I have a confession. I really love this restaurant. I was here before on a mini-break and enjoyed the food so much that I forgot to take notes or pictures of the meal so was unable to write up a post. Recently I returned, and remembered. The food was just as amazing as before, I am very glad to report.
Café Paradiso is a vegetarian restaurant located in Cork City. Since opening in 1993, it has created wonderfully imaginative vegetarian food with a focus on taste and vegetables, rather than stodgy protein dishes. The restaurant aims to use as much fresh local seasonal produce as possible and has won many culinary awards as a result. So what can you expect as a diner?
While you are browsing the menu you can help your self to a platter of nibbles. The platter contains delicious spicy cashew nuts, fresh olives and some sweet and salty crisp-breads. It is very tempting to fill up on the delicious nibbles but try not to.
Tartlet of caramelised beetroot and bluebell falls fresh goat’s cheese, salsa verde and olive oil crushed potato.
I am already salivating just looking at the photos. This tartlet was delicious, the pastry was lovely and crumbly. The beetroot and goats cheese were a perfect match and the salsa verde added a kick to the end. The potato was also tasty and a nice addition to the starter. This is perfect if you are looking for a richer, heavier starter.
Carrot, almond and feta terrine in vine leaves with mango and cucumber salsa and fennel crisp breads.
If you are after something lighter then I would recommend this starter. The terrine was light and the filling seemed to dissolve in your mouth. The freshness of the salsa added a fruity flavour which matched the creamy lumps of feta hidden in the terrine. I love vine leaves, and it was a great addition to the dish, adding that splash of green. The fennel crisp breads added a bit of texture and a refreshing flavour.
Maple cider glazed oyster mushrooms with courgette fritters, wilted spinach, aduki bean wanton and miso-stout butter sauce.
This dish was full of strong, rich flavours. The mushrooms were beautifully crispy on the outside and warm in the inside. The butter sauce was definitely not for anyone on a diet and was a wonderful treat. The richness of the mushroom and sauce was counter balanced by the spinach, courgette and aduki bean elements of the dish.
Deep fried summer squash flowers with pea and ricotta filling, smoked pepperonata, green onion polenta and basil sauce.
This is a very impressive dish when served. It looked huge! But when you start tucking in, I can guarantee that you won’t stop until it is all gone. The deep fried flowers were really lovely. The heaviness of the batter and the richness of the ricotta were a good match for the fresh flavours of the peas. The other strong flavours of the dish were the spicy pepperonata and the onion polenta, both adding to the layers of yumminess on the plate. I would say this was the savoury dish of the evening and definitely not something that I would attempt to cook at home.
If like me you are paranoid about getting enough vegetables and there are sides that you can order. We chose the fried courgette with cherry tomatoes, red onion and basil (big fans of courgette here). Sometime sides are little more than fillers for a small main course but this dish could stand alone. The addition of the tomato and the red onion with the courgette brought out the fresh flavours and were really enjoyable.
Strawberry pavlova with passion-fruit syrup
If you still have room, I would highly recommend that you have dessert. This dish was everything that a pavlova should be, crumbly meringue, light fresh cream and full flavoured fruit tastes from the strawberries and passion fruit. The passion fruit deserved particular mention, I could have drank a pint of it, it was so flavoursome.
Gooseberry and almond tartlet with amaretto custard and spiced caramel.
However the dessert of the evening had to go to this dish. I adore gooseberries and as soon as they are in season I consider them another food group and try to eat as many as possible! This tart was beautiful, the pasty was soft and rich, the berries tart and sour, and the custard creamy, sweet and very boozy! I still get cravings for the custard it was so lovely and I am not usually a fan of amaretto.
All these dishes were served in the bright, airy but cosy restaurant by some of the friendliest and efficient staff that you will come across. I can’t recommend it enough.
If like me you do not live in Cork and live too far away to return home that evening, Cafe Paradiso offers accommodation over the restaurant. The rooms are really nice, with a large bed, wifi, sofa, radio, mini-library and scrabble board. Bottled water, tea, fresh coffee and milk is all provided in the room. The bathroom has a huge shower, a double sink and the Cafe provides towels and shower gel.
If you are still hungry there is breakfast to be had! Breakfast in the accommodation is left in your room is a lovely hamper on the table in your room when you are out for the evening. Provided in the breakfast hamper is fresh bread, home made cheese, jam and chutney, granola, yoghurt, fruit, juice and freshly made pastries. It is quite the feast and you can get up and have breakfast in bed at your leisure.
The room is cleaned daily when you are out and about in Cork city. They hamper is removed and replaced if you are staying for another evening. The city centre is also only a few minute walk away so it is a great base for exploring.
Two courses are €33 and three courses are €40. Sides are €5.
Dinner, bed and breakfast for one evening is €100 and two nights bed and breakfast with one evening meal is €150.
If you want to take the delicious food and try them at home, Cafe Paradiso has a range of cook books, all are available on Amazon:
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