Review of Hardwood Restaurant, Cork, Ireland

Hardwood Restaurant, Cork, Ireland,

Situated over the footbridge from the Coal Quay, this restaurant has all the charm and grace of a sweaty sock. To get to the point: The manager of this place is a prick. A group of us from BarCamp headed along to it last night and we were actually made feel totally unwelcome by their staff the minute we came in. Most of our group had already arrived and we made no booking plans. The contempt and hostility shown said it all. Four of us arrived and asked to sit next to the large group and were told no. We suggested moving a table to the large formation already there. “No.”

Then they decided to do exactly this. I asked should I take the glasses off the table as they moved it. I was told “No, don’t touch it ” in very hostile tones. Did I mention the manager is a prick? I hope I relayed that point. When we sat down he addressed us like we were four year olds speaking in slow broken and stressed english not to lean against a partition. Phil ordered a Carlsberg I think and was agressively told they didn’t have it and for what seemed like spite, was carded.

Our food arrived and the rare tuna steak I ordered was good but not fantastic. No pleases, no thank yous, no come agains. Mediocre food thrown at you while charged at top dollar.

Life is too short to deal with people and businesses like Hardwood. They won’t get my business again. I will happily recommend a bag of razor blades over anything they serve. No matter how good food can be when attitude like that is shown it ruins the whole experience. They only get a one star because I can’t give it a zero with LouderVoice.

Rated 1/5 on Nov 02 2008
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36 Responses to “Review of Hardwood Restaurant, Cork, Ireland”

  1. […] it’s too overdone, what ever you business you have you will have good reviews, and not so good reviews, but you should not try to go out and blatentally try to game these review sites. Someone will see […]

  2. Pat Phelan says:

    another one for the avoid list.

  3. JohnP says:

    Sounds awful Damien.

    Looking at the prices recently, I said to myself that it had better be damned good to justify the top-end €25 – €30 price-point for almost every main course.

    Sounds like it very much wasn’t. I mean, how hard can it be to have the staff be civil to the customers who pay their wages….. ?

    As the economy continues to tighten, we will become even more selective about the whole experience of where we eat – I will not be heading to the Hardwood anytime soon, based on this review.

    I also see some reasonable reviews elsewhere for this restaurant, but tbh I wouldn’t risk it that I would arrive on one of their “bad” nights and then pay top dollar for the crap service that you all experienced….

    The strong will survive these tought times, and it looks like the Hardwood may not be around in 12-18 months if things continue in the same vein.

  4. They were obviously too busy giving your end of the table grief to even check back on us once after we had ordered. I wonder how many drink sales they lost in that time? My food was very tasty but €30 for a steak with minimal garnish is ridiculous.

    We did everything we could to make things easy on the kitchen. For a restaurant to treat 17 people like that when the place was otherwise completely empty is simply commercial suicide. I’ve added them to my Irish Restaurant Deathwatch List.

  5. manuel says:

    not even I can offer a defense for that sort of service…….

  6. Tom Young says:

    So, no hard wood then? 😉

  7. Damien says:

    Wisht Tom, wisht

  8. I know what you mean about the service. When Alan asked to split the bill up they handed him the bill and a calculator. Stupid f**ks. And yea the food was good but not worth the price. I wanted to scratch the idiots eyes out when he wouldn’t move the tables together. Service without a smile gets 2 thumbs down by me. Grrrr!

  9. Now Damien,

    I don’t think you should pull punches like this. What did you really think of the place?

  10. Did anyone tell them to go fuck themselves?

  11. Sabrina Dent says:

    Oh noes.

    We used to live up the road from the Hardwood and ate there quite often – with out of town guests, my parents, I think a birthday or two – because it was convenient for a nice meal out.

    I’ve always made reservations and never had a party larger than six. I’ve always found them to provide excellent service and really great food except for the shark. In fact, I wrote a really nice review on Louder Voice about them.

    Which I hope you did not read before you went because I do NOT want to be shipped a bill for 17 peoples’ dinners at the Hardwood.

    Sorry it sucked, guys. That’s terrible.

  12. I remember eating there a few times, the last time with the rest of my family and we had a good time there. It was LOUD though, music and people chatting so there’s something weird with the acoustics.

    Can’t remember what the prices were like but Jacinta says the food was great, I don’t remember.
    Their behaviour is inexcusable if they can’t deal with 4 extra guests, even on a Saturday night.

    Hardwood wouldn’t be the first place I’d go to anyway, it’s in a terrible location.

  13. Justin Mason says:

    Ouch. This awful review is now result #3 for [hardwood restaurant cork].

  14. Vicki says:

    Hmmm funny you should mention it Damien, we had a similar experience in Hardwood on a work night out earlier this year and we actually ended up leaving before dessert as a result and I would never ever recommend the place again!

  15. […] was the much needed food in Hardwood followed by [many] drinks. Thanks to everyone who made me feel welcome. I had a great […]

  16. Jim Benson says:

    noting …

    don’t … piss … off … Mulley.

    Got it.

  17. Debbie says:

    Noting another restaurant to avoid. Isn’t it well for them that they can afford to alienate custormers like that during the up and coming R word? Serves them right if they lose business because of this.

    Whenever I possibly can I eat in Cafe Paradiso where they are unfailingly lovely and helpful with top food. (No steak there, I grant you.)

    Thanks Damien.

  18. […] critic AA Gill (without outright slating the establishment he subtly dismissed the place) and this one by esteemed blogger but not food critic Damien Mulley on Irish review site LouderVoice. These two […]

  19. i want to thank all the people who are taking time to comment on this topic. in particular damien and niall as well as greg o sullivan who brought this to my attention. i am the chef at hardwood and i try everyday to cook with innovation and passion. to hear damiens reaction to his treatment at our restaurant is disheartening. it makes one question why one bothers to put himself out there exposed to the comments of anyone. i can assure you all the two dubious replies have nothing to do with or are from anyone at the restaurant. i have only just made the manager, my business partner, aware of what has been said about him and us. we have been open for almost two years and for the most part have been able to send our customers away happy and wanting to recommend us and or return. to be truthful i have been waiting for a truly bad review and this past two weeks i have received two. the other is on i take everything anyone says very seriously. good and bad. most people are willing to talk about their bad experiences more readily than their good ones. so, to hear one, you must consider the truth that lay behind it. no matter who cruel or vindictive they may be. something must have happened to make damien write what he did. i intend to find out the truth of it and do something about it. no one is perfect in this world, but i assure you all i try as hard as i can to deliver a fresh, product cooked with quality ingredients and innovation. that is my truth to myself. to push my envelope as far as i can. to step out there. and take the shots if i have to. again thank you all for honesty and your opinion. if i can do anything to help any blogger or anyone who reads this feel free to contact me i am willing to hear what you have to say. good and bad



  20. Jerry O'Sullivan says:

    Hi, my name is Jerry and i am the manager of Hardwood Restaurant.
    I would first like to offer my sincere apologies to Damien and his friends who ate with us last saturday. It is my job to ensure all guests are made welcome and looked after when in our establishment and i was very dissappointed to read Damiens review.
    If my tone on saturday was rude that was honestly not my intention. I’ve worked in the service industry for 12 years and truly enjoy what i do. I have witnessed bad service on many occasions and know how it can ruin a good evening. As my colleague arthur posted earlier this review was brought to my attention today and i’ve spent the last number of hours soaking it in. Obviously On saturday i didn’t do my job well. I know when you arrived on saturday the restaurant was quite but we had a full book from 8 pm onwards and i had to ensure i would have tables for those who had booked. I was trying to accommodate everyone but at the same time ensuring i didn’t over book. Maybe i need to work on my communication skills.
    Its hard when one gets a bad review but i believe if you listen to what is being said you can learn from it and become better at what you do. I assure you i have taken everything onboard and will work harder to ensure our diners have the service they deserve and expect.
    Should anyone like to get in contact with me my e-mail address is


  21. Damien says:

    If my tone on saturday was rude that was honestly not my intention.

    Non-apologies are not apologies. You were rude, you were aggressive, look at how many people said so above. If you don’t know the difference between being rude and not, that’s a worry.

  22. Jerry O'Sullivan says:

    you are right

    “On saturday i didn’t do my job well.ts hard when one gets a bad review but i believe if you listen to what is being said you can learn from it and become better at what you do. I assure you i have taken everything onboard and will work harder”

    i do apologize. in fact if we could have the chance of having you back on us we would appreciate the opportunity to show you our gratitude.

  23. Will says:

    Although I have never been to this restaurant myself, I have heard nothing but good reviews about it. A group of friends of mine were there over the jazz weekend and were very impressed by the service/food. Again, I can’t comment from personal experience but I think it’s important to bring some kind of balance to this….

    The way the economy is going a lot of restaurants that fail to deliver will be forced to close over the next few months/years…. I reckon this post is a fair warning to Hardwood and at this point its up to them to take heed or prepare to fail. Obviously you had a crappy experience in this restaurant Damien but in fairness to the Chef/Manager they have come out with their hands up. Hopefully they will be more conscious of their customer service obligations in the future.

  24. Damien says:

    @Will You want to bring balance? Your suggestion of lack of balance is pretty insulting.

  25. Frank P says:

    I think what Will means is that this is not a restaurant that consistently gets bad press from people who eat there, and so he is balancing your bad review with the good things he has heard – not that your review in itself needed balance.

    Your experience sounds awful, but I was surprised to read it myself as I have eaten there on several occasions brunches, lunches and dinners and have always found the manager to be extremely accommodating and helpful, even when we were being awkward with constantly changing numbers with a largish party eating during one busy Sunday brunchtime.

    Reading through the comments here I found myself pondering how many restaurants on Cork would even be aware of blog posts about them, not to mind actually respond…? Are restaurants particularly web concsious due to these online review sites etc?

  26. barry says:

    @damien, stick to the day job, it may not have been ‘unbalanced’ but it was a bit of a rant, maybe justified, but a rant none the less. Any decent restaurant would have refused 17 of yiz – unbooked, maybe that was their mistake.

  27. Barry, when we arrived we thought we were going to be 9 in total. The restaurant was 100% empty and we had close to 2 hours to eat before the next sitting.

    The group did eventually become 17 but we all ordered in batches at different times to minimise the load on the kitchen. e.g. some people ate and left to catch a train before others had even started. So effectively we were a set of tables who just happened to know each other.

    Any decent restaurant that turns away a €500 bill when they are empty during a recession should be shut down. To be fair to Hardwood, they didn’t do that. I got no sense at any point that the kitchen was under pressure since the food was decent and arrived promptly. All of the problems discussed above were centered on front-of-house and, based on the feedback from Hardwood, shouldn’t happen again.

  28. barry says:

    Clarification accepted.
    I have lived a lot of my life outside Ireland and although that is often seen as a ‘here we go again, Ireland is crap’ start to an input it is my experience that the restaurant trade in Ireland has a pretty contemptuous view of the audience (with a significant number of exceptions…, the Paradiso mentioned in this thread being one of them….). The fact that the chef and manager answered illustrates well what most non-Irish owners/chefs/managements would normally do. In most countries being a waiter/chef/manager in the food sector is recognised as a solid, professional, job, less so in Ireland.
    Criticism withdrawn Damien, but the day job is better…..

  29. Damien says:

    Barry, is it just my reviews of restaurants you want censored or everyone’s? Do you want to censor other things I say and do too? Luckily for the world, people like yourself don’t control most of it so we can enjoy free speech. Do not tell me what I can and cannot say, this is my space that I pay for. It’s unsettling that you want to dictate what people can say online.

  30. barry says:

    For fuck’s sake Damien calm down, can’t you recognise a joke when you see one? I was actually trying to be ironic, the ‘day stuff’ is great, the restaurant reviews are great too, but rants aren’t….OK??

    Best, Barry

  31. aodhrua says:

    i found the service in hardwood pleasant. i find the notion of four people walking into to a restaurant and expecting to be accomodated and to sit where they choose crazy.
    like the resaurant, feel the review was unhelpful. when is it ever fun to eat with so many people?

  32. tony vanleeuwen says:

    it is a pity that i have never visited the hardwood ,but will put it on my list were i ever go to cork.

    it seems damien has an attitude and nothing could ever make him consider a second chance .

    that seems to prove that his voice is not the voice of the patron’s that did have good experiences .

    what qualifications does he possess ,that would make me believe ,he is a serious critic ?

  33. Frank Hannon says:

    Was there myself recently on a tuesday evening with my wife, they had a special €20 for 3 course inc. glass wine. I had the steak in that deal. Beautiful! Great deal all round! No complaints, staff too were nice as was Jerry the Manager. Must just have got everyone on a bad night there Damien! Or were you all perhaps well on? Tech people can be very tetchy after a few!!!

  34. Ah Frank, don’t hold people know up to your own social standards.

  35. Michaell says:


  36. blow-in says:

    I’ve enjoyed brunch there on Sundays. Good food and good value. Easygoing atmosphere as befits a brunch and cheerful staff. Based on this my wife took her colleagues from UCC there for an evening meal/girls night out. Iffy food/expensive enough. So. Lack of continuity perhaps?