Showing posts with label dining. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dining. Show all posts

Monday, November 26, 2012

Introducing Chef Stuart Bowes at Barnabrow

Introducing Chef Stuart Bowes at Barnabrow

 Experienced Scottish chef Stuart Bowes is the new Head Chef at Barnabrow House  in East Cork and owner Geraldine Kidd introduced him to the media last week. Later Stuart introduced himself with a smashing dinner.

But first we met in the smaller kitchen of the big house, Geraldine’s own kitchen! She told us Stuart spent six years training at the Michelin starred Chapter One in the UK before embarking on a trip to Australia where he broadened his experience before coming to Cork to work in the Orchids restaurant in Hayfield Manor. He joined Barnabrow last June.

While doing a little demo in the kitchen, Stuart told us that “preparation is vital...helps get consistency..whether your group is 20 or 120.”

 While demoing his Rabbit dish that we would so enjoy later on, he spoke of a new experience at the wedding meals in Barnabrow, the shared platter, which we would also see later. “We give the couple the choice and so far two have taken the shared platter. The reaction has been great and we hope to do more with it.” Many see the platter as a good ice-breaker.

Having talked the talk, Stuart walked the walk, starting us off with Cork-a-leekie! That Scottish classic was given an East Cork twist by the proud Scot with Dan Aherne’s organic chicken and leeks from Barnabrow’s own walled garden.

Some of my tasty bits from the Shared Platter

Conversation was now flowing and that flow was further enhanced as the shared platter was passed around. The wines too were flowing and they also were top notch. I could go on and on with the superlatives but I think I’ll just let you have a look at rest of the menu now. Top produce and a top chef meant we were in foodie heaven for the very enjoyable candlelit evening meal.

Food to Share:
Platters of Barnabrow’s home smoked Mallard duck, Gulf stream oak smoked salmon, Rosscarbery’s free range pork, pistachio and cranberry terrine, jamon Serrano.
Barnabrow’s home grown and home pickled artichokes, roasted and marinated beetroot and garden leaves, Olive Hallinan’s Cloyne Goat Cheese accompanied by hazelnut dressing, fig puree, aged balsamic and Barnabrow basil pesto.
Homemade rosemary and onion focaccia, hot crusty bread rolls.
Wine: Domaine Emilian Gillet 2009 from Burgundy.

 Bitter Sweet Sorbet:
Gin and pink grapefruit sorbet tanged with their very own organic apple jelly, married with fresh cucumber.

Main Course:
Loin of East Cork wild rabbit, poached and roasted, with a pithivier of rabbit leg, Cloyne quince, Barnabrow walled garden spinach and 8 Degrees Ale jus.
Wine: Paddy Borthwick Pinot Noir 2010.

Coast meets culture. Stuart’s parfait of Irish Atlantic sea salt and caramel with Green Saffron spiced marshmallows and Valrhona chocolate sabayon.
Wine: Château Joly Cuvee Jean.

One magnificent meal. Perhaps the humble rabbit provided the highlight but then I wouldn’t want to miss either the Shared Platter or the Dessert. Great stuff, thanks to Geraldine, to Stuart and their lovely staff.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Randall’s Court. A Star in Killarney.

Randall’s Court. A Star in Killarney.
National Park
Randall’s Court was my base for a recent two night stay in Killarney. Must say I was really impressed with this four star venue. Not just with its location but with the room, the staff, and the service all the way from check-in to check-out. There is some parking up by the hotel but there is an ample under-ground car park just off the road
Heavy duty curtain
 The room was top notch and so too were the well heated public spaces, no shortage of comfortable chairs and lounges. The dining room, split in two, is marvellous, really eye catching. And all over the hotel, there are paintings (even a mural in one part of the dining-room) and objects of old furniture that also catch the eye.
Hotel Terrace and view

Smoked salmon breakfast
Killarney is well situated to do the Ring of Kerry and is not too far away (75 minutes) from the fantastic Dingle peninsula. The hotel, just a few minutes’ walk from the town centre, is quite close to the National Park and its many lovely walks.
 Didn’t get to eat dinner here but did enjoy a terrific meal in the Dromhall, the sister hotel next door. Breakfast though gave a good indication that quality and service are high here. You had everything needed for an excellent breakfast, hot or cold, even a mixture, and no shortage of friendly smiling people to help you ease in to the day.
Just in case!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kayne’s Bistro at the Dromhall Hotel

Kayne’s Bistro at the Dromhall Hotel

 Called into Kayne’s Bistro at the Dromhall Hotel recently and enjoyed an excellent evening meal there. Was staying at the adjacent Randle’s Court and strolled over on a Saturday for a 7.00pm reservation and got a warm welcome. Soon we were comfortably seated and enjoying the rapport with a very friendly and helpful staff.

Started off with their €7.95 Signature Salad ((described as Fresh herb salad, sun blushed tomatoes, pine nuts (missing), crisp croutons (missing), roasted peppers)) with a Balsamic dressing and Char-grilled chicken added. Very enjoyable indeed, also quite substantial, and didn’t really notice the absence of the pine nuts and crisp croutons.
 Then onto to the Plat Principal, the Grilled Irish Prime Beef fillet (€26.95) served with champ potato, garlic butter, and crisp onion rings, and sautéed mushrooms. Not to mention a side dish of gorgeous seasonal vegetables. The steak was excellent, done to perfection and to order.
 Dessert? Well why not? Hung for a sheep as... Each cost €6.95 and the one I picked was the Lemon Tart (a lemon flavoured chilled crème anglaise on a sweet pastry base). Just the sweet job, delicious.

Had been sipping a bottle of a pleasant South African Merlot (Libertas 2010 €24.50) all the way through and finished off with a pot of green tea before heading downstairs to the bar and the music. Enjoyable evening all round in a highly recommended venue.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Fabulous Fleming’s

Fabulous Fleming’s
Foie Gras
Enjoyed the most perfect dinner in Fleming’s  last week. Game, as you know, is now in season and featured on the menu. But there was so much more besides.

Eileen and husband Michael, now an Award Winning Chef Patron with vast experience, took over the Georgian building in Tivoli in 1989 and gradually set about restoring it while at the same time building up a restaurant. Eileen took us to our table in one of the two comfortable rooms that combine to make a lovely dining space.

From quite a range of tempting starters, CL choose the Foie Gras, served hot with Timoleague Black pudding, glazed apple and Pineau de Charente Sauce. Ate a lot of Foie Gras in the Dordogne a few years back but nothing to match this!

I too enjoyed a very special starter: Roast stuffed saddle of rabbit with a plum compote and a light grain mustard sauce. Rabbit, tender and tasty, never tasted like this before.

We were up and running to a very high standard. Shouldn’t have been surprised. Michael: “I’m not media –focused. I’m kitchen –focused.” But he is highly regarded by his fellow chefs and you may read a bit about him here.

While waiting for the mains, we were treated to a couple of surprises. One was a Cappuccino of Wild Mushroom and the other an eye catching Champagne Sorbet with passion fruit and a sweet balsamic.


Now we were ready for the Plat de résistance, not that there was any resistance. I went for the Roast Loin of Venison, poached pear, venison sausage and a port sauce. Just perfect. The Loin was medium as requested and spot on, so tender and falvoursome, while the sausage provided a contrasting texture, all enhanced by the pear and gorgeous sauce, not to mention a glass of the smoothest Tempranillo from Navarre.

CL too enjoyed contrasting textures with her Roast Duck Breast and Duck Leg Confit, compote of fresh orange and a Grand Marnier jus. What a brilliant combination, every element cooked to perfection. Another prefect dish!



 After all that, CL was thinking she’d have a light dessert, perhaps the first one that featured fresh fruit. Quelle surprise! We just weren’t prepared for the stunning plate that came to the table as the Sabyonne des Fruits was presented. It is an Italian dessert of Fresh Fruits with a glazed Sabyonne, sweet Sauterne wine and Grand Marnier. Gorgeous even if the egg yolk made the mix a little more filling than anticipated!

Mine, if anything, was somewhat lighter than expected but I wasn’t complaining as I spooned in my Warm Rich Soft Centered Chocolate Fondant with Crème Anglaise and Vanilla Ice Cream, all the while sipping a little Champagne as did my partner in crime!

 And so a fantastic evening in a fantastic place came to a lovely end. With Eileen heading the team, service was friendly and so well timed all through. It is a lovely space with comfortable chairs and heavy linen on the tables and with, the fantastic cooking of Michael and his team, you won’t be disappointed. If you want the best in town, this is the place to go!

* See earlier post on Christmas specials at Flemings here.

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.

Friday, July 13, 2012

NASH 19: Cracking lunch!

NASH 19: Cracking lunch!

Hadn’t been in for a while and it was great to see the Nash 19 crew in top form when I called in for a midweek lunch. It just gets better and better in this central Prince’s Street venue. The smiling service is as bright and efficient as ever and, hard to believe, the food is probably even better. What a lunch: from a menu of great variety, I enjoyed three courses of the highest standard.

Take the hake I had for my main course. That fish must have been dripping from the Atlantic when he arrived in Nash 19 that morning. Such freshness I have rarely encountered.

Then add in the magic from chef Pamela Kelly. The Castletownbere hake was presented on a Saffron and Prawn Risotto with a sprinkling of Kelly magic, including grapes, pineapple and balsamic, endowing the gorgeous flesh with a light and scrumptious touch. Influences of the Med, maybe Asia. Wasn’t really giving that much thought. Too busy eating.

I have enjoyed some tremendous fish dishes in France and Spain over a recent four week holiday, dishes where the fish was king and the other bits and pieces were used to enhance that status. It gives me the greatest of pleasure to say that the Nash 19 hake was as good as any of the Basque creations.

Dessert was another highlight. Here some of the freshest raspberries from Con Trass’s Apple Farm had been included in a gorgeous Mille Feuille, layers of sweetness and the juice of the berries. Might not be a great summer but this was a sunny delight.

The meal had started off well with the Fish Chowder, another class offering, and the wine was a French Sauvignon Blanc by Les Jamelles, crisp and tart and fine with the fish. A couple of coffees at the finale and two happy diners joined many more leaving the busy Nash 19, meeting many more that were coming in.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Top restaurants announced at
The Dubliner 100 Best Restaurants 2012 in association with Santa Rita

Santa Rita People’s Choice Award goes to
Pichet while Derry Clarke scoops the
Santa Rita Chef’s Chef of the Year Award

Pichet has been announced as the winner of the Santa Rita People’s Choice Award at the launch of The Dubliner 100 Best Restaurants 2012 in association with Santa Rita, the must-have annual guide to the best eating out destinations in Dublin.

The Santa Rita People’s Choice Award ten most popular restaurants in Dublin, as voted by the public, are as follows:

  1. Pichet
  2. The Exchequer
  3. Junior’s
  4. Chapter One
  5. Eatery 120
  6. Dillinger’s
  7. Jo Burger
  8. Dax
  9. Saba
  10. The Trocadero

Each year, chefs and restaurateurs nominate the Dublin chef they most admire and this year’s Santa Rita Chef’s Chef Award goes to Derry Clarke of L’Ecrivain. Honourable mentions included:

·         Ross Lewis, Chapter One
·         Kevin Thornton, Thornton's
·         Padraic Hayden, Camden Kitchen
·         Dylan McGrath, Rustic Stone

The Dubliner 100 Best restaurants, in association with Santa Rita, which is now in its 10th year of publication, features a host of dining options across the capital, including fine dining, casual eateries, family friendly venues, local favourites and hidden gems.

Copies of the 2012 guide to the 100 Best Restaurants are on
sale in bookshops across the country.

100BestCover (2)

Sallyanne Cooney, General Manager of Gleeson’s incorporating Gilbey’s, which distributes Santa Rita wine in Ireland, says:

Santa Rita, the leading Chilean wine in Ireland, is delighted to be associated once again with The Dubliner 100 Best Restaurants guide for the tenth year running. The ‘Santa Rita People’s Choice Award’ continues to be the most sought after accolade for Dublin restaurants, as it is voted for by the public – the toughest critics of all! We’d like to offer our heartfelt congratulations to Pichet, Derry Clarke and indeed the 100 Best Restaurants in Dublin for 2012

Monday, November 7, 2011


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.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


The Cork Restaurant Marketing Group has announced a Gourmet Weekend for next weekend, something of an upgrade on the previous promotion Dine in Cork Week.
But the hard–working group are not stopping at that and last Thursday, in the Rising Tide, they announced the launch of Dine Out In Cork, an annual magazine to highlight the more than twenty restaurants that have banded together in the project..
It is designed to promote Cork as not only the Food Capital of Ireland but also as a food destination from abroad and will have a wide circulation, including hotels and tourist offices.
Spokesperson Sylvia Meulmeester told me there are plans for a Cork International Gourmet Week next year, following the success of the Cork Gourmet Trail. The proposed week-long event would incorporate the promotion of Cork city as a dining experience.
The magazine is being finalised at present and is due to be published on December 1st. Before that Sylvia will be working on the imminent Gourmet Weekend. Details and recipes (and competitions for tickets) will be published here
The Rising Tide’s Sandra Murphy (right) proved a gracious host. The apprentice star was in tip top form and so too was the kitchen that supplied us with tray after tray of really classy canapés.
Sandra will be hosting a Hired or Fired Dinner Party (7.00pm) this coming Monday (7th) and that should be fun, and good value too: three courses, a glass of wine and the Apprentice on the telly ( from 9.00pm), and a hostess with the inside track, all for €20.00.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Kerli Estnurm , Mike Ryan and Kate O'Donovan at THE CORNSTORE CORK

Cornstore Restaurant - 
awards finalist twice in one week

It’s been an exciting week for the Cornstore Restaurant Group with the Cornstore Cork restaurant selected as a finalist for one of the Irish hospitality industry’s highest honours; the prestigious Hotel & Catering Review ‘Gold Medal Award for Casual Dining’.

On top of that, The Frawley Group (which comprises the Cornstore Restaurants in Cork and Limerick, the Cornstore At Home gourmet deli, and Aubars Bar & Club) was selected as one of three finalists in the inaugural Limerick Region Business Awards 2011 for ‘Best Large Indigenous Company’.

Eight of the best of Ireland’s relaxed dining sector were selected as finalists for the Gold Medal Award for Casual Dining at the 23rd Annual Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Awards on Monday, October 24th, 2011 in Dublin.

Run by Executive Chef Mike Ryan, the Cornstore opened in Cork in 2007 and has gained wide acclaim since its launch, not least from the Gold Medal Awards jury this year, who recognised the restaurant’s commitment to promoting the best of seasonal, local Munster produce to diners.

The Limerick Region Business Awards were designed to give a platform to businesses to showcase their accomplishments, celebrating success and highlighting business achievements, innovation and excellence in the region, and were held on Friday October 21st in Limerick.

Commenting on the recognition these nominations bring to the Group, proprietor Padraic Frawley said; “We are delighted to have been acknowledged by both the hospitality sector and the business sector in this last week. It is a testament to our policy of supporting local business in sourcing quality local suppliers. Being nominated for these awards brings a recognition which validates our hard work and determination, and also recognises our hard working staff. As well, it demonstrates our ability to do business in even the toughest of times.”

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Tease your taste buds 
& challenge your senses with a 
Dark Dining Feast in the Club House Hotel Kilkenny

Ian Brennan, General Manager of Kilkenny's Club House Hotel, gives us the lowdown on dining in the dark.

Sensory Dining was first introduced to Kilkenny last year by The Club House Hotel, on Patrick Street in the city, in conjunction with the 5th annual Savour Kilkenny Food Festival. The event was such a success and feedback so good that the management and chefs at the Club House have set about designing another tantalising menu for this year’s event, which will take place on Saturday 29th October 2011 kicking off with a drinks reception from 7.30pm.

Throughout the evening guests will be blind folded and will have no prior knowledge of the beverages or dishes on the menu. This is a dining experience of a lifetime designed to heighten the diner’s awareness of the meals flavours, texture and smells by removing your sight- the sense we rely on most.
A journey of the senses will begin with a drinks reception outside of the dining room where the host for the evening will talk through the evening’s events, explaining the restaurant’s layout, set up and guidelines for the evening. After this the guests will be brought to their tables where a blind fold will await! And from this moment onwards the blindfolds will be worn for the entire meal.

“This is a truly unique dining experience like no other. When you eat without the use of your sight you rely on your other senses to smell and taste of the food. Even the simplest of dishes can take on a new culinary flair and you will be amazed the things you may not be able to recognise. The night is great fun and people need not be apprehensive of how and what they are going to eat, the dishes are all designed to be easy to eat and there is nothing too unusual on the menu.”

From the first taste the non-visual senses will take over, as you try to distinguish and identify the flavours that make up each carefully crafted course – a feat much more difficult than it sounds. Each course will be accompanied by a selection of drinks that have been selected to match the sensory dining menu.

The Sensory Dining event takes place on Saturday night the 29th of October in the unique setting of the Georgian Dining Room of the Club House Hotel. An evening of fun relaxation, excitement, and discovery will be enjoyed by all in the company of the Club House staff who are renowned for their fun relaxed style of service with a touch of professionalism. This is the perfect night out for a romantic dinner, a feast of fun with family and friends, or a perfect gift for a foodie.