B&B run by Mick (Clonmel) and Mari (Youghal) Hanly, both members of the brass band, and involved in the carnival and the town. Local all the way on the plate here.
Getting there

Clon, as it is popularly known, has a string of awards to its credit, including Tidy Town and Entente Florale. It is designated an Irish Heritage town. It is the first official Fair Trade Town in Ireland and, more recently, was named European Town of the Year in 2017, that after a major refurbishment of the main street, the very street in which they hosted, for the third time, an amazing street carnival, the highlight of which was the feeding of about 2,000 people last Saturday. Population of the town is about 4,500.

We got down there early-ish on Saturday morning. Three massive rows of tables were laid out. But they were bare. Not for long though. Soon the organised volunteers appeared. The tables were covered and then pots of wild flowers began to appear. At the entrance to the street, the providers, local restaurants and hotels, were setting up in the covered area.

In Clon, there is something for everyone: “Social Together” was the theme for the 2018 festival and that of course meant kids, lots of them. And they had their own long table. And much more besides. 

All day long, amidst the colourful ribbons, bubbles and bunting, there was live music, a kids’ zone with supervised bouncy castles, pottery classes, penalty-shootouts, face-painting, magicians, bubbles and popcorn machines, as well as giant games, ping pong, and crazy golf, and an enclosed area for the real smallies. Street performers, with games and costumes, helped the kids enjoy themselves.

Gradually the momentum began to build as the weather held good and the locals and visitors began to arrive in force to enjoy the free entertainment and to make the  theme of “Social Together” a lively fun-filled reality. The more we pull together, the further we will go.

And there was music, lots of it, off all kinds, from jazz to pop groups to their own magnificent Clonakilty Brass Band (founded in 1900). Some played in the Astna Square area near the kids zone while others took to the big stage at the other end of the street. And there were others trying their luck, even a teenage quartet belting out Beatle numbers on a side street.

While music in Clonakilty, like life in the town, has many strands, the town credits Noel Redding’s impact on his adopted home as “monumental”. In 1972, Noel, the original bass played with Jimmy Hendrix, moved to Clon and stayed there for the next 27 years. His legacy continues in the venues he performed at, the festivals he helped to inspire and the abundance of musical talent he fostered and attracted to the locality.

Of course, the main focus in the afternoon would be back at those tables. As three o’clock approached, we joined the queue, a long one but very good humoured. Soon, we were making choices, so many as you can see on the photo of the menu, everything from Quality Hotel’s Falafel and trimmings to Lettercollum’s Paella, from Celtic Ross’s Bacon and Cabbage croquette (very good reports on that one) to Hart’s Cafe’s veggie curry. I enjoyed the Asian style Seafood Noodle salad by Scannell’s while CL’s choice was the Nasi Goren by Richy’s. 

But there was something for everyone. Oh yes and there was dessert also, big pots of stunning fruit yogurt by Irish Yogurts. And a drink? Of course. Plenty of water, wine and a special beer for the day (a good one too!) by the local brewery. All for fifteen euro! The kids meals, by the way, cost seven. 
The queue!
Looking for a seat!

And once we had our meal in hand, the next question was where to sit? But no problem. As we left the serving area, we were met by one of the fantastic volunteers. She had a tray, put our food on it and guided us, chatting and laughing, to seats that we, left to our devices, might have found difficult to spot. So we ate and the music played and the sun shone! Great stuff.

So well done to the committee and the volunteers, people who also had their businesses and shops to run on the day. I met some of them including Kevin O’Regan, Mick Hanley, Michelle Mitton, Trish Kerr, Tim Coffey, Andrew Loane, Chris O’Sullivan, Robert O’Keeffe and Richy Virahsawmy.
from Scannell's

If Chris was everywhere music was happening, Richy was everywhere there was food! And he was a happy man as the rush wound down. “Would you find this anywhere else in Ireland?”, he asked. So big congrats to Richy and all his colleagues behind the scenes for another fantastic day in Clonakilty.

Sponsors too play a major role here and the list is as long as Mick Hanley’s arms (both of them!). This year the Street Carnival committee were delighted to welcome Irish Yogurts as a platinum sponsor. Irish Yogurts is a family run business and was founded in Clonakilty in 1994 by Diarmuid O’Sullivan.

Kevin O’Regan, Clonakilty Carnival Committee: “This is a community effort driven by commitment, enthusiasm and great energy.” Craic, ceol, bia, comharsanna, cuairteoirí = an meitheal is mó ar domhan. See you next year in Clon!




Sunday, April 8, 2018

Richy’s Restaurant. Sixteen Years In Clon - Getting Better All The Time.


Richy’s Restaurant. 
Sixteen Years In Clon - Getting Better All The Time.
Warm chicken salad

Richy’s Restaurant is celebrating sixteen years in Clonakilty and is better than ever. Richy is an outstanding chef and the whole enterprise, the original restaurant and the newer R Cafe, is amazing. Here you can eat well all day long, every day of the week, and virtually everything on the menu is based on local produce. 

Here too you can learn about food. Richy is passionate about local produce, about sustainability, a campaigner against obesity and his food and classes reflect these concerns. A four evening course on Healthy Eating (with chef Matt Williamson) starts on April 24th details here
Renowned West Cork smoker Sally Barnes
is one of Richy's suppliers

But back to our lunch, the purpose of our recent visit. We had a good look at the menu, one page of which is given over to a list of local producers, some of them just a few yards away from the Wolfe Tone premises but virtually all of them from the general West Cork area, including familiar names such as Toonsbridge, Shannonvale, Clonakilty Black Pudding, Sally Barnes Smokery, Gubbeen and Milleens.

Quite a choice on the menu, including lots of pizzas from their own oven. Salads too, fishcakes, lasagna, a beef burger and a vegetarian burger and more. And then check the board for the specials. Here we saw a Monkfish and Bean Stew, Union Hall salmon with mash and veg, Seafood chilli pasta with the option of adding scallops, and a Pork Burger with apple purée and chips. 

And one (I had this on a previous visit) that you must consider is the Mauritian Beef Curry! A range of dishes and a range of prices too and family friendly as well with a special kids menu.
Frittata

My pick was the Warm Salad of Grilled Chicken with Gubbeen bacon and avocado, cherry tomatoes and baby leaves (11.95). Full of textures and flavours and those leaves were so fresh and well-dressed, a delightful lunch for a coolish spring day but one that could be just as satisfying in summer and winter.

CL meanwhile was making pleasurable progress with her Cauliflower, garlic, potato and red onion frittata, also with local leaves (8.95 small, 11.50 large). “Faultless,” she reported. “Salad was lovely too, the cauliflower a delicious ingredient, and the few halved olives gave a tarty bite as well.” So there you are, two happy customers and we went on to share a pot of tea after that.

After settling the bill in this bright and airy room we asked to say hello to the man himself in the adjoining white-walled restaurant. As our chat progressed, he told us how things have changed in the evening menu here, with a page now devoted to tapas (small plates, ranging in  price from 4.95 to 15.00). 
Local supplier

You may still have plenty of meat (48 hour Jacob’s Ladder, Slaney Valley Rack of Lamb, Carrigfadda Farm Shoulder of Pork, and Dexter Burger). Seafood too features in the list of mains, including a Roast fillet of Monkfish, a West Cork Fish Bake, Seared Beara Scallops, and a mega seafood plate with Lobster, prawn, crab and scallops. Indeed, reading the menu details, you realise you are in a really top notch restaurant.

So back to the Tapas, divided into meat and fish ones and also an equally long Veggie section. How about Panko Soft Shell Crabs with spiced tomato relish? Anyone for Clonakilty Black Pudding samosas with vegetable achard. Maybe Fillet of Beef medallions with rosemary potatoes? On the Veggie List, you’ll want those Spiced Lentils with spinach and Macroom halloumi. Would you prefer the Tipperary goats cheese balls, with cranberry relish and leaves? Reckon you've got the picture by now. Better to call down though and check out the real thing for yourself.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Richy Virahsawmy. Clon’s Renaissance Man

Richy Virahsawmy
Clon’s Renaissance Man
Richy Virahsawmy is something of a renaissance man. He is a restaurant owner, a cook, a teacher, a consultant, an active contributor to the local community in Clonakilty, a TV chef, an author, and a farmer. He has cooked for you and me, for celebrities (Michael Flatley), in big houses (Castle Hyde, Castlefreke), for large crowds (World Web Summit and at the National Ploughing Championship), for Prime Ministers and their guests (in Downing Street and in his native Mauritius).

I won’t go into all the details in this post but you may read all about his background here. The Irish leg of his career began when he joined the staff of Inchydoney Lodge and his dream of opening his own restaurant became reality in 2002 when Richy’s was established in Clonakilty.

And, ten years later, worried that a restaurant that only opened a few days week might not be enough on its own, he reinforced his position in the town with the opening of the adjoining cafe, turning the operation into a multi-functional one. Now he had two types of dining room in the one premises.

Superb chowder, with Murphy's & Walnut Brown Bread
 Now too he could really get to grips with expanding his teaching. Autumn/Winter Courses include fish cookery, Canapes and Small Bites, Slow Cookin, Sushi Making, Cooking for Friends are among those available. These are all interactive classes: you cook and, at the end of the evening, sit down with your fellow students and eat!


And Richy loves teaching children to cook and every week he has classes for a small group (eight to twelve) of kids with autism. Indeed, in an attempt to meet the threat of obesity, he plans to increase his work with schoolchildren and has earmarked an old house on his farm for that purpose, and more. Watch this space.

He, his Finnish wife Johanna, and their three children, live on the farm in nearby Rosscarbery in a cleverly converted barn! The farm is worked and they have established a market garden there with herbs, and greens, tomatoes and so on, grown for the restaurant. Richy finds it hard to understand why so many Irish farmers stopped doing this for themselves. Another bonus is that most of the restaurant waste is composted here.


Back at the restaurant, it is all go. But not with the staff. He has a good team, twenty four strong, his chefs “stay longer”. The place, the flow of work, is tidy, highly organized, everything in its place.

“Ninety per cent is made in-house. You can't go much higher than that.” And the menus rarely stand still, always a few on the specials boards, He had taken an “office day”, on the day of our visit, to work on the Spring-Summer menus for 2016. A few years back, he introduced a pizza menu and that is going strongly.

When Richy started up in 2002, he knew he wouldn't have to go far for good produce. It is all around here in Clonakilty, in the fields of the local farms, and in the nearby seas. And he makes great use of it as we found out, again, last week.
There were at least five specials on the board and I started with one of them: the West Cork Seafood Chowder, packed with little chunks of fish and a few mussels in their shells, a terrific chowder and a great starter on a cool enough day. Meanwhile, CL was warming up with the Buttersquash and Sweetcorn Soup.

Again, I found my mains on the Specials list: Tuna Nicoise Salad, boiled egg, anchovies and green beans. A superb combination of flavours (the meaty tuna and the salty anchovies), colours and textures (crunchy beans, soft eggs). And the salad, from the farm, was simply outstanding.

That well dressed salad also made an appearance in CL’s dish: Chicken, avocado and pomegranate salad, Gubbeen bacon, balsamic and extra virgin olive oil. Again, this was one to savour, take your time with, a pleasure to eat.

We would have loved a dessert and were tempted but settled for a cup of coffee, a chat with the man himself and a tour of the kitchen.
The R Cafe (left) & the restaurant

Monday, November 7, 2011

RICHY'S ROCKS ON A SATURDAY NIGHT


RICHY’S BISTRO in Clonakilty

It’s bright. It’s lively. It is Richy’s Bar and Bistro on a Saturday night, great food and a great buzz.
Always something of a buzz here in this cafe/bistro. The cafe is a favourite daytime venue for locals and visitors alike. It is part of town life with its children’s cooking classes and coffee mornings for charity.
The food is local too and top notch and very much in demand. On our visit, quite a few of the specials had already been snapped up but we did have a fine meal with courteous service and no shortage of friendliness or efficiency.
My starter was a gem: Clonakilty Black Pudding Samosas, yoghurt, cumin dipping sauce, cucumber and chilli salad (7.95). Hadn’t come across this variation before and it got me off to a terrific start.
The mains was hardly as inventive but was just as well cooked and just as satisfying: Roast Staunton’s pork rack, Spiced colcannon mash, caramelized apple, roast root veg, sage and apples jus (€ 22.50).
The dessert was a well made classic: Sticky toffee pudding with Mauritian vanilla ice-cream, butterscotch sauce (€ 6.95).

All these came from the A La Carte but they also do other menus, a new tapas Menu on Friday nights, a €57.00 Menu for Two including a bottle of wine, 2 and 3 course set menus, a Children’s Menu and more. Check them and the drinks list out here.

Talking of drinks, I spotted that one of reserve wines had been reduced from 35 to 28 euro so I’d said I’d have some of that. I’m glad I did as the French Domaine la Colombette Pinot Noir 2010 was an excellent wine and really went well with the pork.
So good food, good drink and lively atmosphere. Highly enjoyable. Highly recommended.