Last night I headed out into the cold and wind to new Irish bar, Kitty O’Shea’s, to sample the menu, taste a few Irish craft beers and to finally meet a few fellow bloggers in the process. Formerly Pivo Pivo, the venue has undergone an entire refurbishment to transform what was an indie live music venue into a cosy Irish pub featuring snugs, Guinness-themed toilets and even a ‘Confessional’.
With 11 beers on tap, Kitty O’Shea’s offers something to suit a range of tastes. Included in the mix is a selection of Irish craft beers from the Franciscan Well Brewery in Cork. The brewery, founded in 1998 by Shane Long, is built on the site of an old Franciscan monastery, along with a well dating back to 1219! The brewery combines modern technology with age old tradition to brew classic beer styles including lager, ale, stout and wheat beer.
We would be sampling three of the beers from the Franciscan Well Brewery, with Julia Bone, a beer development specialist for Molson Coors. Our first sample was the Rebel Red, an Irish red ale that is described as solid, fruity and balanced. Now I’m not a big beer fan, but I found the Rebel Red to be very drinkable, which was a pleasant surprise!
We went on to try the most surprising one for me, the Shandon Stout – a Cork style dry stout. This type of beer is similar in style to Guinness, and this was the one I thought for sure I wouldn’t enjoy, but it actually ended up being my favourite. It was really light for a stout, and smooth with a lovely aroma of coffee and chocolate.
Our final taste was the Chieftan IPA, a Citra hop indian pale ale. Julia claimed this out of the three was her favourite, being a huge fan of IPA’s in general. I however, am not a fan of IPA so I have to admit I struggled a little with this one – on the plus side it seemed to go down extremely well with everyone else! Julia, despite having only twenty minutes for the tasting, was friendly, informative, and clearly very passionate about the brewery and the beer and was happy to answer our many questions.
After the tasting we switched locations for dinner, where we were brought a selection of starters including chicken wings, popcorn chicken and the ‘Caber Toss’ – a filo pastry roll filled with haggis and buffalo mozzarella, yum! To accompany these dishes we were given a range of dips, all made in-house, including garlic aioli, chipotle ketchup, buffalo, blue cheese, and ‘Volcano Sauce’ – a hot sauce using Scotch Bonnet chillies which is not for the faint hearted!
The wings seemed to be a big hit with everyone, but I was a huge fan of the popcorn chicken, which was full of flavour and seasoned perfectly. All the chicken is soaked in buttermilk so it’s super succulent and tasty.
For main course, I decided to go with their current special – the ‘Timorous Beastie’ – which was a beef and haggis patty with a turnip medallion and whiskey & peppercorn mayo. The burger itself had a great flavour and you could really taste the haggis, but unfortunately it broke apart quite quickly and fell out the bun! The turnip, which had been par-boiled and then pan fried, was perfectly cooked and complimented the meat beautifully. It was like Burns Supper in a bun!
To go along with our main course, we had a selection of sides including chilli nachos, cajun fries, mac n’ cheese, sweet potato fries and my personal favourite – pulled pork fries! The pork was melt in the mouth delicious, smothered in cheese and BBQ sauce on a pile of skinny fries. It completely ruined my diet but it was so worth it!
James, the manager at Kitty O’Shea’s, talked us through the reasons for deciding not to go with a traditional, stereotypical Irish menu, instead providing customers with comforting pub food and a table service that provides a more personal dining experience in a laid back environment.
After tasting all these morsels, we were all getting pretty full, but dessert was soon upon us! We were given a selection of sweet treats including milk and white chocolate warm cookies with ice cream, billionare and eton mess sundaes. It was a sugar overload! The cookies were frustratingly moreish – all warm and gooey inside – and served in adorable mini red frying pans.
We spoke to head chef Martin Campbell, who said he was still trying to perfect a few of the dishes, and that his key focus was bringing flavour and flair to traditional, comforting pub grub. I think most of us disagreed that the dishes needed improving! I was impressed to see that the pricing was incredibly reasonable too, with burgers starting at around £5.50.
The highlights of the meal for me were the Popcorn Chicken and the delicious Pulled Pork Fries – I would just eat a bowl of them for my dinner if I could! If you’re in the area, I would highly recommend Kitty O’Shea’s. It provides a friendly atmosphere, delicious food that is reasonably priced, and a great range of ale – and who doesn’t love comfort food and a nice pint every now and then?