Owner Kay Harte has long since being committed to local food, purchasing produce from the market below for her daily menus. Like her sister Máróg O'Brien of Farmgate Restaurant and Country Store in nearby Midleton, Kay Harte is committed to producing dishes with a local flavour, and which reflect the bounty of the famous food market beneath. The café enjoys splendid views from its galleried perch, high in the apex of this old and historical building. And you can't but help soak up the bustling atmosphere as you dine.
Kay's food message is straightforward. Irish dishes are executed in simple, traditional fashion, with a contemporary edge. The menu uses market produce, with suppliers named daily on the dining room blackboard. Home reared and cured meats like corned beef and corned leg of mutton are brought in from market butchers, many of whom rear their own livestock, to be given the Farmgate treatment of long slow cooking before serving with parsley or caper sauce, floury local spuds with butter, and spring cabbage cooked in the meat stock, just like Granny did it. Local treasures like tripe and drisheen also feature. Catch of the Day is jumping with freshness, and treated simply. Kay's daughter Rebecca Harte has now stepped into her mother's famous shoes as manager of this longstanding restaurant. Farmgate's traditions remain, though some things have changed a little. A serve over buffet selection is displayed on one side of the balcony. Hot soup, sandwiches, fresh oysters and other light bites make for quick dining for customers in a hurry.
The restaurant on the other side of the balcony remains a table service experience, with the daily menu on the blackboard. Here is the place to sit a while, where chatter and local news is as much a part of the dining experience as the food. Wine is a serious business also, with a list as conscientiously sourced as the kitchen produce. Farmgate's head wine waiter is very much into his bottles and great at recommendations. A well chosen selection by glass or bottle match the local meats and fish.
We always say the hardest thing to do is keep it simple in the kitchen - it relies on the freshest of ingredients to start with. But the Farmgate team do this superbly, day in, day out. An iconic dining destination in Cork city.