A double whammy of reviews for you guys today. I don’t go out to eat a huge amount, and when I do, I like to try somewhere new or somewhere I haven’t been for a while. So it’s fairly unusual for me to end up in the same restaurant twice in one week, but that’s exactly what happened with both Bacco and Douglas Tea Rooms. Nothing like having two takes to help me give a full review!
Let’s start with Douglas Tea Rooms. It fills half the space left vacant when Amicus closed its doors in Douglas – the other half is taken by La Lavanda, which I have yet to try. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but the menu sounded good so we gave it a shot. It’s definitely one of those bigger-on-the-inside kind of places; once you step inside through the floor-length curtains it’s actually a surprisingly large and bustling cafe, which also has a terrace and seating outside. The decor is typically tea room, lots of china and chintz prints. But my eye was drawn to the amazing selection of cakes on the counter – very appetising! We took a table and were brought menus. They serve your typical range of sambos, paninis and wraps, plus a hot food menu that included fish pie, stew and quiche.
We went for a baked ham and mozzarella panini, a tikka chicken panini and two diet cokes. The paninis were stuffed with fillings, and were just what we wanted – in fact, we had enjoyed them so much that when wanting a bite to eat a few days later, we headed straight back down and ordered the same thing. This time around, we also ordered a portion of fries. There was a delay with our food on this occasion – the waitress explained that the tikka panini would take longer to arrive as they chef had accidentally made two ham & cheese instead. But when it did arrive, the chef brought it down himself and apologised, which I thought was a nice touch.
Two paninis and two diet cokes hit €15, and I’m completely failing at finding out how much the fries were, but I think in the region of €2.95. They also have dinner and brunch menus, plus the aforementioned selection of cakes and coffees, so there will be lots to keep me coming back, I reckon.
Now to Bacco. Before my first time at this restaurant, I had worked up probably the biggest hunger of my life. I had a rare Sunday off work, so Eamonn and I decided to head to Guagan Barra, a forest park type place filled with hiking trails. We spent about four hours up and down moutains, crossing rivers and generally enjoy the great outdoors. On our return to Cork, our thoughts inevitably turned to food. Having stopped in Macroom and finding nothing that grabbed us, we considered Ballincollig. Eamonn suggested Bacco, having been there before with family and loving it. I’ll eat Italian food all day long so I didn’t take much convincing.
We arrived without a reservation but were seated immediately. Shortly after being seated we were brought a basket of still-warm garlic bread and bread sticks. At this point I was having trouble deciding between a pasta dish or pizza, but the soft, chewy, flavoured bread made my mind up for me, and pizza it was. I chose the quatro formagio, while Eamonn went for a chicken dish with mushroom sauce (unfortunately I can’t find their menu online to give the exact name). I think a four-cheese pizza can sometimes be a risky choice; it can very easily be bland and stodgy. But this was so highly flavoured, and the four cheeses were so different from each other, that it never became boring. Even with my monster hunger I only managed to finish about half of it, but the waiter was happy to wrap it up for me to take away. I had a little food envy when I tasted the chicken dish, the mushroom sauce was so good. But as it came with a side of veg and potatoes – not something I would have much interest in – I was happy with my choice.
A week or two later, we found ourselves back there again for a family occasion. Having gone for the pizza last time, I chose pasta this time around and went for the carbonara, which came served with garlic bread. Because my eyes are bigger than my belly, I went with a bruschetta starter too. Both as good as last time, and again I had to admit defeat half way through my main and get it wrapped up to take home.
So, two thoroughly enjoyable eating experiences, and two places I would be happy to recommend to anyone.