The Irish Times: Cork First
Published in The Irish Times Cork First supplement on Wednesday 2 July.
Eat your heart out
With so many cafés and restaurants to choose from, deciding where to eat in Cork can be mind-boggling so we’ve chosen some of the best for you. Words by Caroline Hennessy.
Sunday morning, coming down: it’s time for breakfast at the bright, airy Hardwood on Pope’s Quay. Feast on French toast, with real maple syrup and smoked bacon, or be good and go for the healthy option – a colourful fresh fruit plate, with toasted pine nuts and yoghurt.
Try: the steak and eggs option, with all the trimmings, for those mornings after the night before
Hardwood, 31 Pope’s Quay, Cork. 021 4551494 www.hardwood.ie
Come early if you don’t want to have to wait for a table for breakfast at this attractively-designed American-style diner but it’s worth getting up a few minutes earlier for a menu that makes a feature of Posh Toast and offers plenty of sides to add to your dish of choice.
Try: The Full American – a full-on feed of juice, scrambled or poached eggs on sourdough bread and an entire pot – oh joy! – of tea or coffee.
Liberty Grill, 32 Washington Street, Cork. 021 4271049 www.libertygrillcork.com
Cork Coffee Roasters
For anyone looking for a decent caffeine fix, the Seattle-style Cork Coffee Roasters café will be your idea of heaven. Get an Americano to go or sit on a high stool by the window and contemplate the world passing by as you sip your latte with a flaky Pain au Chocolat. The perfect calm kick-off for a day zooming around Cork.
Try: The Rebel City Espresso blend and don’t forget to buy a bag of freshly ground coffee to repeat the experience at home.
Cork Coffee Roasters, 2 Bridge Street, Cork. 087 7766322
Ó Conaill Chocolate
Ó Conaill’s cute little shop offers some of the best coffee in town – but that’s not the only reason for going there. Chocolatiers by trade, they stock a tempting array of handmade chocolates in a variety of flavours, bars in all shapes and sizes, hot chocolate kits, seasonal treats and the most amazing hot chocolate that you’ll find in Cork.
Try: A dark cardamom – dark hot chocolate, infused with fresh cardamom and served, as are all their beverages, with a selection of wee chocolate buttons on the side.
Ó Conaill Chocolate, 16b French Church Street, Cork. 021 4373407
BEST HIGH-END RESTAURANTS
Dedicated to seasonal vegetables and local produce, Denis Cotter’s cooking at Café Paradiso is the kind of food that deserves to be eaten in appreciative silence – at least for a few minutes, before you start exclaiming about the layers of flavour in your dish and exchanging forkfuls of food with your dining companions. The vegetarian restaurant that even confirmed meat-eaters love.
Try: Anything Denis does with local asparagus. You’ll never eat imports from Peru again.
Café Paradiso, 16 Lancaster Quay, Cork. 021 4277939. www.cafeparadiso.ie
Almost hidden away down a maze of side streets – yet never overlooked by Corkonians in search of some decent, honest-to-goodness cooking – Jacques is a full-blown Cork institution. Co-owners Jacque and Eithne Barry have built up their network of suppliers and producers over the last 25 years and it shows in their menu and – most importantly – on the plate.
Try: Instead of starters, go Spanish with a ½ bottle of Manzilla, with a selection of nuts and olives.
Jacques, 9 Phoenix St, Cork. 021 4277387 www.jacquesrestaurant.ie
BEST AFTER-WORK BITE TO EAT
It’s a Friday night and you’re not ready to go home just yet. You’d like a drink and a quick bite to eat so you wander along to An Crúibín for a pint of Beamish or some wine from their very pleasant by-the-glass selection, take a seat at one of the large communal tables and take a look at the chalk board of Irish-style tapas (think Macroom Egg Tortilla and Mustard Mackerel) that changes daily. Before you know it, you’re chatting to your neighbour, hooked on the buzz and there for the night.
Try: The eponymous crispy roasted pig’s trotters. How can you not?
An Crúibín, 1 Union Quay, Cork. They don’t seem to have a phone number yet.
BEST LUNCH ON THE RUN
The Sandwich Stall
An off-shoot of The Real Olive Company, The Sandwich Stall makes up an assortment of tempting rolls, wraps, salads and sandwiches every day for those who frequent the English Market. Perch on the narrow bench at the end with your lunch and a big mug of tea or just grab your food to go.
Try: Traditional Spiced Beef with horseradish dressing
The Sandwich Stall, The English Market, Cork. 021 4806500
This is fast food the 21st Century way – delectable organic soups and sandwiches, prepared with thought and care, ready to fly out the door as fast as the customers arrive.
Try: Baked Ham and Cheese sandwich with Mediterranean tomato soup – summer flavours for the dullest day.
Wildways, 21 Princes Street, Cork. 021 4272199 www.wildways.net
BEST FOR KIDS
It might look unpromising from outside, but Eve St Leger’s little chocolate factory is heaven for chocolate lovers of any age. Tucked away in a commercial park near UCC, you’ll find delectable truffles, golden crunch, fudge and the best of chocolate for home cooks.
Try: Eve’s Meter of Chocolate. How long will it take you to eat your way through it?
Eve Chocolates, Flair Confectionery, 8 College Commercial Park, Magazine Road, Cork. 021 4347781 www.evechocolates.ie
Exchange Toffee Works
Handmade with love and care, the old fashioned sweets from Exchange Toffee Works are sold direct from the door to a discriminating public. Savour the smell outside before taking a step back in time for their bestsellling Clove Rock, peppermint Bullseyes and mouth-puckering Acid Drops.
Try: All of them!
Exchange Toffee Works, 37a Mulgrave Road, Cork. 021 4507791