Sunday 18 February 2018

Food news: Expand your children's palates - for free!


Moules Marinieres - Mussels cooked with white wine sauce
Moules Marinieres - Mussels cooked with white wine sauce
Oyster festival at the Shelbourne
Portmarnock Golf Links and Hotel afternoon tea

Katy McGuinness

For a nation surrounded by water, we eat surprisingly little fish. There are many theories about why this is, but one of the most persuasive is that it's connected to the sense of punishment and deprivation associated with fish on Friday - part of growing up in Ireland for so many.

Coupled with the fact that there is little heritage of great fish cookery in Ireland - despite the magnificence of the fish and seafood in our waters - and few restaurants where you can eat good fish within sight of the ocean, it means there's little of the joy associated with an abundance of fish and seafood that you get in other European countries.

And if we adults don't choose fish in restaurants, or cook it at home, what chance is there of changing things? In Mount Merrion, Gaz Smith of Michael's restaurant reckons that the key to increasing our fish consumption is to get children enthused. So passionate is he about this that, for the month of September, children will eat fish for free in his restaurant. Other than after 7pm on Friday and Saturdays, he's offering one child per adult the chance to try dishes such as Irish mussels in a lemon and garlic cream, calamari and chips, seafood linguine, and prawns in garlic butter with spaghetti and spinach without paying. He'll throw in a whole Dublin Bay prawn for anyone who would like to try one, and each child who finishes their main course also gets a free ice-cream with sprinkles. If they try the fish and don't like it, they can choose again from the regular children's menu.

September always feels like the real new year, and the return to term-time routine for families is a great opportunity to make small improvements to the way that we eat. Committing to just one fish-based meal a week at home should be easy.

For information, see



The €25 afternoon tea at the Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links features seafood savouries, sea-inspired sweets and mini-99s, all served looking out towards Ireland's Eye. To book, visit


With an 'r' in the month, the Shelbourne's Saddle Room restaurant is celebrating with a six-course Oyster Festival tasting menu priced at €69, or €95 with matching wines. To book, visit

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