‘I tried 6 of Cork’s most popular Eggs Benedict dishes – here’s my verdict’
It’s the taste of a lazy weekend morning.
Nothing says ‘I’m off the clock’ like a gooey, melty eggs Benedict breakfast.
Invented in Manhattan in the late 1800s, the dish is a popular fixture on menus all over Cork, but if you thought every eggs Benny in the city was more or less the same, then prepared to be schooled.
Fountainstown-born digital nomad Lauren Foley travels for a living, but anytime she comes home to Cork, she heads out in search of one dish for brekkie.
In fact, the self-appointed eggs Benedict connoisseur has eaten the concoction in so many countries she now has a strict list of criteria that each restaurant must meet in order to meet her standards.
“A good eggs Benedict needs bread, bacon, eggs, and hollandaise sauce – it’s that simple,” says Foley.
“We don’t need any fancy stuff like nuts, pomegranate seeds, or random leaves getting in the way of a dish that can stand on its own.”
So obsessed is Lauren with her favourite brunch item that she has put together some advice for other hapless brunch seekers:
“On a recent trip home to Cork, I decided to see how many places I could squeeze in and order eggs Benedict from and rate them against each other,” she explains.
But first, the criteria: “Technically a true eggs Benedict should have two halves of an English muffin but personally I prefer some good Irish sourdough. American or Canadian bacon is really where it’s at. A lot of Irish places will have thicker Irish bacon, which is not horrendous, but it may lose you points in my book. None of this medallion stuff either.”
Right then. And the egg? “Poached. Firm. Runny. You will lose points if I can taste lemon or vinegar.”
A portion of hollandaise sauce hearty enough so that Lauren can “get some with every bite” is a must.
“It shouldn’t be too lemony or vinegary. Other than that, it just needs to taste good and have a nice viscosity,” she adds.
“Here are my thoughts:
6. Restaurant: Brown’s Brasserie
Dish: The Legrand
“This was a disappointing one as I was expecting a lot so when a fairly lonely-looking portion with one slice of bread came out, I gasped. Immediate points lost. Not least because it’s one of the more expensive dishes on this list. The only thing that saved me from withering away to nothing was that my mother graciously gave me some of her bread. The dish was also cold and the eggs weren’t runny, despite my specifically mentioning my preference to have them soft. I give credit to the restaurant for being able to specify what kind of eggs you want but there’s not much point when they come out hard anyway.
“I can appreciate it’s hard, pardon the pun, to make a good runny poached egg but this is a competition after all and someone has to come last. However, not all hope is lost. Special mention goes to the bacon, which was perfection, the lovely sauce, and the lonely slice being very crispy and tasty. The atmosphere and staff were also lovely.
Lauren’s recommendation: Add an extra slice of bread and maybe an extra slice of bacon and you’re flying it!
5. Restaurant: Silver Key Bar and Restaurant
Dish: Eggs Benedict
“The staff, and one lady in particular who was serving us, was peak Irish customer service – perfection. But again, this is a competition so they lost points for the eggs not being runny and the sauce not being the most flavoursome or refined (although there was a healthy portion of it).
The presentation was only okay, it was Irish bacon instead of American/Canadian (but again that’s more of a personal preference), and there was only one slice of bread. However, they do give you tasty breakfast potatoes to compensate so I can look past the one slice. All in all, not a bad shout.
Lauren’s recommendation: “Do away with the potatoes and add an extra slice of bread instead and you’re on your way.
4. Restaurant: De Calf Cafe
Dish: Eggs Benedict
“I was delighted to see this on the menu for such a good price. The customer service was stunning. Points won for being able to order and pay at the counter first and then sit back and enjoy your meal and stroll out when you’re done.
“The food came out really quickly as well, which was great. More points were won for lovely bread (two slices, although not huge), nice bacon, and runny eggs. However, the sauce was probably the most disappointing of the bunch unfortunately – extremely lemony and overpowering and just not as refined as some of the others. When mixed with a good amount of the yolk, however, it tamed down the lemony-ness a bit.
Lauren’s recommendation: “Keep working on the sauce and you’re sorted.”
3. Restaurant: Liberty Grill
Dish: Eggs Benedict
“You really can’t go wrong with a solid eggs Benedict from Liberty Grill. Runny eggs, lovely sauce and a healthy portion of it, lovely crispy (Irish) bacon, two slices of bread, and stunning customer service.
“It can often be difficult to get a table here (they have an online queue system which can help alleviate the struggle) and it’s closed on Sundays so I find myself sometimes not even wanting to go through the emotional rigmarole of trying to get a table or mentally calculate if it’s open or not. But when you get in, you’re never disappointed.
Lauren’s recommendation: “Expand your square footage and opening hours so I can get in more!”
2. Restaurant: GoGo’s
Dish: Eggs Benedict
“This was my first time here and I was not disappointed. Simply stunning. Three slices of bread – can you imagine my joy? Beautiful bacon and sauce, and a little bit of paprika, which is interesting but it wasn’t overpowering.
“This place has the nicest staff in the history of staff and a gorgeous atmosphere. What I will say is that it was served in a bowl, which makes eating a little more tricky than if it were on a flat plate. There was a wait to get a table but this just speaks to the quality of the food so I really can’t fault the place for that.
Lauren’s recommendation: “Serve it on a plate and you’re winning.”
1. Restaurant: The SpitJack
Dish: The SpitJack Classic
“I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve come here for eggs Benedict but I return time and time again. It really ticks every box there is; stunning bacon (I switch out the ham listed on the menu for bacon), crispy bread, gorgeous sauce, runny eggs every time, ‘bacon dust’ which, I mean, come on… perfection.
“You’re nearly always guaranteed to get a seat, there’s lovely customer service, it’s right in the centre of town and open every day. It is the most expensive of the bunch but the most filling; I always struggle to finish what’s on my plate, so in my view, it’s absolutely worth it.
Lauren’s recommendation: “A smidge more sauce would be perfection.”
Follow Lauren on Instagram for more egg-based foodie updates @lauren__foley.