Over the last couple of years, we have developed a habit of booking ourselves into a hotel for Good Friday. It's usually a day off from work, so we can usually head to the hotel early and relax for day. Staying as a hotel resident means that we can bypass all the Good Friday palaver that grips the country and finally, it's a chance to relax before spending some quality time with the family. In fairness, it's an all round, win-win situation.
This year, we were in Cork for a family wedding, so we chose Garryvoe Hotel as our destination. We made sure to book a front-facing sea view room, which turned out to be a good idea in the fresh and bright Spring weather. What wasn't such a good idea was leaving a bag of ice in the car boot for a few hours, but there was still enough left to chill our pre-dinner cocktail. (Yes, I am one of those people who is so particular about their alcohol that I bring my own).
Our overnight package included a 3 course dinner in Samphire restaurant, under the command of Chef Kevin O'Sullivan. A wild mushroom chowder with tarragon cream was deceptively simple but revealed some rich and meaty flavours. Pan seared Castletownbere scallops were served with corals still attached (I'm sure I've said before how much I love the coral of a scallop) along with sweet potato puree and samphire.
|Castletownbere scallops with sweet potato and samphire|
|Wild mushroom chowder|
The main courses continued to deliver more of the same big, strong flavours. Seared monkfish on the bone came with a generous portion of shellfish flavoured risotto, with fennel, orange and rocket salad. A tender piece of slow cooked beef short rib was accompanied by a riot of parmesan potato puree, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, wild mushroom fricassee and a Madeira reduction. But somehow it all worked.
|Monkfish on the bone with shellfish risotto|
|Short-rib of beef with wild mushroom fricassee and asparagus|
A selection of Irish cheese was just perfect, accompanied by a pressed fig and almond slice, while the house variation on the classic Tiramisu involved a mini shot of Irish coffee. Thankfully, a brisk walk outside in the cold night air under the bright moon helped kickstart our digestion before an early bedtime.
|Selection of Irish cheeses|
|Tiramisu with Irish coffee shot|
Service throughout our dinner, and indeed the entire stay, was welcoming and refreshingly honest and local. Because it was the Easter weekend, the hotel was literally full of families taking advantage of the Easter break offers. A screening of a children's film in the evening kept the kids occupied, but in the morning, the dining room was packed with families having the usual breakfast breakdowns. But even in the face of all this bedlam, the servers kept their cool and dealt with it all with grace. They were a real credit to the hotel.
Garryvoe Hotel, Garryvoe, Co Cork
Tel: + 353 (0)21 464 6718