Restaurant review: Pilgrim’s, Co Cork

Pilgrims is an excellent restaurant with excellent food and it presents a happy, uplifting face to the world.

KIM Jong-un, North Korea’s supreme leader, suffers a pretty bad press. 

Last year he was accused of executing an uncle he imagined disloyal by throwing the misforunate man to a pack of starving dogs. 

Later he was accused of having a pop singer girlfriend executed by firing squad — though what constitutes a pop singer north of the 38th parallel is anyone’s guess.

Supreme leaders may be used to this kind of everyday misrepresentation but thankfully both of these stories have been discounted. 

One fable was traced to a Chinese satarist and the lucky girlfriend — Hyon Song-Wol — turned up alive and pouting in a pure and proletarian way at a national art workers rally in Pyongyang in May.

It is not in dispute though that Kim Jong-un has created a time zone specifically for North Korea.

The country has reversed its clocks by 30 minutes to mark the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese rule. 

How far forward he might have to push those clocks to catch up with the zeitgesit is a matter for speculation and running dog capitalist propogandists though the issue is far more pressing for the entrapped North Koreans who reguarly face famine or at the very least severe food shortages.

It has come to the point that I may have to follow Kim Jong-un’s example and establish a matrix specifically for judging restaurants in West Cork. 

Like so much about the region its restaurants are increaingly difficult to fit into the framework easily recognised in the rest of the country. 

I need a new kind of Rosetta Stone, the Rosscarbery Stone maybe, that can easily convey the excellence of some of West Cork’s new restaurants without appearing to be little more than parochial cheerleading. 

I very much want to avoid the trap anticipated by the scientist who argued against sending all of Bach’s work’s to Mars in some sort of a capsule as it might be considered boastful.

This need has been especially evident this summer.

We, DW as ever, have been lucky enough to eat in four newsish restaurants in West Cork; two were pretty good and two were really excellent — Mews in Baltimore and today’s subject, Pilgrim’s in Roscarbery.

This strike rate is pretty difficult to sustain but our visit to Pilgrim’s ticked all of the boxes and then some. 

It’s based in a lovely, well-lit room, the food is top class, the atmosphere, even on the Wednesday evening we visited, was warm and celebratory. The service — more on this anon — was exemplary.

Pilgrim’s offer “nibbles”, “starters”, “mains”, “ices” or “puddings” and cheeses. 

We stuck to the usual three-step route and DW opened with what, to some tastes anyway, might be an overly simple dish. 

Fresh, whole raw carrots with a seaweed sauce/paste and a dollop of pickle. 

It was pleasant, invigorating and very real — like a seashore walk. I chose beef ssäm — seared spring onion sauce, pickled cucumber and lettuce. 

Again, in every way, a very simple dish but entirely pleasurable. Slices of sweet and soft seared beef that you wrap in lettuce and dip in a spikey but subtle sauce. More a New York walk. Yum.

DW chose a main course, from a list of just three, of ling, prawns, piquant tomato bisque sauce, green beans, roast aubergine and crushed potatos. 

It looked wonderful and tasted as it looked. Fresh, firm, fish with lovely sauces that embellished without drowning. Yum again.

For my main I chose 12-hour pork belly — the third option was vegetarian and my conversion is incomplete — it was served with sauted cabbage and salt baked beetroot — and a twirl of crackling that most pork lovers might not recognise. 

It was a lovely dish made even better by a side dish of up-and-at-em smoked potatoes — a dish so simply described but one in a taste world of its own.

Earlier, when I was asked to taste the wine, which was not at its best, I did not even have to object, my grimace said it all. The bottle was replaced and then replaced a second time and all with a smile. Excellent.

Pilgrims is an excellent restaurant with excellent food and it presents a happy, uplifting face to the world. Even a Supreme leader, and several lurk in West Cork, would, I’m sure, enjoy it. I know we did.

The Verdict

Food: 8.5/10

Atmosphere: 8.5/10

Service: 9/10

Value: 8.5/10

The tab: Two three-course dinners and wine — a decent enough red La Petit Caboche at €27.00 — and coffee cost €109.50, tip extra.

How to: Wed to Sat 6pm to 10pm; Sunday lunch 1pm to 4pm.

In a sentence: Lovely spot, vibrant food and a vibrant atmosphere worth a place in the West Cork restaurants’ bucket list.

Pilgrim’s, 6 South Square, Ros Ó gCairbre,  Co Cork;

tel: 023-8831796, 


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