Mother Nature’s Recipes
This month we were lucky enough to get a reservation for The Old Couch Café. It’s a place where Croatian and Polish cultures meet Irish artisanal food.
On a cold winter’s evening, we ventured inside the semi-lit doorway and it seemed like we were seeking shelter in a warm cavern from a passing storm. The dining room is decorated with lichen, acorns, tree branches, worn window panes and an eclectic selection of wooden picture frames. A bespoke Christmas tree sits in the centre adorned with pinecones and tiny starlight’s. A border of red apples lines the darkly painted walls; they glisten in the candlelight. On the windowsill, perched next to a collection of cookery books are ferments-of-all-sorts, brightly displayed in Kilner jars-of-all-shapes and sizes. The setting looks like something out of European Folklore or a Tolkien fantasy,
Owner Damira guides us to our table for four, she’s professional in her manner and explains how the restaurant operates to ensure smooth service and provide optimal experiences for guests. However, it’s clear how passionate she is about her food offering as her enthusiasm spills over while filling us in on the menu .
Dinner consists of six courses…
First course were quirky mini waffle cones, upright in a glass tumbler, each one filled with a luscious yet light hazelnut and orange mascarpone,
Course two arrives on a wooden board and features three different types of breads: a little lardo, bacon and caraway scone, brown bread slices with a hint of rye, and pillows of focaccia. They’re accompanied by two kinds of butter balls on a slate slab, one flavoured with chorizo and the other with chives. It’s amazing what chefs achieve with simple bread and butter nowadays!
For my starter I had Woodstown Oysters, straight from Waterford’s shores- three giant bivalves dressed with a “sea buckthorn and green peppercorn granita, elderflower mignonette”. Without hesitation I can safely say these were the best oysters I’ve ever tasted. So fresh, so full of flavour, no chewiness and simply divine when swallowed with a glass of white wine.
With the starter and main courses, I asked for pairing suggestions and received some great guidance from their FOH person Lauren. From the options, I picked a Slovenian white wine which was sublime with the oysters. And then chose a Tempranillo for the main course to compliment the venison.
For mains, a perfectly cooked piece of Venison (see photos below) surrounded by “roasted beetroot and onions, Irish summer truffle, game & blackcurrant jus, barley”.
Course four is known as a pre-dessert. It was a palate cleanser too, a sorbet of red currant and white chocolate on a stick served in a glass globe.
There were four dessert options which also included a cheese board. My choice that evening was Messy Mille Feuille with cranberry and orange, sprinkled with whole pistachios. This had a wonderful zestiness and a fruit and nut seasonal vibe. We were feeling adventurous so the four of us ordered a different dessert option each and then shared them between us. This is a great way to sample a bit of everything, including some cuts from the cheeseboard.
A shot of espresso made an ideal companion to the petit fours course: a small box-shaped concrete platter filled with cocoa nips was presented with four of the elusive Marco Cocoa bonbons nesting on top. These are crafted in small batches by Waterford artisan chocolatier Mark Lanigan. On this occasion, his domed creations were salted caramel centres encased in delicate chocolate and indigo paint splashed shells. Reminiscent of a night sky and tasting of the sea.
The Old Couch is rustic and refreshing like a walk through the woods, in the rain. If you have not been yet, we advise you make the trek to this cosy cabin (before it’s a well-beaten track).
Opinion: The six course tasting menu is a great idea as you get to savour the experience for a luxurious length of time, to taste lots and you can experiment also by pairing your wines to your courses. It’s very relaxing. Overall it’s good value too.
Tip: They have a selection cocktails made with Kinsale Mead. And if you are driving they will make mocktails for you instead.
Foodie Footnote*: for enthusiastic beef eaters, Ridgeway Wagyu* beef from Co. Wicklow is on the menu for a supplementary cost of €25
Cost: The Dine in Menu is €57 per person (excludes drinks).
For the complete menu or to make a reservation see The Old Couch Café website.
Posted by TastefulThinking.ie