Opposite the Everyman Palace Theatre and approached through a cobbled courtyard, this attractive Cork hotels got comfortable spacious rooms at a fairly reasonable price.
The hotel is on a very busy street, but well designed double glazed windows successfully reduce traffic noise and all rooms have air conditioning. However, noise can still be a problem in some rooms (with bin/bottle collections in the early morning, for example) and it is worth discussing your requirements when booking, especially if you are a light sleeper.
Fourteen newer Deluxe rooms have been renovated in a contemporary style with very comfortable beds, ample lighting choices and modern bathrooms that include a rainfall shower, and the next phase is now under way with all bedrooms undergoing restyling. The A few of the rooms at the back have a charming outlook onto the waterfall, which is a feature from the restaurant.
Residents receive a discount when dining at Greenes Restaurant, and can enjoy a buffet breakfast that benefits from the same high-standard sourcing as the dinner menu, with Jack McCarthy's sausages, rashers and puddings a highlight.
General Manager Arthur Little (previously at Liss Ard Estate, in West Cork) brings high standards and a keen eye to the management style, and takes a keen interest in the improvements planned for both the accommodation and the restaurant.
Small Conferences (50); broadband wi/fi; secretarial services available (from reception), video conferencing by arrangement; laptop sized safes in bedrooms. Children welcome (under 3 free in parents room, cot available free of charge, baby sitting arranged). All day room service. Car park nearby. No pets. Garden (courtyard). Self-catering apartments available (open all year).
Despite being next door to the well-known Isaacs Restaurant (with the confusion of the hotel's similar name) Greenes is well-established as a successful stand-alone restaurant and has a loyal following. Since his arrival in 2013, the highly regarded chef Bryan McCarthy has upped the ante and attracted plenty of well-earned praise for his cooking, and for the restaurant.
The approach from the street is attractive: the entrance under a limestone arch (and past the hotel's newer wine bar, Cask - see separate entry) leads to a narrow courtyard with a waterfall, which is floodlit at night and can be seen from the restaurant. This impressive natural feature makes a very unusual USP for a city centre restaurant and tables are set up in the courtyard beside the waterfall in fine weather, making a romantic setting in summer.
Large windows and high ceilings make for a bright and airy feeling in the reception and restaurant areas – and, with stonework and brick walls, a pleasantly green outlook (complete with the waterfall) and modern darkwood furniture all providing character, the atmosphere is definitely 'independent restaurant' rather than 'hotel dining room'.
A range of menus is offered at different times, including an early dinner, a 7-course Tasting Menu and the main à la carte.
Chef McCarthy loves his local suppliers and you will find many treasures - such as Jack McCarthy meats, Ummera smoked foods, Skeaghanore duck, Ardsallagh cheeses and Ballyhoura Mushrooms - listed on his menus. Expect to see foraged items too - the aim is for “simple food based on the best of ingredients and cleanly presented in a contemporary Irish style”, and vegetarians are not overlooked.
The quality is outstanding from start to finish, with all the niceties of fine dining observed and carefully sourced produce creatively handled and well delivered by Bryan McCarthy and a strong team that includes 2012 Euro-Toques Young Chef finalist, Jack O'Keeffe.
Following an amuse bouche such as spinach mousse with smoked duck, starters offer a diverse choice ranging from line caught mackerel to a shared English Market platter. Favourites include a dish showcasing a whole range of local foods - pork belly and scallops with Jack McCarthy black pudding, apple and cider - and organic salmon from Ummera 'three ways', served with lemon, beetroot, crème fraiche, cucumber and organic leaves.
Main courses offer everything from beef and lamb to duck (Skeaghanore Farm) and several seafood options, such as monkfish, brill, cod and scallops. All are tempting, but beef lovers should try the chef's speciality of slow cooked feather blade of Hereford beef, served with onion, shallot, shiitake mushroom and mashed potato, which is famed locally and beyond..
To accompany, the large well chosen wine list offers a good range of prices, countries and varieties. Reasonably priced favourites include the La Finca Torrontes and Malbec, both from Luigi Bosca of Mendoza (Argentina). If you are celebrating, there are some sparkling wines including a classy champagne by Bruno Paillard. There's also a large selection of beers and spirits available from the bar, and cocktails too - including a couple of non alcoholic ones.
Staff are friendly, knowledgeable and helpful, and this - plus a lively atmosphere and quite reasonable prices - adds to the overall experience.
A 7-course Tasting Menu allows chef McCarthy to flex his culinary muscles for a special night out, while the 4-course Early Dinner/ pre Theatre menu offers especially good value – and you can opt for a glass of wine in lieu of starter or dessert if you wish.