A Controversial Continuation in The Quay Co-Op…
N and P are no strangers to controversy. In fact, some may say they live for it; however, that is most certainly a more monumental(ly mind-numbing) discussion best saved for someplace else on this fair interweb. It is with this in mind that we come to Fika Forever’s second review, that of Cork’s Quay Co-op.*
As students, N and P find themselves perpetually hungry. This type of hunger isn’t your hunger of the academic variety; we’re talking feed-me-until-I-find-breathing-difficult hungry. It perhaps, then, comes as no surprise that N and P’s second outing as the ‘dynamic duo’ (ahem) behind Fika Forever actually occurred on the same day as their first. And so, in a giant up yours to Mother’s Nature’s earlier unfriendliness, N and P headed for Cork’s Quay Co-op.
The Quay Co-op, for the unenlightened amongst us, is situated at a distance from Cork city centre (aka Penneys of Patrick’s Street) just great enough to relegate it to the realm of cafés that popular opinion considers to be ‘out of the way’. In short, if your standard getup consists of a variation on the Ugg boots, Premiership soccer jersey and fake tan look (and that’s just the men), then N and P suggest sticking to somewhere failternative (defn. trying, but failing, to be alternative) like the Farmgate.
Being the hip-lifestyle-leading self-professed queen of everything alternative that she is, N possessed an already sizeable opinion (strange for her, she swears….) of the Quay Co-op. Conversely, P was like a vegetarian child in a gelatin-free sweet shop as he wandered around, discovering new treasures each time he turned a corner. Elderflower cordial! Posh chocolate! Japanese things! Veggie burgers! Swedish biscuits! Stroopwaffels (as experts of all things Dutch, N and P assure Fika Forever that it is pronounced with the emphasis on the non-existent half dozen ks there in the middle)! Thus, their brief shopping spree and mishap at the cash desk over with, N and P found themselves once again ready to get their fika on. (As an aside, we here at Fika Forever remain doubtful P will ever possess the €2,000 cash the cashier claimed to have seen, but await the outcome of the Garda investigation with interest).
While N and P readily admit to being dickheads, they’re not so bad as to judge the décor of a fika spot over the wares on offer, but for the sake of coherency this review will deal with the interior aesthetic first. It’s actually rather apt, when you think about it, as both N and P consider fika to be more than just having a coffee or a bite to eat - fika encompasses the entire experience (an opinion further evidencing their dickheadedness). The pretentiousness of that last sentence serves as a nice contrast to the unpretentious surroundings of the Quay Co-op itself. According to P the furniture was very ‘authentic’, whatever that means. Most of the tables seat between two and four people, which is potentially controversial for fika en masse. The three different ‘rooms’ of the restaurant add to its quirkiness, with N and P particularly liking the large vintage mirror that dominated the ‘room’ they chose (s0 th3y cOu!d ch£cK th€iR hAiR iN dA miRrOr b4 tAkiN’ dA b3b0 sTunNaHhh pic$ x0x0), as well as the minimalist lighting and giant windows.
Service in Quay Co-op is of the ‘every man, woman and child for themselves’ variety, but in practice this works rather well. N and P can’t imagine the staff here, while friendly, becoming overly concerned by deep debate, matrimonial meltdown or wailing whippersnappers - consistent with the slow food movement they seemingly stand for, then. However, the self-service setup coupled with the lack of menus on the tables and N’s hunger (read: impatience) did result in an upsetting mishap; she ordered the very same dish as P had, moments earlier (quite the departure by N, usually independent and non-conformist <- lol). Good thing P ordered the last two servings of his sides then, somewhat negating N’s slip. The offending yet enticing dish came in the form of a chickpea burger, served with satay sauce and two side salads of your choosing (€6.95). However, as previously mentioned, P did manage to secure the final serving of both the noodle and mixed leaf salads, leaving N to enjoy her choices of couscous and coleslaw.
While neither P nor N enjoyed a very long perusal of the menu before the awkward ‘who’s next?’ question beckoned, they both agreed that it encompassed a refreshing variety; quiches, pies, salads, burgers, sandwiches, roasts and one-pot dishes all happily co-exist and vie for your attention. Reasonably priced and welcomingly fresh, the food at Quay Co-op successfully manages to distinguish itself as a truly great fika spot in a market sadly, but increasingly, fixated with cut-rate convenience. With the majority of its mains sitting within a comfortable distance of a tenner, Quay Co-op is certainly within reach of both paysans (P) and those of us fortunate enough to have a few ducats to spare in the credit union (N).
In fact, N and P were so impressed with the value to be found in the Quay Co-op they’d nearly have live-tweeted it if it weren’t for the fact that P’s iPhone was busy snapping the food and restaurant from each of the three main photography angles, namely the Facebook angle, the Myspace angle, and the Twitter angle. Despite the Quay Co-op catering pretty exclusively to the vegetarian movement (a group to which N belongs), it is by no means unwelcoming to those of us fond of some cooked animal flesh (a group to which P – for now - belongs). As N has been vegetarian for a while now, and P, being the pious Catholic he is, had given up eating dead animals for Lent, both agreed that the variety on offer could stretch to cover the appetites of the most demanding fika enthusiast, irrespective of whether they identify as omnivore, veggie or just plain picky.
N and P enjoyed their food immensely, however, they would have appreciated larger plates as the salads and burgers weren’t able to give each other much personal space. N in particular felt she was intruding on an unusually tight culinary ménage-à-trois (whatever that means). As they tasted each other’s salads a thought struck them, partly due to the example being set by the nearby Italian posse…
HOT FF TIP #2: Whether eating in the Quay Co-Op with a friend, spouse, partner or favourite in-law (ahem) you should each choose your main and then share an array of accompaniments (salads, breads, dressings, dips etc.). Veggies (decide for yourself whether this means the plants or the people) are made for sharing, after all, and sharing is friendly, so, if possible, share everything! Except your beverage, because that’s just disgusting. By following this tip, we here at Fika Forever can almost-but-not-quite guarantee you the friendliest fika of your life, à la Jesus breaking the bread at the Last Supper or something equally epic.
Speaking of Jesus, some folk may find Quay Co-Op patrons way too alt, hip or cool to handle. In fact one patron actually may have thought he was the Lord reincarnate, having his dreadlocks fashioned into a fetching (but borderline blasphemous) crown, remnant of the crown of thorns from Jesus’ Spring/Summer 36 AD collection.
After clearing their plates, N and P turned their minds to dessert. Having learned their lesson in sharing, courtesy of the Italians opposite, N and P shared two desserts; an American-style chocolate fudge brownie and a dark chocolate and clementine pound cake. Both were equally delicious; the brownie being deliciously dark, while the pound cake was on the right side of moist. A selection of teas and coffees, fundamental for any fika spot, was also available. P was suitably impressed that, despite the staff not having previously realised, the Quay Co-op did indeed serve White Tea.
The Quay Co-Op is a perfect place for a relaxing dinner, a reasonably priced lunch or long catch-up chats with a friend (all of the above demonstrating some aspect of fika). The food caters to most and, thankfully, is also available to take away; friendly office fika anyone? One can even purchase most of the art that adorns the walls if you’re after a serious souvenir. Although, if you’ve found yourself bidding on the artwork that surrounds you instead of getting your fika on, then we seriously suggest you consider changing your company for your next outing. For what it’s worth, financially challenged students like N and P, however, preferred to opt for some baked goods from the fridge in the downstairs shop.
Love, peace and speciality teas <3
*The as yet unenumerated point of contention lies in the nature of the Quay Co-op as a fika spot deserving of inclusion here on Fika Forever. Fika purists out there may deride (lol dah ride) at N and P’s inclusion of Quay Co-op, however, we here at Fika Forever hope that our readers can see past this controversial (non)issue and appreciate the Quay Co-op for what it really is - a reliable and wholly wholesome spot for lunch, dinner, brunch or fika, wholeheartedly deserving of inclusion. The larger question of ‘What is fika?’ is bound to be the subject of the post with the potential for the most controversy ever to hit Fika Forever……. Exciting stuff, we swear.