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Sally's blog

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

Kitchen Mechanics by Gary O'Hanlon: Front Of House

I’ll get right to it.

Regardless if you’re cooking the best food imaginable, if your front of house is poor the restaurant experience is ruined. No exceptions.

Just today I went into a newly restored Gastro Pub for lunch. The place has recently had quite the amount of money spent on it. I know this because I’d seen this property in detail long before the current refurb. I was greeted by the owner, actually, no, I was grunted at by the owner. I was so annoyed. This lady couldn’t have been more rude.

The Mustard Seed, Ballingarry

After three decades in the business, Dan Mullane’s Mustard Seed is on a new high. Mr Mullane has always been the host with the most, a genial and hugely funny man who can work a room of people like no other. To see him both greeting and bidding farewell to guests at Echo Lodge, the country house that houses the Mustard Seed restaurant, is to witness one of the greats of the hospitality game: someone should write a book about how he does it, how he creates the mix of magician and stand-up and confidant, and carries it off day after day.

Greenes Restaurant, Cork

The great thing about Bryan McCarthy’s cooking is the fact that despite all the on-trend techniques, ingredients and styles involved in his food – strawberry textures; black cabbage; black pudding dumplings; pickled beets; sea vegetables – there is never any doubt that every plate he sends out in Greene’s Restaurant, on Cork’s MacCurtain Street, is his, and his alone. He follows fashions, and is right up to the minute with cheffy goings on, yet his food manages to remain very personal, and timeless.

Eastern Seaboard, Drogheda

Reuven Diaz, the chef-proprietor of Drogheda's Eastern Seaboard, makes a mean monkfish taco. And he makes a killer pork belly cos lettuce wrap.

To both these dishes, usually done so poorly and clumsily in Ireland, he brings precision, respect, and the sure touch of a chef who understands Mexican cooking and Asian cooking implicitly. Mr Diaz makes each little parcel of food delicious, and he makes it delicious with every bite, offering colour, contrast, sweetness and umami, freshness and funkyness, all in a tiny handful of food.

Special Awards - Philanthrofoodies

The Philanthrofoodies

We are lucky to have a band of brothers in our food culture who quietly campaign and contribute time and effort to make our food culture better. We like to think of them as philanthrofoodies, people who are dedicated to making our food and farming better. Here's a little shout-out to a few of the people who made a difference in 2015...

Restaurant Awards

Restaurant of the Year - Luna
Luna did something simple but special in 2015: it gave Dublin back its “The party is on!” vibe that vanished down the drain in 2008. John Farrell and his team have always striven to capture the mood of a cuisine, but with Luna they captured nothing less than the mood of the city, then they put it on a plate and gave it back to lucky old Dublin, clad in Louis Copeland finery. Luna

Hospitality Awards

B&B of the Year - The Stop, Galway
How cult can you get? However you assess cult status, The Stop tops it, and then some. Russ and Emer's modest house betrays their gallerist backgrounds with the precise and perfect placing of every object, and the result is some sort of feg shui hospitality heaven. The Stop B&B

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