19 Princes Street
Phone: 021 427 0880
Easily overlooked, merely because of where it is, but one of the true treasures of Cork city, a monument to simple, wholesome, unfussy cooking based on fabulous, fresh local produce.
There’s something about the streets that lie between Oliver Plunkett Street and Grand Parade in the centre of Cork city. One usually navigates them at a certain pace and it’s easy to miss some of the things that are there. In fact it’s far too easy to pass by Nash 19 without noticing it at all.
And that would really be a shame, because Nash 19 does some of the best cooking in the city. It’s not fancy stuff, far from it. It’s not the kind of thing that gets Michelin inspectors excited, and let’s be thankful for that. Because we are talking about food that is wholesome, delicious, nurturing, welcoming and local.
Anyway, I will happily confess to being obsessed with what's on my plate, and not how fashionable it is or where I’m eating it. I sometimes wonder if I was stolen by the fairies at birth from Continental parents and dumped unceremoniously in a north Dublin suburb. Like a lot of Italians, I find that good food, of whatever kind, just makes me happy.
Incidentally, the other reason that people like me - the out of towners who come to Cork on the odd Saturday - tend to miss Nash 19 is because it doesn't open in the evenings and remains firmly closed on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays.
The menu is the very antithesis of the sort of thing that has me wondering what I least don't want to eat.
You can have either a vast bowl of soup or a modest cup. The vast bowl, with the excellent bread is a lunch in itself. Nash 19’s soups are legendary and I particularly recall a dense, rich, creamy mushroom soup and a truly outstaning cream of chicken seasoned with wild garlic. And that was long before wild garlic became the hipster-approved ingredient that it is now.
How about a frittata with tangy Cúl Choill goat's cheese, sweet potato, tomato and rosemary? A kind of staff of life in itself but accompanied by salad of beetroot, walnuts and coriander with, I think, good balsamic vinegar. It sounds simple, but it was a truly remarkable combination of flavours.
Nash 19's showcase platter representing named suppliers sounds like a vast amount of food. It's not. You won't make a beast of yourself, but it's just right, with umpteen delicious morsels of...well, the following.
Chorizo and salami from Fingal Ferguson of Gubbeen, Jack McCarthy's air-cured beef and pancetta, cheeses from Ardsallagh and Ardrahan, a nugget of rich duck confit with lentils, a smooth, buttery, brandyish chicken liver pate along with fig chutney and freshly baked oat cakes.
What a delightful and delicious idea. A kind of Irish tapas and a tribute, not just to the kitchen here but to the producers which Nash 19 are proud to follow and support.
Of course, it takes time and trouble. Most restaurants deal with just a handful of big suppliers. The difference here, apart from the careful, unfussy, detailed cooking is the taking of the trouble. Nash 19 is a restaurant with a philosophy. And it's not often you can say that.