Lately, with all the issues of rising costs and staff shortages, we’ve seen a number of restaurants decide to fold their tents, and that’s such a shame. They are all creative and hardworking people and I hope they reappear in due course. That said, it’s not all gloomy, as restaurants are also opening quickly. Indeed, over the past few weeks, I’ve struggled to decide which new place to revisit next.
his week’s deal involved a whirlwind on the M8 to Cork, to Paladar, a Latin American-style cocktail bar and restaurant on Bridge Street. Being the little brother of one of the best bars in Cork, this naturally piqued my curiosity. Its big brother, Cask, is just around the corner from MacCurtain Street and operates under the umbrella of Richard Evans’ Isaacs Hotel.
With a stunning setting, Cask hit the ground running in 2017, with Andy Ferreira at the helm creating incredible cocktails and then-chef Bryan McCarthy complementing them with spectacular small plates.
McCarthy, now based in London, is a terrific chef who should have had a Michelin star during his time at the hotel’s Greenes restaurant – another rubber tire brigade omission – and must have been disappointing for him, in especially when four other newcomers to the rebellious county during those years earned the coveted stars. Greenes’ head chef today is Veronica Ozores and she maintains the standard.
McCarthy wasn’t the only star, however, with Ferreira’s cocktails being so popular, he and Richard Evans have now opened Paladar.
We snuck in a taxi when it first opened on Saturday, and we got there by the skin of our teeth before the place went downhill.
Cocktails were shaken, a foot-tapping bossa nova played, and you could disappear into one of the cozy side cabins facing the bar and stay there forever. A charming, smiling waiter promptly arrived at our table with a tempting cocktail list of “Classic” and “House” cocktails — all for €13.
Tropical Itch sounded great, with Dingle Vodka, Bacardi 4 Rum, Myers Rum, Mango, Lime, and Angostura Bitters, as did Funky Kingston with Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum, Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum, Campari, Strawberry, and a mix of homemade vermouth.
However, wanting to get back to the fabulous Imperial Hotel, where we were staying, without falling on my face, I opted for an old favourite, a large Caipirinha de Fuba Cachaca, with lime and sugar, while my friend Mary had a non-alcoholic Mojito (8.50€).
The “Snacks” (€4.50-€8.50) and the “Small Plates” (€11-€16) were really nice, exactly what we want these days, and delivered quickly. Naturally, there was tequila flavored butter with your bread. What else? Pao de queijo was a traditional Brazilian cheese bun with pulled pork, pickles, and scallions; while anticuchos were smoked beef skewers with corn salsa and garlic oil.
Cerdo con papas – simmered pork belly and potatoes – with molasses glaze and spicy avocado winked at us, as did moqueca — pan-fried fish with a rich moqueca spicy sauce.
Also on the menu was an old favorite, ceviche – citrus-marinated fish, with tiger leche, sweet potato and spicy avocado.
In the end, Mary fell in love with the fried empanada (€8), a long tasty roll stuffed with ground beef, olives and eggs, served with a creole of Cuban salsa and a jalapeno aioli, which we have cut into pieces to share. We also had the nuestra guacamole (€8.50) — mashed avocado served with sour cream, pico de gallo and fantastic light and crispy gluten-free cassava crackers.
Sides were available at €5-€5.50 — baked potatoes served with salsa verde; fries with jalapeno aioli; broccoli with dende farofa (cassava flour); Where white juice (white gazpacho).
We passed on the desserts (8€-8.50€). There was pina colada – spiced pineapple, rum, coconut foam and desiccated shredded coconut; or banana pie with dark chocolate, banana and white chocolate sauce. With the service our bill came to €42.50. Hasta la vista!
Paladar, 6 Bridge Street, Cork. Tel: (021) 229-0045, paladar.ie