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Dine in Dublin 2017

Dine in Dublin Festival

If you’re of a certain age i.e. a lot younger than myself, you won’t remember a time when the Dublin food scene was horrendous. Like, seriously horrendous. These days, however, it takes quite an effort to get a crappy meal in Dublin. Nonethless, we humans are creatures of habit, and just as we end up wearing the same ten items of clothing, we also tend to frequent the same handful of restaurants. So, with the advent of Dine in Dublin on Monday, February 27th, running until Sunday, March 5th, now’s the time to break out of your rut and avail of the great offers available during festival week. There is a full list of the restaurants and cafes which are are taking part on the Dine in Dublin website, but here are a few of my recommendations:

Fallon & Byrne
1. FALLON & BYRNE
One of favourite places in Dublin full stop. I could easily spend a whole afternoon just walking around their food hall, and as for their restaurant – fabulous! For festival week, they’re offering a 3 course meal for two people with Prosecco Cocktails on arrival for €60. Choose from a set menu which includes Pan-roasted Irish hake and Free-range Irish coq au vin. And to finish it off, who could say no to a Mont Blanc Knickerbocker Glory with chestnut mousse!
Contact: Fallon & Byrne, 11 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2

Brother Hubbard
2. BROTHER HUBBARD
If you haven’t been to Brother Hubbard, sort yourself out pronto! This über trendy cafe on Capel Street (and Harrington Street) serves up some gorgeous 3FE coffe and semonlina pancakes by day, and from Wednesday to Sunday, offers an incredible Middle Eastern Feast Menu in the evening. For Dine in Dublin 2017, they are offering this 3 Course Feasting Menu for €50 for two people. Choices include falafal, pomegranate chicken livers, beef kofta, lamb shoulder, not to mention a hole heap of vegetarion options. Methinks, you’ll like it a lot.
Contact: Brother Hubbard, 153 Capel Street, Dublin 1

Laduree Dublin

3. LADUREE
I love France. I love the idea of Frenchness. So it’s a bit of a given that I’m in love with Ladurée. Situated on the corner of South William Street, the restaurant/café evokes all that you would imagine a Parisian tearoom would look and feel like. Perhaps the hubby or boyfriend won’t quite appreciate its boudoir decor, but for the ladies, it’s a perfect way to spend an afternoon with friends or the mammy for a special treat. For festival week, they are offering afternoon tea for two people with a glass of bubbles for €45. Choose from a selection of finger sandwiches, pastries, macarons, and financiers (that’s a small almond cake, not the lad who works behind the counter at your local AIB).
Contact: Ladurée, South William Street/Exchequer Street Corner, Dublin 2

The Woollen Mills
4. THE WOOLLEN MILLS
If you don’t get to go here during the festival, make sure to drop by at some stage, if not for a meal, then for a coffee and one of their amazing sambos or sausage rolls. During Dine in Dublin, they are offering a 3 course dinner plus cocktails for two for €60. On the menu are Mussel + leek paté, Ha’penny Bridge homemade coddle, stout-braised beef short ribs, and white chocolate cheesecake among others. When you’re booking, try to get a seat in the roof terrace looking out at the Ha’penny Bridge and the Liffey. The view is pure Dublin!
Contact: The Woollen Mills, 42 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1

All photos courtesy of dineindublin.ie

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Cooking up a Treat in Camden Kitchen

Camden Kitchen, Dublin

I know, I know. It’s been absolutely ages since I’ve written anything. While one of the positives of being self-employed is that you can work whenever you want, the reality is that you pretty much work all the time available to you. And when you’re not working, you’re thinking about the work you should be doing, which leaves poor ‘ole Brekkie at Tiffany’s a tad neglected. Anyhoo, onwards and upwards, or just off Camden Street in this particular case.

I’ve been curious about Camden Kitchen for ages. It’s actually been around since 2010, so I’m ever so slightly late to the party. The cosy little neighbourhood eatery (oh how Irish Times Lifestyle of me) is situated on Grantham Street, just off the main thoroughfare of Camden Street which houses the foodie delights of Delahunt, Pickle, and Tesco Express. Having received a most welcome 50 yoyos from the Mammy for my recent marital anniversary, I thought what better than to seize the opportunity and avail of a Living Social voucher for a three-course meal at CK for two people for a mere €49. And so it came to be last night…

The restaurant is small, situated over two floors, and was completely full on this particular rainy Friday evening. The atmosphere is warm and unpretentious with antiquities and flowers decorating the dining area. Given the smallness of the restaurant, the tables are positioned very close together. Question: when sitting down at a table on those occasions, what is the correct ettiquette? Does one position one’s arse to one’s own table, or towards the neighouring guests? Arses aside, we were well within earshot of our neighbour’s conversation, and let’s just say they won’t be celebrating any anniversary together in the near future!

And so on to the food, himself ordered the wild Wicklow pigeon with lentils, and not wanting to order the same, I selected the chicken liver parfait with sourdough toast. The parfait was beautifully smooth with the accompanying plum chutney adding a delicious sweet contrast. The pigeon and lentils were cooked and seasoned on point. An absolute a revelation and showed the chef’s true understanding of how to enhance this ‘game of the poor’ in the subtle way it deserves. Himself is extremely particular i.e. fussy fecker when it comes to preparing food from the wild. Game always needs a subtle hint of sweetness combined with some nutty aroma and this chef knows that!

Starters, Camden Kitchen

For the main course, I decided to continue my poultry experience and had the Salt Marsh duck breast served with barley and cabbage, confit beetroots, and butternut & orange puree. This was seriously gorgeous! The duck was cooked medium rare with the puree bringing sumptuous sweetness to the dish. And as for the beetroot – brilliant. I initially had reservations about the beetroot being included at all, but man they were good! I ordered a side portion of sauteed potatoes as I was wary of the barley. Again, my doubts were thoroughly unwarranted as the barley was indeed a very welcome surprise.  Himself had the wild Irish hake and bisque risotto and cockles which was perfectly executed and did not disappoint. The risotto was al dente, the hake as flaky and with a crispy skin, exactly as it should be. The chef earned serious kudos from himself for both his dishes which he said were cooked perfectly and packed with flavour.

To finish off, we both ordered the bread & butter pudding. I would’ve been more than happy with any of the four other dessert choices, but in fairness who can resist a bit of b&b pud! For the purpose of review, I would’ve liked one of us to have tried something else, but as himself was in Joey Tribiani mode and wasn’t going to share his, I was not going to miss out. The pudding was beautifully light, made with Brioche and served with almond ice-cream and krokant. My only slight complaint was the lack of sultanas (I only had two), but I am perhaps a tad over-fond of the humble sultana.

Main Course, Camden Kitchen

Camden Kitchen is a great little gem (only slightly) off the beaten track. The service was excellent, with friendly and attentive staff. If you can get hold of the living social voucher, snap it up. If you don’t, still go. You’ll be delighted you did.

Camden Kitchen
Grantham Street
Dublin 8
http://camdenkitchen.ie/
Tel: (01) 476 0125

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5 Things to Do in Dublin This Bank Holiday Weekend

5_things_to_do_in_Dublin

Hate to scare you folks but this is the second last bank holiday before Christmas. Oh yeah, the “C” word! So time to shake off the FOMO and take advantage of the last long weekend of summer and do something a bit different. Here are my 5 ideas for making your weekend a little less ordinary:

DUBLIN LIVE MUSIC TRAIL
Organised by Failte Ireland and Dublin City Council, the city will play host to whole heap of top emerging acts in Ireland, who will perform 20 minute, unplugged, pop-up gigs in Dublin’s most unconventional venues including, museums, bookshops, and coffee shops. The concerts are completely free and run on Sunday and Monday. Check out the Dublin Town website for the deets.

ACCENTS COMEDY EVENING
If you haven’t been to Accents Coffee & Tea Lounge yet, this weekend is the perfect opportunity. Open every night until 11pm (except Sunday, 10pm) and located just off Grafton Street, its cosy atmosphere is a great alternative to pubs for meeting up with friends. Every Saturday from 8-9.30pm, there is a free comedy night. Perfect if you want to take it easy on the weekend.

KAYAKING ON THE CANAL
Have you ever kayaked? Have you even considered it? Well if not, why not? Embrace the fact that we live at the sea and avail of all the opportunities that it brings us lucky duckies. Beginner’s kayaking is great for wusses like myself who can’t even swim! There are a number of beginner’s courses that go along the canal Saturday mornings/afternoons, and provide you with all the necessary bits to keep you above water. If you want to take it up a notch, you can go on the Liffey itself, around Killiney, or Skerries Island. Prices range from 15-25 yoyos depending on which company you go with. You can get more info on the surfdock website, or meetup.com (just search kayaking dublin)

HOWTH JAZZ & BLUES FESTIVAL
After a wee break of 15 years, the jazz festival is back to Howth big time. Bars and restaurants in the harbour will host live concerts from tonight until Monday. Combine it with a gentle stroll on the pier, a somewhat more heebee-jeebee cliff walk, visit the market, and finish off with some gorgeous seafood in any of the numerous restaurants on the pier, and you have one great day sorted! More info can be found here.

AFTERNOON TEA AT BROWN THOMAS
How absolutely fabulous does that sound! Afternoon tea is available in the recently refurbed BT restaurant from 3-6pm every day and costs €28 per person, and includes such beauties as Chocolate hazelnut tortas and almond macaroons. Sure, you’ll be the envy of all your instagram followers! Who cares if your bestie has just done a Facebook check-in at some tapas bar in Barcelona. One well-lit photo of a chilled Mimosa and carefully positioned Strawberry Shortcake, and you are back in the game, girlfriend! Go on, check out the menu yourself and get those Chanel-lined lips smacking!

So step away from the Netflix, and experience life. Nobody ever died regretting they hadn’t watched more boxsets. Have a great weekend everyone!

Top photo courtesy of citykayaking.com
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Steak & Lobster Menu at Brasserie Sixty6

Brasserie Sixty6

Who doesn’t love a good voucher. You know the ones from groupon, living social etc but in general, they tend not to be for places I particularly want to go to. The offers on the thetaste.ie are a different story, and if you don’t know the site, get yourself over there tout suite. I have in the past purchased ones for Klaw, Odessa, Rock Lobster (oh, how I miss thee) and L’Avenue, and have been more than happy with the offering. This time around, I bought one for Brasserie Sixty6 on South Great George’s Street, a restaurant that I’ve wanted to try for ages, but for some reason haven’t, despite the fact that my bus stops just outside it! Anyhoo, the offer in question was for 2 course dinner for 2 people from their new Steak & Lobster Menu plus 2 summer cocktails for only €50. Not bad, eh? Especially given that the cocktails on offer would normally cost €10.50 each.

The restaurant was a lot bigger than I had expected from the outside, and was buzzing as to be expected on a Thursday evening, however it has even more seating to the back which would be great for larger groups as well. And so our scoff fest commenced! Before kick-off, we were brought over two large slices of sourdough bread and some butter on a wooden board. Much needed, as I was a bit Lee Marvin to say the least. We ordered some sparkling water as himself, not being an indigenous Paddy, has not yet built up a de-sensitivity to the manky bleachy taste of our fine chlorine-rich Irish tap water. For starters, we both ordered the Caesar salad. In restaurants, as in life, I’m not a huge fan of soup. I’m sure it was flavoursome and all that malarkey, but just a bit practical if you know what I mean. The salad did exactly what it said on the tin with a generous portion of fresh crispy lettuce, parmesan, sourdough croutons, and a whole heap of crispy rashers.

Brasserie Sixty6, Dublin

And so on to the raison d’being there – the main course. Himself ordered the lobster tails, which were tasty (I’m told) but judging by his little disappointed face, somewhat on the smaller size. Nonetheless, the tempura claws, and chunky chips all contributed nicely to fill the belly, and he was by the end a happy bunny indeed. For the sake of comparison (although having seen their size, I didn’t have the heart to taste some of his precious lobster) I had the sirloin steak which was beautifully juicy and served with chunky chips and a gorgeous Bearnaise sauce which had lovely lumps of lobster. Delish! Alongside the meal, we had the Spiced Blood Orange Margarita, and the Absolute Midnight in Paris. Himself originally ordered the former, but he found it a tad sweet so we did swapsies, but I would’ve been more than satisified with either. Or preferably both.

Brasserie Sixty6 Steak & Lobster Menu
Unfortunately, despite all my efforts to lever my dessert pocket open, I just couldn’t fit any more in. But let me just say, the dessert menu looks gorgeous: Chocolate Truffle Cake with caramel ice cream and burnt orange caramel, or how about Raspberry Red Velvet Cake with raspberry jelly and vanilla ice cream? Stop the lights! Methinks, you can now appreciate just how full I was to have been able to resist such lusciousness. So, to sum up: service was very friendly and efficient, food was delicious (and plentiful), and the voucher an absolute steal. Get yours now while you can!

Brasserie Sixty6, 66-67 South Great George’s Street, Dublin 2.
Voucher from thetaste.ie (available at the time of publishing)

 

 

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Bloomin’ Brilliant

Bloom-Festival-Dublin

I’ve always shied away from going to Bloom Festival every year, thinking it rather middle-aged. Middle-aged not in a demographic sense, but in a mentality sort of way, if you get my drift. However, this year I succumbed after being flooded with Bloom “propaganda” on TV and, potentially more influentially, my Facebook timeline. So I took myself, and my favourite middle-age survivor, the Mammy, to the Phoenix Park on a positively scorching Sunday afternoon. After following the arrows to the red car park for what seemed like an eternity, I took the example of my fellow drivers and abandoned my car on the grass, with the added bonus of having my own personal Ban Garda providing surveillance. Result – fiver saved! After a good ‘aul trek in the searing sun, we finally arrived at the red car-park which, who knew, was situated directly beside the entrance to Bloom! The moral of that story folks is, at Bloom, as in life, always follow the arrows until the nice Google lady tells you “You have reached your destination”. Or alternatively, some lad in a high-vis vest.

So with tickets scanned (buy them online – you’ll save 2 yoyos), we entered the vastness which is Bloom. There is soooo much to do and see. And humans of all ages, and not just the middle-aged, gardening variety. Although if you are that way inclined, you will be well serviced with the plant village, floral art exhibition, floral village, and garden expert stage, where the who’s who of horticulture in Ireland share their wisdom and tips. For the uninitiated like myself, it was simply a joy to saunter through stunningly beautiful flowers and plants, and brilliantly creative floral arrangements. The show gardens themselves are an inspiration as to what can be done with a relatively small space, many being scalable for the urban garden. In addition to all that, there was entertainment on the mainstage with bands such as Buffalo Sunn and The 4 of Us adding to the festival atmosphere (or should I say vibe).

Bloom-Festival-Dublin

And if all that wasn’t enough, there was food, lots of food! Sponsored by Bord Bia, the event hosts a plethora of Irish food and drink producers whose wares can be sampled or purchased. And with the weather as beautiful as it was yesterday, there were numerous seating opportunities (both indoors and outdoors) to enjoy your nosh and soak up the sun. If all that wasn’t enough, a whole posse of well-known chefs such as Nevin Maguire, Catherine Fulvio, and Paul Flynn took to the stage over the course of the festival to give cooking demonstrations.

Bloom is genuinely a great day out for all ages – there is plenty to amuse the little humans as well. I will definitely be making a return visit next year, and if you haven’t gone yet, give it a go next year. It’s not just for proper grown-ups!

Bloom-Festival-Dublin

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BBQ-ing at the Gibson Hotel

BBQ-at-the-Gibson-Hotel

So last week I was delighted to be invited to the Gibson Hotel’s annual launch of their summer barbecue menu. The Gibson is located across from the 3 Arena (or The Point, as those of a certain age will know it as). More recently, it has become famous for playing host to the brilliant Irish First Dates show. It was my first visit to the Gibson, which is not your typical hotel, with its modernist glass frontage, and now-infamous lift which takes you to its third floor reception area.

The event was held in the the Coda Eatery with top DJ Dan Stritch on the decks. We were greeted with BBQ Bramble Cocktails and Sangria.  The lavish gourmet buffet included the usual BBQ suspects such as chicken wings, sausages, burgers and lamb chops, but with a Gibson twist, alongside a huge choice of salads including fresh watermelon, mint and feta salad, potato salad, and a delicious parma ham salad with mozzarella and a strawberry chilli dressing. Oh, and cheesy chips! In fairness, who doesn’t love some cheesy chips. And as for desserts! Well, despite being ridiculously stuffed, the ‘aul dessert pocket was open for business, and so I partook in some gorgeous banoffee pie, mini doughnuts, and rich but fluffy chocolate mousse. To be fair, I did share the latter with my good pal and fellow blogger, Ciara from Irishtravelkey, so there was some semblance of restraint exercised!

The BBQ menu is available for groups of 25 people and more, and costs €25 per person which ain’t half bad. And a bonus, as it’s held in the indoor courtyard or heated terrace, there’s no need to worry about manky weather halting your plans. Result!

Gibson-Hotel-BBQ-Launch

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event and was not requested, nor paid (sure wouldn’t that be lovely altogether) to write a blog entry on the event. All opinions are honest, and my own.

 

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Tourist at Home | Malahide

Malahide Castle

At the start of the year, I made a pledge to myself to see more of my home city. View it like a tourist as it were. So this weekend, instead of hitting the shops again, and seeing as the weather was dry n’all, the Mammy and myself drove out to (in guidebook lingo) the picturesque coastal village of Malahide. Malahide village is 16km north of the city if you’re buying petrol, or a mere half an hour trip on the bus or DART from the city centre. Within the village itself there is a plethora of independent shops and restaurants plus a couple of schneaky little sightings of a Starbucks and Boots (oh well). Donnybrook Fair have also recently opened up a new fancy schmancy supermarket to keep you stocked up on macarons and asparagus spears. From the village, you can walk along the sandy beach which leads to the neighboring beach in Portmarnock, or listen to the jostling of the boats in the marina (I’m really getting into this guidebook lark).

Walled Gardens at Malahide Castle

On this particular day, we focused our visit on Malahide Castle and grounds. The Mammy had never been, and despite initial ambivalence, was positively enthusiastic (although that could have been the sight of an Avoca Cafe). The 270 acre grounds are beautifully maintained and would make the perfect location for a picnic on a sunny day. The grounds also host manicured walled gardens and a small but perfectly-formed Victorian glass house, similar to that in the Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin. Over €12 million was spent on the Castle and gardens to create a more enjoyable tourist experience, and this is particularly evident in the Courtyard visitor centre which hosts a souvenir shop, bike rental, and the Mecca of all yummy mummies (and actually just yummies) – Avoca! As our tour of the castle was not due for another hour, we took the opportunity to have our Sunday dindins in one of our favourite eateries. As with all Avoca restaurants, the noise level is equivalent to the decibel whoosh you get when first entering public swimming baths. Lots of kids, lots of chatting, but somehow that’s all part of the Avoca experience. The Cafe in Malahide is self-service with the specials made to order. I ordered the Lamb Tagine with couscous and flatbreads, and the Mammy had the fish cakes with salad. Both dishes were a triumph and the portions, as always, were huge and at 14.95 each, very good value. And of course, it would’ve been rude not to finish off with a slice of vanilla cheesecake with caramel. So, in the interests of politeness…

Lamb Tagine at Avoca, Malahide Castle

With our bellies full, we made our way over to the castle for the beginning of the tour. Our tour guide was Mary, who took us through the history of the castle and its original owners, the Talbot family (they of Talbot Street and Talbot Bridge fame). Somehow I don’t think her real name is Mary, just as the call centre rep. who called from Bangalore last week, probably isn’t really called Steve. Anyhoo, “Mary” was charming and informative, and engaged her audience with genuine interest in her subject. The enjoyable tour took us through the rooms of the castle and lasted 45 minutes, and finished off with a copy of the Proclamation of the State, as it was the 1916 commemoration day. Tickets for the tour cost €12 for adults and €6 for children. After the tour, we took a leisurely stroll around the gardens, and further down to the truly delightful village which was just closing its doors for the day, ready for the pubs and restaurants to take over the evening shift.

Why not make your own pledge this year to take in all that Dublin has to offer. Take a trip out to Malahide this summer. You know where it is!

Main photo courtesy of www.malahidecastleandgardens.ie

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Eat Yourself Healthy at Siam Thai

Siam Thai Malahide

So this week I was lucky to be invited to one of the health & nutrition talks currently running in Siam Thai’s two Dublin restaurants in Dundrum and Malahide. I have wanted to go to their Dundrum restaurant for ages, but have somehow never got around to it, so when I got the opportunity to visit the one in Malahide, I snapped it up. The topic of the evening’s talk was Nutrition on the Go and was held by the charming Gaye Godkin, a clinical nutritionist who works as a nutritional consultant for both organisations and individuals, and has worked with the chefs of Siam Thai to create new dishes with a nutritional focus.

Upon arrival we were greeted with Prosecco (always a plus), before being brought up to a separate dining area, away from the main restaurant, where our group could listen to Gaye’s presentation while simultaneously enjoying the delicious starters which were served up to us consisting of fresh spring rolls, carrot & papaza salad, and Larb Gai (minced chicken). The starters were an absolute triumph – packed full with flavour, but without the guilt! I positively felt like running out to the nearest Eason’s and snapping up a heap of Roz Purcell cook books!

Healthy Starters at Siam Thai Malahide

The main course offering had something for everyone, but I partook in my usual Pad Thai with prawns. Call me a slave to habit, but I like to think it more as a Thai restaurant comparison tool. And a ridiculously tasty one at that! So how did Siam Thai fare? Let’s just say, in my eyes at least, they are quite possible top of the Dublin Thai Restaurant League right now. The prawns were plump, the noodles were cooked perfectly, the sauce had just the right amount of sweetness, and (importantly), there was more than enough to fill this ‘ole belly!

Pad Thai at Siam Thai Malahide

We finished off the meal with a coffee, and as I left the buzzing restaurant (even on a Tuesday evening), I definitely felt more motivated and inspired to put less focus on calories, and give more attention to the nutritional aspect of food, without needing to compromise on taste. On this evening, Siam Thai more than proved it was possible.

Siam Thai, 1 The Green, Malahide, Co. Dublin. Tel: 01 845 4698.