We all have little things that make us happy. For me, one such thing is the view of Cork and the River Lee that opens up before you as you drive into the city from the Lower Glanmire Road. Sometimes, the rowing club will be out on the river, or perhaps the sun will be setting, casting a golden glow onto the serene waters of the river. Where ever I may go in this world, I know that Cork will always welcome me home.
In recent years, I've felt that the food gap between Dublin and Cork has widened hugely. Cork has a real heavyweight in the form of the English Market, but the restaurant scene in Dublin has simply exploded. There are definitely some great eating spots in Cork, but it just doesn't have the buzz of Dublin. So when I heard about Coqbull, a burger and chicken restaurant, I wondered if a little bit of buzz had come to Cork.
New venue Coqbull straddles the gap between French Church Street and Academy Street, in the space vacated by the closure of Café Bar Deli. Apparently the design was done by a leading London agency and it certainly ticks all the cool boxes - pressed tin ceiling, parquet flooring and fancy lightbulbs. I had to smile when I realised that the enclosure for the now-mandatory hip lightbulbs were actually milking machine glass jars. I don't know how many farmers will pass the threshold of Coqbull, but those that do will surely enjoy that particular touch.
I had rang earlier to reserve a table as my sisters were joining us, but was informed that reservations were not taken. Despite being reassured that there would be no trouble getting a table, it turned out to be reasonably busy when we did arrive. We settled in at the outside tables on Academy Street with a raspberry mojito (€9.50) and a Tiger beer (€5.50), but it wasn't too long before we were called inside to our booth table.The restaurant was buzzing inside, as you'd expect to see on a Saturday night. It was that time of evening where soon-to-go-home shoppers were mingling with the early waves of the night out crowd. It definitely seemed that the industrial-milking parlour fusion design blend was working well in Cork.
A shared portion of Coq wings served with a dish of blue cheese sauce (€12) turned out just fine. They had been coated with something along the lines of Frank's Hot Sauce, but the spice level was definitely (and disappointingly) on the safe side.
|Coq wings for two with blue cheese sauce|
A half rotisserie chicken looked substantial along with home cut fries (€13). Some internet reading informs me that the chicken is marinated for 24 hours in a sweet tea mixture (using Barry's Tea of course). The end result is good, a decent chicken dinner that will appeal to many. Some of the burger combinations sounded magnificent and I ordered the Supreme Bull burger with Cashel Blue cheese, bone marrow and crispy onion. (€14.50). The toppings were indeed delicious, but the patty was dense and dry, sucking the enjoyment out of the burger. Sweet potato fries were soft, not crispy, lying clumped together on the plate.
|Half rotisserie chicken with fries|
|Supreme Bull burger with sweet potato fries|
There is a decent selection of craft beers and a self-described list of "tantalising coqtails". My raspberry mojito was good, but I struggled to pick a second cocktail from the limited list. The daiquiri was a contender until I realised that they served it frozen (or adult slushie-style) which isn't mentioned on the menu.
Coqbull would appear to be a name chosen to deliberately raise some eyebrows. But it is a reflection of the restaurant's core offering of rotisserie chicken and burgers, all 100% Irish and locally sourced. The chicken comes from the famous English Market tenant, the Chicken Inn while the burgers are made to a house recipe by Crowes on the Kinsale Road.
Ultimately, Coqbull didn't excite me or linger in my memory for a return trip to Cork. While its arrival is a good thing for the Cork dining scene, it's hard not to compare it to Dublin where, simply put, there are places doing this kind of food better. For now, I'll be sticking the to its bigger brother, the Cornstore.
Coqbull, 5 French Church Street, Cork
Tel: + 353 (0)21 427 8444