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“The Jury Is Still Out On This One...”

Ivory Tower Restaurant
Ranked #132 of 650 Restaurants in Cork
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Irish, Japanese, Fusion
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Local cuisine, Special occasions
Dining options: Breakfast, Late Night, Dinner, Reservations
Description: An intimate restaurant run by locally famous chef Seamus O'Connell, featuring some of the most imaginative food in Ireland. The menu includes cajun, french and asian influences, with dishes such as blackened shark with banana ketchup and veal chimichanga ensuring that Cork locals and tourists alike take the time to locate this hard to find restaurant.
Malaga, Spain
Level 6 Contributor
176 reviews
120 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 112 helpful votes
“The Jury Is Still Out On This One...”
Reviewed November 2, 2013

3 people with no 'vouchers'. Set menu at €50 per person, wine at €28 minimum per bottle. Unusual crockery of diverse designs, shapes and sizes (including one with an almighty crack in it). Very creative food, well cooked. Completely different to any other restaurant menu.....but, w'ere still making our minds up whether it was worth the money.

  • Visited November 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
3 Thank marchamona
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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169 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Cork, Ireland
Level 6 Contributor
120 reviews
79 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 110 helpful votes
“The great, the middling and the money”
Reviewed October 24, 2013

Like many here in recent reviews, I went here on the Groupon voucher. We'd never been before and it afforded us the opportunity to try one of Cork's most famous (or infamous) restaurants. Thankfully we were on the early sitting so we had no issues waiting for tables to turn around. There were large gaps between the first few dishes and I believe that the kitchen was waiting on one or two things for certain dishes that they had possibly run out of (judging by things getting going shortly after the arrival of a man with a large brown paper bag full of something foody). There were at least 10-15 poeple queueing when we left so the logistics had gone awry somewhere. Service was a bit frantic as a result. The tasting menu was ok. Some dishes like the marinated sardines needed to be eaten carefully (i.e. with the supplied coriander leaves) to be enjoyed fully; others were surprisingly good (e.g. mushroom risotto, not a big mushroom man); others were absolutely superb (the swordfish and venison, spectacular). The creme brulee for dessert was very disappointing - too solid, too overdone on top, no vanilla or other real flavouring. Quirky atmosphere and the nicest collection of serving dishes that I've seen since MacNean House. So a bit of a mixed bag. The voucher gave us 2 tasting menus for €70 which was good but wine wasn't cheap with least expensive option starting at €28 per bottle if I recall correctly. While what we had was largely enjoyable and provided a good fusion of tastes, had we to pay full price for the two tastings, the cheapest bottle of wine and leave a tip then you would be looking at over €185. I wouldn't say that I was hungry leaving the place but I wasn't very full. Somehow, no matter how much I enjoyed parts of it and appreciate the effort to be different, I don't think that I'd be comfortable paying full price for the tasting menu. €50 maybe, €60 mmmm-maybe but not €70 each and then wine at near €30. Maybe was looking at the wrong menus on way out but couldn't see prices for "normal" a la carte-sytle menu. No idea on the portion size for these either. I'd say to give the place a whirl as a treat or as part of internet voucher deal and go from there. It's certainly one of the more unique dining experiences in Cork and while it may provide great nights sometimes, I'm not sure that I can simply afford to find out on a regular basis

  • Visited October 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
5 Thank Pandabat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 4 Contributor
37 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed October 19, 2013 via mobile

Hard to know where to begin, I like the Ivory Tower and was pleased to hear it was getting good reviews so went with friends for the 8 course fusion tasting menu. Explained to our waitress that one of the group was vegetarian and she kindly offered to substitute the meat dishes. She went through the menu and pointed out the steak course but added everything else would be ok including the rabbit terrine! We had to point out rabbit is meat! The evening continued in this vein, we had to ask for a menu/ wine list/ bread/ water/ water glass etc etc. This started off fine, but became annoying when we constantly had to ask, sometimes more than once, for these basics. When the rabbit terrine course came out the vegetarian was given it, we had to point this out and the waitress went back to get the alternative dish which arrived 10 minutes after the rest of us were served. For the sushi course 3 out of the 4 of us were served (all eating the same thing), with the waitress promising to come back with the 4th plate. She forgot. 15 minutes later we got her attention to bring the missing plate, this is after she served the tables either side of us. Silly stuff, but at the going rate of €70 a head, not acceptable. The sushi course with aubergine was the nicest plate of the night and we asked our waitress how the aubergine was cooked, she promised to ask for us, but didn't. Anyway, the food which was the point of the evening, was disappointing. The rabbit terrine was poorly seasoned and lacked flavour. The risotto was very overcooked, with a weird oily/greasy aftertaste, the sushi as mentioned was excellent, the creme brûlée was not, it was eggy, but what destroyed the evening was the tuna course. It was grey and overcooked and had a peculiar odour. None of us were prepared to eat it and all sent it back. We explained why but the waitress kept trying to tell us we didn't like it as it was cooked medium rare and we obviously didn't like that. We showed her how overcooked and grey it was but this didn't sink in. At this point we noted there was no cooking going on, at least 5 of our dishes were preprepared and just plated up. Chef's night off? We received nothing off the bill for the rejected course, we were told it wasn't possible to take anything off if Seamus wasn't there. Paid up and left. Like many of the reviewers here we had the Groupon deal. The wait staff were clearly over stretched and let down by the kitchen.

6 Thank BooQ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 3 Contributor
6 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Beyond disappointing, cheap options for Groupon holders ”
Reviewed October 19, 2013 via mobile

I had eaten here once before and really enjoyed it, so when we saw the groupon we were really looking forward to returning. We were so disappointed. My interpretation of a groupon is to attract new customers who will hopefully return and spread the good word. The Ivory Tower seems to be doing the exact opposite. The cheaper price of the set menu has lead to corners being cut and a far inferior standard of food being presented. Cheap ingredients including duck heart salad, bland asparagus soup and tofu. The hake course was the only nice thing we had but unfortunately it was only a morsel leaving us hungry after an '8 course' menu.

3 Thank advicepls
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
17 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“very disappointing”
Reviewed October 18, 2013

like santry 7 we went to the ivory Tower recently for the tasting menu on the groupon scheme. I have fond memories of great meals at the ivory tower inthe past - korean bacon and cabbage, duck with jalapeno and great sushi. Unfortunately the tasting menu did not meet the standard of previous meals and I cannot understand how the Ivory Tower could be rated as the number 1 restaurant in princes street let alone in Cork.

On the plus side they have painted the interior so it looks a little better than it did in the past, on the minus side the cooking was average and other than the sushi was not that enjoyable. Also despite 8 courses, I left the restaurant hungry. In addition despite booking for 830 there was no table free and we had to leave to get a drink and come back 40 minutes later.

Some of the details may be shaky as the meal was 2 weeks ago, but as far as I recall, the starter was a small piece of uncooked herring and mackerel marinated in vinegar (ie Roll mops) this can be nice, but not as a starter for an evening meal in my opinion its more something I would see on a breakfast menu and also the fish was not all that good and that set a poor tone for the rest of the meal. The rocket it was served on was the best thing on the plate which looked thrown together - no finesse. The terrine was average (rabbit I believe), this was followed by a soup that I can't really remember the taste of, and sushi - I should say the sushi was good, there was an aubergine morsel that was divine. This was the only course that met expectations. There was also a sorbet (bergamot flavour - that was a bit too floral) possibly before the sushi (agian exact details are hazy). This was followed by a tuna carpaccio that was ok - nothing to write home aboutand then a small portion of beef (mine was perfectly cooked, but my wife's was overdone) and a creme brulee which was truly average.

All in all a big disappointment. I wonder is it something to do with the Groupon scheme - it seemed everyone else in the restaurant was on the same menu (basically two people ate for the price of one) and because it was so cheap it appeared to me that it meant that the restaurant had to cut corners that also cut the quality out f the dishes and the enjoyment out of the experience.

The restaurant may still be good outside of the groupon scheme, but for me there are enough other good places to go in Cork and until I hear there has been a substantial improvement, I won't be back.

  • Visited October 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
3 Thank MaroonedinCork
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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