Grub Spy: Flour power

Alan Kelly dishes the goods on Ireland’s tastiest dining destinations

Delicious pizza at Sonflour

Inside the restaurant

Outside the restaurant

Last November, when I heard rumours of a new restaurant opening, I was both impressed and delighted. It takes a brave soul, I thought, to launch a new eatery during an apocalypse, and downright heroic to market itself as “a response to the environmental crisis of the new millennium, offering an Eco-friendly vision of authentic Italian catering.”

SONFLOUR 9 Castle St, Cork 4.5 Stars Food: €43.80; Drinks: €5.80

Throw in a cool vinyl record collection to choose from while you eat, plus motivating buzz words like: sustainable, vegetarian/vegan Italian street food – and hey, it was already starting to sound like a pandemic-hindering winner.

I have to say, when it comes to interesting fun-reading menus, Sonflour’s listing is a work of genius. Take some of the starters for instance. “I lost my mind by the Shakey Bridge” is a pillowy pizza-like flatbread topped with walnuts, garlic and melty vegan butter (the Shakey Bridge is an actual bridge that ‘shakes’ in Cork) “Focaccia Vinyl 45” thin fluffy layers of Liguria bread filled with cheese and herbs. And “Can’t help falling in love with our Focaccia Tartufo” with edible flowers, mushroom cream, and earthy truffle oil. All made with simple organic ingredients, and all tasting table-poundingly delicious.

Inside the restaurant

They’re at it again with the mains. We try their take on a Roman flatbread pizza. It’s a thick-crusted small-ish slice of super-light flatbread, heaving with herby butteriness, and topped (after baking) with a bespoke range of fresh ingredients.

We go for a deeply and addictively satisfying ‘Daisy’ option i.e., homemade passata, olive oil, fresh basil and oregano, and wedges of fresh Irish mozzarella. Pizza nerds will go nuts for this. I’m already thinking this might just be my new favourite pizza.

There’s also a range of salads and homemade pasta dishes. We share a delightful portion of paper-thin Ravioli with herby sweet potato filling, pleasingly accompanied with a crimson splash of “Hot Summer Dream” tomato sauce. Slow cooked with Habanero chili, fresh herbs and spicy olive oil, it’s a sauce that works on every level and would enhance any pasta. I reckon they’d make a mint selling this by the jar. We finish with a vegan chocolate brownie and a gorgeous slice of cheesecake topped with a decadent raspberry-gin coulis

The only misfire (which is really only a matter of personal taste) is with the chocolate brownie. Texture-wise it is spot-on, but a tad bland in the flavour department.

Ok then, I’m not 100pc sure how to describe Sonflour. It is definitely not just another pizza gaff, or a simple wine bar, or a full-on Italian restaurant. Small and compact and not exactly built for comfort – it is nonetheless bursting with charm and character.

Outside the restaurant

Food-wise it’s a top-notch hands-down winner, and a destination food lovers will head for on a regular basis. Booked out completely for dinner, we settle for an early lunch. But since the menu is the same for both sittings, I’m sure we didn’t miss out on anything.

Finally I have to mention the welcome provided by two very enthusiastic young Italians. Warm and genuinely friendly they helped to make what proves to be a joyous experience.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I like it.

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