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Sally's blog

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

Hey Donna, on Dublin's Dame Street, is delivering the big, big flavours, and big fun.

Joe Macken has always known how to put the funky into flavour, and how to mix fun into food.
His restaurant rooms are amongst the most clubbable, witty and exhortatory of Dublin dining spaces, and he works endlessly to polish and refine and contemporise his food offers. Macken is a self-critical restaurateur, which means his locations are always like works-in-progress, evolving to accommodate his latest discoveries, enthusiasms and obsessions.

Barbara and Andrea are the maestros of Cork's Casanova Gelato

Cork city has always attracted culinary maestros.
From great mavericks like Declan Ryan and Seamus O’Connell, through to contemporary masters such as Takashi Miyazaki and Gautham Iyer, cooks wash up on the shores of the River Lee and set to work doing creative things that succeed, even though they most likely wouldn’t spark a fire in any other Irish city.

John Reynolds changed Ireland

John Reynolds was a crazy maverick who changed Ireland.
Before Mr Reynolds took his club and music promotion experience beyond the Pod in Dublin and into the festival world, most particularly the creation of Electric Picnic, festivals were big music bashes where the punters were treated like cattle.
The food was dire, the facilities were dire, and the sense of being ripped-off whilst being a captive in a big field never went away.

Laura Caulwell's cooking in Storyboard is a cultural opus.

Anyone planning a visit to the Memorial Gardens in Phoenix Park on the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, might consider calling into nearby Storyboard, Laura Caulwell’s stylish café.
The cafe is well placed, also, for visitors to IMMA and Kilmainham Gaol – situated in Islandbridge in a minimal room that blazes with sunlight when the clouds part. The room feels like a cultural space, with its education-style chairs and modern museum-style architecture that exposes all the functional and structural elements of the room.

Dublin's Bread 41 is totally rockin' it.

Here’s a prediction for you: we’re prepared to wager that there are folk who will become devotees of Eoin Cluskey’s Bread 41, and who will never, ever, buy a loaf of sourdough, the very bread that is the speciality of this Dublin city bakery.
Instead, they will join the queue – there is always a queue, always – and then they will happily ask for: a batch loaf.
That’s right: a batch loaf. Cotton wool bread personified. A big blob of blandness. Except...

Hadskis in Belfast is firing out some pretty darn perfect food.

If there were just one dish that sums up the ethos and style of Niall McKenna's Hadskis, then it might be their cheesy Parmesan truffle chips.
It’s not just the crispy, cheesy spuds themselves, but also the cheery way in which this little saucepan of deliciousness is served - along with witty cracks about how they’re ready to call the ambulance when you’ve got through it. It’s mighty.

Leeside food hero Mirco Fondrini gets his name above the door in the lovely da Mirco

Here’s what you will be saying to your friends after dinner in Cork’s da Mirco Osteria:
“Abbiamo passato la serata in allegria”: We had a really joyful evening.
The key word here, the key term that defines Mirco Fondrini’s lovely eating house, is: allegria. It means happiness, cheerfulness, joy, and M. Fondrini brings you to that state thanks to joyful cooking, effervescent wines, and his own buoyant, soulful service.

Tom Spruce's elegant cooking will have you sailing the ferry over to Waterford Castle

There is something utterly other-worldly in the experience of enjoying the elegant cooking of Tom Spruce, in the timeless cocoon of Waterford Castle’s dining room.

Mr Spruce’s serene cooking, in these most gorgeous surroundings, makes for a special dining experience. And, of course, the fact that you take a short ferry ride over the water to the island to eat and stay in a castle does, indeed, make this an other-worldly event.

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