‘Farm’ restaurant and wine bar — opening in the intimate premises of the old Malt House Granary on Ashe Street at the end of October — is a new venture for West Cork based husband and wife team, Jason and Aoife Smith. Both have a strong background in the food industry with a great passion for local produce and traditional cooking methods. The granary building has a long association with good food and ‘Farm’ aims to continue this relationship, promoting local Irish cuisine with subtle hints of French cooking techniques in a friendly and relaxed casual dining experience.
The couple has been overwhelmed to date with the incredible support and well wishes from the local community. Despite a delay in opening due to a sudden and unexpected family illness, they are looking forward to their new venture with eager anticipation.
This endeavour is a long time coming to fruition for Jason and Aoife. The couple met 15 years ago when Jason joined the kitchen in the family run Rectory Restaurant in Glandore and they have since been sharing a history of their own in both business and family life. “It means so much to be able to get back to working together again,” says Aoife. The hours in catering can often be long and with a young family the couple found they were passing each other by. When the opportunity presented itself they were thrilled that the owners entrusted them with the responsibility of the lease.
While Aoife was brought up in the hotel and restaurant business, Jason’s culinary career spans over 20 years. He quietly acknowledges his incredibly fortunate experiences working with some of the top chefs in the industry. It’s been a long journey, starting out at the bottom when, as a teenager, he spent four years as an apprentice to Michael Fleming at Flemings in Tivoli, Cork. After a short stint in the Rectory, he then went on to work for Conrad Gallagher’s Peacock Alley where he worked alongside Dylan McGrath (Masterchef Ireland) and Aidan Byrne (Great British Menu). Jason then went to London where he worked at Le Gavroche (Michel Roux Jr) and then with the influential Irish chef Richard Corrigan where you learn to taste everything.
After a year working at the famous Aria Restaurant directly next to the Sydney Opera House, Australia, in 2005, Jason and Aoife finally settled back in Aoife’s home of West Cork. Aoife has since been with the Rectory for nine years initially managing the venue for a few years alongside Jason. Jason has been head chef in some of West Cork’s finest establishments including The Rectory and Annie’s of Ballydehob. For the last four years, Jason went down the route of contract catering at Carbery Milk Products in Ballineen. He has just finished a season at the ever busy O’Connors Seafood Restaurant in Bantry.
Both Jason and Aoife have a healthy respect for the hard work and discipline required to work the land and sea. “You do not have to look far to see why we named our new venture ‘Farm’. West Cork and county has it all on the doorstep when it comes to food. Good produce is half the battle for good food. We see ‘Farm’ as a showcase for West Cork produce — to name a few, Devoy’s Organic Farm, Skeaghanore Duck, Caherbeg Pork, Clona and a number of award winning smokeries. While making best efforts to get to as many suppliers as possible, we’d love to hear from those we have not yet made contact with.”
“We aim to have seasonal dinner menus that will change frequently and also an early Farm Supper menu running from 5pm to 6.30pm, Wednesday to Sunday. This value for money menu will appeal to a wide variety of customers with dishes ranging from simple flavoursome options to those on a more adventurous route. Two courses are €22.50 or a three-course menu is €27.50. It includes crisp vegetable and chicken confit spring roll with a spicy dipping sauce or alternatively beef lasagne with smoked bacon and ToonsBridge buffalo mozzarella. The main dinner menu will run from 5pm to 9.30pm. Mains currently include honey glazed Skeaghanore duck breast with crispy leg in a sweet and sour dressing. Alternatively there is 10oz beef sirloin with garlic butter, bacon and potato rosti or baked walnut crusted cod with parsnip sauce. Sunday lunch will run from 12pm to 3pm with options from hearty roasts to lighter fresh fish and chips and pie dishes.
“We are conscious of the fact that some of our patrons will have dietary requirements and we are also keen to cater to families. Without doubt it’s always helpful to know particular needs in advance. For coeliacs, we have gluten free breads like banana bread, which gives a nice moist texture. Also a brown soda alternative rice and maize soda bread. Most of the dishes will be coeliac friendly. There is also a vegetarian and vegan menu available to choose from. One of our desserts will include our warm dairy free banana and poppy-seed cake with caramelised banana and dairy free ice-cream. This is equally suitable to vegans and pursuers of delectable low fat treats so no spinning classes required!”
Having always loved the premises, minor yet very noticeable decor changes have been carried out on the restaurant. The idea was to play off the beautiful original characteristic features of the exposed brick walls and beams using more bolder wall colours. These include luxurious petrol blue, mustard gold flake and warm reds. They are balanced by large sophisticated gilt style mirrors to reflect the lighting and give a warm and welcoming feel. With candles and low lighting dotted around, you can’t help but relax into the cosy setting. Statement pieces like the electric blue gramophone and old Imperial Typewriter on display will take you back to the days of a bygone era.
“We hope to do producers proud and welcome all to hopefully many relaxing and enjoyable experiences. We thank you all for your support.”
023 88 34355.