Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

[Review] Greenes, MacCurtain Street, Cork

Greenes Restaurant on Cork's MacCurtain street is one of the grande dames of Cork's dining scene. It's located in a former bonded warehouse in the city's Victorian quarter (by the way, when did that moniker appear?)  which it shares with Isaacs restaurant and the boutique Hotel Isaacs.

As restaurant entrances go, the entrance into Greenes of Cork is pretty special. Step off the continual bustle of MacCurtain Street past the wrought iron gates, under the cobbled archway and enter into their little courtyard. Cork is a city of steep hills, and you are reminded of that when you see the sheer rock cliff surrounding Greenes, and their famous waterfall cascading down.

Greenes has been around for yonks, and in that time there have been ups and downs. Many head chefs have come and gone, but it's maintained a special spot in the city. Award-winning chef Bryan McCarthy currently holds the head spot and he has done much to elevate Greenes. There's a strong focus on modern Irish food, using the fresh, local produce, combined with traditional preservative techniques such as fermenting and pickling. 
Stitch & Bear - Greenes - Trout with crab
Goatsbridge trout with crab

Dinner starts with a series of wooden boards delivered to each diner, holding three little snacks: a crisp little beignet, a potato crisp with aged cheese and pickled green strawberry with cheese. All good, but none stand out. The menu has a strong focus on local ingredients, and a plate of cold McCarthy's spiced beef with Coolea cheese fondue doesn't come more local. As any Corkonian will tell you, mixing spiced beef and aged cheese is a winner and this dish doesn't disappoint. Across the table, delicately seared pieces of Goatsbridge trout and fresh sweet crab meat goes down a winner.

The strength of the kitchen really starts to show in the main courses. Several members of the table have chosen the braised featherblade of beef (perfect for a freezing night in early February) and it doesn't disappoint. A more than generous portion of fall-apart beef with fondant potato and cavolo nero proves to be too much. Lighter fish dishes of hake with seared scallops or a special of John Dory with sea greens, mushroom and daishi are beautifully cooked with crisp skin and soft flesh, deftly presented in the modern style. My only regret is not ordering the vegetarian option made with Kilnamartyra man Ned McCarthy's fresh paneer cheese. I think that would also have been something special.
Stitch & Bear - Greenes - Featherblade of beef
Braised featherblade of beef
Stitch & Bear - Greenes - Hake and scallops
Hake fillet with seared scallops
Stitch & Bear - Greenes - John Dory
Pan-fried John Dory
A set woodruff cream pudding (think pannacotta) was simply stellar, the floral herby flavour complemented with meringue shards and a refreshing raspberry sorbet. Without doubt this was the standout dish of the meal, a beautiful dessert very much of equal of any to be found in a Michelin  starred restaurant. 
Stitch & Bear - Greenes - Woodruff set pudding
Woodruff set pudding with raspberry
I often feel that Cork has languished behind Dublin, Galway and even Kilkenny in recent years when it comes to modern dining, a real pity for my vibrant and cosy home city. As a university city, with a strong arts & culture scene, excellent local produce, and plenty of multinational industry, it always seemed weird to me that Cork , well, didn't have more. 

However, with McCarthy in the kitchen and with the recent opening of adjourning Cask, an artisanal cocktail bar serving small plates, Cork is in good hands. The bar has definitely been raised. 

Greenes Restaurant, 48 MacCurtain Street, Cork
Tel: +353 (0)21 455 2279
Twitter: @greenescork
Instagram: @greenescork

1 comment

E. said...

Looking forward to trying Greenes and cask soon. Fully agree with your second last paragraph, glad to see things are finally changing of late. Cork was very underserved in the decent restaurant department and so many mediocre places charging well above their value. As a rule a meal in cork seems to coSt 15% more than a Dublin meal of the same quality. However things are changing and long may it continue!

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