GALWAY

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS - Assi­ette méditer­ranéenne Coq au vin, Côte de boeuf mer poêlée de la the

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 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.

THE WIND­ING STAIR

Lower Or­mond Quay, Dublin 1Dublin, wind­ing-stair.com ¤¤¤ Older Dublin­ers will re­mem­ber The Wind­ing Stair as a cof­fee shop on the sec­ond floor of a bookshop named af­ter a Yeats poem. Through­out the 70s, 80s and 90s, it was thronged with stu­dents, writ­ers and Ire­land’s bo­hemi­ans who drank cheap tea and clutched dog-eared po­etry books. Elaine Mur­phy took over the up­stairs space in 2006 and opened a so­phis­ti­cated but un­fussy din­ing room serv­ing the best of sea­sonal, Ir­ish in­gre­di­ents.

In my eat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, The Wind­ing Stair lost its way tem­po­rar­ily af­ter half-a-decade as one of the best restau­rants in the city. I vis­ited twice in 2012 to find the staff fraz­zled and the menu a bit tired. Had the rest of the res­tau­rant scene caught up and over­taken The Wind­ing Stair or had the team taken too many knocks dur­ing the height of the re­ces­sion?

A re­cent re­turn visit , how­ever, found ev­ery­thing to be back on form. The staff were in­for­ma­tive, fast and happy. As al­ways, ev­ery dish was proudly built around at least one, some­times two or three, spe­cial Ir­ish in­gre­di­ent; like the pot­ted Din­gle Bay crab that sim­ply showed off the Kerry crus­tacean, or the pick­led pear salad paired with shaved Killeen’s goat cheese and driz­zles of High Bank Farm syrup, or the Ir­ish cheese board for dessert. It re­mains a great place to bring visi­tors from over­seas and lo­cals alike who want to travel the coun­try through their taste buds.

In the last two years, Mur­phy and her team have been busy open­ing The Woollen Mills around the cor­ner and, just last month, The Wash­er­woman in Glas­nevin. But it ap­pears that they haven’t for­got­ten about The Wind­ing Stair; per­haps these new open­ings have even helped breathe new life into their orig­i­nal din­ing room over-look­ing The Lif­fey. Check out their great value posh lunch where you can get three cour­ses and a glass of the house white or red for ¤29.95.

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

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