In the buzzy Coal Quay renewal area, this Cork restaurants a sister establishment to Padraig Frawley's highly regarded Cornstore in Limerick (see entry) is in a stylishly converted two-storey granite mill building.
Colourful Spanish tiles in the reception area lead to an expanse of polished wooden floors cleverly divided into areas of alcoves, flexible table and chair seating and more intimate booths, as well as a bar counter popular with singletons in for a quick drink or snack.
For sharing there is a freshly baked country loaf served with tapenade, olive oil, and pesto for dipping, chicken wings come with Crozier blue cheese dip or there's prawn pil pil, with extra virgin olive oil, roast garlic and chunky white bread. Other starters might include a skillet of 'Irish style' Kinsale mussels with black pudding and whiskey cream sauce
The mains offered are many and varied, but the pièce de résistance is The Cornstore's premium steaks (100% Irish beef, hung 21-28 days) offered in a table giving a range of five cuts (also fillet of Dromoland wild venison, in season) and five dishes, culminating in the Cornstore Chateaubriand which is carved for two (24.95 pp) with creamy mash, caramelised shallots, and market greens, with both pepper sauce and béarnaise sauce.
Not only are the Cornstore steaks well sourced and expertly cooked, but this innovative group has even got its own in-house ageing unit. Specially imported Himalayan salt is used to absorb humidity in the ageing unit over a period of up to 35 days with the aim of producing exceptionally tender, flavoursome meat from top quality beef sourced in the Golden Vale.
By contrast, vegetarians also do particularly well here, with five mains and a similar number of starters to choose from, and the Seafood section is also very strong, especially in summer.
A short but irresistible list of homemade desserts features treats like flourless chocolate cake with fresh cream or sticky toffee puddings with vanilla ice cream and a special dessert of the day.
A well-balanced wine list leans towards the New World, and it featurse over 20 wines by the glass (EUR4.50-EUR11.95); then there is their Cocktail selection, which they are proud of - and which has its own menu booklet, plus specials.
Not surprisingly perhaps, The Cornstore has become one of Cork's hotspots, attracting customers with top class food, value for money and sharp service that manages to be both friendly and efficient.