Food critic Lucinda O'Sullivan's best Irish restaurants of 2016
It’s been a busy, buzzy year on the dining scene, as eateries at all levels are opening apace
It’s been a busy, buzzy year on the dining scene, as eateries at all levels are opening apace
The best part about all this good weather is the opportunity it creates for al-fresco dining.
If you don't want to be caught with your pants down on Valentine's Day, now is the time to get organised. As it falls on a Sunday, why not make a weekend break of it and, to make it easy for...
'No two quiches will ever be the same, because everything is made by hand, as it was on the first day when we opened in 1998. There are no big machines in our production centre, only big...
Way back in 1962, the French president Charles de Gaulle, a man who didn't suffer fools gladly, famously said: "How can you govern a country that has 246 varieties of cheese?"
There is strength in numbers, they say, and to this end a new initiative (supported by the Local Enterprise Office) has seen a group of Kilkenny food producers band together under the 'Taste Kilkenny' brand to collectively market the county's food products in Ireland - and next year in Europe in potential markets, such as Germany.
Well, here we are. Three days into the New Year, still within the 12 days of Christmas - but what is already eating at us, lurking quietly at the back of our minds, is how we are going to do better on the diet in 2016.
Once a year, we all get a chance to start over again, a chance to reset our hopes and goals, put the past aside and to approach the future with optimism - and New Year's Eve has always been a celebration of that.
It's pretty well last gasp when it comes to getting the festive fowl. Never fear, though, I'm a last gasp merchant myself, sometimes buying the bird on Christmas Eve, and it always works out just fine!
The traditional Christmas dinner may vary in different countries around the world, but one thing remains the same no matter where you are - the people around your dining table on Christmas Day are what's really important.
It's been a really great year of growth for innovative artisan food producers around the country, and I have no doubt that 2016 will be even better. Over the past few years, I have met countless people, who, having lost their jobs during the recession, set up their artisan food ideas and began selling their produce at market stalls.
Ireland has a fantastic selection of seasonal breaks and festive events to enjoy, says Lucinda O'Sullivan.
It was a bit like the Last Night of the Proms - one of those special nights you don't easily forget.
If Michael Noonan sat in restaurants and hotels as often as I do, watching very young children staring goggle-eyed into tablets while their parents, equally goggle-eyed, checked their Twitter feeds, he would not be advocating that all children over five years of age should have an iPad or access to an iPad.
When people get on a plane, they are not interested in eating the health food options, says Aoife Ryan. "They want the comfort food - the crisps, the sweets, the chocolate, the snacks. If someone has chips on a plane, everyone wants them."
You'd think by this stage I'd have the Christmas dinner down to a tee! Well I do, but there are two things that exercise my brain each year - carving the bird and what wines to drink on the day.
Twenty years ago, if a fella opened a restaurant, all he basically had to worry about was providing his customers with good food and service.
There was a bit of a rumpus in England last week when it transpired a child's school photo had been photoshopped without her parent's permission. "I don't want a perfect photo, I want a photo of my perfect child," said the mother. She had a good point, but when I look back at old school photos, which had us no more than tidied up in the school blazer and hair brushed, while they do reflect the innocence of youth, there can be a cringe factor and many might wish that missing tooth or big spot had been airbrushed.
We're coming towards the end of Fall, as our American cousins would say, and with the midterm break and Halloween approaching rapidly, it's the perfect time for enjoying some of the great breaks on offer, before we face into the manic lead up to Christmas.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and there probably isn't a family in the country who hasn't been affected by the loss of a mother, a sister or a friend, or travelled with them on their journey to recovery. It's good that people can talk about it nowadays, it wasn't always so.
From rock stars to politicians, TV hosts to radio broadcasters, techie millionaires to major-league sports stars, they are all to be found, on a regular basis, dining cheek-by-jowl in Rasam Indian restaurant on the Glasthule Road in Co Dublin.
We took to the high seas last week on what has become our annual autumnal wine-buying foray to France.
My love affair with Kinsale goes back a very long way. It's the place where many of the special events in my life have taken place.
'A restaurant doesn't get a Star for simply being the best in its city. It has to stand up against starred restaurants all over the world."
"We used to vandalise this place. We had cider parties here in the 1960s." Said Joe Donnelly, talking of his young life growing up in hard times in Ringsend. He was referring to what is now the Fair Play Cafe, set in the former Mission Hall in Ringsend. This cafe, childcare facility and garden centre, which focuses on bringing an ethos of hope, love and togetherness, to the local community is one of the best kept secret treasures in Dublin. All of the above are delivered on here under the direction of Joe and his wife Sharon, with a generosity of spirit that is quite extraordinary. It not only...
When Pat Whelan wanted a recipe for 'dripping', he did what all good Irish sons would do, he asked the Mammy! Now the 'Mammy's dripping' is not only being spread on toast, but is the toast of London, where last Monday evening at the Great Taste Awards, it not only won the Golden Fork Award for Ireland but, out of 10,000 entries, was declared Supreme Champion. It is a monumental achievement for Pat and the Mammy, but brilliant also for Ireland's food producing profile. Out of a possible score of 65, the dripping got 63, which is also the highest score ever for a product at...
'You can't do alterations if you don't know how to make clothes. We know bodies, it's important to know how to make, you need to understand shapes and sizes," said Maeve Paterson of Studio 54, a fabric, design and alteration atelier in Blackrock, Co Dublin.
The growth of small artisan businesses continues apace, with many testing the water at local markets. One very successful market is at Marlay Park in Rathfarnham, on Saturdays and Sundays, run by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council's Co Co Markets, who also run the market at the People's Park in Dun Laoghaire on Sundays.
Some people are questioning whether there are too many festivals in Ireland today. However, if the recent Taste of Cavan was anything to go by, straightforward food festivals with modestly priced tickets are going from strength to strength.
So the sun hasn't shone on us much this summer, but when did we ever really need the sun to have a good time? For us, the sun has always just been a bonus! There are still two weeks in which to have a really great time before the kids go back to school. You can create memories that last forever at many of the festivals around the country which are just waiting to be enjoyed.
You only have to look at the number of builder's vans outside houses in the past few months to realise that people have got sufficient confidence back to splash out a bit on their homes.
Fashion and flowers are close to the hearts of most women but, when you get both under the one roof, it's a very beguiling combination indeed. It only took two enterprising Monkstown women, Emer Greene and Judy Blennerhassett, to put their heads together and, lo and behold, you have Greene's Florists living happily under the one roof with the fashion label No2moro.
City dwellers tend to think about vacating the big smoke for the 'wicked month' of August, which also makes it a good time for other people to visit, when it is at its relaxed best. With the August bank holiday weekend coming up, here are some ideas, breaks and happenings, in a nutshell, to tempt you. Please note: family packages refer to 2 adults and 2 children under 12 years.
Opening a retail business at the height of a recession, and ending up just four years later with two more shops in your portfolio, is no mean feat, but that is what Canadian Ella De Guzman has achieved. She now has three branches of Siopaella, her designer resale and exchange stores, located very close together in Temple Bar, and she has her sights set on expanding to the UK. At Siopaella you can buy, sell, exchange or part exchange your pre-loved designer handbags, jewellery and clothing. It's a great way to dress, whether you are a buyer or a seller. If you've paid a fortune...
Last Tuesday saw the launch of Create at Brown Thomas, showcasing and celebrating the works and talent of some 50 Irish designers and craftspeople. The event will run until August 16 in Dublin, with pop-ups also taking place in Brown Thomas Cork and Limerick. This is the fifth year of Create, which coincides with 2015 being the Year of Irish Design. Brown Thomas have been very supportive of emerging Irish designers, for whom it is an incredible opportunity to have their creative works sitting beside long established international designers, particularly in the tourism season, when so many...
'Just knock three times and whisper low, that you and I were sent by Joe . . ." There's a real whiff of Hernando's Hideaway to the new Cavern, a wine bar on Upper Baggot Street. It is the sort of place that you think you have discovered all by yourself and, on getting there, as the old song continues, "you'll meet your uncle Max and everyone you know".
Not everybody has it in them to be a true hotelier - let alone a five-star hotelier.
With the tennis starting at Wimbledon tomorrow, the O'Sullivan family has been busy discussing possible outcomes on the grass courts.
The notion of an al fresco summer supper appealed, but with Arctic weather on the day, the perfect answer turned out to be Mykonos, a new Greek taverna on Dame Street. With wall-to-wall enormous, vibrant murals of diners on a terrace overlooking blue Aegean waters, Greek music playing, and summery Greek food, it was reminiscent of Shirley Valentine.
No matter where you travel in Ireland, uphill or down dale, you will always find individuals and groups of wonderfully talented craftspeople plying their trade.
A gastropub that counts rabbit, guinea fowl and raie au beurre noir (skate with black butter sauce), among its offerings, has to be a great addition to any neighbourhood. Too often, there is a distinct lack of imagination in mid-priced eateries. For instance, I like hake, but it's on every menu in the country now, in some guise. Yawn. As for pulled pork and beef cheeks . . .
The hoopla of the World's 50 Best Restaurants, sponsored by San Pellegrino, took place in London recently.
Just as I was about to hit the keyboard to write this review, my friend Rena rang saying, "Wasn't that just a particularly spectacular lunch yesterday!"
'People automatically assume you're a pastry chef," says Jenny Flynn with a merry laugh. She's the head chef at Faithlegg House Hotel in Waterford - top of her game in a restaurant industry still dominated by men.
To me, the June and August bank holiday weekends are the 'real' holiday weekends. As a kid, I went with my family to Skerries for the month of June; I also got married on a June bank holiday Saturday, so I see it as a time of fulsome roses and the start of happy summer times! Hotels around the country will be busy, but here is the ultimate whistle-stop snappy guide to what you really want to know - where and how much!
Twitter is an extraordinary medium. It can make or break you, which I guess you could say happened in the case of the wanted fraudster Julia Holmes. She was found dead last week in Co Limerick along with her partner Tom Ruttle, by burglars who got the fright of their lives when they found the pair, and wound up rapidly reporting it to the gardai.
'Anyone here from Philadelphia? Anyone from New York?" So asked the lead singer of the traditional Irish musical group, as they entertained a coach-load of American tourists in The Jarvey's Rest in Killarney. The tourists were in for the 'tour supper' and a bit of Irish crack. Mind you, they were a fairly sedate lot and the entertainers had their work cut out - there wasn't much fear of them letting their hair down and leppin' around the tables!
'I was a camerawoman for 25 years - but I was getting a bit old for it," says Deirdre Noonan, with a laugh, when I ask how she (along with her daughter, Sinead Martin) became involved in the fabric business at The Cloth Shop, at No 5 Johnson's Place on Dublin's South King Street.
'I've met different people, at various stages of my life, who've all had a major influence. But, you do have to put yourself in the way of them. I've been very lucky."
I must confess I had steam coming out of my ears by the time I'd arrived at the new Carluccio's, which has just opened in Glasthule, Co Dublin. I'd called up to book a table but was told they were not taking bookings for the first few nights, only walk-ins. I could book for the following week - but not for a couple of hours' time. A fat lot of good that was to me at that point. Even pleading my case that it was a long drive in from Co Wicklow for my friend Rena, without the certainty of a table, fell on deaf ears. There was nothing for it but to leg it down to Glasthule early in the...
Tankardstown is a glorious country house and estate, a mere stone's throw from Slane, Co Meath, which was restored and developed by Bryan and Trish Conroy just over a dozen years ago.
Apart from getting to eat a lot of food, one of the really nice things about my job is that I get to meet people from all over the world, who make up our eclectic, vibrant and colourful restaurant industry. One of the most enjoyable experiences that I've had, in the past couple of years, was in the Kathmandu Kitchen, a delightful Nepalese restaurant on Dame Street.
Where do health-conscious celebrities head when looking for their fresh juices, veggie burgers, Bircher muesli or protein-rich eggcado?
We've had the gastropub and now it's the gastroclub. I love the notion of good restaurant-style food being served in casual surroundings, as do many others, which is why Michelin-starred chefs worldwide are rapidly turning to this burgeoning market. Soder + Ko is a sibling of Cafe en Seine, and they have hopped on the current passion for the food and design of Scandinavia, coupled with our endless appetite for south-east Asian food.
Never one to hide his light under a bushel, the former maitre d' of Hell's Kitchen and judge on MasterChef Ireland, Nick Munier, having split from his former restaurant, Pichet, has gone down yet another street with his new Avenue (A Venue - geddit?) in Temple Bar.
As we were having brunch in the new Cookbook Cafe in Glasthule, on a recent Saturday morning, Brendan asked: "Does anyone eat at home anymore?"
One thing's for sure, the American billionaire, John Malone, either really loves us, or Ireland is really on the up - or hopefully both.
Ross Lewis is a star; one of Ireland's finest chefs. His Chapter One restaurant on Dublin's Parnell Square is probably the most revered and popular restaurant in the country. Now, like many international Michelin-star chefs, having conquered the culinary heights, he has taken on the world of the more casual eatery.
It is wonderful to see how our food industry has blossomed over the past few years.
We were in Limerick recently for the launch of the Secret Garden, an innovative, covered-in, outdoor party area at the Limerick Strand Hotel. Head chef Tom Flavin and his team wowed guests with an amazing Chinese banquet, using produce from within a 50-mile radius. We sampled guinea fowl from Liz Ryan's Fowl & Foraged company in Birdhill; rare-breed pork from Rigney's Farm; Skeaghanore duck; and seafood from Doonbeg. The event culminated with a parade of ice swans, holding fortune cookies, gliding through the room.
From Easter-egg hunts to Mad Hatter train rides, the Easter Bunny is gearing up in hotels all over the country for the arrival of families over the Easter holidays.
Bread and wine are two of the great joys in life; both almost as old as time, both loved unreservedly more than ever. And now we are out of the recession, there has been a great resurgence in the opening of standalone wine shops and artisan bakeries around the country.
I get this great longing every now and again for good Chinese food, but frankly, good Chinese restaurants, in general, have become very thin on the ground - unless you go to the Parnell Street area, which is now regarded as Dublin's Chinatown, and there are a few ropey ones there, too!
Here we are on Mother's Day - and hopefully the lady of the manor is being spoiled rotten. However, women always have to think ahead for 'high days and holy days', and, with Paddy's Day on top of us, the question du jour is: "Are you having bacon and cabbage for dinner?" If so, you might fancy trying the traditional Irish dinner with a twist - fast and furious and into the oven, no messing about with pots of water!
Sitting in the window of the new Papillon cafe and wine bar in Clontarf, we had wonderful views looking out over the Bull Wall and Dublin Bay.
Sisters Jenni Crawford and Jennie Crawford share the same Christian name, but then they are unusual women with great drive and passion for their individual fields. Jenni without an 'e' is one of the most revered names in the hairdressing world, whilst Jennie with an 'e' is a restaurateur in south-west France. Jenni is one of a trio of a top stylists at Kazumi in Molesworth Street, and has been nominated as Best Hair Stylist of the Year in the Business of Beauty Awards by Image magazine. Both are highly artistic and hardworking, a fact with which they credit their parents; their father...
Benedict Cumberbatch slipped off recently to quietly marry Sophie Hunter on the Isle of Wight, while Stephen Fry headed for Norfolk to tie the knot with Elliott Spencer. George Clooney certainly didn't do it quietly, but chose Venice rather than the USA or his bride's hometown of London. Meanwhile, Michelle Dockery, 'Lady Mary' in Downton Abbey, has announced her engagement to one of our own - John Dineen - so perhaps they might choose a castle in Ireland for their big day. Certainly, getting married 'out of the parish' is a solution for some.
Pioneering aviators have always had a certain cachet that attracts glamorous women. It's not just their money; it's that charismatic whiff of danger and the fact that they are risk-takers. Howard Hughes, the legendary billionaire film-maker and aviator, whose life was chronicled in the Leonardo Di Caprio movie, The Aviator, had every top movie star of the time falling at his feet, including Ava Gardner, Katherine Hepburn and Gene Tierney. He was worth billions of dollars, but died in 1976 an unkempt recluse, who didn't seem to have had a lot of pleasure from his billions.
With spring well under way, I took myself off for a bit of fresh air and retail therapy to the pretty village of Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.
At the tender age of 15, Antonio Cavaliere left his home in Italy to join his older brother, who was already working in Quo Vadis, a well-known Italian restaurant in Dublin, which operated for many years in St Andrew's Street.
Many of us will be overindulging in chocolate this Valentine's weekend as hopefully our beloveds will have done the decent thing by stumping up for chocolates to go with the red roses! Chocolates and roses have always been associated with love and appreciation and, if neither materialised yesterday for you, I am guessing the 'Full Irish', or anything else, won't be on the table for your other half this morning!
David Dennison has been a well-known name on the food and wine scene in Waterford for many years. He formerly had The Wine Vaults, a popular restaurant and wine business on the city's historic High Street, which sadly closed just as the recession hit and was much lamented.
Breakfast with lions, Italian picnics and 'Downton Abbey' dreams are some of the Valentine's treats on offer
"How to handle a woman?/There's a way, said the wise old man/A way known by ev'ry woman/Since the whole rigmarole began"
Jack Carville's was a legendary off-licence, set in a fine Victorian building on Camden Street, famous for its historic atmosphere and its wide range of wines and spirits. With a high ceiling, a long mahogany bar and a rather splendiferous old-world cashier's office, it was reminiscent of the Are You Being Served-ish times of yore, when Clerys department store had a 'high-wire' payment system.
Irish design was never more active. The quality, innovation and inspiration out there is quite extraordinary in every genre, from jewellery to pottery and art to furniture. Showcase - the trade show, which took place recently in the RDS - was awash with talent from Kerry to Donegal, Galway to Dublin, and everywhere in between. Within Showcase there is also an enterprise zone, which this year had a record 105 inspiring Irish design businesses hoping to make their mark.
We are a perverse lot when it comes to food. On the one hand, we are totally squeamish watching reality TV contestants eat live worms and insects, yet we think nothing of eating black pudding made from pig's blood! As the old saying goes, 'one man's meat is another man's poison'. There was, quite rightly, uproar over 'horse-gate', as people weren't aware of what they were buying; yet horsemeat has always been very popular in Belgium and in China. We wouldn't dream of eating a turtle, or snake blood, yet both are delicacies in Asia, while the guinea pig is a big delicacy in Peru.
As we approach the end of the first month of 2015, it is fascinating to see the number of new restaurants opening in Dublin. I never have to think about where I will go because there is always something fresh and interesting to try.
We all seem to know, or know of, someone who has walked the Camino de Santiago, and come back raving about the simplicity of life on the road and its artisan food.
John Healy, the effervescent ever-professional maitre d' of TV3's The Restaurant, is back on our screens, and it is a delight to see him in action once again. For me, he holds the show together as he martials the audience into place, is sympathetic to the trials of the kitchen crew and soothes the brow of the irate 'celebrity' chef who perhaps fails to cut the mustard with their culinary efforts. John is always charming, smiling and professional, but when faced with a personal life-threatening medical trauma and an 18-month wait before having a heart transplant in 2012, he was quite...
Running a small artisan business reminds me a bit of the famous Alan Sillitoe story, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, about the courage and independent spirit of the hero.
With amazing views, good casual food and a buzzing atmosphere, Lucinda O'Sullivan was impressed by new kid on the block, Sophie's, based in the hip Dean Hotel on Harcourt Street.
I've never come across a distillery on an Irish farm before, but that is what has just been installed by Rod and Julie Calder-Potts at their Highbank Orchards Organic Farm at Cuffesgrange, Co. Kilkenny. The couple have already been producing traditional ciders and syrups but now, with incredible enterprise and enthusiasm, Rod and Julie's newly installed awesome copper still, is producing Highbank Irish Orchard Spirit, as well as Organic Apple Schnapps, with Irish Apple Gin to hit the shelves shortly.
In 1965, the American novelist Arthur Hailey wrote a blockbuster called Hotel, which went on to be a movie and subsequently a TV series. With a changing colourful 'cast' coming through their doors every day, hotels can provide the ultimate backdrop for a book.
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 greatest psychological uplift for Dun Laoghaire in recent times is not the monstrous building - and equally monstrous waste of money - that is the new dlr LexIcon library on the seafront, but rather the opening of Fallon & Byrne's new restaurant, cafe and bakery, at the Pavilion in the People's Park.
Every year, I resolve to have my Christmas shopping done by December 1, but every year I fail. Maybe it's just as well, because, had I done it earlier, I would have missed out on the amazing atmosphere that is out there on the streets of Dublin right now.
Ho, ho, ho - we're almost there - but there's still time for you to treat yourself, or your beloved, and the family to a Christmas or New Year's Eve break away. Just think of the bliss of having everything served up to you and no washing up to do. So, let me give you the ultimate rundown of packages out there - get your finger out quickly because this year bookings are heavy, with some hotels already full. I have not included children's rates as they vary greatly with each hotel so, if applicable, please check directly with the hotel.
From the moment we crossed the threshold, we loved what Balfes had to offer. It had a natural, uncontrived air, and while it's reminiscent of Paris or Madrid, its retro, urban, white-tiled decor- brown leather banquettes and marble-top tables - captured the best of old Dublin.
With so many people buying everything from designer party gear to wedding dresses online nowadays, there is a big increase in the demand for high-end alteration services.
In the dark days of November 2011, when Vivienne Johnston and Janine Breslin took the big step of opening their Mellow Fig cafe on George's Avenue in Blackrock, Co Dublin, everyone told them they were very brave. They are now celebrating their third birthday, and the popularity of the Mellow Fig is phenomenal.
Loam is the new, long-awaited restaurant by Enda McEvoy. Why long-awaited? McEvoy is a Cavan-born chef who has been cooking in Galway for some time, both in the former Sheridan's on the Dock, and Aniar when it was awarded its first Michelin Star in 2013. He left Aniar a year later, and there has been speculation as to his next step.
The resurgence of the Sandhouse Hotel at Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal, is a story of tenacity and dedication by Paul Diver. Paul was general manager when it was placed into voluntary liquidation in 2009 and subsequently bought the hotel.
In any restaurant, scene-setting and atmosphere - from the outside in - are almost as important as the food. No matter how attractive a building or the decor may be in itself, it's just like a theatrical set.
We've tended, in the past, to think of self-service cafes as the dining element in department stores. When my boys were young, the self-service in what was then Switzer's, was the cause of much excitement as we grabbed our trays for the bacon, egg and sausage, muttering to the lads to hold back on the orange juice, as it cost nearly as much as the breakfast!
Today I am talking to another group of people who survived the recession. This time it is the restaurant industry. I ask how they did it? How they coped with the challenges thrown at them when the bubble burst? All three are at the top of their game, some of our best known and respected restaurateurs, but that in itself brings problems because they all employ a lot of people, have enormous expenses and high customer expectations to satisfy.
The Old Spot, 14 Bath Avenue, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. Tel: (01) 660-5599. theoldspot.ie
Over the past couple of weeks I have spoken to two groups of business people; boutique owners and hairdressers, on how they survived recessionary times. The beauty industry was huge in Ireland during the Celtic Tiger. It became the norm to be pampered and primped to the Nth degree, with many horrendous examples of luminous orange tans gracing our streets. Every hotel worth its salt added a spa - and we just loved it. However, when the jingle of cash stopped, many beauty salons and spas fell off the cliff.
It's easy to understand the universal appeal of street food. It's a no-brainer - tasty, immediate, fresh and good value. You will note I omit the nasty words 'fast' and 'cheap' - that is a different sector! Street food has also become a way for people to set up in business, starting simply with a stall, a van or a modest premises. Indeed, many experienced people are doing so.
For most women, their hair is their crowning glory; it's the last thing they would 'let go'. From grannies with the perm to the childhood trim, it's been part of our lives from early on. There's a feel-good factor about having your hair done - you go in bedraggled and emerge renewed. So, how did hairdressers fare in recessionary times? Did people cut back on their visits? Were they getting the hubby to apply the colour at home? I spoke to four of our top hairdressers on coping with the recession.
The 1970s sprang to mind when we first saw the in-your-face purple and lime colour scheme adorning the new Table 6 Restaurant in a first-floor premises in the centre of Templeogue village.
There is a lift, there's no doubt. You can smell it in the air, you can see it in the cars on the road - white is the new colour, by the way - and you can see people walking around with shopping bags once again. Confidence inspires confidence, and now I believe there are real retail opportunities out there for people with an eye for something special. We've had enough of austerity and boredom. Boutiques dropped off the planet during the recession, as did interior furnishing shops, and many others.
Mamma Mia is a small, very authentic, Italian cafe-cum-trattoria-and-pizzeria on a side road off Bray's Main Street. Primarily residential, it is not a street you'd necessarily think of wandering down if you were looking for a bite to eat.
We often forget that Dublin is not just one big splodge, it is made up of a series of wonderful old villages, each of which has a history and community of its own. Indeed, it's not all that long ago that Ballymun and Tallaght were farming areas and considered by Dubs as being 'in the country'.
The past few years have seen turbulent times for many of our top hotels, between coping with the times we were in and competition in the form of rock-bottom deals in 'tax-break' hotels. Consequently, a number of the jewels in the crown of the Irish tourism industry have been - and continue to be - snapped up by international groups and foreign investors at what, no doubt, we will look back on as 'a real steal'. On the one hand it is sad to see this happening, but on the other hand, it very much depends on the purchaser's commitment to their new acquisition by way of...
Hailan is a new Korean and Japanese eatery on Dame Street, near the Olympia Theatre. Nowadays, everyone knows good Chinese or Thai nosh from bad Chinese or Thai slosh.
A fashionista and foodie dream is about to come true, it seems, as Brown Thomas are about to relaunch their third-floor eatery, The Restaurant, with a massive makeover and the involvement of the oh so delicious Monsieur Patrick Guilbaud - who has "inspired the menu".
I was asked by a lady in Co Waterford to recommend a Dublin restaurant for "a special occasion, which she didn't want to go wrong". As you can imagine, recommending a restaurant for a special occasion is a poisoned chalice, so it is something I never do on a one-to-one basis. There is only one person to blame if it goes belly up!
Fancy chowing down on chicken feet, jellyfish head, frogs' legs, razor clams, shredded tripe, whelks, or a Chinese breakfast buffet for €6?
This is my favourite time of year. The weather is still mellow and we have a great series of food festivals around the country up to the end of October.
Hotel Meyrick stands majestically overlooking Galway's Eyre Square and is very much at the heart of what the City of the Tribes is all about. Formerly known as the Great Southern Hotel, it is one of our Grand Old Ladies of the hospitality industry, which also includes such venerable institutions as The Malton in Killarney; Parknasilla Resort at Sneem; the Park Hotel in Kenmare; and The Shelbourne in Dublin.
Alison De Vere Hunt is one of few women involved at the coalface of the cattle business - along with her brother, Robert, she runs the Cashel Mart Livestock & Property Sales in Co. Tipperary. Dealing with farmers buying and selling cattle would not be a typically glamorous job for a young woman, but Alison can weigh up an animal at the blink of an eye. She had not anticipated being in the family business, as, after school, she trained as a psychologist and took a Master's Degree in Business and Entrepreneurship. However, life took a tragic turn for the De Vere Hunt family, and Alison took...
Almost three years ago I wrote an article about how cutting wheat out of my diet saw me lose four stone in as many months.