Showing posts with label Star Anise. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Star Anise. Show all posts

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Star Anise. Parfait. Toujours.

Star Anise
Parfait. Toujours.
Our last lunch before Christmas was perfect. It was in Star Anise which was very busy on Christmas Eve. But still time for the warmest of welcomes, the most engaging service and a meal that was impeccable and then too time taken to say goodbye and exchange Christmas greetings. Parfait. Toujours.

And if you’d like to experience the lunchtime magic of this sunny place (sunny even on a rainy day), then you’re in luck as they are open for lunch this week on Wednesday & Thursday. Bookings on 0214551635. And if you can't make lunch, their regular dinner service begins this very evening (Monday 28th).
It was a set menu (€32.00 for three courses with tea or coffee). But there was no shortage of choice, Five or six starters, mains and desserts. And, as always, some lovely wines to choose from, a glass of Merlot (Languedoc) for me, a glass of Sauvignon blanc (Loire) for CL.

Took us a while to settle on the starters from the six in the line-up. And it was the fish that won. I picked the Chowder that arrived with a crown of mussels and a terrific warming flavoursome combination of haddock, salmon and prawns, not to mention potato, in the bowl. CL was delighted too with her Crab Crumble. Crab dishes can often be fairly bland but the Star Anise version was that bit different and full of flavour.
And we continued with the marine theme through the main courses. Aside from the tempting duck Confit (terrific version here) and more, they had not one but two fish courses. Her Cod, with green beans and sweet potato wedges, and my Monkfish with potato croquettes, were both well cooked and beautifully presented, each a delight to dispatch. No shortage of veg either with much the same mix of crunchy carrot, diced parsnip and Romanesco on each plate.

There was even a special on the dessert list and that was brilliant: a Passionfruit Posset with some orange segments and an orange tuille. I went for the Pear “Belle Hélène” with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice-cream, another winner. So after all that joyous food and coffee we enjoyed the Joyeux Noel bises and headed out to the sunny street with a spin home near at hand. Happy day.
Star Anise
4 Bridge Street
021 4551635

Friday, February 20, 2015

Star Anise Shines. Rainy Night In Bridge Street.

Star Anise Shines.

Rainy Night In Bridge Street.
A combination of cool drizzle and the sackcloth links of Ash Wednesday weren't enough to keep the punters away from Star Anise this week. We led the charge to the Bridge Street venue, its comfortable seating, its attractive decor and the warm welcome from Virginie Sarrazin. Soon we were seated, sipping bubbles and looking at the menu with the odd glance at the drizzle falling through the street-lighting onto the cars and pedestrians.

Virginie, originally from Lyon (France), founded the restaurant in 2002. She had been surrounded by good food from a very early age, with a Chef for a father and a Wine expert as a mother, and she grew up in a region known as the Gastronomic Capital of France.

Head Chef Carolyn Buckley, originally from Millstreet,  qualified from CIT in 1998.  She first started learning her trade in the kitchens of the famous Arbutus Lodge in Montenotte, and Lovetts in Douglas, before taking off to France in 1999. Then, she spent ten years in Parisian kitchens before joining Star Anise in 2012.

The aim here is to produce “simple honest food and work on offering maximum taste and quality of local ingredients”. It styles itself as a “Mediterranean” restaurant but the accent is French. I reckon they hit the target last Wednesday, as they do consistently.

The menu is not the longest but each and every dish begs attention. And there is always  a special or two, such as the Crab Cake that CL started with. Not in the least complicated, just well cooked and presented and the chilli mayo adding a little extra heat to the engaging ensemble.

My starter, Roast  Quail, was another highlight, served with Polenta chip and quail egg, and leaves. So that was two empty plates heading back to the kitchen, starting a pattern that would continue through the three courses.

You may have wine here by the glass, carafe, and more by the bottle, from quite an impressive list. We settled for a glass of Barbera each and that went very well indeed with our splendid main courses, CL’s Venison and My Duck. Local craft beers are also available.

Hard to resist desserts when there is a French influence at work and we didn't! I know Mardi Gras was the day before and we hadn’t indulged that day so we made up for it. Mine was a delightful White Chocolate and Orange cheesecake while CL, who loves her apple desserts, was in apple heaven with a three way expression of the humble fruit, the highlight being the Tart Tatin.

So there you are, six empty plates and two happy customers! Very Highly Recommended.

Star Anise
4 Bridge Street
(021) 455 1635

Friday, February 21, 2014

Five Star Night in Bridge Street

 Five Star Night in Bridge Street
Star Anise*****
Clockwise from top left: Duck, Terrine, Turbot, Apple trio.
Six plates presented. Six sent back without a scrap on them. A vote of confidence or what? It is always the same high standard at Star Anise, one of the very best restaurants in Cork. Don't know how Virginie and her team come up with winners all the time. Long may the magic last.

The temptations, for Bridge Street passers-by, start with the lovingly decorated window and the display on the sill. The inside too is full of charm, including art works for sale. And, a warm welcome, of course.

Soon you are at your table, with menus, water and bread and any aperitif you fancy. The A La Carte has about seven starters to consider. On the night, CL choose the Terrine of Chicken and Jack McCarthy’s Black Pudding with Piccalilli and Crostini, a perfect combination of flavours and textures and it didn't look too bad either. Cool on a cold night, but a warmly received winner.
My pick was the nicely presented Irish Venison Sausage and, with the classic roasted beetroots and mustard jus, it was a flavoursome delight, intense and delicious. Virginie herself was keeping the tables going on quite a busy Tuesday night but she still had time for a chat now and then and told us the sausages came from O’Flynn’s in Marlboro Street and you know they make them good there!

Now for the main event. I went for the first on a list of seven: Barbary Duck Breast with carrot and cardamom puree, duck risotto croquettes with roast potato and jus. Cooked to perfection, this was another five star dish and those tasty croquettes were a bonus.
Our other mains was the evening’s fish special: Pan Fried Turbot with a saffron cream sauce, crisped potatoes, glazed carrots, parsnips, broccoli and roast potato. Bring out the superlatives again, sublime, divine…. And those potatoes caught the eye and better still kept the taste buds very happy as well. Terrific dish.

Time for dessert now and the eye catcher here was the Trio of Apples (Tarte Tatin, Apple posset and Apple Sorbet). A delight on the palate also. Stylish as well and a great alternative to the ubiquitous apple tart. A lovely sorbet also featured on my special: the Strawberry cheesecake served with a mix of juicy black and red currants.  Happy out!
Star Anise
Phone(021) 455 1635

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week

Jurancon, Ballet d'Octobre, Domaine de Cauhape, France 2009

Been celebrating this week and finished off a gorgeous midweek meal in Star Anise with a glass of this lovely wine from the Basque country.

My first experience of Jurancon was the very good dry white from the area and that is what I thought I was getting when, in a rush to stock a Dordogne gite, I put my hand into a carton marked Jurancon on the floor of a Lidl in Sarlat and pulled out a bottle.

It was only when unpacking at the gite that I noticed the deeper colour. But no problem. It is a lovely medium sweet (moelluex) wine and quite versatile. It may be used as an aperitif, with some patés and foie gras and with certain cheeses and fruits desserts. And why not have a glass after the meal as we did in Star Anise. Certainly, worth a look and an ideal first step into the world of dessert wines. Very Highly Recommended.

Available at Star Anise and via James Nicholson Wines

Monday, August 12, 2013

Five Stars for Star Anise

Five Stars for Star Anise
A group of five of us descended on busy Star Anise the other evening. And each and every one left very happy indeed after a tremendous meal as Bridge Street’s finest once again delivered on the double. A lovely welcome from Virginie and soon we were sitting and studying the menu and taking in the details of the specials. 
Crispy Ham Hock Croquettes with Tarragon and Pear chutney and Balsamic Leaves were a popular starter but I went for the Chargrilled Mediterranean Vegetables Salad with Baby Mozzarella, Olives, pine nuts and pesto dressing (top). The salad was an excellent blend and completely delicious. Another on the table that caught my fancy was the superb Timbale of Duck Confit and Chicken Liver parfait (above) but had to settle for a taste!
Some terrific choices available for the main courses, including a substantial Frito Miso (squid, Tiger prawns and fish pieces coated in rice flour and served with red chilli and lemon aioli and green salad).

One of the ladies went for the Grilled Irish Sirloin Steak (below) served with creamy mash, grilled Portobello mushroom and plum tomato, and garlic butter and boy was she was pleased. CL and I picked the Fish of the Day, a superbly cooked piece of monkfish served with, among other delightful things, crab croquettes and a courgette stack (above).
Thanks to the usual top class service, efficiency combined with a chat, the evening was going pleasantly by, helped in no small measure (quite large measures actually) of wine. Some terrific choices here on a very well constructed list but I’ve always had a soft spot for the Austrian Grüner Veltliner and the Hopler 2012 didn’t disappoint and went down a treat with all parties.

Time now for dessert and again no shortage of choice. But when Christine announced that one of the specials was a Classic French Clafoutis with Irish Cherries, there was no hesitation on the part of the two seniors. Thumbs up beforehand and thumbs up afterwards as well, with a special mention for the strawberry sorbet on the plate

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sami at Star Anise

Sami at Star Anise

Sami Ghosn wasn't taking much credit for the splendid set of wines he shared with a packed Star Anise at last night’s Wine Dinner, part of the 10th anniversary celebrations of the excellent Bridge Street restaurant.

Sami, Chairman and General Manager of the Massaya Company, based in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, said it was easy to make wine there. The local conditions, no rain from April to September, but still moisture in the soil from the snow melt in the nearby mountains, the same mountains that hold back the rain clouds, plus the blue sky luminosity (a major factor in promoting growth) and the soil itself, lead to grapes of outstanding quality. He maintained that ninety per cent of the work is done for the winemaker.

Still Massaya does have some work to do and does it well in this surprisingly small country, some 200 kilometres by 50. They can wait for the proper time to pick, citing this as a major difference between his wine and “supermarket wines” which are produced to a schedule. But, in Massaya, everything, including the picking for example, is done “at the optimum time”, the schedule being laid down by nature.

Our first bottle was the Massaya Blanc, a blend of Clairette, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and the indigenous Obeidi. This was fresh, elegant and well balanced, almost velvety on the palate.

Then it was reds all the way. First came the Classic Red, a blend of Cinsault (60%), Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. “This is very approachable”, he said. “The door opener to the Bekaa. Cinsault is the Southern Rhone grape and we have French partners working with us. It has good fruit and spice and is very versatile.” Just to underline that latter point, we enjoyed it with the monkfish course.

The Silver Red was another Rhone type, a bit more serious, maybe not as versatile. “But more classic. Goes well with lamb, which we have to-night”.

We finished with the Gold Reserve Red, a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah. This is the top one. He advised dressing up for this serious bottle. “It has spent two years maturing in new French oak casks and will keep maturing nicely. It may need decanting and is to be enjoyed with red meat, chocolate and maybe a big cigar!”

It has 14.5% abv. “You are not supposed to sense the alcohol. ..if you is unbalanced.” No danger of that with this full-bodied gem. Tasting notes on all the wines are here.

The excellent wines proved a challenge to Star Anise but one they welcomed and met by providing a brilliant matching meal. Each course was top notch, almost impossible to pick one over the other but, if pressed, I’d go for the Monkfish and the exquisite Madeleines. But I really wouldn’t want to miss any of them. Well done to Virginie and her team and a big congrats to Conor and Virginie on their ten years in business. Long may they continue!


Gazpacho with Celery Cress and Goat’s Cheese crostini


Scallop tartare with Shaved Fennel, Chilli and Orange


Monkfish, wrapped in Prosciutto, with Romesco Sauce, Courgette, and Toasted Almonds


Canon of Lamb with Tabbouleh, Sweet Potato Puree & Pomegranate Yoghurt


Madeleines with lemon Curd and Strawberry Salsa


Tea & Coffee

Friday, April 27, 2012

Star Anise - where the sun shines

Click on image to enlarge

Star Anise  

If you want an assured continental touch when eating out in Cork, then head for Star Anise in Bridge Street, celebrating ten years in the business this year.

Dropped in there during a showery Friday lunchtime and spent a couple of bright hours with Virginie and company. Started off with a Tomato soup, though not Tomato and Basil as you might expect but Tomato and Fennell. Enjoyed a really big bowl for just €5.50, big on value but big too in quality.

We differed on the main course, though we both choose from the specials. CL went for Lamb Kofta while I choose the pan-fried Sea Bass. Two excellent dishes, the meat for 12.50, the fish 15.00.

The meatballs were served with fried potato, a rocket salad, aubergine puree and a cool mix of yoghurt, cucumber and mint. A superbly cooked tasty combination.

And so was the Bass, which was accompanied by fried potato, peas (petit pois), pearl onions, lardons and a Salsa Verde. Lots of little flavours, some contrasting, yet all combining so well to give a very satisfactory balance indeed.

The dessert was also that little bit different: Caramelized banana and Pecan Cheesecake with butterscotch sauce (6.25). It was just as well we decided to share this as we were pretty full after the two courses! Finished off with a couple of Americanos at 2.20 each.

And, almost forget, we sipped a glass of wine each. I had the excellent 2010 Chenin Blanc by A. A. Badenhorst (South Africa) while CL, a fan of the Spanish grape, thoroughly enjoyed her 2009 Tempranillo by Candidato (Castilla).

Speaking of wine, part of the anniversary celebrations will consist of a wine dinner with legendary Lebanese wine-maker Sami Ghosn (Massaya) on May 16th. More details here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Star Anise

 Happy Birthday and Joyeux anniversaire Star Anise

Time to say Happy Birthday or Joyeux anniversaire to Star Anise, one of the better restaurants in the city. Next month, Virginie and Conor celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Bridge Street venue and will do so in some style. And so can you.

Conor has just told me they plan to hold a wine dinner as part of the celebrations: “Can't believe it has been ten years in May. We are delighted to have Sami Ghosn all the way from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon coming to talk about his Winery Massaya Wines on Wednesday the 16th of next month.”

“I have been chasing him for over 2 years to come and do an event with me so I must say I'm delighted. He's a wonderful speaker and really great craic, so I reckon it should be a great night.”

The format for the night will be a 5 course dinner with matching wines and a sparkling wine reception for €65.

The wines we will be showing on the night are all from Massaya :

Massaya Silver Selection White

Massaya Classic Rouge

Massaya Silver Selection Red

Massaya Gold Reserve (pictured above)

Thursday, November 3, 2011


At Star Anise last night with Judy and Tim Finn (right).

“We were pioneers,“ declared Judy Finn from the Nelson winery Neudorf. “There was no wine industry in New Zealand at the time we started; we didn't know what would work.”

Judy and husband Tim were in Star Anise last night to introduce us to their stunning wines from the South Island . They started there in 1978 and, after 34 years, they still learn from each vintage and still enjoy the chase. You may read more about the vineyard and its people here

One of their top aims is to make wine of some substance. They believe that virtually anyone can make a big fruity wine, like making pop music. Drink it and forget it. But the Finns are always working not just for flavour but to give some more interesting layers that will draw you back for more.

They call it “the second glass appeal” and they certainly got that right in the first wine we tasted. Neudorf Sauvignon Blanc 2010 is a terrific example of their work, closer to the Loire than the New World, powerful and smooth, fruity, herby and memorable.

It was also a terrific match with our starter: Crispy Ham Hock with Beetroot Relish and Mustard Cress, itself maintaining the high standard already set by the Amuse Bouche of Cream of Cep and Truffle Oil.

And the Star Anise kitchen again hit the high spots with the next dish: Pan-Fried Halibut with Cockles and Samphire, Lemon & Herb Beurre Blanc. Neudorf Chardonnay 2009 was an excellent match.

The vineyard’s Chardonnay has been much praised over the past twenty years and indeed cool climate Chardonnays, such as this, have been credited with the grape’s revival after the excesses that turned many people off.

Complete and harmonious are the descriptors you’ll find on the site. Judy said that Chardonnay wines “reflect the winemaker”. Tim was rather modest about accepting the accolade but it is a lovely refreshing style and “you feel like another one”. That second glass appeal again!

Judy loves her Pinot Noir and we had the Neudorf Moutere Pinot Noir 2008, a beautiful subtle and elegant wine. While Judy was delighted that it had just received 92 points from the Wine Advocate, that didn't change her pretty low and earthily expressed opinion of wine guru Robert Parker.

Again, Star Anise had the match for the Pinot: Braised Chuck of Beef with Thyme, Parsley Puree, Horseradish Mash and Glazed Baby Carrots. The beef was so so tender and the whole plate was a perfect combination of flavours. Gorgeous.

It was a horrible day in Cork with the rain coming down but we did have a lovely evening thanks to Star Anise and Neudorf, a great combination. Great too to chat with John and Julie from Dillon’s in Timoleague and with Richie (and his bay moustache) from Blair’s Inn. And a big thanks too to Viginie and her team in the restaurant and to Conor and James Nicholson Wines (who distribute the Neudorf range in Ireland).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Neudorf Wine Tasting Dinner at Star Anise

Wine Dinner at Star Anise November 2

Neudorf Wine Tasting Dinner, Star Anise Restaurant, Bridge Street Cork.

Join Tim & Judy Finn from the Acclaimed Neudorf Winery in Nelson New Zealand at Star Anise restaurant, Cork. Price €65. To Book call Star Anise on 00353 (0) 21 455 1635
Neudorf may well be now an "acclaimed" winery but its wasn't always like that. Here, Judy Finn takes us back to the beginning:
1978 and the New Zealand fine wine industry was almost non existent. We (Tim and I) were fresh from the “back to the land” movement of the late sixties. We wanted to make beautiful wine. We figured Tim’s masters in Animal Behaviour along with my unimpressive journalism career would be beneficial. Wrong. However we did have youth (temporary), self belief (unwarranted) and friends. At one stage we had four mortgages and three jobs each. The old house at Neudorf had electricity in two rooms, an outside long drop, an inefficient wood stove and no hot water. I look back with no regrets.
Because there was so little known about basic viticulture in New Zealand we planted many varieties to see which ones were best suited to our soils. Merlot came and went as did Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc and the dreaded Muller Thurgau. We were a bit hasty in rejecting Gewürztraminer and may look at that again. But we did it. Very few misgivings. Making wine is constantly scary and stimulating. We survive on hard work, high hopes and a dollop of common-sense and cunning.

Dinner and Wine Evening
With Tim & Judy Finn from Neudorf Estate
Wednesday, 2 November 2011

James Nicholson Sparkling Wine

Amuse Bouche of Cream of Cep and Truffle Oil

Crispy Ham Hock with Beetroot Relish and Mustard Cress

Neudorf Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Pan-Fried Halibut with Cockles and Samphire,
Lemon & Herb Beurre Blanc 

Neudorf Chardonnay 2009

Braised Chuck of Beef with Thyme, Parsley Puree,
Horseradish Mash and Glazed Baby Carrots

Neudorf Moutere Pinot Noir 2008

Star Anise Dessert Plate
Tea & Coffee

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Sunshine last Friday. And sunshine on a plate at Star Anise. Just love the Mediterranean twist here that brightens up the lunchtime menu.

As usual, I went for the special, almost always do. My mains was Chicken, wrapped in pancetta and served with beautiful juicy tomatoes (red and yellow), tasty spuds and a crispy salad, all for €12.00. An empty plate went back.

The other mains, also a special, was Grilled Sea Bass on a bed of lentils, with similar veg and salad (€14.95). Not quite as colourful as mine but just as tasty. I had a taste of course and it reminded me of a similar plate in Portugal.

Had started with a lovely bowlful (a big one) of Mushroom and thyme soup (€5.50). Didn't feel like a full dessert but Star Anise had the answer: a mini-dessert.  They’ve got a selection that costs €2.20 each, including Crème Brûlée and Panacotta.

Taking a break from the shopping or otherwise don't have time for a full leisurely lunch? Then this convenient Bridge Street venue can help out. For a tenner, yes just a tenner, you may have Soup, Sandwich and a Coffee. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


THE COMPETITION HAS JUST CLOSED. Congrats to the winner Denis Byrne


Star Anise  is a lovely French/Mediterranean restaurant in Bridge Street, just over Patrick’s Bridge.

You will be spoiled as I was recently as you can read here. That was for lunch. I’ve also been there for dinner and loved it.

Friday, April 29, 2011



Just have to tell you about Star Anise in Bridge Street. Had the most fantastic lunch there yesterday. It is a very convenient venue, so close to Patrick Street. Inside, the colour scheme is just gorgeous, the room bright. The food too is gorgeous and the people you’ll 
meet are friendly and efficient.

Had dinner there a good few months back and so we were expecting a high standard. We weren't disappointed and herself reckoned it was her “best lunch ever”.

My starter was certainly the best Tomato and Basil Soup I’ve ever had. This was a darker colour than your normal effort, topped with Parmesan shavings and also a swirl of Olive Oil; it leaves all other such soups in the weakling category. 

The other starter was Marinated Olives with salad and hummus; another top notch opener, the most beautiful herby/garlic marinade and, if memory serves me right, for just over 3 euro.

I always have an eye for the specials as does the other half who went for the Lamb Kebab with Couscous and a Cucumber/Yoghurt dip. Could start wading through the Thesaurus for superlatives but let me just say that it was brilliant.

I picked the fish of the day which was fresh Haddock, served with rustic sliced potatoes and haricots verts in the most delightful sauce of Fennel, Tomato and Saffron. Could go with brilliant again or maybe just wow! Presentation all round was excellent.

Ended with a selection of desserts (they do a Dessert Plate for Two there) and enjoyed a sample of Vanilla Crème Brûlée, Vanilla Panna Cotta and a New York Style Baked Cheesecake.  Finished off with some excellent coffee having had a delicious Chenin Blanc to accompany the earlier courses.

What a day: sunshine outside and a taste of the Mediterranean inside.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Star Anise in Cork


A late decision to go out early on Friday evening meant we headed downtown without a booking. Passed a few restaurants in McCurtain Street and Bridge Street to do a bit of other business in Patrick Street. By then had decided to go back to Bridge Street and saw that Star Anise had Duck Confit with Sarlat potatoes so, despite having the dish a half dozen times during recent holiday in Sarlat, we decided to try there first.
Luckily they were able to fit us it. The small place is bright and clean and the welcome is absolutely warm. We were given loads of information about the menu and a detailed account of the specials. By the time, we had heard all that, the confit was forgotten about.
This is what we choose:
A -Polenta and Sage crusted Brie, with walnut pesto, garlic croutons and red pepper jam.
B -Tandoori marinated prawns with lime crème fraîche and nutty couscous, with lime and coriander salsa.
A -Blackened Cajun salmon with lime crème fraîche, baby potatoes and avocado salad
B - Japanese style breaded butterfly chicken, with rice and spinach and roasted tomatoes.
I have to say, delighted to say, that all four dishes were top class. My prawns, on a skewer, were splendid bites, embellished by the perfect accompaniments. The Brie, a decent rectangle, not the huge slab that you come across sometimes, was also spot on, enhanced by the crust and other pieces.
I thoroughly enjoyed my salmon and also had a good taste of the delightful chicken with its delicate Asian crust. I was asked which I preferred and, honestly, couldn’t give a straight answer. One was as delicious as the other.
We had started with some lovely breads and all through the meal the friendly service continued and the two ladies waved us as we left at the end. We had to forego dessert and wine as we were heading out to a “session” later in the evening but left very happy with the meal and looking forward to calling back again to Star Anise, which bills itself as a Mediterranean restaurant but draws its inspirations from an even wider net. More importantly, the chef turns the inspiration into delightful platefuls.
Early Bird: Cost 23.90 each for two courses.

4 Bridge Street
021 4551635

Check out my review of Star Anise - I am cork - on Qype