Amicus is something of a favourite with Cork people. I had never been to its original home on French Church St but, looking for somewhere to get a quick lunch, I thought I would try the new incarnation of Amicus on Paul St. How I wish I didn’t.
The high-ceilinged room, with its mezzanine floor, used to be home to The Gingerbread House. That was once a favourite of mine but it had become a bit grotty around the edges in recent years. So first impressions of Amicus were good – the building has been spruced up and the room is bright and airy.
At 2pm on a Sunday, it was also packed, which was a good sign. Buggies were piled up in the waiting area. The place is clearly a magnet for yummy mummies and daddies.
Unfortunately, the buggies contributed to the overall sense of chaos at the door. Six or seven different parties were waiting to be seated and the girl on front of house duty was not keeping track of things. The couple behind me in the queue were seated before me even though they kindly pointed out that I was ahead of them.
Having waited for quarter of an hour to get a seat, I then had to wait another 10 minutes to order. Couples on either side of me waited just as long to have the congealed remains of their lunches taken away.
I ordered a vegetarian sandwich, flagged on the menu as featuring chargrilled and roasted vegetables, goats cheese and pesto. I don’t normally go for the veggie option but this really sounded appetising.
It wasn’t. It was distinctly unappetising. It even looked horrible. I had imagined sweet and slightly blackened peppers, creamy roasted garlic, crisply sweet onions and maybe some courgettes and aubergines, topped with deliciously melting goat’s cheese.
I got courgettes and aubergines alright but they were soggy and sweating oil. The onions were slimy. Two halves of a semi-dried cherry tomato provided a little lift but they were never going to carry this dish on their own. The thick round of goat’s cheese hadn’t been flashed under a grill so it remained in its cloying natural state, which didn’t help matters. The dish had been drizzled with pesto but even though I could see it, I couldn’t taste it.
Under all of this were two slices of savoury bread – tomato and caraway seed, I think. To be honest, it was hard to tell. The bread had largely reduced to a reddish mush under the heap of watery, oily awfulness on top of it.
How hard can it be to get something this easy so wrong? Less oil, fewer slices of courgette, a few bits of pepper, some herbs and seasoning and this would have been lovely.
The sandwich came with home fries, which were edible, at least. Mind you, it was only afterwards that I remembered the sandwiches were advertised as coming with salad or home fries. I wasn’t given the option.
Did I complain? No, of course, I didn’t. I’m an Irish consumer. To be honest, I thought about complaining but I sat for so long with my mostly uneaten lunch pushed away from me without anyone asking if it was alright or if I wanted anything else that I just gave up, paid at the counter and left.
Apart from those little scraps of tomato, the only other bright spot was the waiter (sweet and efficient during our two very brief encounters). The girl at the cash desk was also friendly but she never asked how my lunch was. I know I should just have told her but I just wanted to get out of the place by that stage. Bear in mind that a quick stop-off for a sandwich had taken well over an hour at this point.
I hope the owners of Amicus spend my €9 well because I doubt they’ll be getting any more of my cash.