Galway’s Wa Café are upping the game, in terms of a new interior design and their new Wild Atlantic Way sushi board, and the result is that it’s no surprise that Wa understand how to run a humble – yet formidable – home for Japanese food. Yoshimi Hayakawa’s ‘pocket rocket’ approach to Japanese food is what truly defines an authentic way of eating.
In Leitrim’s Grassroots Café, you can take a Big Pink walk in the garden, or dive into a Rockpool. You can scoot to Tuscany courtesy of a white bean and vegetable soup, or you can do an Ottolenghi riff with a Med-crazed aubergine and cherry tomato tart with peaches and Velvet Cloud yogurt.
Hang on: we aren’t done yet. Let’s fuse Asia and the Caribbean with a molasses tart with wasabi and maple ice cream, or get all Midlands with 16-hour braised beef with Meadbh Rua jus. And let’s close with the elegant modernism of polenta cake with strawberry and pink peppercorn sorbet.
Here is Monday’s menu:
ful; cicoria, anchovy & lemon; kohlrabi tonnato; nduja rolls with ricotta; red endive, guanciale and ricotta salata; panelle; lamb heart and curry leaf yogurt.
So, where are we? In Relae, Copenhagen? In Aska, New York? In The Dairy, in London’s Clapham? In Bar Tartine, San Francisco?
Nope. We are in Dublin. We are on Kevin Street. We are in a room with two tables, which is squeezed under a block of Corporation flats. We are in Assassination Custard, a thoroughly unlikely name for a thoroughly unlikely restaurant in a thoroughly unlikely place.
Puffin Café is mustard. Literally. Spencer Treacy doesn’t hold back from lathering on the mustard when it comes to making a fiery Brick Lane, with salt beef, sliced gherkins and lots – and lots – of mustard.
A coffee micro-roastery and bakery tucked into the ground floor of a multi-storey car park and run by an accountant is just the sort of can-you-believe-it?! series of surprises that makes Dublin’s Sasha House Petite our sort of place. Natalie and her team offer expertly roasted coffees – they will even make a special brew for you with your own label – but it’s the unusual twist of French/Slavic pastries – where else can you go to to get a fix of Kulich, a Russian easter bread? – that brings us back to Drury Street time and again.
The pristine country town pub with a great welcome, nice drinks, and lovely food. It’s what we all want, and what we search for on our travels, from The Snug in Bantry to The Tavern in Murrisk.
And that’s why we are here, in little Craughwell, about 25kms west of the city in County Galway, parking the car in the car park of Raftery’s Bar.
The bar has been in the hands of the Raftery family for four generations, and the family have maintained the pub with fastidious care all that time: it’s a place where everything gleams.
The Athrú 2016 Inaugural Conference takes place in Galway this July.
Leading female chefs and restaurateurs from across Ireland and Europe are coming together for a culinary think-in and conference on gender roles within professional kitchens and throughout the hospitality sector.
The two day meet up will run from Monday 18th July to 19th July with workshops being facilitated at 56 Central and key note addresses and think in collaborative sessions with all attendees. The workshops will run from 9am to 2pm on both days.
Insufferable bastards? Or a necessary evil?
Hmmm! Depends on the critic, I suppose. For me, though, we need them. Most of all in parts of the country that doesn’t have major city footfall. Social media has, without doubt, made the country a much smaller place but nothing can better top drawer words from a highly regarded food critic.
Felicity Cloake is funny. Very funny. “If I learnt anything of lasting value at university”, she writes, “it was the beauty of chips and cheese”. She describes rich tea biscuits as “criminally underrated.” When adding marmite as an umami injector, she recommends that it is “best done behind closed doors.”
One of the shortcomings of food writing in the press is that food writers often only write about the hot new places, and don’t celebrate some of the restaurants who quietly get on with the business of pleasing customers, and keeping standards high, year in year out. One such restaurant, and an old favourite of mine, is l’Gueuleton (pronounced as la-goul-a-ton) on Fade Street.