THE concept of prepared meals to be eaten elsewhere dates back to antiquity.
Market and roadside stalls selling food were common in ancient Greece and Rome. In Pompeii, archaeologists have found a number of thermopoloia — service counters opening onto the street which provided food to be taken away.
The Industrial Revolution saw an increase in the demand and availability of take-out food. By the early 20th century, fish and chips was considered an institution in Britain, and the hamburger was introduced in America around the same time.
These days, the traditional family dinner is increasingly being replaced by the consumption of fast food. Saturday nights, particularly in these darker evenings, with X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing and Match Of The Day on TV, lead to takeaway orders en masse.
I’ve selected my own favourite Cork takeaways, dividing them into different categories, with quality, value and service to the forefront.
Best Traditional Chipper
1. The Fish Wife, 45, McCurtain Street, Cork, and Grand Parade
My top choice as it embodies all that is good in a top class chipper.
The template is quality fish and chips and this has that in abundance. Fresh Hake and Cod (served in a light batter, which to me is a pre-requisite) with top notch hand-cut chips are my personal favourites.
However, the jewel in the crown here is the Grilled Swordfish Meal.
The added bonus for purveyors of pure Cork is that you can enjoy brilliant fish and chips with the perfect pint as stout, as The Fish Wife will bring it across the road to the iconic Cork Arms Pub.
Proprietors Patsy and Noel will provide cutlery, condiments and classic hits on the legendary jukebox, as well as exhilarating conversation on topics of the day, to compliment your Fish Wife experience.
Yes, The Fish Wife ticks all the boxes and continues to prosper.
2. Jackie Lennox’s, 137 Bandon Road, Cork
Being born and bred on the Southside means it was a no-brainer that Lennox’s would figure on my list.
I mentioned fish and chips as being the template for a good chipper, but my personal favourite in Lennox’s is the Chicken Supper with their excellent chips and peas. The simplicity is the key to the dish.
Lennox’s pies are also top notch, particularly their Cheese and Onion Potato Pie, which is in must-have territory.
Lennox’s also throw in a complimentary scoop of chips, which deserves a mention.
What sets it aside is how clean it is and the efficiency levels here as, despite invariably attracting big queues, it seamlessly glides through the numbers, providing prompt
Again, have the perfect pint of stout in nearby Moks while you wait for your order. In good weather sit out on the benches in the Lough and enjoy the Jackie Lennox’s Experience to the full.
3. Keohane’s, Main Street, Midleton
I just love Keohane’s, but the problem is their opening hours are slightly unorthodox.
Its essence is the simplicity — no frills, no huge menus, just real quality fish, chicken, chips, sausages, battered sausages and pies, and of course, they stock that forgotten childhood memory drink, Cadet Lemonade.
Pure Cork, Pure East Cork.
I decided not to give a fourth spot but rather mention a few places well worth a visit.
Cobh has two top class chippers, Sorrentos and Mimmos, with the latter doing an excellent Fish Supper.
Frank’s in Carrigtwohill provides a unique personalised service and is an excellent traditional chipper.
The Golden Fry in Ballinlough has a huge reputation. My sole gripe is that it can get busy, but they do serve the best quality Chicken Maryland in the business — only The Wilton Restaurant compares.
The Downtown Takeaway in Mallow is also top notch with huge portions, very good service and, I’m informed, an excellent delivery service.
Best Chinese Takeaway
1. Royal Palace, Hartlands Avenue, The Lough, Cork
Whether it’s a sit down or a takeaway, for me the Royal Palace ticks all the right boxes.
The fried rice is simply different class and the Aromatic Crispy Duck with the Pancakes is also excellent, as are the Spare Ribs.
Unusually for a Chinese, they also have excellent deserts, particularly the Toblerone Cheesecake.
2. Wylam Chinese, Victoria Cross, Cork
A long-standing establishment with a justified reputation and, like the Royal Palace, it’s a terrific sit down or take out provider.
The Munchy Box with Spicy Shredded Chicken, Spicy Wings, Spicy Chicken Balls and Spicy Chips is a bargain at €11.80 and the sweet and sour dishes are as good as you’ll get
Best Indian Takeaway
(1) Haveli, Morris house, Douglas, Cork
Haveli boasts of having an Indian-born and trained Head Chef in Gerald Joseph.
Again, it’s a first class restaurant but it equally boasts a first class takeaway menu.
The Sheekh Kebab or Lamb Tikka are two noteworthy starters to set the tone for your Haveli Experience (the latter marinated in spices with yoghurt, cooked over live charcoal).
I judge my Indian on the korma, I just love Chicken Korma and they also do Beef, Lamb, Pork and Prawn Korma, all of which are great.
The Tandori Chicken roasted over Charcoal Fire is the signature dish here, and the words succulent, juicy and delicious spring to mind. Great value at €14.95 for the full portion or €9.80 for the half. It’s marinated in ginger, lime juice, yoghurt, fresh herbs and spices and I’d definitely nominate it as something to experience with some Basmati Boiled Rice.
The €3 Stuffed Naan Bread, with a choice of Cottage Cheese, Mince, Onion/Potatoes fillings, is another gift from God.
Haveli would be my personal top choice of all takeaways. The good news is they deliver and you can take advantage of ample parking if you want to collect.
Best Kebab/Pizza Category
1. Express Pizza and Kebabs, East Beach, Kilgarvan, Cobh
For me, the best kebabs and pizzas in Cork are found in this hidden treasure. For the Pure Cork experience, enjoy a pint in the iconic Connie Doolan’s Pub next door while you wait. This landmark pub was once raffled by Guinness.
The Lamb and Chicken Doner Kebabs are first class but my recommendation is the Lamb or Chicken Shish Kebab, slightly more expensive but fit for a king! Pieces of lamb or chicken or both (Combo) marinated in saffron and their own special spices and skewered on a grill — and it’s just €9.95 for a meal/fries with a drink.
The pizzas here are also top class: The Cheeky Chicken, The Pepperoni Express or The BBQ Deluxe are personal favourites. They have an excellent delivery service too.
2. Novecento, Douglas Street and MacCurtain Street
They provide not just excellent pizza but an all round authentic Italian food experience.
The Spaghetti Ragu is arguably one of their best pasta dishes and my favourite pizza would be the Pescatore with Smoked Salmon, Shrimp and Rocket. They also have top notch desserts with the Sweet Pizza Berries the perfect way to round off the day!