Lucinda’s best of 2016

Af­ter 12 months of the good, the bad and The Don­ald, Lucinda O’Sul­li­van gives you her 12 hottest din­ing ex­pe­ri­ences of the year, which in­clude a rock­ing Chi­nese, a Miche­lin-starred mar­ket cafe, and the ir­re­press­ible Prez

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - APPETITES -

It’s been a busy, buzzy year on the din­ing scene, as eater­ies at all lev­els are open­ing apace. With a whole new wave of young chefs chal­leng­ing the more staid es­tab­lish­ment fig­ures, we’ve now got restau­rants and cafes in old train car­riages and on buses, and we’ve had a tiny restau­rant in a mar­ket,

loo, awarded a Miche­lin star. As we’re wind­ing down the 12 days of Christ­mas, here are my 12 hottest din­ing ex­pe­ri­ences of 2016.


Ticket to Ride The train may not have left the sta­tion at Glenlo Abbey Ho­tel in Gal­way, but chef Alan McAr­dle’s food on board the Pull­man Restau­rant in Jan­uary was Miche­lin standard. Set in two ex­quis­ite orig­i­nal car­riages from the Ori­ent Express, we sat in a dreamy car­riage with in­laid wood pan­elling, an­tique lace cur­tains and fine china, din­ing on duck, foie gras and bel­uga lentil

con­fit jus. See glen­loabbey­ho­

Room With No Loo “Fine din­ing doesn’t have to be a stuffy af­fair; they are dish­ing up

with­out any haugh­ti­ness”, I said, on re­view­ing Heron & Grey last Fe­bru­ary. Set in a tiny room with no loo, let alone a view, in Black­rock Mar­ket, An­drew Heron and Damien Grey served a tast­ing menu to die for, go­ing on to win this year’s only new Miche­lin star for Ireland, with the re­sul­tant stam­pede see­ing them booked out un­til Au­gust 2017.

cui­sine See hero­nand­ haute

Su­nil’s Pickle Su­nil Ghai brought a new en­ergy to In­dian street food with his Pickle Eat­ing House on Dublin’s Cam­den Street in Fe­bru­ary, recre­at­ing the faded el­e­gance of the old Irani cafes of Mum­bai. Try fish & chips as you’ve never had it be­fore — bone­less sea bream with crab chut­ney, ‘mi­cro-chips’ and pick­les.

tawa machi, See pick­lerestau­

Big Ap­ple Asian With great cock­tails, and food by chef Tao Trakool­wat­tana, Paul Cad­den ex­panded from Claren­don Street to Bag­got Street in April, with a stun­ning New York-style Saba restau­rant and bar. Don’t miss the Viet­namese sum­mer rolls.


Star-stud­ded In­dian Nisheeth Tak’s Rasam In­dian Restau­rant in Glasthule is the haunt of ev­ery­one from Miriam O’Cal­laghan to Chris de Burgh, and Pat Kenny to star Jessie Wal­lace. The food and at­mos­phere is bril­liant, with Satur­day nights be­ing a who’s-who of fa­mous faces. The new menu has re­cently been launched — try the kokum fish curry from Ker­ala. See


No Reser­va­tions It has a no-book­ings pol­icy, so I sat out­side John and Sandy Wyer’s new For­est & Marcy, on Up­per Lee­son Street, wait­ing for it to open. It’s a chic jewel, with ex­quis­ite con­tem­po­rary Scandi-Ir­ish food by chef Ciaran Sweeney. Ex­pect lots of crispy-fish-skin tweaks. Try the whipped bran­dade, it’s won­der­ful!

See fore­stand­

Miche­lin Pizza You don’t ac­tu­ally ex­pect to have your pizza cooked by a Miche­lin-starred chef, but the fact that Os­te­ria Lu­cio on Grand Canal Quay is owned by Ross Lewis of Chap­ter One raises the bar. They also serve fab­u­lous re­gional Ital­ian dishes. Sit­ting out front, in July, with a cock­tail and an Apis pizza of spicy salami, honey and basil, was wow.

See os­te­ri­alu­

Gas­tro Gaz Some chefs re­ally do ‘flavour’ bet­ter than oth­ers, and Gareth ‘Gaz’ Smith, chef pa­tron of Clonskeagh House, which opened in Au­gust in D6, just cracks it. As well as rib-eye burg­ers, Smith can turn out a or a

that knocks your socks off.

daube de boeuf gratin See clonskeagh­ lan­gous­tine

Il Nu­mero Uno Ital­iano At­tend­ing Savour Kilkenny in Oc­to­ber gave me the per­fect ex­cuse to visit the di­vine Rin­uc­cini, lo­cated in the shadow of Kilkenny Cas­tle. Run by the de­light­ful Cava­liere fam­ily, there’s sim­ply noth­ing like it in Dublin. Wines are im­ported from Italy, and the mouth­wa­ter­ing food is exquisitely ex­e­cuted. An­to­nio’s

is ethe­real.

di Gor­gonzola See rin­uc­ ravi­oli alla crema

The Ma­hara­jah’s Cas­tle In Oc­to­ber, we also headed out Wesht to the Owen­more Restau­rant in Bal­ly­nahinch Cas­tle in Con­nemara, where su­perb chef Ul­tan Cooke de­liv­ers on food that is com­plex, con­tem­po­rary and de­li­cious. The cas­tle, once owned by an In­dian Ma­hara­jah, is just amaz­ing and very dif­fer­ent.

See bal­ly­nahinch-cas­

Rock­ing Chi­nese For­get jingly Chi­nese mu­sic and sloshy stir-fries, Karl Whe­lan and Will Dempsey’s new Hang Dai on Cam­den Street rocks. Hit­ting the ground run­ning in Novem­ber with lots of glam cock­tails and a touch of Suzie Wong sassi­ness, it’s like sit­ting in a Shangai Metro with the cast from a Bond movie. Duck is the star of the show here, cooked on an open wood-burn­ing oven.


Hote­lier of the Year From Kennedy to Obama, all Amer­i­can pres­i­dents have laid claim to the old sod, but Don­ald Trump is the only one who ac­tu­ally owns a spread here! He’s cer­tainly win­ning the pop­u­lar vote in Doon­beg, Co Clare, and they’ll love him even more now ev­ery Repub­li­can sup­porter in Amer­ica is go­ing to be fly­ing in on their heli­copters to be able to say they played golf at Pres­i­dent Trump’s Ho­tel. The for­mer Lodge at Doon­beg is a su­perb place, with won­der­ful decor and food, and a de­light­ful, friendly staff, headed up by gen­eral man­ager Joe Rus­sell. It was pure bliss sit­ting in the Ocean View Restau­rant, look­ing out at the At­lantic, while en­joy­ing a su­perb seafood risotto washed down by a fine Riesling.

See trumpho­

Happy Christ­mas to you all.


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