Grub Spy 'Cork restaurant's dish gives turbo-boosts of chilli and lively flashes of colour'
Tramway Terrace Douglas, Cork
If by chance you happen to be passing through Douglas in Cork, and you suddenly get the urge for something hot and pleasurable, head straight to Tramway Terrace and the building on the corner of Carrigaline Road and Douglas E, to the fittingly named Coriander, a Nepalese and Indian restaurant.
Here you will discover modern, tastefully decked-out dining rooms with a soothing atmosphere and smiling, clued-up staff. I truly believe many of us Irish now simply adore bold, spicy flavours full of bite and potency.
It's our second visit here and we are keen to see if they can keep us as interested as the first. The menu includes the usual selection of curry-based crowd-pleasers, but what they have also managed to do is cleverly fiddle around with the familiar Asian-Indian format and come up with a menu that is both recognisable and rousing.
The result is food that sits happily between an explosion of robust Indian flavours and softer Nepalese originality. Take the Nepalese chicken choila salad and the Mo Mo, for example. The choila has a chilli-clean healthy vibe, and the Mo Mo chicken-stuffed dumplings are filling and tasty without being too spicy. Both are hungrily demolished.
Our Indian mains include a fiery jalfrezi with chunks of fall-apart lamb braised down with a vibrant tomato, onion and chilli pepper sauce. With a scoop of aged basmati, it is the very essence of what a brawny meat curry should be.
But the standout dish for us is a deceptively humble sounding Goan prawn curry. I have to say, humble is the one thing it is not. A multitude of textures and flavours has been simmered into a seriously delicious, aromatic brew. There are turbo-boosts of chilli, cardamom and coconut, and hints of lime and lemongrass mixed with lively flashes of colour. Have plenty of water at hand, which is what we had - no wine- and just enjoy.
There are lots of attractive-sounding desserts, like carrot pudding and mango kulfi.
But for me and the Boss, Indian/Asian desserts frequently swing between way too much sweetness to plain old challenging - not always, and I'm not saying Coriander's offering is: but they fed us to the brim with gorgeous starters and mains, so we couldn't manage a dessert.
On this evenings visit we are mightily impressed both with the food and with the service. In fact, I have no complaints whatsoever, there are no hysterics, and I don't get a nosebleed when I see the bill. I always think, if you want to know a town, check out the restaurants. A healthy clash of food cultures is always a good thing. It's part of what makes places interesting.
And when it comes to food culture, Douglas has more than its fair share. For me, really good restaurants are like really good bands. When all the musicians know their instruments and play them well, it's like enjoying The Stones at Slane castle every weekend. And like the Stones, the guys at Coriander hardly miss a beat.