Now I have to put my cards on the table straight away and declare that this is one of my favourite restaurants in Cork City. Actually my favourite. However, if you don’t know Cork it’s kind of hard to find and it is unlikely that you would go there. Another big stumbling block for the place is that it is only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings so your window of opportunity is limited.
Before I go further the easiest thing is for me to put up a sample menu as there may be many of you that would not entertain such unusual dishes. The menu highlighted here is the standard 5 course menu. One of my personal favourites is the starter of Carpaccio of Wood Pigeon with Beetroot & Rocket Salad. The flavours are to die for.
So that’s the menu and automatically I can see some people (the meat and two veg brigade) going that is not for me. For those still interested I better show you a couple of shots of the outside as this place is difficult to find from the address alone. A good guide is Rossini’s Italian Restaurant as it is a couple of doors down on Princes Street, near the corner with Oliver Plunkett Street. Remember it is up a flight of stairs so you will not be able to see the actual room of the restaurant.
The restaurant is relatively small and full of oddities, including a welsh dresser, odd plates, candles on the wooden tables and even cracked plaster. Emphasis is firmly on the food as indeed the menu may intimate. It really is a fusion of unusual flavours and apart from the excellent food I love the relaxed atmosphere that this place offers. All round it really does offer a unique dining experience and overall I would thoroughly recommend. It is of course not an everyday eatery and if one would want plush surroundings this is not it.
My one caveat would be that it does appear to have ‘days off” when perhaps it is not as good as usual or does not hit expectations. Unfortunately we seemed to have one of those experiences on our last visit in an unseasonally cold May 2013. We were sat by the window overlooking Oliver Plunkett Street and despite the use of a small electric radiator it did feel a bit cold. The chef and owner, Seamus O’Connell, was at the front of the house and not in the kitchen and we felt the food wasn’t quite as exquisite as we had come to expect – my Rabbit in Beamish could certainly have been a little hotter. While my dessert of Chocolate Chilli Fondant made up for this, my wife agreed that it was not quite up to the usual levels.
Well the answer to the question “Would I go Back?” is a resounding yes, but after the last visit I will need to keep an eye on the place as another repeat performance would cause it to lose its title of “Best Restaurant in Cork” in my view. It would almost seem like an act of betrayal having come to love this place so much over the years, but sometimes those difficult decisions just have to be made.
I have not repeated lots of information that you can find on its own website which includes other menus such as an Irish Tasting Menu, Sushi menu and further details behind the chef, Seamus O’Connell. Click on Ivory Tower to head on over to the restaurant’s official pages.