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Sally's blog

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

Tara and Enda are taking the humble burger to new artisanal heights in Burgatory, and playing some good rock ’n’ roll tunes whilst they are at it.

Would you like a side of Guns 'N' Roses, The Eagles, Green Day and The Doors as you step inside a Galway cottage predestined to be a punk of a joint?

In the brand new Burgatory, in Galway’s Spanish Arch, it’s almost as if a shack from the Midwestern United States flew across the Atlantic and rooted itself in the proud West coast city of Ireland.

Previously, Burgatory was a truck called Harlowe, which toured around festivals. But now owners Enda Hoolmaa and Tara Haugh have decided to root themselves in the heart of Galway's colourful Quay Lane.

Washington Street in Cork is where it’s all happening. PJ McKenna admires the rotisserie style of Spitjack.

The first thing one notices about Spitjack is that you could – in theory – enter this new Cork city restaurant by stepping up and through the large bay window that fronts onto Washington Street. On the day I visit, the window is opened out, letting the atmosphere of Washington Street come in to brighten up the calm, charming dining room.

Soma is a lean, mean machine of a coffee house, and a pivotal addition to Cork’s coffee culture

SOMA is the cool school, minimalist counterpoint to Cork city’s more typical bricolage style of coffee house, typified by the excellent Filter and Alchemy.
Where those great coffee houses are maximalist and choc-a-bloc, Soma is lean, stripped back, a Bauhuas coffee house. The exterior is matt black, counterpointed by the white lettering of the name. Inside the lighting is bright, the tables are hewn from thick planks, and there are couches and a long communal table.

Who doesn’t love a sushi conveyor belt? Connie McKenna pulls up a stool and reaches for a few plates in Tomodochi.

Tempting as it is to watch Tomodochi's sushi plate conveyer belt roll away slowly past your eyes, you should make sure to look around you when you climb the stairs to this new Galway restaurant, for Tomodachi also boasts an admirable interior.

The three sections of the room give the diner a choice of sitting cross legged, tatami-style,  on the floor in a descending square dip; there is the snug square zone of the conveyer belt district; or the more 'westernised' eating area.

Want to bake perfect sourdough bread? Just go back to school. Sally McKenna explains how to do it.

The idea of being able to make a Californian-type sourdough is the dream of many a domestic baker. I set about to see can if it be done: can you make crunchy-crusted, chewy-airy, satisfying and flavourful bread in a domestic oven in small batches?

Yes, is the answer. But, it takes time, and I think you need a lot of help. I did anyway.

Palmento Pizza in Douglas is the Real Deal, says William Barry

Elio Tavolieri has had his hands in 00 floor since he was a boy.

His father, Elio Snr, moved to Ireland from Italy in 1972, married a Kerry woman and they have been running pizza restaurants in Cork ever since. Like most offspring of restaurant folk Elio and his siblings were drafted in to help at every opportunity, so he has spent most of his life making pizza.

He decided to take it further, and moved to Naples and to work with Ciro Salvo, a masterful pizzaiuolo who owns a famous pizzeria in Naples where they are known to serve up over eight hundred pizzas on a quiet day.

Connie McKenna gets with the plant power at Cork’s new Vegan Restaurant 143v

Cork's Lower Glanmire Road is blessed to have this tiny vegan cottage, 143v, in its neighbourhood.
Lauren, the youthful maestro behind this friendly little joint, shows no hesitation as regards the eager eyes studying her as she toils in her tiny pod of a kitchen, quietly cooking her homely dishes: beetroot burger with smoky cheese; breakfast bagel; heavenly fudge brownies; excellent mashed potato. The coffee is good, the vegetable and fruit juices are even better.

Fia is the favoured new place of worship in Dublin 6, says John McKenna

10.25am on a Sunday morning in Rathgar, and Fia is full.
The nearby churches are most likely empty, but Fia is full.
There is so much laughter in the room that you might imagine it was Friday evening, right after work. That sound, of course, is the sound of people energised and excited by great food. If you want to assess if an individual restaurant is good, don’t look at the menu: listen to the volume.
10.25am on a Sunday morning, and Fia is loud. And that’s because Fia is exceptionally good.

Sally McKenna relishes the Dublin 8 District Vibe of the Radisson Blue Royal Hotel

Just a short stroll up from St Stephen's Green, the Radisson Blu Royal hotel feels like no other Dublin city centre hotel. The ten-year-old building sits just behind the narrow, medieval streets surrounding Dublin Castle, and a couple of blocks down from St Patrick's Cathedral. It is also near to the once glorious, but now architecturally-overlooked, 16th century mansioned Aungier Street.

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