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Sally's blog

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

Off The Beaten Track - Wexford: Killiane Castle

Killiane Castle is a pure treat, an unpretentious, warm family home. Paul Mernagh and his family have created a cocoon of comfort in this fine house – and castle tower – and of special note is some scrummy cooking, both at dinner and breakfast. The stars of our recent dinner were impeccable potatoes from Carne, and beetroot and carrots from Paul’s garden, but everything was super-delicious.

Off The Beaten Track - Galway: Armorica

If you love the French concept of the restaurant-with-rooms, then you will love Natasha and Nicolas’s Armorica, on the main street of little Oranmore. It’s an easy detour from the N18, the rooms are simple and charming, and the cooking brings French provincial richness to superlative West Coast ingredients – Friendly Farmer chicken with petits pois a la Francaise; hake with burned aubergine; a stunning chocolate moelleux. Make sure to order omelette for breakfast; you won’t find a better rolled omelette anywhere in Ireland.

Off The Beaten Track - Donegal & Antrim: The Foyle Hotel & Bothy Coffee

The Foyle Hotel, Moville, Co Donegal
Brian McDermott is a legendary figure in County Donegal, and he is back in the kitchen in the hip new Foyle Hotel, right in the centre of the village. Mr McDermott’s food is calm, classic and polished: Mulroy Bay mussels with cider, barley and parsley; salt water-cured cod fillet; Malin head crab linguini. Comfy rooms upstairs, and how marvellous to see this fine old hotel restored to its glory.

Off The Beaten Track - Dublin: Farmhouse Cafe

If it wasn’t enough that the Farmhouse Cafe is serving their own farm pork, veg and salad leaves and making soups and casseroles from scratch in a corner of a Safety Superstore on the Longmile Road, Susan O’Sullivan’s cafe has expanded and now includes a bakery, with weekly sourdough, daily batch loaves and honestly, just about the best sandwiches in Dublin. For not only is the superb bread made on the premises, but the chicken is roasted, the ham boiled, the gammon slow cooked, the Emmental cut, and Dexter Beef roasted.

Off The Beaten Track - Mayo: Butler & Byrne, Cong, Co Mayo

Aisling and Jonathan put Cong on the map with their delectable cooking in The Hungry Monk – the chocolate roulade; the baked Irish ham and cheddar sandwich; the fresh, sweet scones with jam – and with a beautiful new space called Butler & Byrne they have even more goodies to tempt you right to the centre of pretty Cong village: do not miss the Mayo magic this pair put on every plate.

Robbie and Elaine are mining the creative spirit of West Cork in their beautiful new Ballydehob destination, Restaurant Chestnut.

Robbie Krawczyk has always been good at reimagining things.
Years ago, when he was setting out on his cheffing career, we gave him an award in a competition for a dish where he reimagined a seafood dish as a day at the beach.
When Aoife Cox enjoyed his cooking at Tankardstown House, she described how “Rob makes his ingredients work hard – they come to the diners’ table in occasionally surprising guises...”

A reflection on Anthony Bourdain, by Leslie Williams

A light went out in the food world on Friday.  I had the enormous privilege of interviewing the late great Anthony Bourdain on two occasions for this site and his sad passing has left me rather bereft, I’m feeling a little like I did when I heard Joe Stummer died having barely reached 50 – I think Bourdain would approve of the comparison.  He was a dream interviewee – opinionated, precise in his thoughts, witty, focused and often profound and he had so much more to give the world.

Peter Everett is the local-boy-made-good, and his elegant Waterford restaurant is the talk of the South-east writes Eamon Barrett

A friend asked me last year what I thought of a particular starred restaurant that she knew I had eaten in. 

Before I had a chance to answer, she proffered her own view: ’I find that food stressful’. I knew exactly what she meant – food which had been overworked to within an each of its life, and visions of stressed-out chefs with tweezers agonising over the placement of a garnish.

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