All posts tagged: review

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 …

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 Crush: Isabel’s

When restaurants are called by a girl’s name, I like to imagine it must be in honour of the heroine of a magnificent love affair, or an ode to a romantic encounter or some other grand and heart breaking tale where  you can almost hear Maria Callas sing ‘O Mio Babbino Caro.’ Isabel’s is so called, indeed from love, but not from any heartache. It is named after the owner, Ian Keegan’s daughter, which is immediately heart warming. It’s on the corner of Lower Baggot Street and after taking the few steps down to the basement entrance, you find a softly lit, warm and sensuous  restaurant and wine bar that’s tiny and perfect. I often have misgivings about wine bars with food, as  the menu can sometimes present a world of shocking misunderstanding. Cajun wings and a delicate Pinot? Yum. Thankfully, Isabel’s are tiny and perfect with their menu too. Ian and head chef Niall O’Sullivan have created a delicate, exciting, and delicious menu whether you want to nibble on lighter bites, a cheese board, …

Falling For Food : Paolo Tullio

If you know food writers in Ireland, you will know one of its finest, Paolo Tullio. He is best known for his restaurant review column in ‘The Irish Independent,’ but I have come to know him through RTE’s ‘The Restaurant,’ television series, where he is a resident critic. He has, kindly, been a mentor to me over the years, and someone I am now lucky to call a friend. Don’t try talking to him about Italian food though, it’ll make you want to move there in the morning. Here, he shares some of his food memories……………… Falling for Food The first food memory I have is……… In my mother’s kitchen, helping her sort through rice, picking out the black bits. Funny to think that that’s not necessary anymore. The first thing I eat in the morning is…….. A bowl of muesli. I’ve been doing this for nearly a week. Prior to this new habit, breakfast was a cup of coffee. The first food I remember hating………….. Was carrots. I remember my father saying ‘eat them, …

Restaurant: Coppinger Row

We are not equipped for sunshine dining in Dublin. It rains, we are quite aware, thanks. Neither are we all that equipped for in-between time dining. We’re all clamouring for a table at 1pm or 8.30pm. Does the food taste better at these times? Try getting a proper menu after lunch and before dinner and options are limited. Coppinger Row gets a big fat kiss for doing both of these. In fact, if I wanted a table at 3pm in the sunshine with a pretty decent menu, I’d go here. By coincidence, I had recently been here for both those reasons. A sunny Friday evening called for an outdoor table, and then a late lunch meeting meant all rows led to Coppinger. In the evening, you will inevitably wait to get a table. They are always humming. I’ve never been in company that’s booked ahead, so always end up waiting for a table. It’s actually probably an excuse to try one of their outrageous ‘Flo & Basy’ cocktails with Agave and Elderflower. These should be …

Restaurant crush: Harry’s, Donegal

There are meals to forget, to fight over, to break up over, to douse with salt, and soothe with wine. And there are meals in Harry’s. My parents excitedly told me about Harry’s in Bridgend, County Donegal, before Christmas. This place had fresh Donegal fish. They had locally sourced produce and reasonable prices. I was keen. We made a trip in that deliciously frustrating lull after Christmas when you’re bored, stuffed full of cranberry sauce and on the constant verge of a row, or having one, with a loved one. Awkward meals and box set escapism. Fish was a good compromise. We set out with lunch on our mind to Bridgend. It is over an hour’s drive from my home in North West Donegal, towards Greencastle and Derry. Starving and cranky, we were welcomed by Donal Doherty who runs it with Kevin. The chef at the helm of the humming open kitchen is Raymond Moran. Friendly smiles and presentation of wine lists resulted in a long exhale. And then the menu. It sang out like …

Farewell at Fumbally

I’m fed up with goodbyes. In the last year I’ve had some very dear friends move to a country or continent that ends with the letter ‘A’, has seven star hotels in aggressive heat or somewhere you can’t get ‘proper Tayto.’ The destination was London for the latest parting friend. His talent hasn’t had the chance to be rewarded here, so he has made the brave and, in his mind, necessary decision to leave. The day before he left we decided to meet for lunch. Lunch is easy for goodbyes. You can’t cry over soup and sandwiches. He suggested a new cafe called ‘The Fumbally’ in Dublin 8. Dublin 8 has always fascinated me. Since moving to Dublin from Donegal 10 years ago, it’s still a postcode that seems to go on forever with places within that are equally hip and horrific. Perhaps that’s the trick of it, and I always get lost there, even when I lived there. The Fumbally, just off New Street, is a place I knew I would get lost trying …