Food & DrinkGrub Spy

Grub Spy: The Thomas Moore Tavern, Cornmarket, Wexford

Grub Spy: Thomas Moore Tavern
Grub Spy: Thomas Moore Tavern

There are times when we Irish don’t like straying too far from our comfort zones.

Occasionally, when eating out for instance, we like to know precisely what’s on our plate – nothing too avant-garde or too wacky, when conventional and fail-safe is the order of the day.
That’s not to say we’re a bunch of gastro stick-in-the-muds scared of new stuff and only eat for nutritional purposes. Because we’re not and we don’t.
It’s just that some nights we want to forget all about the apocalypse of climate change, the collapse of Western civilization at the hands of IS and, worst of all, those bleddy water charges.      
We’re down in Wexford under a mournful empty sky bruised with a scattering of mottled grey clouds. In other words, it’s so feckin miserable out even the seagulls have taken to their beds. But that’s the great thing about Irish summers; when we should be leisurely strolling around admiring the views, we’re forced indoors to drown our seasonal sorrows.
Sympathetic locals assure us that the best place for some comforting R&R is the Thomas Moore on Cormarket – so off we immediately head. 
Covering every angle seems to be what a lot of pubs are trying to do these days – from live music and big screens to burgers and bistro. And the Thomas Moore guys are doing just that.
It’s also obvious from the contagious cheery vibe that they’re making a pretty good fist of it.
However, one look at the menu and a startled eyebrow is warily raised. A scallop starter at €12.75! Wow. Either that includes a side of priceless jewels or they’re the biggest, bestest bivalves ever seen. We expect them to almost float in on their own accord.
But never has a dish been so disappointing - four gnarly little queenies on a splodge of creamy sweetcorn and a fragment of pancetta...for €12.75. Get off the stage, lads.  
 The Boss’ main course is the best of the evening; a gorgeous, fresh hunk of baked cod, a fine cheesy potato cake thingy, and a mess of greens.
The taste of most cuts of fish, regardless of quality, is usually improved with the back-up of appropriate seasoning and a no-nonsense approach to cooking. That’s exactly what we get with this beauty.
My John Dory fillets could easily have been another success story. The freshness is there, the quality is there, but unfortunately, the fillets have curled-up into fishy tubes that are awkward to eat and make an untidy tangle on the plate.
Still, it’s all very tasty, and while our pulses aren’t exactly racing with foodie excitement, we nonetheless enjoy our comforting fish suppers. 
We finish with a modest crumble (including a humungous, unnecessary blob of ice-cream) and an adequate crème brûlée. A wonderfully light Chardonnay adds a final pleasing accompaniment.
The Thomas Moore governing principle seems to be ‘just give them hearty food’. And aside from the brazen urine extraction with the starter, overall they just about achieve that.
The craic is also ninety, the staff jolly and helpful and, yes, this place is definitely is a comfort zone.
Verdict: 3/5