Good Things Cafe - Durrus, County Cork
This award recognises an indivdual or establishment demonstrating a total commitment to using the very best of fresh, seasonal and mainly local foods – and preparing them simply and with style, to showcase their natural goodness and the quality produce of the locality.
Great ingredients-led contemporary cooking is the magnet that draws those in the know to Carmel Somers’ simple little café-restaurant just outside Durrus village. Chef, teacher and food writer (her first book, “Eat Good Things Every Day”, is due shortly), Carmel does more than any other chef in the region to promote local produce and her menus reflect this in a variety of ways.
The summer herbs and salads, growing in beds at the entrance, are an indication of things to come, as is the array of cookbooks by the likes of Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson. The message is unequivocal: prepare yourself for spanking fresh ingredients cooked with authority and passion.
The modern, functional, café-restaurant features dishes with a strong local provenance such as West Cork Fish Soup and old-fashioned Porter Cake alongside the Grecian influences of a Mezze Plate and fragrantly spiced Andalusian Monkfish with saffron, honey and vinegar.
Seasonality is a byword here: roasted summer vegetables, sea beet, lightly boiled, Kilcrohane new potatoes, the tartness of gooseberries with mackerel and the same fruit in a dessert compôte with elderflowers, yoghurt and honey ice.
In the kitchen, partly visible to diners, Carmel and her Spanish assistant, Rebecca, conjure (experiment is constant) and come up with menus that are, at once, startling and reassuring.
It’s the kind of place where even the most demanding know they are in safe hands. In the off-season, Good Things Café & Cookery School conducts courses: a series of demonstration and hands-on courses. A wonderful place.