Moody Cafe Vin Bar is on the ground floor of an iconic Cork City building, dating back to 1900. Nestled in a Y-shaped junction at the foot of Summerhill North and Lower Glanmire Road, the charming red-brick oddity , sporting an elegant little topped with a lead roof, is shaped like an arrowhead that tapers to a ‘point’, looking towards MacCurtain St and the city centre.
For decades Summerhill North served as the boundary of Cork’s ‘bohemian quarter’, formerly the grand Georgian and Victorian houses of Wellington Road and St Luke’s, becoming the flats and bedrooms of struggling artists and musicians; Kent Station is just 500 meters further along Lower Glanmire Road, an area that has long had the sleazy look of urban railway stations and their surroundings.
But Cork is constantly changing, getting richer and richer. These lovely old St Luke’s houses are being converted into salubrious family homes while the area around Kent Station is now bristling with gleaming and gleaming newly built commercial buildings.
A tapas and wine bar in this corner of the country finally makes sense. (Moody’s also operates as a daytime cafe.) We’re saving plenty of outdoor seating for future alfresco evenings in the sun but, on a Sunday night designed for chills, the inside is your only man.
Magnificent original red bricks are on display; all other walls and ceilings are matte black — liberally adorned with prints following a vaguely pop-art theme, with Banksy featuring prominently, and slogans, epigrams, and doodles filling in the remaining gaps. The overall effect is to find the “fun” in the funky, cheerful space that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Of nine dinners we sign up for during the evening, all but one include parents and offspring; ranging from our 11 year old up to offspring north of 40, some parents up to 70 – diverse demographics speaking of the truly welcoming vibe, all ages completely relaxed and at home.
Meatballs are among La Daughter’s favorite dishes, so she doesn’t look past the Albóndigas (beef and pork) with tomato and red pepper sauce and grilled Manchego cheese. The meatballs are savory if a bit dense, seemingly without the traditional breadcrumbs to aid aeration, but an excellent rich, sweet sauce lifts heavily and sinfully, sweet and salty fondant Manchego gets the dish successfully on the line. arrival, LD mopping up the sauce with crispy whole-grain baguette.
The comforting Patatas Bravas are cubes of crispy fried potatoes, covered with spicy Bravas tomato sauce and more fondant Manchego.
The current wife has Cangrejo y Gambas al Ajillo, succulent crab claws and meaty tiger prawns, swimming in garlic butter and bravas sauce, to be mopped up with a baguette.
Chorizo al sidra is cider-braised chorizo, vinegar-marinated tomatoes and cucumbers providing a crisp, tangy counterpoint to the tangy, meaty chorizo and lush peppery cooking liquor, with more baguette for soaking.
Pera Caramelizada con Queso Azul, is sweet, grainy, caramelized pear and sweet-salty whipped blue cheese on a toasted, yes, wholemeal baguette. A delicious combination, almost like a cake in taste and texture, but we’re starting to reach the bursting point with high fiber bread. The accompanying arugula leaves are dressed in super sweet balsamic vinegar.
The Ensalada de Sandia y Pepino is refreshing: watermelon, cucumber and feta tossed with arugula, but again, the cloying balsamic adds an unnecessary extra sweetness. The Spanish culinary pantry is full of superb vinegars; a good sherry vinegar would have nicely topped off this clever combo.
Heartbroken to learn that Gateau Basque is no longer on the menu, we enjoy a delicious chocolate torte on a chocolate biscuit base with creamy orange ice cream.
Moody’s Crema Catalana is not unpleasant, but the pastry cream is overcooked and grainy, the layer of flambé caramelized sugar too thick; what should shatter like fine crystal with a light tap of a spoon, instead holds firm, like ice on a frozen puddle.
The drinks menu is pleasantly innovative, including craft beers and cava, though a smart, left-wing wine list can be rather singular, particularly a selection of reds veering emphatically towards full-bodied and tannic. Our Croatian Refosco (Veralda 2016) is way too hot on arrival but, revived after 10 minutes in ice water, reveals itself as a crisp wine with lush, juicy red and black fruits and a grippy finish.
The room for improvement on the menu is a matter of small tweaks rather than drastic surgery and we greatly appreciate the overall offering. Only open since December 2020, and interrupted by multiple closures, they are now finding their feet and a much sharper menu is about to be unveiled, including more premium local produce. The wine list is off to a good start, just needing to broaden its horizons, and the service is enthusiastic, knowledgeable and very friendly. All in all, mark Moody’s as a true keeper!
Tab: Including Food, Soft Drinks, Coffee and Wine, €106 (Excluding tip)
- Tower Building, 1-2 Lower Glanmire Road, Cork City, T23 XWY9
- (021) 241 8041
- Opening hours: 9am-11pm, seven days a week