Opened in September 2012 by husband and wife team Conrad and Judy Howard and Tracey Corbett (of Market Lane Restaurant & Bar and the Castle Café at Blackrock), ORSO Kitchen and Bar is bringing some very welcome Mediterranean sunshine to Cork city centre.
Informal and inviting with a lively buzz, it’s open from early until late - and, while there may be no porridge here, you can start the day with a power packed warm flatbread with banana cinnamon and toasted almonds, or perhaps Breakfast Manoushi, with poached egg, black pudding and caramelised onion.
The Lebanese flatbread, the Manoushi, features at lunch too, perhaps with spicy beef, peppers, fontina cheese and spring onion, or you might try warm harissa chicken koftas in home baked pitta - or a vegetarian dish of stuffed roast aubergine with spiced roast vegetables, yoghurt and pine nuts. There’s a choice of salads with all of the mains (pick from four, usually) and, while all the ingredients may not be familiar, you can be sure of the provenance from this reliable team.
All day long, there are sweet treats and drinks to enjoy, including a daily juice which is a treat - watch out for the orange and carrot one, no doubt your “cheeky” waiter will crack a joke about you seeing in the dark that night - and their unique five blend coffee and much more including a great selection of teas.
The dinner menu gears up to more substantial dishes such as Moroccan beef patties, and roast monkfish with Bombay spices - or perhaps you’d like to share the whole roast fish of the day. Sides include Bombay spiced potato wedges and Spanish rice with olives and mixed peppers - many of the dishes here are not only ful of flavourt but incredibly colourful too.
And for dessert, what else but the giant rosewater and pistachio meringues with fruit and cream...which, incidentally, is one of an impressive range of coeliac friendly options offered on both daytime and evening menus.
The wine list is very impressive for a place of its size, with the added attraction that you can order taster glasses (75ml). Beers, including their own and a couple from Dungarvan Brewing Company, are also available, as is their own special Bellini.
Prices are very fair at this popular little restaurant, but no reservations are taken. Turnover is usually quick at lunchtime, but it can be a different story in the evening when the kitchen gets busy. However, if you don’t want to risk a long wait, there’s a plan B option - through their online ordering system you can order your food online for collection at a time that’s convenient to you.