Just off South Mall, this little restaurant feels like an outpost of France - the menu at the entrance will draw you in, and you'll be glad you noticed it.
It's run by Patrick and Soizic Kiely - both formerly of Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud (among a number of other famous restaurants) but, although that says a lot about the key standards, Les Gourmandises is far more reminiscent of family-run restaurants in France.
There's nothing flash about the quiet style of this restaurant: a small reception area is cleverly arranged to make three compact seating areas with a bar, fresh flowers and stylish cushions; the welcome is cordial without being effusive, and the team under Soizic's guidance go about their business with quiet competence.
The long, narrow, high-ceilinged room, formerly a Turkish bath, is a restrained, modern white space, with comfortable subdued lighting and low key music.
This Cork restaurants menus are not overlong, but change daily to accommodate the day's market and local suppliers are listed. There is usually a tasting plate among the starters, which may be seafood platter; this varies and may contain five or so elements, each treated differently and with appropriate sauces/garnishes, arranged to please the eye as well as the palate. Another outstanding dish is the signature Les Gourmandises assiette of charcuterie, served in the classic style with toasted brioche.
Presentation is stylish, and great attention is given to the marriage of complementary flavours - a dish of roasted fillet of beef, for example, comes with Gubbeen lardons, braised onions, mushrooms and plum tomatoes - and careful seasoning.
To finish, there may be upbeat classic seasonal desserts - vanilla panna cotta with rhubarb compote & Madeira cake, for example - a good French & Irish cheese selection, and lovely coffee.
The wine list is not long but very well chosen and includes some real finds, including the house wines.
Terrific food and good value, Les Gourmandises feels like one of the hidden treasures you'd like to keep a secret lest it become too popular. This busy restaurant is far from being a secret among appreciative Cork diners, however, and its well deserved success means that advance booking is strongly advised.
*Since May 2016 Pat Kiely and his kitchen team have also been responsible for the food at The Woodford gastropub nearby (see entry).