Restaurant review: Crafting a night to remember in Rosscarbery

"CRAFT’s regularly changing menu, a culinary tour of various global cuisines has proven very popular with local customers and earns a few more fans at this table."
Restaurant review: Crafting a night to remember in Rosscarbery

Neil Grant. the Scottish manager of the Celtic Ross Hotel, West Cork holding the one of his finished at-home Burns Night haggis suppers. Also included are chefs Alex Petit. and Shane Deane. Picture: Dan Linehan

  • CRAFT 
  • West Cork Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarbery, Co. Cork, P85 WF86
  • Opening Hours: Fri, 4pm- 8pm; Sat, 10am-8pm; Sun, 10am-5pm 
  • Tel. (023) 887 8108 
  • Website

The Burns’ Supper, a traditional late January dinner celebrating the life and poetry of Robert Burns is, measure for measure — quite literally — the Scottish equivalent of St Patrick’s Day, an outpouring of national pride with an often equivalent outpouring of the gargle.

While I am a fiercely proud Gael, a near equal proportion of my own DNA comes in various patterns of tartan so I get to experience the best of both worlds and, anyway, ‘Dry January’ has been deferred this year due to lockdown restrictions and their impact on mental wellbeing!

Unable to host his usual sit-down gathering this year, Celtic Ross general manager and proud Scot, Neil Grant, instead tasked executive chef, Alex Petit, and head chef, Shane Deane, with putting together a take-home Burns’ Supper meal kit which I duly collect on a late afternoon from a kilted Grant in Rosscarbery.

We kick off with a delicious Rusty Nail cocktail (Drambuie and Whiskey) as we set about a very nicely delivered Rosscarbery Pork Scotch Egg with near fondant yolk and cracking Forfar ‘Bridies’, traditional Scottish pasties, here filled with ‘neeps and tatties’ (turnips and potatoes, essential to any Burns’ Supper).

Cullen Skink is a wonderfully rich, creamy vegetable broth with immaculate smoked haddock from Sally Barnes’ Woodcock Smokery.

Main course is slow-cooked venison shoulder with Scotch broth, including nutty barley, and, pride of the plate, haggis. 

The almost immediate impact of Brexit scuppered any chance of sourcing Scottish haggis so the Irish meat pudding guru, Kanturk butcher, Jack McCarthy, came to the rescue, producing a pudding that is, whisper it softly, a vast improvement on what can often be a penitential experience.

Add in the several wee drams of Scotch essential to the traditional toast, and my rendition of the entire nine verses of Burns’ Address to Haggis, is for once more heart than ham.

The closer is a real winter comforter, exquisite Three Chimney’s Orange Marmalade Pudding with Scotch whisky custard.

The other recent addition to the Celtic Ross Hotel’s culinary repertoire is a casual dining food truck, CRAFT West Cork, tonight feeding CW and La Daughter — neither much enamoured with the notion of haggis and venison.

Wild Atlantic Chilli Monkfish Popcorn are addictive crisp-fried morsels of meaty fish, served with wasabi mayo, miso and sesame slaw, watercress, while clean, bright flavours of Vietnamese Chicken spring roll achieve depth with a pungent Nuoc Mam dipping sauce. 

No 2 Son, pauses between venison and haggis to procure a share of crispy deep-fried karaage chicken with katsu Japanese curry and lime rice and I sample a very decent Mexican-style caldo, earthy tomato and fish stew, with shrimp, hake, fresh coriander and corn tortilla chips. 

CRAFT’s regularly changing menu, a culinary tour of various global cuisines has proven very popular with local customers and earns a few more fans at this table. It all adds up to the most culinarily eclectic Burns’ Supper anyone has ever sat down to but the end result is an evening of fine fare and no little laughter.

The first great joy of the Pilgrim’s ‘takeaway’ experience is opening the package of ‘provisions’.
The first great joy of the Pilgrim’s ‘takeaway’ experience is opening the package of ‘provisions’.

  • Pilgrim’s Restaurant 
  • 6 South Square, Rosscarbery, Co.Cork, P85 A596
  • 023 883 1796 
  • pilgrims.ie

The first great joy of the Pilgrim’s ‘takeaway’ experience is opening the package of ‘provisions’, extra items for the larder: zinging Piccalilli Sauce, sumptuous, creamy Pilgrim’s Yoghurt, nutty, almost savoury chocolate flapjacks, mature Crozier Blue and preserves from last season, pickled wild garlic ransoms and brined green beans; near enough a meal in itself.

We start with mixed leaves, dressed in a gorgeous combo of pickled chilli water and Alexander oil, to accompany toothsome, creamy Macroom Buffalo Mozzarella, blood orange, superb honey pickled coriander and pumpkin seeds and flax crackers.

We marinate fresh hake fillets in Jennings’ funky shio koji, a fermented barley paste, before baking, serving with pan-wilted perpetual spinach and crushed potato cake. Smoked butter beurre blanc is the crowning glory, as we whisk Jennings’ oak-smoked butter into a divine reduction (cream, wine, shallots, mussel stock), completing a delicious with pert pickled mussels.

Dessert sees sweetness allayed with savoury and sour tastes and textures: mealy brown butter and Muscovado lemon polenta cake; unctuous cardamom yoghurt; ‘drunken’ prunes, poached in spiced sugar syrup with orange wedges.

Taking just 15 minutes of simple effort in the kitchen, this is one of the very best ‘meal kits’ out there right now and a surefire way of staving off pangs of longing for a return to one of my most favourite of all restaurants.

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