Monday, March 24, 2014

A Hidden Gem of Cork

Dining Room Pembroke
I am getting asked quite often where I recommend to eat in Cork - a very personal question really but I will give my opinion of course. But for some reasons, I never think of restaurants in hotels in Cork - a big oversight on my part as we have wonderful hotels with great restaurants. Regular readers of this blog know that I am already impressed by the team in River Lee Hotel but now I like to add the Pembroke Restaurant at the Imperial Hotel to that list of great restaurants in Cork.

Mr T and myself spent a midweek break in Imperial and booked dinner at the Pembroke. I have to admit, my expectations were low but to my big surprise, I feel in love with the hotel, the staff and yes, the food. Prembroke has in Craig Mills a chef who has a wonderfully light hand in preparing fish and he proved it in my dish of Tian of Crab and the pan-fried Hake with Lemon-Saffron Sauce. Both dishes were executed perfectly - for me a talent quite rare these days. Mr T tucked into a goats cheese tart for starter and a Trio of Pork Plate for main - and that was a plate of meat, you will have to have a great appetite to be able to finish this dish. It included Jack McCarthy Black Pudding, Pork Belly & Cutlet. Side dishes included potatoes that were roasted with caraway seeds which gave them a new dimension. Mixed vegetables completed the sides. We took our time enjoying the main course and I was able to savour every flavour. The fish is supplied by Jim Good of the Good Fish Company and the meat is sourced in Ireland - another point I am very happy about.

The dessert list was short but catered for all sweet tooth fairies and included chocolate, panna cotta, cheesecake and ice cream - we opted for strawberry cheese cake and hazelnut panna cotta. All desserts are made in-house (for me a big plus) and the hazelnut panna cotta had a wonderful subtle hint of hazelnut and the right amount of 'wobble' (yes, I wobbled). All in all, a wonderful meal, perfectly cooked and Mr T and I left with big smiles on our faces. The in-house bar 'Souths' is the perfect spot for an after-dinner tipple and it rounded our evening up just nicely.

Tian of Crabmeat
The staff is overall excellent. In the restaurant they are extremely attentive without being intrusive. Our waitress was a girl called Karen and she was personal but not too much, she had a nice sense of humour and I wish her all the best for her studies and research - we couldn't have asked for a better waitress. It is always a good sign when employees are smiling - and we saw quite a few walking up and down, simply smiling. A great place to eat and apparently to work as well. 

I have been to the cafe, Lafayette a few times and love the atmosphere of bygone times with their attractive tiling on the walls and the large windows looking onto South Mall but I might be changing the view in future to Pembroke Street instead.

So, from now on, Pembroke will be on my list of places to go if someone is asking for a dinner recommendation again.

By the way, the Imperial has a great Easter Offer on:

The 4-star, Imperial Hotel, located in the heart of Cork city has a fantastic three night Easter offer available over Easter weekend. You can enjoy three night’s bed and full Irish breakfast from just €155 per person sharing. This cracking Easter deal also includes a sweet treat from the Easter Bunny on Easter Sunday. An egg hunt will take place for children at 2.00pm and non-residents who are in for Easter Lunch will also be welcome to partake in the fun! Easter Lunch costs €25 per adult (3 courses) and €13 per child.

Goats Cheese Parcel with Beetroot Chutney

Pan-Fried Hake with Saffron & Lemon Sauce

Trio of Pork

Dessert Menu

Lafayette Tea Rooms

Dining Room

Cheese Cake

Hazelnut Panna Cotta

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