All posts filed under: The best place for…….

A guide to Belfast, bite by bite

This article was originally published in The Irish Times. Imagine a meal that begins with the snap of crusty sourdough spread generously with Co Down’s golden Abernethy butter. Then move on to a plate of just-out-of-the-water Carlingford oysters, before a main of Mourne mountain lamb with buttery local potatoes. Round it off with a chocolate and salted caramel ice-cream from Glastry Farm from the Ards Peninsula or, for cheese lovers, Northern Ireland’s only raw milk blue cheese, Young Buck. This is just a tiny example of the endless bounty of Northern Ireland’s food produce you will find on menus these days in Belfast. Its restaurant scene has never shone brighter, making it the perfect time to visit. OX restaurant in Belfast. The past decade has seen the growth of the relationship between Northern Ireland’s producers, suppliers and restaurants. As the political situation stabilised, Belfast saw a surge in tourism with visitors taking in tourist attractions such as the Titanic visitor centre or stopping off in the city before a trip to the Giant’s Causeway or …

Review – Pullman Restaurant – Glenlo Abbey Hotel

The closest I’ll ever get to Laurence Olivier is a very unique dining experience at Glenlo Abbey. The star of my favourite version of my favourite book by Emily Bronte, “Wuthering Heights” (it feels like they invented the word brooding for the way he played the leading role of Heathcliff) used to take The Pullman Carriage on its Brighton run which saw it carry actors from London’s West End to tread the Brighton boards. The Pullman Carriage, now happily stationed at Gleno in Galway, was built in 1927 where it went on its glamorous Russia, Monaco and Istanbul routes. You might also recognise it from “Murder on the Orient Express”, the 1974 Agatha Christie film. It was also used during World War II by Sir Winston Churchill and his family. In fact its last journey was in 1965 taking Churchill’s remains and funeral cortege back near Blenheim Palace where he would be buried. This is a very special kind of dining experience. There is something about getting on board a piece of history, being greeted …

A secret spot for a great martini – The Funky Fish on Dawson Street

Oh I do love a proper martini. And it’s all the sweeter when it is being created and served by someone who knows how. The barman in Dublin’s “The Funky Fish” bar which is tucked in like a secret to the back of The Seafood Bar by Wrights of Howth, makes one of the best I have ever had. A soothing haven for all martini lovers right in the centre of town. The Seafood Bar by Wright’s of Howth 35 Dawson Street, Dublin 2 http://www.theseafoodbar.ie T: 01 5312260

Dining in Donegal 2018

Donegal is magical, majestic and full of mischief. My home county is the most beautiful in the country. Of course I’m going to say that, but it’s true. You’ll find warm people, freezing North Atlantic waters crashing onto dreamy beaches, good food, cosy pubs, rich Gaeilge and the song and story that comes from it, and us. Then there are sights like Mount Errigal, Malin Head, Sliabh League and the magnificent Glenveagh National Park. Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve been warmed by a Donegal turf fire, its fizzing and crackly breath embracing you into the very heart of its mountains, its sea, its people and its soul. Grá mo chroí.   Here are some of my favourite restaurants: Harry’s Bar and Restaurant What can I say about Harry’s? I’ve written a longer piece here about this fine restaurant, but what makes it so special is how much they care. The owner Donal Doherty and head chef Derek Creagh are passionate about using local produce that comes from the surrounding area of Inishowen and …

Irish Christmas Cheeseboard

Christmas can mean a lot of things, but for me it is all about cheese. As one of the great loves of my life all year round, I love that everyone else gets equally besotted with it at Christmas time. Thankfully we have shaken off our Galtee shackles, and fled the Easi-Single prison cell to embrace the delicious cheese from our wonderful Irish cheese makers. We have the best dairy in the world and superb goats and sheep’s milk cheeses that will make your Christmas cheeseboard sing. Every Irish cheese is special because it has a story; the producer, where it comes from and how it is made. As the late David Tiernan who made the glorious Glebe Brethan once told me, ‘You have to be a bit cracked to make cheese, but sure that’s the magic of it.’ This Christmas, do try Irish cheeses if you are entertaining, or even if you fancy just having a party for one with a glass of something by the fire. You will not be disappointed. Trying to …

Italian restaurants in Dublin

I love Italian food precisely because it is that, Italian. It is beautiful, delicious, simple, coveted and nurtured, and spoken of with the same passionate pride as parents of a newborn baby. It is love. From the water that quenched thirsty hot tomatoes that grew to turn into passata to the cows that grazed in the fields of Lombardy to make milk for Taleggio cheese or the pigs that were reared to make us prosciutto to the olives grown for silky oils to make salads glisten. The food is grown, prepared and eaten with love and, importantly, with respect. I revel in seeing Italians and their unabashed excitement for their food. They seem to have an inherent, magical understanding for the absolute joy that can be had from the table, the things that are laid upon it, and those they love around it. Here are some of my favourite spots for Italian food in Dublin. Mamma Mia President Michael D. Higgins adores Mamma Mia, and rightly so. I discovered the joys of this restaurant while …

Remembering elBulli

Sunday October 18th  of 2009, table for 2 people at 7.30 p.m. under the name: CIARAN HAYDEN It is almost six years since I had the best dining experience of my life in elBulli restaurant. My friend Ciarán had won the gastronomic lottery and managed to get one of the 8,000 table bookings they offered a year. elBulli was a three Michelin star restaurant with head chef Ferran Adria at the helm until it closed a few years ago. The Godfather of molecular gastronomy’s cuisine was so sought after that the restaurant, on the Catalonian Costa Brava, received over two million requests a year for just 8,000 tables. Naturally, Ciarán and I thought we hadn’t a hope. He rang me a week before Christmas in 2008 to tell me about the table and I’m probably still not over it. Although it was over five years ago, I can still taste every dish. It was one of the most spectacular nights of my life.  Adrià closed the restaurant in 2011 because it was losing so much money. I was …