Family. Where would you be without them? Love them, hate them, or merely be indifferent to them, you're stuck with them. I recently returned home to Cork for the wedding of my first cousin and his beautiful new bride. It was a small but close affair, attended by family and friends. The younger adults at the wedding continued the celebrations into the small hours, and I found myself heavily paying the price on the following day. I might still be young in spirit, but the body is definitely beginning to creak a little. Irrespective, I want to wish Richard and Majo every happiness as they embark on their journey together.
The next night, my siblings and I headed to a new(ish) French restaurant which I had been eager to visit. Huguenot's is all about French cuisine and is aptly located on Carey's Lane, in the middle of Cork's historic Huguenot quarter, just a few short steps off St Patrick's Street. I don't remember what business occupied the premise immediately prior to Huguenot, but I do remember that this lovely multi-storey space was home to Esau's many years ago. Now the ground floor is a cosy wine bar with a French tapas menu while the first floor and above host the bistro restaurant. Huguenot is the second venture from the partnership of chef Brendan Cashman and entrepreneur Richard O'Brien. (Their first venture is the lovely Italian restaurant Gallo & Galletti in Wilton).
Our table split equally in half when selecting starters. I chose the classic dish of moules mariniere, or mussels cooked in a white wine sauce with shallots and herbs. Irish mussels are a superior specimen (especially when compared to the North Sea version) and these beauties were plump and meaty, nestled in their strong, dark shells (€10.95). The white wine sauce was intensely flavoured and every last drop was spooned from the bowl. A carapaccio of spiced beef from the legendary English Market butcher Tom Durcan, was topped with salad, cranberries and deliciously crispy pieces of sautéed potato. The spiced beef and potatoes were delicious, but the entire affair was just a bit too busy.
|Carpaccio of Tom Durcan spiced beef with potato|
My sisters' main courses of slow-cooked beef cheeks in a rich jus and beautiful pan-fried hake in a light cream sauce with peas and lardons were extremely well-received (both €18.95). My rib-eye steak come more medium to well done, rather than my requested medium rare, but it was a good piece of meat, well-seasoned and topped with a generous piece of intense garlic butter (€24.50). I was disappointed with the thick, chunky chips, much preferring instead to have skinny fries, in the vein of the classic "steak frites". I must admit that thick or chunky chips are a personal dislike of mine. Skinnier chips deliver a much satiating experience. Even though the portions were more than generous, we had ordered a side portion of puree potato deliciously flavoured with roast garlic and Compté cheese (€4.50).
An easy-drinking bottle of Des Chezelles Sauvignon Blanc from Touraine (€29.00) and a 500ml carafe of pinot noir (€20.00) accompanied our meal.
|Slow cooked beef cheeks|
|Pan-fried hake with peas and lardons|
|Ribeye with garlic butter and chips|
Family nights out always mean going the full hog, so we ordered two desserts to share. Both were French classics, a perfect creme brûlée, bizarrely served on top of a piece of wood for no discernible reason, and a richly sweet tarte tatin (both €7.00). We had considered ordering some glasses of sweet wine, but a full half-bottle of Sauternes (€39.50) proved to be better value.
|Tarte tatin with ice-cream|
Overall, Huguenot's a real addition to the Cork restaurant scene, which I feel is coming back to life. Despite a few off notes, we overall thoroughly enjoyed our meal. The menu is packed full of French classics and French-inspired dishes, which make great use of local Irish ingredients (easy when you're located on the doorstep of the English Market). The atmosphere is casual, the menu is accessible and the prices are quite reasonable. Even better, there's a three course Early Bird menu available for the great price of €25.
Merci beaucoup Huguenot.
Tel: +353 (0)21 239 3505