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Jacques Restaurant, Cork

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The cooking women of Cork never lose their appetite. After more than thirty years of running one of the city's stalwart destinations, Jacques, Eithne and Jacque Barry should surely just sit back and take it easy. But they don't. Their move first to the Woodford showed them trying out a new, more informal mode of food. Now, with the opening of their new food bar, which they have created by blasting through the wall at the rere of Jacques to fashion a smart new space that opens onto Oliver Plunkett Street, they have rebirthed a Cork institution by grafting it onto a funky cousin. The little plates we shared on just their second night of opening were right on the money – a trio of cheese croquettes; some al dente Sicilian cauliflower; perfect, light Italian meatballs with just a note of piquancy; terrific little smoked haddock fishcakes with a leek sauce. Our meat platter had grilled Gubbeen chorizo; salami; lomo; Jacques’ own baked ham; excellent house pâté on toast; and Jack McCarthy's black pudding with a buttery apple sauce. With pickled cucumber and a fine piccalilli, this board offered ten sharp, soulful flavours, and put one in mind of the chinese epithet that “the banquet is in the first bite”. As you dived into and searched through the different tastes and textures, the palate was bouncing happily around like a pin ball, and the taste buds were delighted right to the conclusion of a salted carmel and chocolate tart. The wine list is a single page, with wines by the glass and carafe, the music is astonishingly good and superbly curated, and this is a winner.

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