Monday 20 May 2019

Lucinda O'Sullivan's best and worst Irish restaurants of 2014

Lucinda O'Sullivan picks her good and not so good culinary experiences of 2014. Illustration Eorna Walton.
Lucinda O'Sullivan picks her good and not so good culinary experiences of 2014. Illustration Eorna Walton.

Lucinda O'Sullivan

It's that time of year again, when our restaurant critic takes a look back at the good and not-so-good dining experiences of her culinary year. The award goes to . . .

The Good

THE RISING STAR

Conor Dempsey's new bijou Franco-Asian restaurant, Amuse on Dawson Street, D2, is so hot it's almost on fire. Dempsey's food is so elegant and beautiful, it makes it one of the best new restaurants in Ireland this year.

Read more:  Lucinda O'Sullivan at Amuse on Dawson Street

THE MAKEOVER

The Restaurant at Brown Thomas, D2, which, with Patrick Guilbaud's input into the menu, has been transformed into a stylish dining venue.

Read more:  Lucinda O'Sullivan samples new offerings from Brown Thomas

THE LOOMINARY AWARD

The Woollen Mills, D2 - you won't find bales of tweed here anymore, just good casual food, a buzzing atmosphere, and sublime views of Dublin's romantic Ha'penny Bridge.

WELL PARKED

Fallon & Byrne's new eatery is stunningly situated in the glass-sided, historic Pavilion building in the People's Park in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

UNDER THE RADAR

Canteen at the Market, in Blackrock Market, Blackrock, Co Dublin, where James Sheridan and Soizic Humbert are doing superb food.

ASIAN STREET TREAT

Eddie and Jenny Ong Chok Fong, whose new Aroi Asian Street Food in Limerick proved so popular they have just opened a branch in Cork.

Read more: Lucinda O'Sullivan at Aroi Asian Street Food

HOT TO TROT

Pizza e Porchetta on Grand Canal Quay, D2, where, Pied Piper style, Ronan Ryan has enough celebrities filling his tables to keep any social diarist happy for a year.

THE M*A*S*H* AWARD

The Magical Asian Sushi Hotpot award goes to Hailan on Dame Street, D2. Korean food is the hottest cuisine on the planet right now. No wonder Hot Lips Houlihan had a smile on her face.

THE OLDER THE FIDDLE

Mervyn Stewart's Guinea Pig restaurant in Dalkey, Co Dublin, celebrates its 56th birthday this year, and the food is as well-tuned as ever.

CYCLE FOR HEROES

Kevin Hui of China Sichuan Restaurant, Sandyford, D18, who this year again led a team on the gruelling 700km Paris2Nice cycle to raise money for the charity Console.

Read more: Lucinda O'Sullivan at China Sichuan, Sandyford

HOSTESS WITH MOSTEST

Kathleen O'Sullivan of Seaview House Hotel, Ballylickey, Co Cork who runs her magnificent petit chateau with unfailing graciousness and charm.

AHEAD OF THE POSSE

In 1994, before anybody had heard of pan-Asian, fusion, or Temple Bar, Carol Walsh opened a pioneering Indonesian restaurant, Chameleon, D2, where she and Kevin O'Toole still delight customers and are celebrating their 20th birthday.

THE KINSALE ROCKER

DJ Anthony Collins of the White Lady Hotel and nightclub, Kinsale, Co Cork, whose legendary ability to create a party atmosphere at the drop of a hat, saw him being invited to perform at Glastonbury this year. Move over, Mick Jagger. 'Anthony from Ireland' is here.

The not-so-good 

THE SHABBY CHEEK AWARD

More shabby than chic, the hipster-style Deep South cafe-bar in Cork was a shrine to upcycling before being upcycled! Sitting in tatty old cinema seats failed to inspire memories of Cary Grant, only Charlie Chaplin.

THE GREEN WELLIES AWARD

The holier-than-thou 'foodie foragers' who go forth into the wilds to bring us back what our parents and grandparents always took for granted.

HERE TODAY

The pricey "Bullock Harbour mini lobster rolls" at S Caviston@Goggins in Monkstown, Co Dublin, failed to impress the local denizens and this S Caviston's venture swam with the fishes very quickly.

OVER-BAKED AWARD

Bakers in Donnybrook, D4, where the lighting was so dim we initially thought the place was closed - did all of the energy go into overcooking the food on our plates?

TITANIC AWARD

Dhaba, the Indian tapas restaurant, was set in a vast basement in Anne's Lane, D2, a location I once described as resembling Finglas's swimming pool. Unfortunately, Dhaba sank without trace.

THE WORM CATCHER

The Lobster Pot, Ballsbridge, D4, where, on drawing attention to a very tiny duck breast on the plate, it was greeted with a laugh and, "it's an early bird". It just shows the early bird doesn't always catch the worm.

Read more:  Lucinda O'Sullivan at The Lobster Pot in Ballsbridge

TAKEN SHORT AWARD

The Old Spot, Bath Avenue, D4, where, despite an empty restaurant, and without any choice in the matter, we were put at a table by the toilet door to endure a constant stream of movement . . .

THE TIP OFF

Table Six in Templeogue, D6W, which had no facility to add service for the staff if paying by credit card.

Read more:  Lucinda O'Sullivan at Table 6, Templeogue

THE CRAP SUZETTE AWARD

Goes to the Lobster Pot in Ballsbridge, D4, again where, as I looked in amazement at the pile of thick, mushy, crepes suzette pancakes at €24.50, I was told, "the juice is all absorbed in them".

THE WIGAMAMA

Peruke & Periwig, Dawson Street, D2, brought to us by the same people behind Wagamama, where the array of ugly 18th-Century wigs on display around the place just gave me the creeps!

Read more: Lucinda O'Sullivan at Peruke & Periwig

LOWEST OF LOW

The jealous rivals who made 100 bookings for Gordon Ramsay's new Heddon Street Kitchen in London on opening night and failed to show up. This nasty trend has crept into the Dublin restaurant scene also.

HASTY DEPARTURE

The Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock, Co. Dublin, where, on asking for water, I was told there was a tap at the end of the bar. Our food was so bad, we accepted the refund offered and beat a hasty retreat.

lucindaosullivan.com

Sunday Independent

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