TOP TIP­PLE GALWAY

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS | EATING OUT - Beurre a l’Ail, Mai­son assi­ette méditer­ranéenne Coq au vin, Côte de boeuf mer Patés poêlée de la the Es­car­gots

clear broth with ver­mi­celli noo­dles.

The Bún bo hue (¤9.20) is a large bowl of broth and noo­dles, more of that Viet­namese sausage, and wafer-thin sliv­ers of beef and pork. It’s served with a plate of herbs such as mint and co­rian­der, lime, chilli oil and bean sprouts to mix to your lik­ing.

Stick to the soups and fresh dishes here and you’ll eat well.

LA MAI­SON

15 Castle Mar­ket, Dublin 2, 01-672 7258 lamaison­dublin.com ¤¤ A rare fine evening had the city scram­bling for a sunny seat for din­ner re­cently. While I wait on my din­ner date on the ter­race of La Mai­son, I count no less than five other groups plead­ing – to no avail – for a ta­ble. Aper­i­tifs al­ways taste bet­ter when you’ve re­mem­bered to book a ta­ble. Ev­ery­thing about La Mai­son is French. Very, very French: the dé­cor, the wait­ers, the heavy nap­kins, the tiny ta­bles per­fect for in­ti­mate soirees – and the menu, which is lib­er­ally doused in wine, cream and clas­sics such as

(snails in gar­lic but­ter) ¤11.50 and

(the house patés – a pork ril­lete, chicken liver par­fait, chunky coun­try ter­rine and pick­les), ¤9.50. The menu is split into en­trees, fish, meat and sides. The

is a good shared starter: a large plat­ter of fresh bread sur­rounded by bowls of olives, pick­les, salsa, sun blushed toma­toes and cheese - a gen­er­ous serv­ing for ¤8.50. Fish mains in­clude tur­bot and a spe­cial of black sole (a pricey ¤33) while car­ni­vores are of­fered more clas­sic French dishes such as duck breast and a

for two (¤59). Our mains are very at­trac­tive: the monk­fish (¤23) comes perched atop a bright or­ange shell­fish and chorizo risotto with as­para­gus and sam­phire. The risotto is good, with a dense pa­prika and chorizo smok­i­ness, but the monk­fish is slightly over­cooked and chewy. A bet­ter op­tion is the

(¤18.50), a cop­per skil­let crammed with large chunks of cod, salmon and potato, fat mus­sels and sliv­ers of tomato in a frothy white-wine sauce. The fish is fresh and flaky, fall­ing into the sauce that re­quires more bread to mop up ev­ery last drop. Por­tions are large so we forgo sides, which them­selves are siz­able but a skil­let of roast pota­toes on the next ta­ble looks very good in­deed. Seat­ing in­side is over two floors . Down­stairs is more charm­ing, though slightly crowded, but the ter­race seats make for the best ex­pe­ri­ence. Close your eyes and you could al­most – al­most – be in Paris.

PEP­PER POT CAFÉ

Pow­er­scourt Town House Cen­tre, South Wil­liam St, Dublin 2, tel: 01-707 1610, thep­ep­per­pot.ie ¤ Wrap­ping around the first mez­za­nine level of the Pow­er­scourt Cen­tre, this is a bustling lit­tle café with some of the best scram­bled eggs in Dublin. Pos­si­bly best. There, I said it.

With its cut­sie mis­matched table­cloths and crock­ery, it has a ram­shackle, homely ap­peal. It’s open from 10am to 6pm – the Pow­er­scourt open­ing SMOKEY AP­PLE JULEP Sum­mer, that most tardy of sea­sons, is fi­nally here, and the roof bar of the Marker Ho­tel in Grand Canal is a great spot for cool cock­tails. We like this not-too-sweet julep cre­ated by Micheál O’Shea.

In­gre­di­ents

40ml John­nie Walker Gold La­bel Re­serve

Golden De­li­cious 10ml fresh le­mon 10ml ap­ple liqueur 6 x fresh mint leaf Sparkling ap­ple juice hours. The menu in­cludes an all-day break­fast – those creamy scram­bled eggs with mush­rooms and toast (¤7.50) hit the spot at any time of day. There’s also or­ganic por­ridge (¤4) with top­pings such as roasted pear or banana and honey. There’s a soup of the day (¤5), on the day we visit it is an ex­cel­lent wild Ir­ish mush­room with tar­ragon and a splodge of whipped feta. You can get sand­wiches – the Mount Cal­lan ched­dar with ba­con and roast pear (¤6.50) is par­tic­u­larly good – plus home­made bagels, tarts and sal­ads. There are al­ways a cou­ple of spe­cials – a huge, free range Pigs on the Green pulled pork sambo on fo­cac­cia with caramelised onion and pickle (¤11.50) looks very good, but we opt for a big bowl of that soup with home­made brown bread heav­ily laced with seeds and a slab of but­ter.

You can add a cup of soup to any main course for ¤2.50. A salad of pan fried goat’s cheese with Gubeen chorizo and vine toma­toes may have lost the toma­toes en route from the kitchen, but the fatty discs of chorizo and the thick slice of cheese, coated in po­lenta and fried golden were very, very good. Staff are busy but very friendly here, and it’s a bril­liant spot to watch the world go by. A real treat.

SCIENCE GALLERY CAFÉ

Naughton In­sti­tute, Pearse Street, Trin­ity Col­lege, Dublin 2, dublin.sci­ence­gallery.com/ café ¤¤ This bustling, tri­an­gu­lar café narrows to a per­fect point in the wedge-shaped Naughton build­ing. Serv­ing break­fasts, lunches, and host­ing lots of events linked to ex­hi­bi­tions in the gallery, it’s a fun, fre­netic place to come for a cof­fee, ex­cel­lent pas­tries, piz­zas, sal­ads or a bowl of stewp – a stew/soup hy­brid served from noon un­til clos­ing time (usu­ally 8pm). It’s the kind of place you come for a cuppa and end up get­ting caught up in an experiment or scrib­bling on a black­board.

Notic­ing a rare lull on week­end morn­ings, the cafe has just launched its Beta

Method

Shake the ap­ple, le­mon, liqueur and John­nie Walker Gold La­bel Re­serve to­gether and strain into a julep mug with freshly slapped mint. Add crushed ice and a dash of sparkling ap­ple juice. Gar­nish with a de­hy­drated ap­ple slice Brunch, from noon to 3pm ev­ery Satur­day and Sun­day. This four-course brunch kicks off with fresh fruit punch – with or with­out rum. When we visit it’s ap­ple and ginger served in lab flasks, with a smaller flask of or­ange juice to mix to taste. The menu is set – a bread and dip course, a ce­real course, an eggy course and dessert – and while you have to choose be­tween gra­nola and pud­ding, the rest is cho­sen for you; sur­pris­ingly com­fort­ing for some rather ten­der heads who have been out cel­e­brat­ing the same-sex mar­riage ref­er­en­dum re­sult.

There are plat­ters of dense but­ter­milk bread stud­ded with wal­nuts, sweet flecks of onion and fresh herbs and served with a de­li­cious whipped goats cheese with herb oil and dukkah. A choice of gra­nola with stewed figs and a chai flavoured yo­ghurt was deemed su­pe­rior to a “frog-spawny” chia seed pud­ding with pre­served berries and ed­i­ble flow­ers (although the lat­ter won on aes­thet­ics). You’re re­minded of your sci­en­tific sur­round­ings when a wild gar­lic omelette is ac­com­pa­nied by herb-flavoured mal­todex­trin dust. The flavour is so faint it’s more for show, but there’s also more fa­mil­iar ba­con and as­para­gus to bring you back to Planet Brunch.

Dessert is again very pretty but very sweet – a tri­fle of goose­berry and le­mon, vi­o­let sugar and crushed ginger nut bis­cuits. It costs ¤25 each, in­clud­ing lo­cal Cloud Picker cof­fee or teas such as a cold Cas­cara brew – again served in lab flasks – a light, sweet tea made from the cher­ries of the cof­fee plant. The Beta Brunch makes a fun change from the Eggs Bene­dict of­fer­ings. Great for groups.

JUN­GLE CAFE

29 Forster Street, Galway, 091-530 729, face­book.com/ Jun­gleCafeGal­way ¤ This place does ex­actly what it says on the tin – it’s a lit­tle palm tree-in­hab­ited trop­i­cal oa­sis, of­fer­ing welcome respite from the hus­tle of Eyre Square around the cor­ner (and two rowdy hen par­ties bar­relling past into town).

On a rainy Galway day, the open-air seat­ing is sur­pris­ingly cosy, un­der­neath its cor­ru­gated Per­spex roof. There’s a tiny in­door area, with a kitchen and some baris­tas mak­ing elab­o­rate de­signs on Badger and Dodo cof­fees. There’s seat­ing for only three or four peo­ple in­side, so once you’ve or­dered, it’s out to the jun­gle in the yard, filled with couches and wicker fur­ni­ture. There’s chill out mu­sic and sack cloth cov­er­ing chairs. All around, there are pots grow­ing herbs (we spy chives, dill and mint) and heads of let­tuce and even a small le­mon tree. The menu is small: half-a-dozen break­fast items, some gourmet sand­wiches, fresh smooth­ies and juices, soup and some pas­tries. There are a cou­ple of spe­cials on the board – a Ly­on­naise sand­wich (¤7) looks good – a tower of salad, mayo and pancetta topped with poached eggs, as does the Cow­boy Soup – a thick stew of tomato, ba­con and chick­peas (¤5). We’ve been ad­vised to come here to try the omelette with onion, mush­room and cheese but are too late for the break­fast menu (which fin­ishes at noon). In­stead we or­der a pitta pocket with or­ganic salad – with leaves that ac­tu­ally taste of some­thing – av­o­cado and dress­ing (¤6.50). It’s a lit­tle steep for a veg­e­tar­ian pitta, but it comes crammed with very fresh salad with shav­ings of car­rot and cu­cum­ber, and also some home­made hum­mus. The only down­side is that the pitta isn’t toasted. The baguette with fig, pro­sciutto and moz­zarella (¤7.20) does see the un­der­side of the grill – two long halves of fresh, doughy baguette are toasted un­til the cheese has bub­bled and are then topped with sweet sliv­ers of fig and lots of salty pro­sciutto and another moun­tain of those home­grown leaves. As we leave, a waiter wa­ters pots of ed­i­bles around us – great to see a small cafe be­ing so self-suf­fi­cient.

RAW

Radis­son Blu Ho­tel, Lough Atalia, Galway, 091-538 212, radis­son­hotel­gal­way.com ¤¤ Perched on the fourth floor of the Radis­son Blu Galway, RAW of­fers a sushi menu that also in­cludes a hand­ful of cold meat and veg­etable dishes. While the room re­tains a slightly cor­po­rate look from its pre­vi­ous in­car­na­tion as a meet­ing room, ser­vice is warm and friendly and the view from your ta­ble looks out over Lough Atalia to Galway Bay, where some of your din­ner has been landed. The menu is split into var­i­ous types of sushi, such as ni­giri (slices of fish on a ball of rice), maki (sushi rolls in sea­weed), temaki (hand rolled cones of fish and rice) and sashimi (slices of raw fish). Prices range from ¤4 to ¤18. There’s also an in­ter­est­ing sushi bowl (¤12) of sushi rice topped with fish in­clud­ing yel­low fin tuna and salmon, veg­gies, roe and nori (sea­weed). There’s an ex­pla­na­tion of what each dish en­tails – use­ful for peo­ple new to sushi – and you can see head chef Hisashi Ku­ma­gai work­ing away, ex­pertly as­sem­bling your din­ner. A bowl of edamame (salty steamed soy beans) is a must-have – pop­ping them out of their shell gives the same sat­is­fac­tion as pop­ping bub­ble-wrap. It’s also nice to see the price at ¤3, when so many places charge twice that these days. Maki op­tions in­clude a Cal­i­for­nia roll (¤8) with real crab (as op­posed to dread­ful pro­cessed crab sticks). There’s also a de­li­cious spi­der roll – fried soft-shell crab with av­o­cado and mus­tard cress – which has good, meaty crab and is the right bal­ance of crunchy and creamy. A plate of tuna tataki (¤13) has barely seared slices of yel­low fin, with a sake, soy and vine­gar sauce, topped with a punchy mix of spring onion, gar­lic, ginger and daikon radish. The four-course set menu (¤35) is a good way to try a num­ber of dishes. It in­cludes miso soup, and choices such as eel un­agi rolls, a sashimi se­lec­tion (the tuna is good – fatty but melt­ing), a chef’s 6-piece se­lec­tion of ni­giri and maki, and a very good Bar­bary duck breast (¤13), smoked and cut into thin sliv­ers that are dark pink in­side. It’s been mar­i­nated in mirin, sake and konbu (a type of kelp) and the ex­plo­sion of smoky, salty, umami flavours in your mouth is quite some­thing.

This is good spot for a date (ask for a win­dow seat) and you can also get take out.

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