by Laura A. Edgerton
2020 is ushering in a new era in frugal, foodie-approved nosh with a slight increase from 2019’s Six Under €6 budget. I’ll be serving up seven new food features, the Saucy Seven…for €7 or less. These features will continue last year’s focus on great food, local producers, supporting Cork City businesses and the best way to utilize a small budget.
Loving Salads puts the best of Irish produce on colorful display with a changing array of salads to suit different palates. An outstanding value in the city center is the €5.75 large salad tub, where you get to choose five salads, layered into a large compostable tub from the varied daily options. Typical choices include grains, potato, rice, pasta, and veggie salads all of which come topped with homemade hummus and toasted seeds. This filling and healthy lunch is bursting with flavor and goodness.
The Fish Wife doesn’t advertise student specials inside their Grand Parade or MacCurtain street locations but step up to the counter and order the fish of the day student special. For €7 you’ll get fresh, fried fish with meaty chips, or if you’re not a fish person try the chicken or sausage with chips which is also available for the same price. The student deal is available at lunch or dinner with the same pricing 7 days a week.
Sonny’s Deli on Albert Road is probably one of the smallest takeaway shops in town, and you’ll often see a queue to get into the tiny shop. Once you’ve made it inside you will be met by a variety of salads, sides, sandwiches and baked goods packed into a compact display area and made fresh daily. Whether or not you’re a vegetarian the €3 mushroom “sausage” roll with walnuts, goat cheese and thyme is worth a taste. The pastry is divine, and the unique filling is bursting with umami flavor despite its (unnoticeable) lack of meat.
CoMix Café highlights their ethos in their name, “co” refers to countries of Ireland and Poland, while “mix” highlights how they combine the cooking from these two countries together. The prices at this café are reasonable and all the food is homemade. They offer breakfast all-day and delicious Polish specialty items like homemade perogies (dumplings) for €6.50. If you’re looking for filling meal for €6.95, try the sausage, fried onions, gravy and mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes are creamy, and the fried onions punch up the flavor.
Café Torino fuses the best of local Irish producers with Italian delicacies. A short walk from UCC, the café offers a classic Italian coffee menu as well as breakfast and lunch bargains. The €3.50 panini bite is much more than a bite; it’s a small sandwich with a delicious olive oil and sea salt dressed side salad. If you’re looking for something to satisfy a bigger appetite, you can get two for just €6. The fillings change daily, but offerings like pesto, organic red peppers and cheese along with Parma ham and Caciotta black pepper cheese (made in Tralee) are often in rotation.
Farmgate Café is located on the on the second floor of the English Market and recently celebrated a 25-year anniversary. This café features both a formal lunch menu and a from the counter menu and either option will provide you with a premium seat for people watching at the cafe. There are three sandwiches available at the counter for under €7, each filled with locally sourced ingredients. A hardy choice is the baguette with fresh baked ham and a whopping portion of creamy, smoky Ballinrostig cheese that you can get with either regular or Tabasco mayo for €6.90.
Novecento on MacCurtain Street is an Italian restaurant that prides itself on serving up authentic pasta and pizza. At lunch time they offer a fantastic deal with a massive slice (equal to a quarter of a pizza!) for just €3, with toppings to suit carnivores or vegetarians. Don’t mistake Novecento’s slice size as a matter of quantity over quality, as their rustic charred pizza with tangy tomato sauce is some of the best in Cork.