An integral part of Cork life since 1982, sisters Eithne and Jacqueline Barry's delightful restaurant has changed with the years, evolving from quite a traditional place to a smart contemporary space. But, while the surroundings may go through periodic re-makes, the fundamentals of warm hospitality and great food never waiver and that is the reason why many would cite Jacques as their favourite Cork restaurants.
There is always a personal welcome and, together with Eileen Carey, who has been in the kitchen with Jacque Barry since 1986, this team has always a put high value on the provenance and quality of the food that provides the building blocks for their delicious meals - and, appropriately, Jacque is now leader of the Cork Slow Food Convivium.
Menus are based on carefully sourced ingredients from a network of suppliers built up over many years and, together with skill and judgement in the kitchen, this shows particularly as they have the confidence to keep things simple and allow the food to speak for itself.
You could start your meal in delectably civilised fashion with a half bottle of Manzanilla, served with nuts and olives, while considering choices from menus that are refreshingly short, which allows this skilled team to concentrate on the delicious cooking that is their forte.
There are also daily specials, which may include unusual items - lamb's tongue with mustard & breadcrumbs, with a fresh beetroot & carrot slaw, for example.
Some of the moreish starters may also be available as a main course, and there are numerous wonderful speciality dishes, with a focus on fresh fish- who could resist a spring dish of fresh john dory with purple sprouting broccoli and hollandaise sauce? Irresistible desserts might include a delicious variation on an old favourite such as roast plums with a hazelnut crumble & ice cream, or you can finish with Irish cheeses - offered with handmade biscuits and drunken figs.
An interesting, informative wine list matches the food, and includes some organic wines, a wine of the month and a good choice of half bottles.
Consistently good cooking in stylish, relaxed surroundings, genuinely hospitable service, and excellent value are among the things that make Jacques special.
The early dinner menu offers particularly good value - and the team at Jacques is now also responsible for the food at The Woodford pub, in the old Woodford Bourne wine merchants' premises (L Mon-Sat, D Thu-Sat; entrances from Paul Street and Daunt Square).
*Jacques was the winner of our Natural Food Award, 2008.