After picking up a bumper box of Barry’s Tea in James’s home town of Bandon, we drove on to our next stop: Cork. Unfortunately, our B&B was a 2km walk away from the city centre, but after all of the fried and stodgy Irish food we’d been feasting upon it was probably a good thing. We had a pretty chilled out time wandering around the shops, meeting up with James’s old school friends, and running a couple of errands.
Although Cork probably has plenty of great high end restaurants, our bellies are unfortunately dictated by our purse strings. There’s no point in pretending that this is a Foodies Guide to Cork, but if you happen to be in the Rebel City and want some cheap eats then you could do worse than these places. In fact, there’s an example at the end that shows you just how worse you could do!
Istanbul Kebab House
For lunch it was a toss up between kebab, and pizza. I’m really glad that kebab won, because this restaurant was an absolute joy. It reaffirmed in my head what I’d already decided about Irish food; although it’s generally not very exciting, people really make an effort to get the quality right. When I spotted a guy behind the counter rolling out and baking his own flatbreads, I was satisfied that we’d made the right lunchtime decision. Nothing can beat freshly made flatbread. Topped off with tasty cubed lamb, chilli sauce, and garlic mayo this was definitely one of the best kebabs I’ve ever had.
The English Market
If you’re spending a weekend in Cork, get yer arse down here. Unlike the expensive Edinburgh farmer’s markets which seem to be a playground for yuppies with more money than they know what to do with, the English Market is actually pretty good in terms of budget. We found a lovely cake stall where you could get a massive slice of Chester Cake for one Euro. For the uninitiated, Chester Cake is basically all of yesterday’s leftover cakes mixed up together and iced. Bloody tasty, and an amazing idea. Although who has leftover cake, apart from bakeries?
Gourmet Burger Bistro
Although I wouldn’t have minded popping into the Cork branch of Eddie Rocket’s after my amazing experience in Galway, James convinced me that we should probably try a local place. Enter Gourmet Burger Bistro. They had a very interesting menu, and it took me about ten minutes of hand wringing to actually settle on the daily special; lamb, caramelised apple, and goats cheese. It was extremely tasty.James had the spicy lamb kofta burger, which was nicely spiced and came with a lovely lamb kofta. All of the burgers came with a cute little flag on top denoting the country of origin. It would be easy to eat here for a week trying a new burger every night without getting bored.
Paying a visit to this Cork institution had been on the to-do list of our Irish road trip all along. To paraphrase Gary Tank Commander, every radge likes chips but there are few radges who enjoy chips more than this radge right here. I was convinced by the Yelp reviews and James to do as the locals do and get my chips slathered with a combo of garlic mayo and cheese. Unfortunately this combination was too rich for me (give me good old salt ‘n’ sauce any day) and kind of drowned out the flavour of the chips, which were certainly very tasty in their own right. Oh, if you’re interested in craft beer, head to the off license across the road as they have a great selection.
And the worst…
The only time I was unimpressed with a meal in Ireland was at this sushi bar. Sitting in the window picking at my ‘raw fish’ platter of tiny, malformed nori, I was reminded of the Boots sushi that I used to pick at when I didn’t fancy a sandwich for my meal deal. To be honest, alarm bells should have started ringing when I looked at the menu and saw that they didn’t have any rainbow rolls or other sushi restaurant mainstays.
So that’s that. A whirlwind of eating on the cheap in Cork, while still somehow managing not to drink any alcohol…