Les Gourmandises, Cork

Les Gourmandises

I’ll start off with a pet peeve of mine. I know it’s awfully trendy, but whatever happened to serving food on a good old-fashioned white plate? There are few dishes which are improved by serving on a piece of black slate. The four (out of six) dishes we ordered at Les Gourmandises were no exception. I no more want to eat a meal off a piece of slate than I would want to eat off a breeze-block. Serving four out of six dishes on slates is just silly and a little pretentious. Just my personal preference.

I’ve been eating in good restaurants for many years. So, while I know I’m no AA Gill, I can tell the difference between good, bad and indifferent when it comes to restaurants. I’d love to report that my recent visit to Cork’s “Les Gourmandises” was great, but it was just… okay.

Greedy-guts that I am, I couldn’t resist the “Tasting Plate” starter while herself opted for the “Rillette of guinea fowl, white wine jelly, asparagus, olive croutons & lemon dressing“. The tasting “slate” consisted of a goat’s cheese pannacotta, Clonakilty black pudding with foie gras, smoked salmon and a duck and foie gras terrine. All the components were good; I particularly enjoyed the excellent smoked salmon which I think came with a little horseradish cream. For me, the portion size of the goat’s cheese pannacotta was perfect as I can never eat much goat’s cheese. The Wife’s “guinea fowl” was well-flavoured but she felt there was too many components on the plate.

Tasting Plate

Rillette of guinea fowl, white wine jelly, asparagus, olive croutons & lemon dressing

After our rather dinky starters, we were looking forward to our main course. I ordered the “Roasted John Dory, organic beetroot, pomme noisette & balsamic dressing“. The Wife made the wine selection a little easier by opting for fish also with “Pan fried sea bream with new potatoes, crab mayonnaise, tomato & roquette salad“. We assumed the starch element of our meal was taken care of, given that both dishes included potato. However, once again greediness got the better of me and I ordered a side of “Thyme pomme purée“.

Roasted John Dory, organic beetroot, pomme noisette & balsamic dressing

Pan fried sea bream with new potatoes, crab mayonnaise, tomato & roquette salad

Thyme pomme purée

The Wife fared better with her main course, I think. My “John Dory” was dressed with a curious sauce which reminded me of Chinese food. I suspect it contained something like anise or clove, not the balsamic dressing proclaimed on the menu. It was well-cooked and well-presented but the spice flavour in the dressing killed any flavour the fish had. A little disappointing.

My biggest gripe however, is that both dishes were a seriously low on carbohydrate. My “pomme noisette” turned out to be four marbles of deep-fried mash (see photo). They were tasty, but bloody hell, there was only four of them!! Good job we ordered the extra mash then? Well no, the mash was served in a minuscule ramekin. Two tablespoons of mash does not qualify as a side dish, even if it does cost €3. Maybe the chef is distracted by creating pretty pictures on a plate and forgets that diners need sustenance as well as good flavours. Not good enough, folks.

Still hungry, what could we do but order dessert. The Wife ordered “Almond & raspberry tart with raspberry granité & almond panacotta” while I went for “Lemon posette with poached rhubarb, blackcurrant sorbet, lemon gateau“. Both dishes were very good but the possette was a little too sharp for my taste. I prefer posset to have a nice balance of sweet and sharp. The blackcurrant sorbet was the best part of the dish, absolutely sublime.

Almond & raspberry tart with raspberry granité & almond panacotta

Lemon posette with poached rhubarb, blackcurrant sorbet, lemon gateau

Our bill, including a reasonably priced bottle of white, came to €130. Not outlandish for an evening meal, but not cheap either. After we paid up and left the restaurant, we felt hungry and a little ripped off. This fortunately, is a new experience for me. Never before have I paid this much for a meal and left a restaurant hungry. I’ve encountered a few people (morons) over the years who are rather dismissive of “fine dining” and think that such restaurants charge big money while serving tiny portions of grub. Les Gourmandises is not doing anything to convert these people. Decent food but poor value, a dangerous combination in these difficult times.


9 Responses to “Les Gourmandises, Cork”

  1. 1 Will June 2, 2009 at 11:11 am


    A very fair review. Personally, I think Les Gourmandises tries very hard but doesn’t really succeed. Also the prices being charged are exorbitant for the quality (and quantity) of food served. The couple behind this restaurant work exceptionally hard and the aspirations are there but I fear the end result is a little bit of a letdown. Cork is lucky to have a restaurant of this quality in it, I just think it doesn’t stack up with how good it should be or how good it would be if it were in Dublin/London.

    Looking forward to your other restaurant experiences in Cork!


  2. 2 Conor June 2, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Thanks Will. I do hope it is fair. And it is only my opinion. It seems the “problems” we encountered are easily fixed; there’s simply no excuse for charging 3 euro for two spoonfuls of mash when you’re charging over 30 euro for main courses. It’s disgraceful. As I said, we were quite shocked to be leaving a restaurant hungry having paid that kind of money.

    I have another Cork review to go and I’m pleased to say that it ticked all the boxes and was one of the best meals I’ve eaten anywhere.

  3. 3 italian foodie June 3, 2009 at 12:02 am

    Great review as always! 🙂 Next time you are in cork try http://www.augustines.ie – one of the best meals I’ve had in Ireland…

  4. 5 John July 11, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    You are spot on in your assessment. This places needs to get real. 4 of us ate there recently. €35 for a fillet steak, low on extras. The guy had to go to for a “big mac” after wards.
    Nice food but we left with a distinct after taste of being ripped off.
    As for the pretentious black slates for everything, I think we got the point at the starter stage.

  5. 6 Orla November 29, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Grossly disappointed after a meal here last weekend. Service left us feeling as if we were privileged to be allowed dine in their establishment. Food tries hard, but no better than plenty are doing in Dublin on a regular basis at much more reasonable prices. Shall not return.

  6. 7 Reg January 11, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Not sure what all these reviewers are on about – yes it was expensive but ate there on saturday night and with 2 glasses of Prosecco to start, bottle of nice red and 3 courses each (not the market menu either). it still came to 40 euros less than star anise. So didnt feel ripped off, the slate was a bit pretentious alright and portion size small to average (but was expecting this). total came to 130 euros. Very good overall, would recommend.

  7. 8 Martina June 19, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Just had Sunday lunch for three people at les gourmandises in Cork City and found it a wonderful experience, and I like the slate ‘plates’!! I have also been to this restaurant for dinner and it was an equally good experience for everyone. While I agree that the portion size is not huge, the combined courses and the beautiful bread was more than enought for us all. We found the staff very welcoming, attentive and pleasant. It was my husband’s, who we were treating for Fathers Day, first visit and he said it was up there with the best meals he has had (and we have eaten all over the world and in michelin restaurants). We had three glasses of champagne followed by starters (3) mains (3) desserts (3) coffee (4) two large bottles of sparkling water and a bottle of wine – the bill came to E131.00 which we thought was excellent value for a delicious and faultless meal. Far from feeling ‘ripped off’ we left feeling a sense of ‘occasion’ was had and that money was well spent!

  1. 1 Eating & Drinking in Cork | Toasted Special Trackback on July 20, 2009 at 8:43 pm
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