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Sally's blog

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

John McKenna finds happy cooking in Galway’s iconic King’s Head.

Here the kind of dude Paul Grealish is.
When he gets a moment to himself – which can’t be too often when you are running a Galway city landmark like The King’s Head – Mr Grealish likes to head northwards and run an Arctic marathon.
A marathon. In the Arctic. Don’t even think about how many degrees below zero the temperature is. Just say those words to yourself one more time: Arctic. Marathon.

Connie McKenna says Cork city’s Orso is nothing less than a classy little kitchen that knows how to bring it all home.

This is a classy little kitchen. A classy kitchen with a truly excellent attitude towards Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Orso has brought an Ottolenghi influence to leafy Pembroke Street, in the centre of Cork, along with the perfect place for an escape and a little time for reflection.

A perfect t-bone from McLoughlin’s butchers shows how The Green Hen plays to its bistro strengths, says Sally McKenna.

There was a time when we would look mistily into the distance, and conjure up images of a typical French bistro where you could order and get a good steak, proper chips, something to dip them in, and a good bitter salad.
In The Green Hen, on Dublin’s Exchequer Street, they’ve brought that dream to Dublin and made it real. In fact, they’ve made it better, because they source their steak from the wonderful McLoughlin’s butchers in Ballyfermot.

Op Food - John McKenna

Alan Kelly’s Intoxicating Liquor (Breweries and Distilleries) Bill 2016 is the most important piece of legislation yet mooted for our tourism industry.
Hang on, you say. Don’t you mean for our craft brewing and distilling sector? What’s it got to do with tourism?
The answer is: Everything.
The type of tourist we should be focusing on attracting to Ireland is The Experientialist Tourist. This gal doesn’t just want to drink Dingle Single Malt in the pub, or try an 8 Degrees Barefoot Brahmin in the restaurant.

A tasting tour of the Dingle Distillery is yet another highlight of the town’s incredible food and drink culture

Maybe it was because our visit to the Dingle Distillery – an old converted sawmills at The Wood, just on the Ventry Road out of the town – took place on the day after the launch of Dingle’s Single Malt whiskey, but there was certainly something giddy and unrestrained about the spirit of the place as Joe Joyce led a group of us through a talk and tasting of the malt itself and of the young Dingle clear spirit.

Galway’s Loam restaurant is the sensual world, says John McKenna

In Galway’s Loam restaurant, Enda McEvoy and Conor Cockram make the illogical seem entirely logical.
Mr McEvoy serves up a wee taster of beef tenderloin to start dinner in Loam. It looks like a prawn cracker, and eats like a prawn cracker.
But it isn’t a prawn cracker.
Mr Cockram, meantime, puts peat in your pudding, alongside some black currant.
Except, it isn’t peat. It isn’t the stuff that gets stuck to your boots in the bog.
Welcome to Loam, where nothing is as it seems.

Three years in and John and Sandy Wyer’s Forest Avenue remains right at the bleeding edge of Irish cooking, says Sally McKenna

Despite being three years old, Forest Avenue hasn’t lost its sense of newness, hasn’t lost that frisson that gives a feeling of excitement when you visit. And explaining that frisson is easy: it comes straight from the sense of inextinguishable passion exuding from John and Sandy Wyer.

Who says the don’t make divas like they used to? Shannen Keane’s Diva restaurant is divaness personified.

Shannen Keane’s Diva is, indeed, a diva. It’s a star performer, a top-of-the-bill act, the headliner, the name above the title.
And that means that Ms Keane is the Culinary Callas, a stylish performer with a culinary voice that is uniquely hers. She can go, effortlessly, from the High C of a chicken lahksa, all chill and coriander notes, to the deep bass of a soulful bowl of beef and barley soup, and everything is comfortably within her range.

Joining the queue at K.C. & Son & Sons is almost as much fun as eating the smashing food. Almost.

Here’s two things about the queue of hungry people at K.C. & Son & Sons, in the tony suburb of Douglas, in Cork city.
First: the queue of people is forever. It’s always there. It’s there when they open, and it’s pretty much there when they close.
Secondly: it’s the nicest queue of people you have ever stood in. Everyone is in great form. It’s a chatty queue – the young woman with her pals queueing behind us, sensing that we were West Cork know-nothings out of our zone, advised us that Douglas regulars order The Bombshell.

The chef’s table in Dublin’s Chapter One restaurant is one of the greatest experiences in dining.

Eating at the chef’s table in Dublin’s Chapter One restaurant, it’s difficult to decide which is the better entertainment: The superlative cooking? Or the considered words of chef-patron Ross Lewis, as he introduces the dishes, and talks about his cooking and his restaurant.
Even before the first little dish of beetroot with Lindi pepper arrives, Mr Lewis confesses that he tells all new staff members: “You are a hospitalitarian.”

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