DO’S and DON’TS
As an introductory note for this travel guide, I’d like to provide you with a few Do’s and Don’ts for your journey to Ireland’s South-West. Please note this takes into account both you and your travel companion’s safety and/or sanity depending on how you look at it!
- Quietly consider whether you should bring a companion if at all on this road trip, especially if they open their front door wearing a Vietnamese holiday hat, holding a shopping bag as a suitcase.
- Bring some “shnacks” for the car journey – snacks are of the upmost importance. As a wise man once wrote, it doesn’t matter what age you are, buying snacks for a road trip should always look like an unsupervised 9-year old was given €100.
- Enter Cork City at peak rush hour for obvious reasons. Some people however can fall into the trap… or so I’m told.
- Think that hotel parking is free. Look into the parking situation before you arrive. Ask not once, not twice but three times where the nearest car park is before setting off on a fruitless journey or you may end up throwing a peanut M&M in frustration, injuring your companion in the process .
1)Breakfast 2)Coffee 3)Savoury Snacks 4)Lunch 5)Dinner 6)Bars/Pubs
Recommendations: Liberty Grill, Spit Jack, Farm Gate
Liberty Grill. Head here for the breakfast of dreams!
Feast your eyes on the crab cakes benedict – absolutely heavenly! Rich, creamy, lemony hollandaise spread over subtly sweet and fresh crab with a hint of onion from the chives. The eggs royale with a savoury layer of smoky salmon has a distinctive freshness and was equally scrumptious!
Verdict: One of the best brunches I’ve ever had in Ireland.
Recommendations: Soma, Alchemy
Soma. My advice – know your coffee. This speciality coffee menu is for the coffee coinneuseurs and looks a little like this: Black, White, Batch, Filter – you get the picture. However even with my limited knowledge my medium white (double shot with velvet foam) was superb!
Price for Medium White: €2.80
3) Savoury Snacks
Recommendations: English Market Food Stalls
The Sandwich Stall. This place is legit! Featured below is slow cooked succulent ham (slow cooked by them which makes it all the more credible) with lots of honey, Dijon mustard and cloves, rustic bread from their friendly neighbourhood baker (whether he’s actually friendly or in their neighbourhood is questionable but sure look), organic leaves and Ballymaloe relish. As a nation of sandwich lovers, here you’ll find a sandwich for every moment and a sandwich for every taste.
Gourmet Sausages. If you have a boyfriend/girlfriend/friend who has a ridiculous appetite (see first picture of male above), order a sausage roll after your brunch from Gourmet Sausages – simple, tasty (meaty and nutty from the onions) and not too costly. The real joy however was the interaction with the traders and this guy’s facial expression!
Recommendations: Good Food Deli, Bramley Lodge
Bramley Lodge. If you go to Fota Wildlife Park (see activities below), do not eat there. Instead, on the way home head to Bramley Lodge for a bitta grub in a cozy setting and order the Thai vegetable soup. This had the perfect amount of spice and warmth, was that perfect texture of not too smooth, not too chunky, and was accompanied by a thick slice of homemade brown soda bread – ideal on a winter’s day!
Side note: Firstly, the Thai Red Chicken Curry looked delish! Secondly, their desserts looked divine, especially their warm brownie.
Recommendations: Market Lane, Son of a Bun, KC & Sons & Sons (apparently the best chipper in Ireland), Café Paradiso (a vegetarian’s haven), Coqbull, Elbow Lane, Greene’s, Tequila Jacks
Market Lane. Perfectly pan fried hake, potato and kale gratin, nduja (the spicy red stuff) and vermouth cream (rich, salty and sweet). Simple ingredients that blew me away, & possibly one of the nicest fish dishes I’ve ever had. The seafood pie in a tomato based sauce was also fantastic. Both were hearty and had us beaming!
Sides: Home cut cirspy chips layered with celery salt (is that even a thing?!) and smoked garlic aioli – up there with the top hand cut chips! And if you have that not-so-subtle Irish weakness for garlic dip you will swoon when you try this beautifully fresh combination).
Price for starter x1, mains x2, wine x2, beer x2: €72.50
Son of a Bun. Pretty slick layout, feel good vibes and a fun atmosphere.I had the S.O.B Burger with cheddar, streaky bacon, lettuce, tomato, crispy fried onions (essential) & S.O.B sauce. The burger itself doesn’t blow you away but it is super tasty, has a bit of crunch from the fried onions and definitely hits the spot! The chips were very good and generously doused in salt and I gobbled up every last one!
Price: Burgers x2, home-cut fries with rosemary sea salt x2: €27
Side note: I have a very big appetite and I was stuffed!
Recommendations: Sin É (quaint and traditional), Metropolitan bar or anywhere near Oliver Plunkett Street or the Main Street
Sin É. Long-established home of Irish traditional music with exceptionally talented locals and newcomers(shout out to the chap playing the pipes and a funny looking clacking instrument). You’ll never feel more Irish in this setting, trust me. Take your foreign friends here for a glimpse of Irish merrymaking and a trusty rhythm that gets you right in the feels.
Fota Wildlife Park
Your journey would be incomplete without a visit to Fota for a boutique sized wildlife experience. Top tip: Wrap up and don’t freak if you see some animals roaming free (kangaroo Rue), it’s all part of the park! Our favourites were the rhino, the gibbons and the giraffes. Please see my spirit animal below #alwayshungry
Fort Mitchell on Spike Island
This included a boat trip from Cobh harbour to Spike island and a fantastic tour of a former prison and fort, all relayed from the knowledgeable and funny tour guides John and Ailbey. Definitely worth a visit!
Favorite point of information: when the prisoners escaped in 1985 they reached the island edge only to find that there was no boat docked, so they went back to the prison and climbed on to the roof causing mayhem on the way. The only thing that would get them down from the roof – a boat trip to the island by their mothers and one or two stern words!
Watch the fishmongers at K O’Connell (if you have seen The Young Offenders you will definitely appreciate this!) – their work is so impressive, it’s like a fish knife is an extension of their hand! Slicing every fillet perfectly and having a ball at the same time.
And now to bring it back to my Do’s and Don’ts List.
On the journey home if your’e already snack filled, take the easy way out. Grab yourself an Apache pizza in Cobh, just don’t forget the dip!