- a blog about food and value

The Farmgate Cafe, English Market, Cork

farmhouse-cafeHunger is the only rational response to a stroll through the beautiful English Market in Cork. Stalls of fresh olives, cheeses, fish, sausages and general loveliness had my greedy brain ordering one of everything, please. My friends Cat and Jimmy had just made me a big breakfast, but I overlooked this and headed upstairs to the Farmgate Cafe.

On a Saturday afternoon at 2.00, it was packed. I joined the queue to place my order and, although all the food looked lovely, Cat and I were a bit taken aback by the prices. But, as happens once you’ve settled on a place, we grudgingly ordered anyway.

chicken-saladCat’s not a big greedy pig, so she just had a coffee and some cake. I opted for the Warm Salad of Chicken Sauteed with Spices. The chicken was wonderfully succulent, the salad wickedly fresh and tasty, and the spices superbly well-balanced. I really enjoyed every mouthful, and decided to suppress my irritation at the high price until I’d polished it off. Then Cat had to listen to me blabber on about how a salad, however great it is, should not cost €13.50. Especially when it’s self-service. My slice of coffee cake was creamy and moist, and Cat’s chocolate biscuit cake went down a treat.

The Farmhouse Cafe seems enormously popular, but I wonder how many of its customers are Irish and international visitors, sucked in by its charm and promptly fleeced. The ingredients are all top-notch and the food is spot-on, but I don’t think its prices are justifiable. Worth checking out if you don’t mind paying over the odds. Next time, however, I’ll check out the cheaper option at the English Market: Joup cafe seems very nice.


  1. I dont think your comments are entirely fair. Yes the prices are a little above the ususal, but the quality is second to none. Most items are cooked on site and locally sourced. I would argue that most of their trade is local and judging my the queues there even mid week, are very happy. How much is a chicken salad in Avoca on Wicklow St these days?

    Next time you’re down, also try Market Lane and the Crawford for lunch. Both are excellent and very good value.

  2. I think Peter’s comments are totally fair – €13.50 for a SALAD?! I don’t care if the chicken had its neck wrung on site and the lettuce came from the backyard, that price for a salad wouldn’t even be tolerated in New York or London, let alone Cork.

  3. It obviously is David.

  4. No Claire, it really isn’t.

  5. Let’s have a look:

    The Ivy, London: Caesar Salad, large: £6.75 (€7.97)
    J. Sheeky, London: Gem Heart Salad with blue cheese: £6.75

    Just as a comparison, I had a look at the Union Square Cafe in New York to see if there was a comparable salad. There was, for $22, or €15.80:

    Grilled Beef Sirloin & Rocket Arugula Salad with Mushroom Vinaigrette and Parmigiano Reggiano

    Bit of a difference.

  6. E13.50 for a chicken salad is absurd. I’d have left without eating. I live in London and have never paid that for a salad anywhere. I’ve eaten main courses in The Ivy & Nobu that cost less than that.

    If people are flocking to this place in Cork then more fool them.

  7. That is a ridiculous price for a salad! How do they get away with this??

  8. I agree that €13.50 for a salad is a bit much, even though the Farmgate is a nice place. I’d highly recommend Joup, Peter. They do really good sandwiches for about €5 and their soups are delicious. The Thai Chicken Noodle Soup is probably the nicest soup I’ve ever tasted!

  9. €13.50 for a salad is ludicrous. They don’t deserve to be supported.

  10. It all depends on the chicken, if it is organic and free range then I would say it is entirely justifiable. You see the price of chicken in the supemarket. I don’t know if the lettuce is organic too, organic produce costs a lot of money even in catering. If it’s not organic then it is ludicrous….

  11. I think the prices in the Farm Gate are fair…. You get a top quality salad made entirely from first rate, fresh, local ingredients served in a lovely spot. It is one of the more interesting places in the city to go to enjoy a slow leaisurely lunch. If you think it’s too pricey there is plenty of competition in the area that you could goto instead. I think about 90% of the trade in the Farmgate is local, repeat, business so obviously there is a market for their product.

    As for Ivans comment that they don’t deserve to be supported I completely disagree! Cork would be infinitely inferior if it lost the English Market and all of it’s contained stalls/cafes (all of which could be argued to be expensive).

    Lot’s of love in the comments for Joup, I have to give a bit of a shout for the sandwich stall (by the fishmongers) who I reckon make the best sandwiches in Ireland.

  12. Despite being a Corkonian and a very regular shopper in the English Market when I lived in the city, I was never a fan of the Farmgate. I always felt that it was far too expensive for self-service food in a draughty attic. Plus I got the worst bacon and cabbage I’ve ever tasted there once. Permanently put me off the place.

  13. They have the best egg mayo and pickle sandwich Ive ever had though and its gigantic for 3.50.