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Sally's blog

All the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.

Richard McCracken is one of the brightest new talents in Belfast cooking, and Cyprus Avenue is a must-visit.

On leaving Richard McCracken’s Cyprus Avenue restaurant, we drove down the adjacent Cyprus Avenue, made globally-famous by the song of the same name on Van Morrison’s timeless 50-year-old classic, Astral Weeks, and almost collided with a group of Japanese tourists.
The name is still evocative, it still draws people in, and it's a clever tie-in for Mr McCracken's restaurant, an East Belfast neighbourhood destination that opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a street-side terrace, an occasional market stall, and an ambition to serve the community with good food.

Cork’s Priory Coffee has brought a touch of Manhattan to Patrick Street.

Sitting at the corner of North Main Street, in Cork city, between the small local shops and ethnic supermarkets, Priory Coffee is a smart, dainty coffee shop.
We were originally drawn in for a coffee, but were then quickly taken in by the unique style of the room, a style that seems to bring a touch of Manhattan to the other side of Patrick Street.

Kay Burke and her devoted team are bringing it all back home in Clonakilty’s delightful Sticky Bun.

With it’s white office ceiling tiles, complete with strip fluorescent lighting, you might expect Sticky Bun to feel like an alienating café space, something found in a shopping mall. Happily, the opposite is the case. Into this sterile streetside environment in Clonakilty town centre, Kay Burke has cleverly mixed up the space with painted wooden chairs, high and low stools, a jaw box sink, tea pots from Wall & Keogh, painted panelling, fire extinguishers, a large gilt mirror and a counter full of delicious foods that create an enticing atmosphere of deliciousness.

The Millenials are in the restaurant marketplace. Ignore them at your peril, says John McKenna

Traditionally, a person knew they were getting on in years when the policemen they walked past on the street looked disconcertingly youthful.
That’s bunk, these days.
These days, you know the years are catching up with you when you look around the restaurant where you are having lunch or dinner, and everyone else is younger than you.
Thing is: they won’t just be younger. They will be much, much younger.
Take three Irish restaurants, in three Irish cities.

Northern Ireland is governed by the imperative to enoy great food and drink. Caroline Hennessy salutes the Belfast Agreeability.

Some of the most fun I had eating out in 2017 was in Belfast. It’s a long way to go for dinner but, if you’re there for 24 hours, as I was (twice!) it’s not difficult to make the most of a short visit and the energy and fun in the city around food makes it hard to beat.  

Chefs and Restaurants of the Year

CHEF OF THE YEAR: Maggie Roche, Hugo's, Dublin
With a CV that includes working in The Waterside Inn, and The Merrion Hotel, in 2015 Maggie Roche took on the position of head chef in Hugo's Restaurant, on Dublin's Merrion Row. 2017 saw Ms Roche receiving plaudits from all quarters for her work in one of Dublin's most classic and lovable bistros. At Theatre of Food at Electric Picnic, Maggie joined Darina Allen, Jess Murphy and Audrey McDonald on stage, and showed herself to be as adept a debater as she is a cook.

Shop, Artisan, Food & Drinks Awards

SHOP OF THE YEAR: Strandfield, Ballymascanlon, Co Louth
You have to queue in Strandfield, Hannah Byrne’s inspired mash-up of artisan food/speciality flower shop and restaurant, at Ballymascanlon, a few miles outside Dundalk. Sometimes the queue is enormous; other times it’s a little more concise. But, no one minds the queue, because this is such a special shop, and such a special place to eat.


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