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Sally's blog

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

From The Archives: Avoca

Avoca, the Pratt family’s series of shops and restaurants in Ireland, has recently been sold to the multi-national food organisation, Aramark.
We first wrote about the Kilmacanogue shop in a piece published in the Weekend edition of The Irish Times, on March 2nd, 1996. In the Avoca Café Cookbook, published in 2000, Simon Pratt wrote: “In 1996 a glowing review of of the Kilmacanogue café appeared in The Irish Times by John McKenna. His praise and understanding of what we were trying to do was a decided watershed in our development”.

Bastible, Dublin. Review by John McKenna

Simplicity. Confidence. Control.
Bastible, Barry Fitzgerald’s new restaurant, at Leonard’s Corner on the South Circular Road in Dublin, shows the 2015 Dublin restaurant zeitgeist at its zen-like zenith. Even in its first week of proper business, after several days of family-and-friends test runs, Bastible purrs like the big cat it is going to be. The team are so confident, and they exercise such control over what they are doing, that this new kid makes other city restaurants seem frantic by comparison.

Locks Restaurant, Portobello. Review by William Barry

The Grand Canal starts its journey at the Dublin Docklands and traverses the southside of Dublin, marking out the extremities of Ballsbridge, Ranelagh, Rathmines and Harold’s Cross. The canal path is always moving with people walking and exercising and, at this time of year, the piles of crusty brown and gold leaves along this tree-lined section of the waterway look like an autumnal postcard scene.

The Fatted Calf, Westmeath. Review by John McKenna

Athlone has a buzz about it. Unlike many other provincial towns, hard hit by the economic crisis and slow to recover, Athlone seems to have found its mojo. Walk along the main strip of the town that leads to the bridge over the Shannon, and new openings and new renovations are bringing energy to the town centre.

Which means Feargal and Fiona O'Donnell have chosen just the right time to bring their feted Fatted Calf restaurant into the centre of the action.

Diva Cafe, Ballinspittle. Review by John McKenna

No one makes a taco like Shannen Keane. No one makes a wrap like Ms Keane. And no one makes a Reuben like the Diva Reuben you can enjoy here, in the newly-reopened Diva, in little Ballinspittle. You might say its Ms Keane’s American heritage – she’s from Seattle – that helps her glide with such ease over these dishes, but it’s more than that: she shows respect to things others believe don’t need to be taken seriously. She knows that making a great taco – with flank steak, with Korean seasoning – is a matter of balance, restraint, experience – and the result is one of the best tacos.

Ard Bia: Review by John McKenna


That's always a smart line-up in a restaurant – five starters; fine mains; four puds, and a cheeseboard on the bench as the substitute.
Put this line up on a single sheet, dot it with smart mantras – “Let's connect, and turn off our phones”; “Love Food: Hate Waste”, “Proceeds from still or sparking water will be donated to the Number 4 project...” and there is only one place in Ireland you could be: Ard Bia, at Nimmo's, at Spanish Arch, in Galway city.


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