As you walk into the front door, directly ahead is a small dry-goods pantry, where the team at The Tide Full Inn – run by Marianne Krause and Joseph Hayden – sell a well- chosen selection of goodies. There is DeCecco pasta, Ortiz anchovies and Periquin smoked paprika among the extra virgin olive oils and Modena balsamic vinegars.
The wine list is short and predominantly Italian, though a few French, Spanish and New Zealand bottles get a look-in. There is also a house white and a house red on tap, at ¤6 for a quarter litre. Irish craft beer is represented by bottles of Stonewell Cider (¤5.20), and the full 8 Degrees Brewing range (¤4.90 per bottle). Non-drinkers are well looked after thanks to the Luscombe range of lemonades, made in Devon, England.
There is good-quality bread and olives to start (¤3.50), and the pizzas are dazzlingly enormous. The La Mamma pizza (¤12) on the Pizza Bianco (a pizza with a mozzarella base instead of tomato sauce) calls out to me. I’m rewarded with a monster personal pizza topped with melted gorgonzola, dotted with chunks of Italian sausage and slices of mushroom. The Dolomiti (¤13.50) features a tomato sauce with mozzarella, porcini mushrooms, and speck, topped with large handfuls of crispy rocket. Also on the menu are crowd-pleasing pasta dishes such as lasagna (¤9) and the locavore-friendly linguine with Clarinbridge clams (¤12). The locals who recommended The Tide Full Inn were right; this pizza is really good. They’re open every day, except Tuesdays, from noon to 10pm. Keep them in mind for your next adventure out West.
51 Lower Dominick St, Galway 091-449252 dela.ieg Wife and husband Margaret and Joe Bohan opened Dela in 2013, in the space that used to house JP McMahon’s Cava restaurant. The menu offers comfort food classics such as steamed Killary mussels with chorizo, fennel and white wine (¤6.50 starter) and the dela sweet potato tagine Hot Pot (¤14.50).
I’m curious about the Middle and Far Eastern influences that
38TalbotStreet Dublin1 lainemylove.com FergBrown,founderofcoffee shopandroasterRoastedBrown, isa persondevotedto his craft. Thatmaysoundlikeanempty cliché, but inthiscase, it’strue. I don’tknowFergverywell,but everytimeIhearhimspeakor readwordshe’s writtenabout the Irishcoffeescene, Igetthesense thathehasa conscientious approachtohis work,with exactingstandardsandadrive to alwaysdobetter.
Acouple ofyearsago, Roasted Brownhadacoffeestallatthe ElectricPicnic witha great vantagepoint ofthefestival crowd.Ferg andhisbarista colleagueswere surveyingthe standardfestivalsceneof Penney’swelliesandcontrived festivalbohochicwhenthey spottedawomaninalong, goldendress walkingalong the greenmeadowofthefestival run through the vegetarian options in the brunch and dinner menus. The appearance of a falafel and hummus on a Scandi-inspired Irish restaurant, among the free-range mustard chicken and seared steak sandwiches, feels a little off message. But it all tastes great. The veggie breakfast (¤8.50) comes with crispy falafel and a lightly battered cauliflower pakora. Paired with fried potatoes, mushrooms, eggs and fried tomatoes, it’s a big plate of food and a welcome hangover buster. My buttermilk pancakes (¤8.50) are made in the American style, stacked tall on the plate, drizzled with maple syrup and served with good-quality bacon.
The breakfast burrito is not a breakfast option I’m a fan of – too messy, too big, too Guy Fieri – but Dela does an elegant job of it. The brunch burrito (¤7.50) is wrapped in a toasty tortilla that doesn’t go soggy halfway through. The flavours of the scrambled eggs, the relish and the coriander and lime salsa are balanced well. Dela is open for brunch and dinner only.
The Curragower Pub
Clancy’s Strand, Limerick 061-321788 curragower.com ¤ LookingoutontotheRiver Shannon,acrossthewater fromKingJohn’sCastle,isthe CurragowerBarandRestaurant. Alongwithhis businesspartner BrianMurphy, CianBourke inheritedthebarin2008.
Undertheir watch, the Curragowerhasbecome renownedforitsfoodoffering, gettingnods fromMcKennas’ Guides,GeorginaCampbell and theIrish RestaurantAwards, amongothers.Curragowerchef BarryHayeshasa selectionof gourmetsandwiches,salads, soupsandspecialson offerfor grounds,andthey werestruckby howmuchshestoodapartfrom thecrowd. Ferg builtacharacter basedonthis ideaofafreespirit marchingtothebeat ofherown drumandchristenedherLaine.
Inmid-May,RoastedBrown openedtheir secondcoffeeshop inDublinandcalleditLaine, My Love, asalittle-sistercafé totheir shopinFilmbase,Temple Bar, andtheir micro-roasteryin Delgany,Co Wicklow.
Laine,MyLovesitsunderthe railwaybridgeonTalbotSt,a stone’sthrowfromConnolly Station.Whenthey started redesigningthespaceto makeit fitfortheir purpose, theypulled uptheoldfloorboardsand discoveredan original gold-speckedcementfloor,a coincidencethatharkedbackto thatgirlinthegolddressatthe ElectricPicnic.
ThecaféisanL-shapedspace, anotherunintentionaltribute to thecafé’smuse.Apartfromafew shiningstars suchasViceCoffee Incon MiddleAbbeySt,Kimchiat TheHopHouseand147Delion ParnellSt,theareaaround TalbotStreetiscuriouslylacking inpositivelunchexperiences.
“We’vealreadybeenhaving conversationswithourcustom- lunchtime,while anextended menuisoffered atdinnertime thatincludesdishessuchasthe CurragowerFallsBurgerand DingleBayCrabClaws.
Alocal tellsmethatthe seafoodchowder(¤7.50)isa must, andit livesuptothehype. Pinkpiecesofsalmon,plump musselsfrom Doolinandchunks ofspudsliewithin theexcellent creamysoupbase.
It’sagenerous portion, servedwithtwo slicesofgood homemadebrownbread.Abowl offat,goldenchips(¤3.50) make agreattool forchowder dipping. Theclubsalad(¤11.90) impresses,too. Thislargeplateof crunchysaladleavesistopped withstrips ofsaltybaconand toastedcroutons.
Shreddedchunksofmoist chickensoakupasmoked tomatodressing,while a hard-boiledeggmakesthis a saladyourGrannywouldbe proudtoserve.
30 Mallow St, Limerick wearecanteen.com ¤ I’m sitting at a counter in a small café, just off Limerick City’s main thoroughfare. The sun streams in, shining a spotlight on a wooden tray in front of me holding a plump, moist blueberry muffin (¤3.50), freshly baked in-house, and a petite flat white (¤2.80), made with Badger and Dodo coffee and served in a small 7oz cup, just as I like it.
Opened three years ago by Paul Williams, the mission of Canteen is to serve honest fast food. For lunch, there are wraps, salads and hearty meals such as the Amazing Organic Meatballs (¤9) lunch box. I choose a lunch box of a Persian Stew (¤8.50), a light vegetarian stew served with couscous. I’m glad I’ve ordered the excellent house-made dukkah (50c) as a topping, as it gives the stew a welcome personality boost. The staff ersaroundthesizes andthe temperatureofthecoffeewe’re serving,”RoastedBrown team memberRobLewissaysovera jugoffilteredsweet, syrupy Burundianmurutacoffee.
“WhatI’ve alwayslikedabout RoastedBrown isthatthey care aboutthecoffeethey’reserving you,but theyarealsocareful to sharetheirenthusiasm inan really make my visit. Barista Dalton knows everything about the menu and his coffee is flawless.
Waitress Tiffany delivers attentive service. I’m impressed at how well they communicate the ethos of Canteen. A great spot for coffee and a perfect blueberry muffin, or something more substantial.
Sweet Beat Café
Opendbyraw-foodchef CarolanneRusheinApriloflast year,SweetBeatCaféisplantbased,asopposedtovegan.“We believethatthetermplant-based ismoreaccessible. Sometimes peoplefearthewordveganand areafraid to tryitoutbecauseof certainnegativeconnotations attachedtoit. Butplant-based alsoreflectswhatwedo.Thefact thatweusehoneyin someofour bakingandrecipesmeansweare notactuallyvegan. Ourmenuis 90per centvegan.” Forlunch, I choosetheSweetBeat3in1 (¤10.95).It’s aplate oftheir daily saladandacupoftheirdailysoup -today’sisbulgarwheatwith butterbeansandbutternut squash, alsothekey ingredientin thesoup.
Thereisa dollopofchilliand corianderhummus,andafew slicesoflightlypickledcucumbersontop. Thebreadistoasted andtopped withavocado.Instead ofcoffee, Ioptfora gingerkefir (¤3.50)whichhasadelicatefizz andjusttherightamountofspicy gingerness.
Calry Court Stephen’s St, Sligo facebook.com/misosligo ¤¤ Head Chef and owner Nae accessibleway.They don’tmake youfeelbad ifyoudon’tknow yournaturallyprocessed single-originBrazilianbeans fromyourVietnameserobusta, butthey’llhelpyoufigureout why theformerisabetterbet for coffeeappreciation.
ThemanageratLaine,My LoveisTimeaDemeterova,who isalsoRoastedBrown’shead Young Jung brings out our Kimchi Jeon ( ¤7.50), a large savoury pancake, pan-fried and drawing on the flavours of kimchi, the spicy fermented cabbage that accompanies most Korean meals. It’s sticky and spicy in all the right spots. I’m beyond pleased when my Bibimbap (¤13.50 with an egg) arrives with my very own squeezy bottle of spicy sauce, laced with gochujang. The success of a bibambap – a bowl of rice and freshly shredded vegetables that can come with beef or tofu – relies on a large dose of the spicy sauce so be generous.
The optional egg on top arrives cooked with a soft yolk, instead of a raw egg that gets cooked by the sizzling hot stone bowl in my favoured incarnation of this dish. I miss the sticky crispiness that this serving technique brings to a bibambap, but it’s a gratifying dinner nonetheless.
The Japanese influence on the menu is largely designated to the sushi section, while the larger meals include Korean favourites such as beef bulgogi (¤17.50) galbi jeongsik (¤19.50), and my aforementioned bibambap.
The menu seems pretty set but they keep things interesting by changing their roll of the day every day. They source their fish locally from Killybegs and the silky fish in the Tuna Roll (¤10.50) is a testament to freshness.
32 O’Connell St, Sligo 071-9141575 knoxsligo.ie/ ¤¤ Patrick Sweeney and David Dunne opened Knox in May 2015, after leaving their careers in banking to follow their dream of opening a food business. Their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, and they won Best Café in Sligo in the Connaught round of the Irish Restaurant baristatrainer, soshe’s usedto guidingpeoplethroughtheir burgeoningcoffeeawareness.
Food-wise,cakesare currentlysuppliedbyLove SupremeinStoneybatterandthe breadisfromthepraiseworthy Dublinbakery LeLevainwhich alsosuppliestheFumballyCafé amongothers.Everythingelse is madein-house, withchefJill Hardingatthehelm. My sandwichisthehoneyandclove bakedham(¤6),aLeLevainbun stuffedwithgentlymeltedbrie andatangyyetsweetredpepper relish.
Otheroptionsincludea vegetariansandwichwith beetroot,carrot andhummus, dailysaladsanda dailysoup. Thereisa shortbreakfastmenu, andthepancetta, poachedbear andbrie servedina briochebun (¤6.50) soundslike justtheticket foranearly morningpick-me-up onthewaytowork.
RoastedBrown’slittlesister willbea boonfornearbyoffice workersandcommuterspassing byon theirwayfromthetrainto theirdesks.Thecharmingimage ofa loneindividualinagolden dressmightprovideyouwith someinspiration, too. Awards earlier this year.
The kitchen team is led by Shane Meehan and Kai Puls, and their cakes and muffins are baked by Stacy McGowan. Knox St was what O’Connell St was known pre-1920, and the original street sign hangs on the wall of the café, a present from a customer who unearthed it for Sweeney and Dunne.
The duo launched a bistrostyle evening menu in October 2015 but have since redirected their nighttime offering in the direction of tapas, which feels more in keeping with the informal style of the business. Served from 6pm to 10pm, Thursday through Saturday, the menu is economically priced and includes tapas stalwarts such as charcuterie boards (¤12) alongside inventive specials such as plates of scallops with crispy chicken skin and bites of ham hock terrine.
For breakfast, I go for a pot of crunchy house granola (¤4.50). It’s generous in size and the proportion of granola to yogurt and fruit is well judged. It’s an example of the substance behind pleasant presentation at Knox. I also indulge in the heartier option of the Sligo Breakfast Bap (¤7), which is made up of a meat patty made for Knox by Sheerin’s Butchers in Ballymoate.
I felt the coffee could be improved. Though it’s made with Grumpy Mule beans, a UK-based roastery of good repute, I wonder if a roaster closer to home would fit in more with Knox’s food offering, but this may be my personal coffee patriotism kicking in.
Overall, I admire what Sweeney and Dunne have done. They’ve taken their experiences as customers and applied it to their own space, by sourcing good produce and bringing in culinary talent such as McGowan, whose muffins are worth writing home about . . .