Pilgrim’s Pick Up & Provisions
6 South Square, Rosscarbery, Co Cork, Ireland
+353 (023) 88 31796 www.pilgrims.ie
Drawing by Michael Greenlaw
It's probably a consequence of lock down that my sense of humour (as well as my sleeping and drinking habits) has changed. I give you a recent example from the eastern seaboard of the USA.
- What do April showers bring?
- May flowers.
- And what do May flowers bring?
Awful, I know,. But in these dark COVID days I have to confess this made me laugh. The significance of this rubbish is that today's review is of Pilgrim's in County Cork, which in 2018 scored 24.5/25. Guest reviewer Michael Greenlaw samples the takeaway menu.
We are very fortunate, here in deepest rural West Cork, to have the excellent Pilgrim’s Restaurant only a 10 minute drive away, in the picturesque village of Rosscarbery.
Almost 2 years ago, Tom and Lesley treated us to a meal there (see Tom’s review) - a magical evening from the first sip of chilled Prosecco sitting outside in the unseasonably warm evening sunshine till our daughter collected the somewhat merry diners at the end of the night and delivered us safely home. A few months later, we returned to check whether the food really was as wonderful as we remembered it - or had our judgement been swayed by the magic of the evening? I’m glad to report the food was every bit as good the second time round.
After having to close last month, Pilgrim’s re-opened as Pilgrim’s Pick-Up & Provisions - what must surely be the most up-market take-away in these parts. On the first weekend (Pilgrim’s are open Thursday - Sunday evenings) we thought we’d show support for our favourite local restaurant by ordering in: but we certainly wouldn’t do it too often. Oh no!
Next weekend, and there was a very good reason why we should treat ourselves again. Besides, we were supporting a worthy local business venture etc. etc. We managed not to succumb over the third weekend but fortunately unfortunately we found an excuse a compelling reason to once more have a take away from Pilgrim’s.
The restaurant’s regular menu comprised 3 small starters, 3 large starters/small main courses and 3 large main meals, plus a selection of puddings and cheeses. The same formula has been continued for the pick-up meals, with the addition of “Provisions” i.e. all the optional extras one didn’t know one required until one read the menu. All fresh provisions are organically grown and everything is sourced locally and include Pilgrim’s own homemade breads, cheese, yoghurt, and choc dipped salty honey oat flapjacks, the last so delicious you can never order enough.
Because we are a self-isolating family of 4 adults we find it expedient to simply order everything and share - so much easier than having to choose when it all sounds so tempting. There is always more than enough food for 4 people (with hearty appetites.)
On this weekend’s menu were:-
Radishes, black garlic butter, lovage salt - one of our party once had a bad radish experience in a Paris restaurant so, unusually, we decided against ordering this and ordered double helpings of the other 2 starters instead;
Tatsuta age with ponzu dip - a regular on the menu and a favourite with us, the chicken pieces tender and delicious;
Oak smoked potatoes, wild garlic aioli - words cannot describe. The charming Sadie, the chef’s partner, explained the smoking process to me, a process so complex I soon lost track but so worth it.
Foragers’ (note correct use of apostrophe) bean dip with flax crackers - deliciously fresh tasting, so much more than “bean dip”, the crackers a perfect accompaniment;
Vietnamese fresh spring rolls, sweet sesame dipping sauce - finely flavoured;
Ham hock fritters, beetroot relish, wild garlic, salsa verde, crème fraîche, dressed lettuce - as good as it sounds.
Smoked and pressed beef brisket, celeriac purée, grilled asparagus, onion rings - an exceedingly tender chunk of meat full of robust flavours;
Haddock parcel, new potatoes, spring vegetables, caper-chive aioli, local leaves - a delicately flavoured fish, fresh from Union Hall, perfectly cooked vegetables;
Buckwheat crêpes, roast red onion, chard, puy lentil & buffalo feta, sautéed purple sprouting broccoli, salsa puttanesca, smoked almonds - my personal favourite, the puttanesca a bit of a surprise but a terrific addition.
To end the meal we added the Macroom Buffalo blue cheese from the Provisions list: this is a cheese so powerful and full of flavour it is not for the faint hearted and at €5 for 150g represents great value and a huge amount of wow for your money.
The food supplied as take-away is every bit as good as that served in the restaurant - I assume the menus are carefully worked out so that the dishes survive the drive home. No plastic cartons either - only very tasteful manilla coloured cardboard boxes, tied with hessian string, in which the food is as exquisitely presented as if on the finest bone china. Of course, one misses the ambience of the small intimate restaurant and the lovely and knowledgeable staff; on the other hand a drive into Rosscarbery on a fine evening is enjoyable in itself, full of expectation.