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Grub Spy: Friday… I’m in love

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

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The outside dining area at Man Friday

The outside dining area at Man Friday

The tasty fish pie

The tasty fish pie

Crispy spring rolls

Crispy spring rolls

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The outside dining area at Man Friday

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.

MAN FRIDAY
Scilly, Kinsale, Co Cork
4.5 Stars
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.

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The tasty fish pie

The tasty fish pie

The tasty fish pie

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.

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Crispy spring rolls

Crispy spring rolls

Crispy spring rolls

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.

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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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