2007-10-13 We had the launch in Cork’s Hayfield Manor Hotel, so when it was over we adjourned to restaurant there, Orchids, for dinner. Before I describe the meal, let me tell you a little about the hotel. It’s Cork’s only five star hotel and it sits in very pretty manicured grounds on the south side of the river. I was surprised to learn that it’s a new building, a replacement for the original manor that stood on this site. More>>
The Wicklow Heather.
2007-10-06 Indulge me a moment while I wander briefly down memory road. They say that if you can remember the sixties then you weren’t there, and there may be something in that. All manner of things got ingested in those heady days and they probably haven’t helped with recall. Still, through the miasma of substances I can still remember bits of them. More>>
The Left Bank, Athlone.
2007-09-29 This week I took a stroll across The Shannon. Not in a miraculous, on the water sort of way, but over the bridge in Athlone, admiring the great river and its boat traffic as I went. It was a warm, vaguely sunny day and Athlone Castle looked imposing enough on the river bank. Some ducks paddled their way slowly upstream adding to the sense of watery leisure. More>>
2007-09-22 I mention this because the strip has a new restaurant called ‘Hugo’s’, which has been open for a few weeks. I went there this week with Gerard and Abigail Carthy to see what the strip’s newest addition had to offer. I learnt from a card that I picked up as we went in that it’s owned by the same people who have Tullamore’s ‘Wolf Trap’, a place I reviewed for lunch last year. I thought the Wolf Trap was well run, so I had high hopes for Hugo’s. More>>
The Lobster Pot Seafood Bar
2007-09-08 The Lobster Pot is a long, low building set at an intersection. From where I was sitting I looked across at a nicely kept garden complete with two large palm trees, which must say something about the sunshine hours in this corner of Ireland. Inside it has a distinctly cottagey feel, with painted wood and bric-a-brac ornamentation and the dining area is divided into discrete sections affording privacy should you need it. Cosy and friendly might be two epithets that spring to mind More>>
Butlers Pantry at Home.
2007-09-01 My guests began to arrive at eight and while Niall and his helper Michael were prepping in the kitchen, we sat in the drawing room sipping the Orio Russell Brut Cava, a very drinkable sparkler from Catalunya available from Enowine at €16.99. And while we sat and chatted platefuls of dainty canapés kept coming from the kitchen - tiny tasters of foie gras on brioche, little vol-au-vents and sweetmeats of all kinds. More>>
2007-08-25 Maia has been open for a couple of months in Shelbourne Road and already it’s been generating a bit of a buzz. I arrived with my friend Alexis Mitchel early mid-week to find a dining room already nearly full. More>>
Fishy Fishy Café, Kinsale, Co. Cork
2007-08-18 Obviously, given its name, Fishy Fishy’s menu is heavy on the fish, in fact there’s nothing else on the menu except for one chicken dish. Committed carnivores need not apply. More>>
Corks Café and Wine Bar
2007-08-11 Cork’s is recently opened and is simply decorated. There’s a bar counter behind which the wine bottles are displayed, the tables and chairs are plain pine, the chairs unpadded. It’s on a corner and there’s glass all around, so it’s bright and well lit. Simplicity is the key word for the menu as well; the laminated card menu lists quick snacks only, main courses change frequently and are on the board daily. More>>
2007-08-04 A couple of years ago I went to Ashbourne in Co. Meath and had a superb Chinese meal in Eatzen. Apart from the beautifully prepared food the dining room itself was lavish with a no-expense-spared interior. When I heard that there was a new Eatzen in Clonee I had to try it. My son, Rocco, has always maintained that he doesn’t like Chinese food, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to change his mind. More>>
South Bar and Grill
2007-07-28 It wasn’t that long ago that all of this area was green fields. That’s hard to believe looking at all the shiny new buildings that have sprung up. The newly built Blackthorn Road has some architecturally interesting buildings along its length, so it feels more like a boulevard than a road in an industrial estate. South is well signed, but look out for a large red Perspex cube which is pretty well outside the restaurant. More>>
Bon Appetit, Malahaide.
2007-07-21 Paolo really enjoys dinner in Oliver Dunnes Michelin starred restaurant, Bon Appetit. Possibly the most enthuaiastic review of 2007. More>>
2007-07-14 Oliver is the chef who brought Mint to gastronomic attention. Now he’s opened his own restaurant in the long-established Bon Appetit in Malahide. The artist Susan Morley was back in town, so I asked to her to accompany me there. We arrived early enough and chose to go directly upstairs to our table rather than stop for an aperitif in bar downstairs. More>>
Chakra, Greystones, Co. Wicklow.
2007-07-01 If you like Indian food there’s quite a lot of choice. Probably the best known Indian restaurants is the Jaipur chain, which now has several outlets. This week I tried out the Greystones restaurant, which although part of the Jaipur chain, is called Chakra. It’s in the new shopping centre just off Greystones’ main street, so it’s in a brand new building. More>>
2007-06-30 For foodies it’s important to know where your favourite chef currently cooks. I’ve had more emails on the whereabouts of Troy McGuire than any other chef. If you don’t already know, Troy is the chef who brought you L’Gueuleton. What that did was bring a whole new style of food to Dublin - earthy, peasant, robust, take your pick of any chunky epithet and it was applied to L’Gueuleton. It was also staggeringly good value. If you didn’t mind the fact you couldn’t book and the canteen feel to the décor, you could eat seriously well made food at student prices. More>>
2007-06-23 In the Western world the commonest daily meal is the burger. Hundreds of millions are sold daily, which is remarkable given that the first hamburger appeared a little over one hundred years ago. More>>
Alexis, Dun Laoghaire.
2007-06-16 Every now and then a restaurant opens that gets rave reviews from every restaurant reviewer. Not often, but a couple of times a year. The last time this happened was when The Winding Stair opened on Ormonde Quay in Dublin to rapturous reviews from every publication. It's just happened again with the newly opened Alexis is Dun Laoghaire. More>>
2007-06-09 I've spent the last couple of weekends in continental Europe and just like thousands of Irish holidaymakers have, I've eaten well at prices that seem really cheap after Ireland. There are many reasons why restaurants cost so much less on the continent, the most obvious being that raw materials cost less, labour costs less, taxes on wine are far less and peripheral costs like rubbish collection are minuscule in comparison to here. But there's another reason that's often overlooked: many restaurants on continental Europe have been in family ownership for several generations. That means that the start-up costs and high repayments on borrowing don't exist. More>>
The Saddle Room in The Shelbourne.
2007-06-07 I've always had a soft spot for The Shelbourne. It's a Dublin landmark, an institution, a meeting place with a history. I used to go there a lot, especially to the Horseshoe Bar, to meet people on my trips to the capital. I got out of the habit of going there when The Meridien Group took it over and tried to turn into some sort of corporate vision of theirs, with an almost total lack of consideration for its long heritage. Now it's re-opened under new ownership and under the management of the Marriott chain. More>>
2007-05-26 Reputations are curious things. For people, places and institutions, reputations are normally years out of date. Great men with great reputations have their great deeds accomplished long before their reputations are conferred upon them. Institutions and places often live with a reputation garnered years previously. More>>
2007-05-19 One of the commonest questions I'm asked is What's your favourite restaurant?' It's a fair enough question, but I don't have a ready answer for it. The trouble is that I have lots of favourite restaurants. It depends on how I feel. I might be craving a burger, or fish, or veal sweetbreads with truffles or simply a pizza. Each of these culinary caprices can best be satisfied in different food outlets. More>>
2007-05-12 It would be an easy assumption to make after reading most restaurant menus that the entire population of Ireland is carnivorous. I have vegetarian friends who find their restaurant choices are very restricted - often the best they get offered is a plate of whatever vegetables are on the menu that night. That's not exactly what you'd most like to have you're going out to eat - you'd want something a bit more interesting. More>>
2007-05-04 There are a couple of really beautiful dining rooms in Dublin. I'm thinking here of the one that used to be called 'Number 27' in the pre-revamped Shelbourne Hotel and the one that used to be called La Stampa'. Both of these are the kind of room that makes you feel you're somewhere special - high-ceilinged, well proportioned and elegantly decorated. And both dining rooms have had their ups and downs over the years, one is no longer a dining room and the other has changed its name to Balzac'. More>>
Hole in the Wall
2007-04-28 I've lived in Ireland for most of my life and I've taken to Irish life like the proverbial duck to water. Yes, of course there are things that annoy me about life here, the long winters for one, but on balance and compared to life in other countries, I'm happy with my choice of adopted homeland. I've even managed over the years to assimilate all kinds of Irishisms into my life by a process of osmosis, but there's one thing I've never really adopted - the Irish love affair with the pub. More>>
Dante's Italian Restaurant,
2007-04-21 It's been a while since I've seen the brother-in-law, he's been busy touring in Germany and elsewhere with his new album. But Chris de Burgh was back in Dublin this week, so I took the opportunity to have dinner with him and catch up on the news since Christmas. I thought we'd meet in Dundrum, handy to both of us. More>>
Renvyle House Hotel
2007-04-14 I was in Galway this week, the week that people had just been informed that there was poo in their drinking water. Mostly animal poo, but a bit of human poo as well. As you can imagine, sales of bottled water are booming in Galway. The people I met were more than a little pissed off. It would be bad enough if the stuff came out of taps for free, but they're being charged for it - which adds insult to injury. More>>
The Old Church
2007-04-07 This week covers the last of my travels in the Inishowen Peninsula in the northern reaches of County Donegal, an area of the country I hadnt been to visit for many a year. The day began with breakfast in the Ballylifffin Lodge and Spa, the newest of Ballyliffin's hotels. From the front of the hotel you can look right over the breaking, rolling waves on Ballyliffin's strand to Five Fingers Strand on the far side of Doagh Island. It's a great view to have with breakfast, but there was a bigger plus for me with my breakfast in Ballyliffin Lodge. More>>
2007-03-31 When I was a student in Dublin we used to take the odd weekend off and drive up to Ballyliffin in Donegal, where an old school friend of mine had a family holiday cottage. I used to love those trips, the wildness of Donegal's landscape, the wide sandy beaches and that wonderful sense of getting away from it all. And then, little by little the border security became more intense, there were more military road-blocks, a deepening sense of unease prevailed and eventually we stopped going. More>>
2007-03-24 Every time I go to Kerry I seem to enjoy myself. I've been wondering why this is so and I'm thinking that the answer might be because it feels like going on holiday. It's the distance, you see. Okay, it's not far in actual miles, but if you want to drive there you could easily be looking at six hours. On a plane that'll get you across the Atlantic. Because the drive takes so long it makes sense to fly there on Aer Arann, which is what I did this time. A flight, no matter how short, also contributes to that sense of going on holiday. More>>
2007-03-17 Ever since I was a small boy I had a fascination with maps. I loved the looking at them and letting my imagination fill in the landscape from the two-dimensional representation on the page. Even at an early age I was struck by how much information could be conveyed in a map. More>>