No. 5 Fenn's Quay Restaurant, Cork

Kate Lawlor of No. 5 Fenn's Quay Restaurant, Cork

 “Just Ask!” is a public awareness campaign that aims to encourage consumers when eating out to look for information on where the food (particularly meat) on their plate comes from, and encourages chefs to provide this information on their menus. The programme supports both large and smaller artisan suppliers, encouraging both Irish diners and visitors from abroad to support restaurants that are in turn supporting their suppliers. The Bord Bia “Just Ask!” Restaurant of the Year has been chosen from the year’s winners selected for the Guide’s monthly e-zine.

This was our “Just Ask!” Restaurant of the Month winner for March, and it stands out from the crowd for many reasons. For a start, how could anyone resist the way that owner-chef Kate Lawlor wears her culinary heart on her sleeve: “Our philosophy is simple, we use only the best produce from the best local suppliers and treat them with care and attention to detail.”

Kate's passion for careful sourcing of ingredients permeates her cooking, and that attracts lovers of good food from far and wide to her restaurant, which is in an atmospheric 250-year old listed building. Everything possible is local and seasonal - the roll call from County Cork alone includes famous products like Rosscarbery Recipes breakfast meats, Gubbeen and Carrigaline cheeses, Toonsbridge Dairy Buffalo Mozzarella and Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms, and there are many more from neighbouring counties.

Specials include seafood sourced daily from K. O’Connell’s at the nearby English Market. But meat - particularly beef - takes pride of place here and char-grilled fillet steak "Wellie Style" is an enduring favourite, also feather blade of beef with Dungarvan Stout gravy, while O’Mahony’s collar of bacon with cabbage is another favourite.

Credited butchers include Tom Durcan Meats (especially famous for their spiced beef) and O’Mahonys Butchers, both of the English Market, and it is interesting to see suppliers of local drinks highlighted too - the excellent Stonewell and Longueville ciders, both from Co Cork, come from Bradleys’ Off Licence on North Main Street, for example, and Dungarvan Brewing Company, just up the coast in West Waterford, supply their famous craft beers.

And, unusually, every menu also offers an invitation that is ‘Just Ask!’ in a nutshell: “For further information on our suppliers and about the menu please ask your server.” It would be lovely to see this kind of engagement with diners more often.

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