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Grup Spy: Flour power

Garden centres have came to the fore with dining options during the pandemic, and this one in Ballygarvan is a real grower, writes Alan Kelly

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The Pavilion.

The Pavilion.

The Pavilion.

While motoring towards The Pavilion Garden Centre Cafe, situated on a bendy country road just outside Ballygarvan village in Cork, it occurred to me that dining out in a garden centre, pre-Covid, wouldn't have been remotely on my radar.

THE PAVILION GARDEN CENTRE CAFE

Myrtle Hill, Ballyduhig South, Ballygarvan, Co Cork

4.5 Stars

Food €49.80; Wine €28.50; Water €1.90

 

And the same could be said for motorway pit-stops or a coffee and a chocolate muffin in Heuston station: perfect snack depots when fuel is required to complete a journey, but never the kind of culinary experience you would excitedly plan for. Yet that is precisely what we intended to do - have a dining experience in a garden centre.

I should mention the cafe was completely booked out for breakfast two days running, and we are lucky to nab a table for a 3pm brunch. It's a scorcher of a Saturday when we arrive, and judging by the packed car park and a queue of hopeful diners, public attitude towards dining locations has definitely altered. Still, I am very keen to discover how a garden centre has risen to the Covid challenge.

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Outdoor seating at The Pavilion.

Outdoor seating at The Pavilion.

Outdoor seating at The Pavilion.

Once we navigate our way through the tool and pottery section, the seed and planting areas and finally out past the wonderful cutesy gift shop, I find the answer.

The dining area is temptingly located in a great glasshouse filled with lush mature olive trees, bay trees, orange trees and a wide range of green leafy things I can't even pronounce.

In fact, it's a wonderful pseudo-Mediterranean indoor-outdoor set-up that totally works. Tables, strategically placed among this ridiculously romantic greenery, are big and roomy and perfect for outdoor dining. This is what the new dining out should be about: fun and difference. For a few delightful minutes after we are seated, we almost forget about eating.

Luckily, the Mediterranean vibe continues with the food. There are golden wedges of cheesy polenta cake served with a mess of scrumptious tomato-y peperonata and a big leafy side salad. There's an especially devourable silky-smooth duck pâté with crunchy toasted sourdough, a scattering of walnuts and a fig and apple relish.

Flashes of quality cooking and real skill are also present with our finely-judged main courses.

Served on a plate-sized poppadom with a stack of glass noodles, a fine coriander mango and ginger salad with a balanced undercurrent of chilli, the Bosses' Asian smoked duck salad is the epitome of what a smoked duck salad should be.

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Almost as successful are two very decent salmon/dill fishcakes on a splodge of wilted spinach and a splash of buttery Béarnaise. These could so easily become the best salmon fishcakes in the county (a destination fishcake almost), but what lets them down ever so slightly is a deficiency in the seasoning department and the complete non-appearance of the advertised dill. All the same, with the aid of another excellent side salad and a glass or two of delicious Prosecco, I soon make short work of them.

After two visits I'm happy to say the Pavilion Cafe is going straight into my list of favourite eateries.

It is far more than just a cafe in a garden centre, and if you happen to be heading in the Cork direction, it is so worth a spin.

Grape Spy: Jean Smullen

This Bank Holiday weekend I recommend a classic Vermouth from Martini for your Aperitivo moment. I also love the new wine range from our Sunday World chef, Kevin Dundon.

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wine

wine

wine

 

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One of the tasty dishes.

One of the tasty dishes.

One of the tasty dishes.

Martini Fiero €16

Italians use Aperitivo hour to meet friends before a meal or to wind down in the early evening. This Vermouth is produced by Martini and is probably the best known in the world. Vermouth is a fortified wine, flavoured with botanicals. This one uses a lot of orange and has a gorgeous bittersweet flavour of orange and spice. 'Fiero' means 'proud', 'intense' and 'bold' in Italian; this Vermouth is all that and more.

Pour a measure of Vermouth, add lots of ice, an orange wedge and top up with tonic water.

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2020 Kevin Dundon IGP Pays d'Oc Sauvignon Blanc €19.99

Chef Kevin Dundon has created his own range of wine, now available exclusively in SuperValu and Centra. The white wine is made from 100pc Sauvignon Blanc, grown in the south of France. It has lovely stone fruit aromas and, on the palate, flavours of red apple with a lovely fresh acidity - perfect for summer drinking. Why not try it with his SuperValu signature chef dish of poached prawns with bisque foam?

  • For wine events, see jeansmullen.com

 

Quick Bites

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You doughnut want to miss the newest range of treats at Krispy Kreme.

Inspired by the nation's favourite ice cream flavours, the Summer Chill range of milkshakes and doughnuts is available for a limited time only.

So don't waste any time snapping up a box of melt-in-the-mouth Mint Choc Chip (€2.55) or Raspberry Ripple (€2.95) rings in store now.

The flavours will also be added to the coffeehouse chain's milkshake range this summer, priced €4.25 each.

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And it's a hard 'yes' from us to the raspberry nice shake (pictured) blended with fruit puree and loaded with cream and white chocolate shavings.

The Summer Chill range is available from now until August 22 at Blanchardstown Drive Thru, via click and collect, and from Krispy Kreme's state-of-the-art digital display cabinets in selected Tesco and Circle K stores nationwide.

  • For more on the limited edition range see krispykreme.ie or @krispykremeIRL.

 

 

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