Restaurant review: One of the best – and most expensive – meals I've ever eaten

Published date23 March 2023
At Terre, the swanky new restaurant in Castlemartyr Resort Hotel, in east Cork, there is no standalone bread course, which is a relief. Much as I enjoy my daily carb, I always find it strange when it's served on its own. Invariably, it's on a "surprise" tasting menu, where you've no idea what's coming next to plan necessary space requirements. Here, on their €180 tasting menu, bread is employed for a noble purpose, served alongside a spectacular dish that merits mopping up

It's dining as an experience and as Fergus McDevitt, the general manager, opens the door to the kitchen, a resounding "welcome" is shouted by a brigade of chefs. It is so The Menu-esque, I try not to laugh. We sit at one end of a long chef's table with Last Supper energy.

It's cinematic. Vincent Crepel, in his chef's whites, is illuminated beneath one of the lights at the pass; the other chefs, dressed in khaki, blend into the dramatically dark background. Deep Purple is pumping on the sound system.

McDevitt suggests a glass of grower champagne. I suggest sherry (it's always cheaper), but it turns out it's not available by the glass. I'm ordering blind here, as for some reason we haven't been shown the drinks list. So champagne it is. Round one to the man in the black suit, at €28 a glass.

The snacks are divine, single bites of deliciousness – each one with a shopping list of ingredients, but all tasting of themselves – smoked veal, Wexford stone crab with finger lime, and Ballycotton lobster with lemon and horseradish cream.

The wine list arrives, and a wine pairing is suggested, but at €110 or €220 for the premium option, a bottle is a more accessible choice. It's tricky when you're in surprise-menu territory, you've no idea what's coming; but Filip Palfi, the sommelier, has some sound advice and suggests a bottle of Goliardo (€75), a light red from Rias Baixas. That's round two to me: I've avoided the wine-pairing ruse.

We move to the pass, where it's a show and tell of the ingredients that will be used in our tasting menu: caviar, lobster, hand-dived Norwegian scallops and Miyazakigyu wagyu beef, which arrives as our next snack. The beef has been marinated in sake for 24 hours, seared and wrapped in toasted seaweed with dabs of barley koji, tomato confit and white-wine shallots; it is knee-weakeningly beautiful. The smokiness of the seaweed lingers on the finish.

Our next stop is the diningroom. This is chapter two of our experience, we're told, and a parade of seven exquisite...

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