Grub Spy: Friday… I’m in love
Grub Spy Alan Kelly dishes the goods on Ireland’s tastiest dining destinations
There’s quite a few things that stay in the memory after dinner at Man Fridays, a restaurant on the Scilly side of Kinsale.
There’s a great elevated view to start with. It’s not just that the harbour is spreading romantically out before us, which it is – a grand majestic old mooring of the kind you see on publicity shots for holiday destinations in the Med. It is the elegant conservatory-style dining room with its glass walls and sturdy wood-burning fireplace radiating ample heat even on a chilly January afternoon. There are other neat dining spaces within the restaurant building, but it’s the room with the view that grabs us.
Scilly, Kinsale, Co Cork
Food: €86.70; Drink: €26.50
Something else that grabs our attention are the starters. A prettily arranged circle of gin cured salmon with fresh leaves, wafer-thin slices of fennel for texture and taste, segments of clementine for colour and balance, and dabs of raspberry purée for acidity – a combination that works fantastically well together.
Brown and white Crab meat encased in deep-fried crispy spring rolls are laid across a leafy salad with sliced red onion, chopped tomato and a mild dressing. Spicy heat we are half-expecting is not there. No matter. They still taste as good as they look.
We hadn’t planned on a fish-only supper. But a main course menu with irresistibly sounding seafood resulted in exactly that. I go for some spinach risotto topped with a grilled fillet of hake. Verdant green in colour, packed with earthy spinach and pea flavours, and ringed with a gorgeous buttery beurre blanc sauce. Talk about success on a plate. Only a chef who truly knows his way around a risotto can produce a result like this.
With a perfectly cooked piece of hake and a Parmesan crisp, it is a dish any Italian would be proud of.
You can tell a lot about a restaurant by its fish pie. And in the case of Man Friday you pretty much can tell all you need to know.
Pillow-soft mash, piped and oven-charred over a creamy centre of flaky salmon, cod and haddock. This kitchen makes a splendid pie. It’s what I call proper fish cookery. In its own low-key way it is comforting, filling and delicious from start to finish. Enough said.
Our desserts are basically creamy/eggy offerings that require little or no cooking. That said, they are especially good creamy/eggy offerings.
The Boss particularly likes her luscious and custardy crème brûlée topped with a proper crunchy burnt-sugar crust. It delivers flawlessly in taste and in texture. My lemon posset, while ever-so-slightly heavy, is no less enjoyable with a splodge of blackcurrant sauce.
Over the years Kinsale has proved to be a happy hunting ground for me. I think its because, happily, if you’re a greedy fecker like I am, there is an embarrassment of culinary treasures there. In fact I have visited most of the towns eateries and have mostly been delighted with the experiences.
Man Friday has been on my radar for years, but for various excuses I never quite made it there. Now I can add it to my list, and very happy to do so.
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