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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!
When I told a bartender in a Sligo pub that I was heading to the Embassy Steakhouse for dinner, I got a tip. “You must have their Jameson Whiskey sauce. I used to work there and it is magnificent.” And it is!
Indeed, the building, with its five large arched windows by the Garavogue River, is itself eye-catching on the outside and the decor on the inside is also impressive. The menu is not confined to steak but the reason most people visit is to sample the chargrilled meat and that whiskey sauce.
Even CL, who loves her fish, picked the steak, an 8 ounce Hereford fillet. My choice was the 10 ounce Rib Eye. We both had the Jameson sauce, of course, and the steaks came with onion marmalade, sautéed green beans and grilled asparagus. And there were sides, salad and ratatouille. Indeed, you could have added sautéed king prawns for an extra fiver but we said no to that. As it happened we had enough on the plate, a very well cooked and presented plate of top quality meat and that magnificent sauce. Highly recommended.
You are not confined to steak. There are mains featuring fish and chicken and the starters give you ample opportunity to stay away from meat until the main event itself. Indeed, the starters are top notch as well.
My potted Mullaghmore crab, with seasonal salad leaves and sourdough toast, was an excellent opener. The fresh crab was exceptional, great flavour in that packed pot. CL meanwhile was enjoying the Pan-seared King prawns with lemon, chilli and garlic.
Took a wee bit of a pause after the mains. The place was packed, it was packed all night. A hen party had two large tables and another two had a birthday party. There was a great buzz in the Embassy, a convivial one, happy voices.
We didn't get to hear the most distinctive voice in the place though. That, I’m told, belongs to Head Chef Marc Gabbidon and has been described “as a truly wondrous thing”. Marc is yet another of Sligo’s wanderers. He has “wandered in” from Jamaica, via East Coast US. In the US, while working in Connolly’s Irish Pub in NY City he met his now wife Karen. Eight years back, they moved to Sligo. Think I might have enjoyed that melodic voice but we certainly enjoyed the cooking!
And we did decide to share a dessert. Fabio is the man for the sweet stuff but we reluctantly decided to leave the Chocolate Indulgence Cake on this occasion and picked and shared Fabio’s Ice-cream Selection, a trio of house-made Italian style ice-creams. A safe choice but quite delicious also.