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Paolo, Gerard, Keith, Joe

Paolo's Reviews

Eatery 120.

2008-02-25   It was a midweek night when I went to dinner with Gill Hall. I’d heard about a newish restaurant in Ranelagh called ‘Eaterie 120’ and I’d cleverly deduced it could be found at 120 Ranelagh. Gill phoned up and was told we cold have a table at 8.30, which suited us fine. Arriving at 8.30 we were met by a sign saying ‘Please wait to be seated’. We stood in a hallway and did just that, we waited. And then waited a bit more. And then a bit more. The floor staff seemed to be inordinately busy, but eventually a very pleasant waitress showed us to waiting area outside, in a alley alongside the restaurant that had been tiled in the style of the Paris Metro. More>>

Go Nice young man.

2008-02-16   There are names that are evocative, they conjure up images and emotions just by saying them. ‘Riviera’ is one of them. When you hear that name you start to think of sunshine, flash cars, hedonistic rich people and the blue Mediterranean Sea. To be specific the Riviera takes in the French Côte d’Azur, the Italian Ligurian coast and the Principality of Monaco. More>>

Shelby's Brasserie

2008-02-09   For a town of now quite a large population it’s never seemed to me to have had many good restaurants. Over the years that I’ve been reviewing I’ve seen quite a few come and go, some good, some not so good. It seems on the face of it that Bray is not the easiest place to run a successful restaurant. More>>

Ivan’s Oyster Bar and Grill

2008-02-02   The main road end of the pier where Beshoff’s has always been, has now been completely re-vamped. The shop has now become a very smart seafood emporium, nicely laid out and containing an oyster bar, a fresh fish counter, organic vegetables, wines and gourmet foods. Right next door they’ve built a brand new restaurant named Ivan’s after a Beshoff forebear. More>>

The Mill at Lyons.

2008-01-26   One of the great success stories over the past two decades has been Ryanair, now one of the world’s biggest carriers. It perfectly reflected the new zeitgeist - brash, aggressive and ruthlessly efficient. Its founder Dr. Tony Ryan sadly died towards the end of last year but he has left an extraordinary legacy, not just with Ryanair, but also with his final project, the Village at Lyons. I was lucky enough to meet him on a couple of occasions and found him charming and gracious. His charisma was evident, and it’s no surprise that he inspired people. He was a man with vision, a rare quality. More>>

Bodega Wine and Tapas Bar.

2008-01-19   When I was a young man I used to spend a lot of time in Spain. If I were to add up all the months I spent there it wouldn’t be far short of two years. Most of those months were spent in Catalunya, the region centred on Barcelona, where I earned a crust by busking with a Danish pal. We spent the summers travelling up and down the Costa Dorada and the Costa Brava working our brand of musical magic on the seafront restaurant diners. We moved from town to town because there was only so much of our music people were prepared to listen to. It worked well, because every two weeks a whole new group of holidaymakers arrived who hadn’t heard us before. More>>

Hartleys Restaurant.

2008-01-12   The fine cut granite building that houses Hartley’s is from an era when travellers were accorded respect by architects. It was part of the railway station, and like all Victorian stations it was built to make the traveller feel important. Think of St. Pancras, King’s Cross, Paris’ Gare du Nord, Rome’s Termini, New York’s Grand Central and you see a pattern. Then compare it to today’s airports that are designed to make travellers feel like cattle, walking through zigzag crushes, removing shoes and belts and undergoing whatever new humiliations the airport authorities have dreamt up in the name of ‘security’. Frankly this is one case where I prefer the old to the new. More>>

In Praise of Lunch. (Temple Spa and Ilia)

2008-01-05   I want to start the year in praise of lunch. Of the two main meals of the day it’s the junior partner, it’s taken often in more haste than dinner and it tends to be less elaborate. And yet it has it’s place. Aldous Huxley once said ‘a man may be a pessimistic determinist before lunch and an optimistic believer in free will after it’. A good lunch can have that restorative effect. More>>

The Man Friday.

2007-12-01   Philip Horgan has been running The Man Friday since the start of 1978, as near as damn it thirty years. He opened it at the same time that I opened my restaurant, he in Kinsale, me in Annamoe. He bought a going concern and so did I - an interesting parallel. But then I discovered where he worked before moving to Kinsale - in Armstrong’s Barn in Annamoe, the restaurant that I bought and ran. That’s no degree of separation. More>>

Restaurant Rinuccini

2007-11-24   I mention this again because this week I went to visit an old friend, a Kilkenny restaurant called Rinuccini. About fourteen years ago I was running a wine club and I used to meet up with John O’Connell, a wonderful man who wrote about wine in the then Cork Examiner. We used to meet in Kilkenny, as it was a half-way house between Wicklow and Cork, and our preferred meeting place was Rinuccini. It’s still going strong and I was looking forward to a long overdue return visit for dinner. More>>

Shanahans on the Green.

2007-11-10   We arrived in Shanahan’s a little early for our booking and were shown downstairs to the bar for a pre-prandial drink while we waited for the table. It’s definitely themed - photographs and letters from American presidents line the walls and there are even letters to John Shanahan on White House paper. John Shanahan is the eponymous founder of this restaurant, and editor of a book of maxims called ‘The Most Brilliant Thoughts of All Time‘, which I have in front of me. I found one of John’s own thoughts in it - ‘doors don’t slam open. More>>


2007-11-03   We were off to ’Aubergine’, a restaurant in Longford Town that has figured largely in my postbag of late, many readers telling me that it would be well worth a visit. I was in Longford earlier this year when Brenda O’Donoghue and I were on the road looking for the best chips in Ireland for Derek Mooney‘s show. Back then only chips were on the agenda and we were there to check out ‘Luigi’s’, which has been serving good chips for years. I probably walked right past Aubergine then, because if you weren’t actively looking for it, you could easily pass it by. More>>

Gordon Ramsey's

2007-10-27   A few months ago I got a tour of the Ritz Carlton while it was still under construction. I walked around the building site wondering how it could possibly be ready by the start of October. Quite how it happened I don’t know, but miraculously not only was the job done on time it actually looks finished. Mature trees stand where a couple of months ago there was building rubble, lawns are in place, the interior is finished to a high standard and the whole gives the impression it’s been there for a while More>>

The Malt Room.

2007-10-20   I’ve been driving around the country quite a lot for the past couple of weeks, listening to the car radio and the endless ads for banks wanting to lend you money. You know the sort of thing, a soft seductive voice tells you all about the amazingly generous offer and then the voiceover slips into hyper drive, talking slightly faster than you can listen to deliver the small print: ‘Banco Bastardos is a responsible lender, regulated by the financial regulator, share values can go up as well as down, late repayments means we’ll take your home from you, terms and conditions apply, gurriers need not.’ More>>


2007-10-20   be a part of our choices. The menu is quite long and very well priced with enough choices to appeal to most palates. The wine list amazed both of us; it’s a long a some restaurants’ lists and the mark-up is far less than usual - there are bottles of wine on it for €14.90, which seems closer to off-license prices than on-trade prices. A bottle of Sancerre for €29 looked like great value, so we ordered that. More>>

Hayfield Manor

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>>

Hugo's Restaurant.

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>>

Eatzen, Clonee.

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>>

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