Opening a new restaurant in autumn 2008 may have looked like a risky thing to do, but - owned by businessmen Neil Prendiville of Cork Local Radio and hotelier John Gately - this stylish venture in the centre of Cork was always bound to be a hit.
And, since then, it has proved it’s there for the long haul by consistently pleasing Corkonians and visitors to the city alike (including plenty of visiting stars) – and establishing its own special niche.
A large new building with a contemporary frontage on the pedestrianised area beside the north branch of the River Lee, this Cork Restaurants in an excellent location with large windows on two sides; inside the 8,000 square foot property the main areas are a bar, serving food from noon, and The Grill Room, a classic American steakhouse restaurant which operates in the evenings.
The Grill Room décor includes a raw brick end wall and some modern oil paintings, but an opulent feeling is created by drapes, crisply white-clothed darkwood furniture and deeply buttoned brown leather panelling, sofas and chair backs - not to mention a grand piano, played nightly from 8pm: all round an atmospheric setting for full-on food, from Head Chef Jean-Francois Beasse and Executive Chef Diarmuid Murphy.
At the core of the food offering here are great prime ingredients - from named sources, including O’Connells Meats in Cork and Gulf Stream Seafoods of Kenmare – and the range of menus offered covers all bases.
In addition to bar meals (anything from morning coffee and a scone to a fast lunch or full bar menu), a keenly priced early bird dinner is available every evening (€22.50; times vary) as well as a full evening à la carte, and there are various options for groups including pre-booked lunches, and a summer BBQ menu.
Separately, the ‘RSVP Party Lounge’ offers a finger food menu, and the semi-private Harley Snug caters for smaller parties of up to 16 guests.
Steak is the star here, of course – certified Irish Angus, specially aged and perfectly cooked to the customer’s preference; there’s a choice of half a dozen cuts (rising to a massive 20 oz bone-in rib-eye for the seriously hungry) and with admirable attention to detail in the accompaniments, which include more-ish handcut chips and a range of four sauces.
But there’s plenty else to choose from if you’re not in the mood for steak, including a good fish offering and at least one vegetarian option.
It would be nice to see some half bottles on the wine list (a rather safe selection of around 32 world wines, with three red and three white moderately priced house wines available by the glass), but punchy food, a lively atmosphere and friendly, efficient and attentive service from Restaurant Supervisor Susan Roche and her team all add up to a great experience – and value for money too.