Café Bella, McCurtain Street, Fermoy
We’d not expected to be eating out that Wednesday evening but some friends from Rome, retired back to Fermoy almost 20 years ago, had insisted that we share a meal before heading to Cork for the night. They offered Italian cuisine, and we couldn’t refuse. We have them to thank for introducing us to the Café Bella.
The restaurant is to one side of the long narrow but busy McCurtain street – cars in a continual stream heading south out of town or further into Market Square and the bridge crossing the Blackwater to the northern part of town. It was 20.30 and there were few people walking the streets when we arrived. We parked right outside. The Bella Café extends over two stories, and projected a welcome beacon of light on to the dark pavement.
Enter the restaurant and there is a reception counter on the RHS and, to the left, a small dining space with four tables and seating for a dozen people. Kitchen and services to the rear take up most of the ground floor. There is also a small service centre at the rear on the first floor. Like most other diners that evening we headed up the stairs – to the right of reception – and were offered a table next to the windows with views back into the street.
There was seating for around 50 – at wooden tables with wooden benches that gave the dining room a sort of rustic veneer. A couple of tables were already occupied and, including the four of us – two couples, there were about a dozen people in the restaurant. It was quiet.
We – the four of us - couldn’t remember when we’d last shared a meal – but it would definitely have been Italian (and in Rome) – and thus the pleasure of doing much the same at an ‘Italian’ table in southern Ireland. Service was prompt and friendly. We’d brought out own bottle of red wine, asked for it be opened, and raised glasses to the four of us to celebrate the delight of distant friends meeting up in unexpected places.
We shared a couple of starters – bruschetta Italia and spicy chicken wings – whilst the mains were prepared – sirloin steak, pollo Milano, pollo fantasia and – the only real Italian plate at our table – penne arrabbiata. And, whilst this was as spicy as expected (all those chillies & peppers), it came mixed with chicken pieces - now that was an interesting variation. But, then, pasta arrabbiata is always welcome on a cold evening. Servings were plentiful and presented well.
Time was strictly limited and we had to be on the road to Cork that night for an early morning flight the next day – and we still had to find the place that we’d booked close to the airport. There was little time to enjoy the delights of a slow meal, and we shared coffee instead of dolce before leaving.
The meal was good value at a little over €70 – starters €3.00-5.50, mains €13.50-16.00 meats/vegetables and pasta €9.00, coffees €2.00 (prices rounded). So, about €17/person.
The toilet was on the ground floor next to reception. It was clean and serviceable. Perhaps unique too - given the small size of the cubical/room - you could cover all the different requirements seated – such was the skill with which the builders had found space for the toilet bowl, wash basin, soap dispenser and hand drying unit. Hmmm, interesting.
10 September 2017
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