The Menu: The latest food news from around Ireland

Food news with Joe McNamee.

The Menu: The latest food news from around Ireland


It was very much a case of the Rebel County’s loss being the Kingdom’s gain when Cork-based chef Seamus O’Connell closed down his Ivory Tower restaurant earlier this year, after several decades of trading and during which time he established himself as one of the great iconoclasts of Irish cooking, to open up shop in Killarney, specifically his new restaurant, Malarkey, where he intends serving ‘Irish food to the tourists and fusion food to the Irish’ in a venue he states will be his greatest restaurant to date.

As The Menu believed The Ivory Tower, on its day, to be one of the great Irish restaurants of all time, O’Connell’s claim is certainly raising the bar to a new mark, a mark The Menu is very keen to clear in the near future, albeit entirely in a metaphorical sense, his days of hurdling anything other than a piled plate and a bottle of Burgundy, somewhat receding into an increasingly hazy past.

To mark the new opening and to introduce Malarkey to the good people of Killarney and beyond, for the entire month of July, O’Connell is offering a 10% discount on his Irish tasting menu, his deluxe fusion menu and, with three being very much the magic number, his Malarkey €30-for-three-courses evening menu, the latter being especially fine value if you have yet to sample the cooking of one of Ireland’s finest ever chefs.

Holy smoke

The blond Decky Walsh, head chef at Holy Smoke and the Mardyke Entertainment Complex, in Cork city, and general all-round good sport as he proved so comprehensively with his splendidly entertaining showing in the Chef’s Obstacle Course at last year’s Grub Circus at All Together Now festival, in Co Waterford, is now running for the hills, or to be more specific, returning to his homelands in the foothills of the Comeragh Mountains, to present a feast cooked over fire, Holy Smoke: A Celebration of Local Comeragh Food (July 13) as part of the Comeragh’s Wild Festival.

Holy Smoke
Holy Smoke

Decky will be fetching up at Nell’s Farmhouse, a heritage farm near Carrick-on-Suir, to present a six-course menu, featuring some truly exquisite local produce, including smoked brown trout, slow-roasted leg of Comeragh lamb, locally-sourced beef tomahawk and free range chicken, all delivered against a backdrop of the glorious Comeraghs, and all for an absolute steal at just €25 a skull. (

Swing low

That old canard about a round of golf being a good walk spoiled is rather turned on its head should The Menu wind up at Skibbereen Golf Club for their Gourmet Golf event (July 13-14), all part of their Annual Jack Lynch Memorial Classic, as in between his fruitless searching for yet another banished ball, he will be able to sample exquisite local food stuffs such as Skeaghanore Duck, Jude’s Chocolates, Glenilen Dairy Produce, Gubbeen & Carbery cheeses and West Cork Distillers Whiskey & Gin.

Busy bee

The Menu tends to be a bit of a martyr to throat, what with all his singing and shouting and general rambunctious carry-on, so the consumption of honey for physical wellbeing as well as pleasure is a daily practice in Chez Menu, and, of late, he has been greatly taken with the Raw Ivy Honey, from Limerick-based BeeActiv.

Honey derived from bees feeding on ivy has long been feted for its especially efficacious effect, particularly for those with chest ailments, and this particular honey is set and then creamed resulting in a dense finish more akin to soft toffee than liquid honey and presenting with a deep and singular resonance on the palate yielding almost astringent notes of cherry and grassy herbs, all balanced by a demure and sweet caramel finish.

Beer of the week

8 Degrees Brewing ‘Rack ‘Em Up’ No 3, Red Ball Aussie IPA 5.7% ABV; 44cl — €3.89

Stockists: Bradley’s; O’Donovan’s; Molloy’s; O’Brien’s,

8 Degrees in Mitchelstown, Co Cork turned eight this year and to celebrate it is producing eight new beers, each one named after a pool ball.

No 1 was the Yellow Ball Double Hop IPA and No 2 is an intriguing coffee-infused Vienna lager that divided opinion (I liked it).

No 3 Aussie IPA pours a pleasing amber gold and has candied pear and citrus aromas — fruity and bright on the palate with red fruits shining through, a big hit of Aussie hop bitterness and lingering bitter lime flavours.

A punchy and rather delightful summer IPA.

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