A friend of mine wrote to say she would be visiting Cork City with her family (herself, her husband, her two lovely daughters). Yay! I’ve not seen her in years! Of course, I instantly wanted to tell her about all the great things to do and places to eat so I jotted down my favorites if I was to visit Cork for a couple days in Springtime. This is what resulted. Be forewarned, it is mostly related to places to eat. Big surprise, I know.
A great start to the day is a good breakfast. The key is to have one that nourishes you without leaving you in a food coma. Eggs are great for this because of the protein. My two favorite places in City Centre to eat eggs are Fenns Quay and Liberty Grill. Fenns Quay also is one of my favorite places for lunch and dinner.
Fenns Quay on Shears (behind and one block west of the Courthouse on Washington) is one of my favorites for food and they have a la carte breakfasts every day (except Sundays) starting at 8:30am. Nice coffee (so says my Seattle-raised hubby). I love their eggs Florentine with Ardsallagh (a local goat cheese). Their hot chocolate is yummmm! They melt real chocolate buttons in it. For lunch, their specials are always good and I adore their chicken in green salad. Their burger is bun-free and one of the most authentic American in terms of the texture of the meat. The head chef is Kate. They are child friendly without being made for kids. Their Hollandaise is Pasteurized. Off the tourist track. Good wine and beer (including 8 Degrees Brewing, I think) selection. Recently nominated for Best Restaurant, Chef and Customer Service for the upcoming RAI regional restaurant awards.
Fenn’s Quay, Shears Street, Cork City
Telephone: +353 (0)21-4279527
Chef Kate on Twitter: @FQChefess
Facebook: Fenns Quay
Liberty Grill has very American fare and their breakfasts include many a delicious item. Portions are ample. Queues are commonplace during peak meal times or weekends. Their Hollandaise is Pasteurized.
If your kids need a little chill time amidst a big day of sightseeing or rushing around, pop into the kid’s room at Cork City Central Public Library on Grand Parade
. The kid’s room in the front when you first walk in and you can go in and have a little reading session together before heading back out to the city for your next adventure. Free city wifi is strong here. Just accept terms of service (no access to file sharing sites) and it’s free.
Cork City Library Central Branch, Cork City
Telephone: +353 (0)21-4224900
For some culture, scenery, and food on the outskirts of the City, check out Fresco Bistro & Eaterie in the Glucksman Gallery on the campus of UCC. Every weekend, there are family/child events (free) at the museum. Fresco Bistro is nice for weekday breakfasts or lunch or for brunch on Saturdays or Sundays. Their flourless chocolate cake is light and sooooo good. The place is run by Brian and Kash. For more about Fresco Bistro, read this blog post I wrote.
Fresco Bistro & Eaterie in the Glucksman Gallery on the campus of UCC, Cork City
Telephone: +353 (0)21-4901848
Facebook: Fresco Bistro UCC
Need to take a break to rest your feet, refuel your belly between meals, or to make sure you know what you’re doing next? I recommend stopping into Electric‘s downstairs cafe. They have my favorite bottled gingerbeer (aka ginger ale) as well as coffee, cappuccino, hot chocolate, tea, beer, etc… View of River Lee from back seating section. Good natural light. Nice scones and sweets. It is on South Mall near Grand Parade. Free Wifi. Ask at the bar for the password. Of course, if you want a bigger meal, their upstairs has a lovely menu.
Electric, 41, South Mall, Cork City
Telephone: +353 (0)21-4222990
For something more active than sitting and eating, climb the belltower of St. Anne’s of Shandon and ring the Shandon Bells.
If you’re in the mood for a picnic and the weather agrees with that idea, why not pick up a few nice sandwiches, salads, and drinks to-go. Top three sources for tasty and affordable picnic sandwiches (excluding any national chains) are:
- Long Valley, 10 Winthrop St has AMAZING corned beef sandwiches. They also have chicken and beef sandwiches and probably ham, but I only have interest in the corned beef salad sandwich. Trust me, it’s good. And less than a fiver!
- Wild Ways, 21 Princes Street, Cork City, Telephone: +353 (0)21-4272199
E-mail: feedback form, Website: http://www.wildways.net
- The English Market has all the stalls and options to create your own custom picnic. Pay a visit to On the Pig’s Back some cheeses or pate, then get some fresh apples from one of the produce stands, olives from The Olive Stall, fig preserves and goat cheese from Iago, and a loaf of bread from Alternative Bread Company.
I recommend going for your picnic in Bishop Lucey Park (by the central library between Grand Parade/North Main Street/Tuckey Street) or in the slightly farther away but more sprawling Fitzgerald Park, which is about 15 minutes walk from city centre and a great spot for a picnic on a nice day. There is a little cafe there with Cornettos and soda but not much for real food. A museum there too.
Fota Wildlife Park is great for kids of all ages. Ideal for cloudy days or sunny ones. Check out the cheetah run and stroll among the animals. The staff know so much and are always willing to share facts, tid bits and history. I particularly love hearing about their Bald Eagles.
Fota Wildlife Park, Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork
Telephone: +353 (0)21-4812678
Facebook: Fota Wildlife
For science buffs or rainy days, I recommend a visit to Blackrock Castle Observatory. There is even the option for a tasty meal at Castle Cafe which has really nice menu options (not too pricey). Free parking at Blackrock Castle around the corner by the water.
Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork C2, Co. Cork
Observatory Telephone: +353 (0)21-4357917
Observatory E-mail: email@example.com
Observatory Website: http://www.bco.ie/
Observatory on Twitter: @BlackrockCastle
Observatory Facebook: BCO
Castle Cafe, Cork C2, Co. Cork
Cafe Telephone: +353 (0)21-4357911
Cafe E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cafe Website: http://www.castlecafe.ie
Cafe on Twitter: @Castle_Cafe1
Cafe Facebook: Castle Cafe
If you want to do a little shopping, there are all the usual shops plus my favorites for women’s apparel: Amity and Store. Those are the shops to visit if you don’t want to dress like everyone else. Also The Dressing Room but they are pricier than the other two I’ve mentioned and much more suited to a professional wardrobe. Chain stores are easily found on Patrick’s Street and Opera Lane (list of stores and hours here).
But perhaps I’ll do shopping in a separate post since you’ll have plenty to do in a weekend visit to Cork as it is. And if you’re into knitting or sewing, definitely check out some of the city’s wool and knitting shops (there’s a list here) and the Cork Button Factory.
Oh, and if you get sick and need a prescription at an odd hour when you’re in Cork there is a late-night pharmacy on Patrick’s Street and Irwin’s Late-Night Pharmacy is on Shandon near North Gate Bridge.