After lunch in Waterford's Geoff we continued our trip to Wexford where we booked ourselves into a lovely B&B. After resting and freshening up, we went out to find Le Tire Bouchon (The Cork Screw) which received outstanding reviews from Paolo Tullio recently. Located above the pub 'Sky and the Ground', it is int he shopping centre of Wexford, South Main Street. You have to go into the pub and up the stairs to enter the restaurant. The noise from downstairs does not make its way upstairs and you enter a complete different world. While the pub is dark, aged and typically 'pubbish', the restaurant welcomes you with calm colours. A waiter greeted us and showed us to our table (we had booked in advance). The napkins were folded into a large, long cone (starched as it stood by itself), white linen and white china dressed the table nicely with the glasses sparkling in the candle light.
The menu has a strong focus on French dishes but Irish influences are visible. The restaurant is a joint venture of Arnaud Clement as Maitre d' and Kevin Carley as Executive Chef. Kevin has been trained in Dunbrody House Hotel and the quality in his food proves that he did pay attention.
We were served an amouse bouche which was served in a mini kilner jar and consisted of smoked chicken and mustard mousse on top of a chilled tomato and sprinkled with chives. The effect was amazing. Friend enjoyed the two jars (damn I really wish I could eat meat). Anyway, I ordered Dublin Bay Prawns in a filo basket which came with a wonderful fresh leaf salad and an amazing proper vinaigrette. Cherry tomatoes were upside down placed on the plate and when turning them around revealed a lovely stuffing of goats cheese and tapenade (proper tapenade). The prawns were perfectly cooked and buttery. Friend had pork rillettes with fig jam (jam was served in a little urn) on toast and leaf salad. She liked it but would have preferred more texture and seasoning. My main was dover sole which was advertised as cooked on the bone (I am too girlie to deal with bones) and I asked if I could get it served off the bone - not a problem. The French waitress came to the table when serving the fish and de-boned it at the table very professionally. The fish was so tender, it melted on my tongue. It came served with an almond butter (served in a mini gravy boat) which complimented the dish perfectly. Side dishes were baked baby potatoes and crunchy roasted mixed veggies. Friend ordered Halibut with fennel fondue and mash potatoes. The kitchen was out of fennel fondue and she was served an extra portion of fish. I would have liked to be asked if I wanted an alternative but Friend was okay with the solution but said later that the fennel was missing to give the dish a lift. She also would have liked more seasoning but I have to say that I didn't season any of my dishes.
All dishes on the menu come with their own wine recommendation and each wine was available by the glass. Even the dessert menu had its own wine and coffee recommendation (yeap, they have an extra menu for coffee and tea). French favourites like Crepe Suzette were on offer but also old-fashioned dishes like Baked Alaska. The friend ordered the crepe suzette which were prepared with great skill at the table (Cynthia really is an experienced and well trained waitress - and that is a great compliment from me. The title waitress does not give her justice tho). A bit more orange flavour would have made this dish simply perfect. I opted for the Rhubarb and Vanilla Souffle. It was prepared fresh and took about 15 minutes (which was announced when I ordered it). It came out perfectly risen, fluffy and light with a slight hint of rhubarb going through the dish. Vanilla ice cream gave it a nice balance.
The staff is attentive, very well trained - everyone was able to give us advise on the wine and we ordered a bottle of Cote de Gascogne which was floral without being sweet and was a perfect match to our fish dishes. It had a long finish and hit your palate after a few seconds and ran smoothly down your throat. The bouquet promised a delight and the taste did not disappoint.
Will I be back - definitely. Well worth a visit and the pub downstairs is a great way of finishing the evening with a lovely pint.