Updated: Jul 14, 2020
I will admit that both times I have stayed in Cork I have thought to myself…
“What will we do with the rest of our time here?“
Now, don’t get me wrong, there is Blarney Castle and Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral – both of which we visited while staying this time – and both of which are amazing sites to see – but the real reason (for me) is the food. Cork is a foodie city as far as I’m concerned – some of the best meals of my life have come out of my few short days in this city. So much so, that over the last two days we ate dinner and both of our breakfasts at the same restaurant because it was that good. We also returned to an old favorite before we left. So, while this is a short story of our time in Cork – it’s mostly an ode to food and whiskey.
Orso is a narrow restaurant on Pembroke – not far from the city center – and is one of the most amazing places I have ever eaten. Between the three of us we, quite literally, attacked two orders of the fish of the day and the red rice/black bean falafel. This was immediately followed by a combination of the chocolate/peanut butter tart and the tart of the day (and espresso, of course). After some conversation with our bartender we were convinced to return not once, but twice, for breakfast. Each visit over the two days was fantastic. Orso also serves a local beer – I can recommend the red ale most highly.
On our second trip back we enjoyed:
Poached eggs and bacon
Avocado on toasted focaccia
Poached eggs over greens on toasted brown bread
And on our third and final adventure we had:
Poached eggs on sweet potato + avocado
Baked halloumi cheese on toasted focaccia with a beet jam
And another round of the avocado on toasted focaccia
Denis Cotter is the founder (1993) and head chef at Paradiso – recently celebrating 25 years at the restaurant. He features an all-vegetarian menu – sparing no flavor. No one leaves hungry or unsatiated. We ate here during our first trip to Ireland two years ago (thank you Lonely Planet) and made sure we would return this trip. Paradiso was quite literally the reason we came back to Cork. We were not disappointed.
pino noir — malbec — cabernet sauvignon
sprouting broccoli, almond satay, coconut panelle, pickled orange, shallots, dillisk powder
beetroot rasam, cauliflower kofta, coconut cucumber raita
vegetable sushi, tempura of pumpkin & aubergine, pickled ginger, wasabi, soy-ginger dipping sauce
corn pancakes of leek, parsnip & dunmanus cheese, potato-wild garlic terrine, fennel-caper salsa, smoked tomato
pumpkinseed chocolate mole, kale & pumpkin tamal, sesame gougeres, lemon borlotti, pickles
feta & pistachio couscous cake, smoky greens, lemon chickpeas, coriander yoghurt, zhoug oil, date jam
steamed ginger pudding, roast pear, sherry vinegar ice cream
Gluten-free fruit crumble
When planning this trip we went back and forth between wanting to do the Jameson in Dublin and the Jameson in Midleton – Dublin being the original site of the Jameson Distillery back in the day – but Midleton being larger and the location of their current distillation. In the end, Midleton won out because of the size and type of tour we could book. We ended up booking the Behind the Scenes tour (fancy blue safety vests and all), which was worth every penny. You get to venture all of the places the standard tours go, but you also get to see other areas of the property the regular tour does not – not to mention you get to taste way more varieties of the Jameson Whiskeys.
This tour does an awesome job of blending the history, art, and science of Irish Whiskey – specifically Jameson and their impact on the business as a whole. I think we all left with a newfound love and appreciation for Irish Whiskey. The temptation I have left with is the two-day course they offer at the Irish Whiskey Academy – we’ll see.
As far as the rest of Cork is concerned, it’s lovely – but when it comes down to it…we were there for the food and drink. Blarney Castle is worth the visit, regardless of what prior tourists may tell you – and Saint Finn Barre’s Cathedral is beautiful – like many of the other cathedrals and churches in the country. If you make the trip down to Cork when you visit Ireland I’d say two nights will do the trick – enough time to hit the highlights before you start to wonder what else you’ll do while in town.
As I typically do, I’ll lean more on the photos than my words to convey the time we spent.