Restaurant review: Organico, Bantry, Co Cork

We are caught between a rock and an especially soft and self-indulgent place. 

Restaurant review: Organico, Bantry, Co Cork

The holidays are nearly over, the cold reality of school/work looms ahead, behind lie the clean-picked bones of Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.

I am not a curmudgeon who bemoans Christmas; as the keeper of a sprinkling of small fry, it still arrives, annually, festooned in fresh new joy.

This year, though, we have been housebound for the duration with the Dreaded Lurgy, or somesuch, able for little other than prolonged bouts of consumptive lounging, mopping fevered temples, semaphoring imminent demise with faintly fluttering Kleenex.

This orgy of self-pity is interspersed with even more prolonged bouts of Bacchanalian consumption and we have grown weary, of each other and our circumstances.

We need the entire schemozzle to end right now. We need to cast open the windows, metaphorical and literal, and breathe fresh air.

We need a prolonged stay in a Swiss sanitorium, jumping jacks each morning with Heidi and Peter the Goatherd.

We need our blood to be filtered by sybaritic leeches or whatever Keith Richards does to defy medical science and thrive into his dotage.

And most of all, we need to banish meat entirely from our diet forever — or for at least a month. A trip to Organico, an almost completely vegetarian restaurant, over the mountain from our West Cork bolthole, seems just the ticket.

Bantry continues to do her best imitation of Lana Turner nipping down to the shops without makeup, fag dangling from the corner of mouth; ugly hoardings on a seemingly perpetually stalled but badly needed waterfront development, a shameful blight on the lovely town’s multiple charms.

Organico, on the other hand, is the ugly duckling that makes every effort and scrubs up impossibly well, the squat two-storey commercial ‘box’ sporting the chirpiest livery in town and a cheerful interior.

It opened as a craft shop 25 years ago by Alan Dare, an erstwhile organic farmer on Sheep’s Head.

His daughters, Rachel and Hannah, have been involved since childhood, Rachel eventually developing and managing the café, Hannah running the excellent organic health food shop alongside.

Today it seems we are not the only ones in need of TLC for the place is absolutely heaving.

We commence our cure with ‘aperitifs’, fresh juices, apple, carrot, ginger, all singing Handel’s Messiah on the palate.

No 2’s own brand of post-yuletide ennui sees him, astonishingly, spurning his usual soup order but I know better and order spicy roast tomato with peppers, carrots, aubergine with Italian herbs.

After a mouthful of the sweet, zingy ‘healer’ he commandeers the lot.

Pizza swirl is more akin to a Danish pastry, fluffy light dough topped with cheese and tomato, pesto on the side for dipping.

Such a ‘pizza’ base might challenge the Trades’ Descriptions Act but, who cares, it is delightful.

Goat’s cheese melt sits on wholemeal bread topped with onion marmalade, exactly the class of comfort needed on this cold, wet morn, wholesome, full of texture and flavour and while My Heart’s Delight’s falafels are not technically falafels, more fried bean patties, they are delicious, sweet, mildly spiced and flecked with carmelised onion.

We are in need of an injection of nature’s raw bounty and get it in spades: a bright, crunchy red cabbage salad; sweet grated carrot with sesame seeds and sprouted beans; rice vermicelli noodles with carrot, peppers, cucumber and bright coriander leaves.

I can tell you nothing about a very tasty looking bulgur wheat salad other than it ended up in No 2 Son’s belly in a manner that would leave magician David Copperfield gawping like a slack-jawed loon.

It was there, it was gone, nobody saw it, how did he do it?

Hummus is a grainy puree with a nice garlic hit that we apply as a condiment across all our dishes.

Our resolute new selves might have left it at that, perhaps heading off for a pleasant 80km hike followed by a bracing dip in the Atlantic but La Daughter, in particular, believes purification rituals should end on a sweet note.

They have giant cookies, we have berry and polenta cake accompanied by fine espresso.

Visiting Organico turns out to be one of the best New Year’s resolutions I’ve ever made.

Furthermore, it’s one I’ll have no problem sticking to.

Organico, 2 Glengarriff Road, Bantry, Co Cork, 027 55905

The Tab

€56.60 (excluding tip)

The Verdict 

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Value: 9/10

Atmosphere: 8.5/10

Tagline: “A New Year’s resolution you’ll have no problem sticking with”

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