THERE’S a tense scene in the 1992 version of The Last of the Mohicans where a waterfall becomes a central if not dominant character for a few decisive scenes. A young Daniel-Day Lewis — bristling like a landmine with charisma, so smouldering and indefatigable that he makes Sunday nights’ Lazarus Poldark look like a pasty also-ran in an under-12 Feis competition — plays the rescuing angel Hawkeye.
He leads the small, desperate group he is trying to get to a safe haven before they fall into the hands of murderous Hurons, into a secret cave curtained from prying eyes by a waterfall … but it would be a pity to say more, it might ruin a classic story for those who have yet to enjoy it, albeit one from another, buckskin time.
We — DW as ever — shared our night at Greene’s Restaurant with a smaller waterfall, one that topples down a city centre cliff-face just outside the buzzing dining room. It’s a feature money could hardly buy, well not outside Las Vegas anyway.
There is something deeply seductive about moving water even if you cannot hear it. It seems to set the rhythm for those in its orbit like an orchestra conductor. The falling water lullabied what seemed a lost and bewildered mallard in the pool at the foot of the cliff to sleep – but not before boulevardier Attenborough after boulevardier Attenborough filmed it on their smart phones as if a mallard was a snow leopard.
It’s hard not to think that such excitement over what is still, despite our best efforts, an everyday occurrence probably underlines the disconnect at the heart of the destruction of our countryside and our astonishing indifference to environmental vandalism.
It’s been more than a decade since I ate at Greene’s — Sunday lunch — and I still shiver at the thought of it. I remember thinking that I had discoverd where the intervention beef that the Iranians would not buy went. But that was a long time ago and things have changed utterly and very much for the better.
Just outside the cobbled walkway to the restaurant a blackboard proudly announces that man of the house Bryan McCarthy had been named best chef in Cork in the 2015 Irish Restaurant Awards.
No pressure then.
DW opened with local, rare breed pork, black pudding and beignets, apple, cider, crackling popcorn, celeriac slaw. Apart at all from the observation that it now seems impossible to offer any pork other than rare-breed — and that it’s “local” title confers another layer of sanctity — this was a lovely, subtantial starter with contrasting textures and tastes.
Hardly a natural carnivore, DW did not allow a pig’s squeak escape, a testimony far better than any words I might contrive. My opener was chicken liver parafit with pickled yellow peppers and toasted brioche. This was ballet to paté’s set dancing; delicate, deceptively rich and elegant. It sat on the plate so perfectly that it was almost a crime, but what a joy, to eat it. If you can imagine chicken ice cream this was it.
DW continued with seared hake and scallop, Morteau sausage, samphire, sea spinach, roast chicken velouté, leek and confit lemon — and what a mouthful that description is — and it showed why the on-street blackboard had an achievement to trumpet. A very generous portion of hake and the supporting cast, like Eddie O’Sullivan’s ducks, all in a row.
One of the chef’s specials on offer was rump of Wagyu beef with oyster mushrooms. Despite my enthusiasm for beef I was a Wagyu virgin so cometh the opportunity cometh the man. Was it spectacular? Was it transcendant? Did it change for ever my deep relationship with Aberdeen Angus heifers?
Well, as a politician might say, yes and no. It was grand but no more so than a decent piece of common-breed local beef. But it was a million miles away from the Sunday lunch challenge of my last visit.
Desserts sustained the tempo; DW had chocolte praline tart with ice cream, I had what was described as rhubard and meringue with a lovey gingery ice cream. It was, like my starter, a kind of a story on a plate and almost a crime to eat it. Guilty and more than satisfied. One of the things that made this a lovely evening was the professionalism of the front-of-house staff, Often taken for granted the Greene’s team weretop class — and the food was as good.
Dinner (Early Bird) for three, with a bottle of wine, came to €94.50, plus €10 tip.
Mon-Thurs/Sun, 12-4pm; 5.30-10pm; Fri-Sat, 12-4pm; 5.30-10.30pm
IN A SENTENCE:
A cool, non-trendy, and atmospheric restaurant in a city centre location that ticks all of the boxes.
48 MacCurtain Street,
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