All posts tagged: restaurant review

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 …

Review – The Cavern, Baggot Street

One of the surest ways to my heart is a good cheese board. I don’t tend to order them in restaurants as they are often a menu’s lonely, back of the fridge afterthought, dragged out and given a quick shave in the hope the diner doesn’t notice. We do. It’s like the guy who douses himself with Lynx instead of showering. We just know.  So I was very excited about seeing what the Cavern, the new baby offshoot of Baggot Street Wines, offered on their cheese board. I’m a big fan of the wine shop, their staff are lovely, unpretentious and helpful and when they introduced a very good selection of Sheridan’s cheeses ‘to go’ by their cash register, I hoped it would evolve into a wine cellar. Enter The Cavern. I went on a Thursday evening with a very good friend who kindly ordered champagne to toast a recent happy event. It was delicious with star-like tiny bubbles. The staff members were attentive and warm, answering any questions we had and topping up drinks at just …

Restaurant review: The Vintage Kitchen, Poolbeg Street, Dublin 2

This is a restaurant review from my previous website from March 2013. It was a special evening as I met my dear friend Paolo Tullio (R.I.P). You will find his review of the restaurant here. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam. THIS was a blustery, rainy night that you wouldn’t be leaving a toasty house for, if at all possible. But the promise of an evening in the company of Paolo Tullio, and a quick scan of ‘The Vintage Kitchen’s’ menu was more than enough to get the brolly out. The Vintage Kitchen is only taking baby steps in getting its name out there in Dublin. However, if they keep the kind of standard we enjoyed, there will be some trouble in getting a table. Situated on Poolbeg Street, conveniently beside Mulligan’s pub (perfect for a digestif), it’s got a few achingly cool little touches. They play only vinyl records, and you can bring your own which they (might) play. If you’re cool enough. It was joyous to hear The Ronettes in a restaurant. …

Restaurant Review: The Chef’s Table at The Pig’s Ear, Dublin 2.

Stephen Mc Allister is a talented boy. I’ve known him since the days when I was making his tea as a runner on ‘The Restaurant’ series for RTE, back in 2007. He was, like the other kitchen team chefs Gary O’Hanlon and Louise Lennox, essential to magic of the show and making the guest chef feel relaxed. So I made good tea. Fast forward, and while I was lucky enough to get to produce and direct the show, he went on to open the wonderful ‘The Pig’s Ear’ restaurant on Nassau Street. It is my brother’s favourite restaurant and a place where I have had many a treasured evening. Stephen is very good at keeping his supreme talents hidden. He is modest and any compliment is met with a ‘Ah go ‘way,’ but his food won’t let him away with that humble nonsense. He’s recently opened the very special ‘Chef’s Table’ at the top of the restaurant. It seats eight people in a gorgeous room overlooking Trinity College. I have had the good fortune to …

There once was a trip to elBulli

I was recently reminded of how lucky I was to get to dine  in elBulli restaurant. Although it was over three years ago, I can still taste every dish. It was one of the most spectacular nights of my life. Here are some words I wrote about it shortly after returning: elBulli Some people are so determined to eat in Spain’s elBulli restaurant that they’ll book a table four years in advance – like a chap I met last year who planned a table for his wife’s 40th birthday. Others, like me, create 11 new email addresses and enter the annual lottery for reservations. Since there are around 400 applicants for each available cover, we usually don’t hear anything back. But there’s always the chance of a Christmas miracle. In late December 2008, my friend Ciarán called me, breathless. “Guess where we’re going next October 17th?” I had bullied (pardon) him into entering the lottery too; if either of us got in, we would take the other person. elBulli is housed in a plain, unassuming …

Avoca Food Market and Salt Café, Monkstown, Dublin

There is a gorgeous lull between Christmas and New Year where all that matters is what the next meal is. I was lucky enough to have my family come from Donegal to stay in Dublin this year, and after the chocolate comas, and tripping over the puppy one too many times came the, ‘What do we do now?’. We had a fine December afternoon in Dun Laoghaire seeing where James Joyce had once slept in the Martello Tower. Crouched, and with delicate steps, we reached the breezy and utterly lovely view at the top of those unforgiving stairs. Then onwards for lunch. It was my choice; and it was easy. Avoca is always somewhere  I love to go with my parents when they are in town. It’s like hiring a car and being given a Volvo. It’s reliable, trustworthy and you are guaranteed happy passengers and tummies. It’ll never be a sexy MG, but it will never as boring as a Ford. A solid all rounder. Salt at Avoca in Monkstown is one of my favourite …

Restaurant Review: Mishkins, Catherine Street, London

I love birthdays. I love the delicious fluttery feeling in your tummy on the morning of it. I love the cards, the messages of love from my parents that make me cry, the breakfast, the lunch, the bubbles, the dinner, the karaoke where possible, the candles and the cake crumbs. I’m cheeky enough to stretch it into a birthday week. But this year, my best friend Niamh, knows me well enough to give me a gift that would turn it into a birthday season. While my birthday is at the end of June, she booked us a trip to London to visit our friend a few months later. After a gorgeous weekend trip, the last stop was to meet a friend for lunch at Mishkins, opposite the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane, before heading to the airport. It’s owned by Russell Norman, proprietor of quite a few achingly hipster spots in London like ‘Polpo’ and ‘Polpetto.’ Mishkins describe themselves as a ‘kind of Jewish deli with cocktails.’ It’s not kosher, but the menu is laden with …