Last year I remember reading about the Crawfish Boil that Bea’s of Bloomsbury fame held with an endless feast of Crawfish and other goodies in the arches of their Malby Street location.
This year I was fortunate to find the time to attend one of their feasts with a number of people where we had a lot of crawfish. How much crawfish? Several trays of crawfish like this:
I had no idea what a crawfish was, or how big they were but they do take a bit of work. It’s like tiny little lobster tails and most of the space is inedible either being shells, or the internals you just don’t really want to go near. I don’t know where they source them from, but we commented about how crazy many there must be in the farms that supply them since the event probably catered for hundreds over several weeks. That’s a lot of crawfish.
The crawfish are not just boiled in ordinary water. They are instead cooked in some delicious sauce that has both potatoes, chorizo and sweetcorn. The sweetcorn was probably the thing that absorbed the most flavour and was in hot competition at our table. In addition to the other sides, they served giant garlic bread that was particularly good when you dipped it in to soak up some of the juices.
To finish off the event, they handed out some super sweet raspberry frozen ices (all home made I’m guessing) and small chunks of their brownies.
Located in the heart of Dublin’s busy centre, Brasserie Sixty6 is easy to walk by, but you probably don’t want to miss the food they have on offer. The dining area is large, but it’s worth booking on a weekend as I suspect they get busy. It’s the sort of place where they call or text you to confirm your reservation. I’ll let the food speak for itself.
Short listed for one of the best Gastro pub’s in Dublin, you can tell they are trying hard to get things right with a decent cocktail menu, an interesting looking menu and a special of the day. The food is well executed, the drinks spot on and my only complaint was the low level of lighting (making photos even with my fast lens pretty tough).
Another Ranleigh restaurant that is bringing the touch of New York to the Irish shores. The owners of this place have at least another place around town, and both are considered popular options. Although we came here for dinner, I read about how popular their brunch is on weekends. I opted for the ribs which, though soft, weren’t really the best that I’ve had (tasted a bit more boiled than grilled).
A bustling Irish steak place that has a great location with a naturally lit dining area akin to sitting inside a greenhouse – perfect for an early dinner to catch the sunset. They had a decent selection of wines (as you would expect from a steakhouse) and they do an amazing set of changing bread (Guinness and a curry + chutney one on the day that I visited). The steak arrived perfectly cooked – it was pink on the inside and well rested so it remained very juicy on the inside. Steaks arrive with a couple of sides (cooked mushrooms, tomatoes) but I’d recommend ordering some salad or green vegetables as it was all very brown.
Another steak place, this time apparently part owned by one of the Irish national rugby players. Knowing that they would probably like steaks, we were not disappointed. They have several around town, but we visited the one on Pembroke Street, tucked away in a little courtyard.
The restaurant is certainly fitting for a steak restaurant – a wood panelled wall and dark green tiles on the other that reminded us part of being in a butchery. The restaurant doesn’t appear very large, so I would recommend booking. They had a strange 1:45 turn around on tables, instead of the usual 2.
They certainly know how to cook their steak, and is accompanied by a single side. You can order more for an additional €4 surcharge. Good service, topping up water and a nice experience
Jason Atherton commands respect from people in the food industry. A former Ramsey protege, he used to run the highly acclaimed Maze before opening his open restaurant, Pollen Street Social to much fanfare. Since then, his restaurant has won several awards including a Michelin star in the first year and reaching 84 in San Pelligrino’s Best 50 restaurants in the world (that ironically lists the top 100).
On special request, I took my sister there for her birthday as we like to treat each other to experiences instead of buying something for each other we will never use.
You can find his restaurant tucked around a quiet street around Mayfair. Despite being hidden, his restaurant is definitely popular with pretty much every table taken on a Monday Bank holiday.
The restaurant had food presentation spot on, although I don’t think everything worked. For example, they had recently renovated the dining room and the air conditioning was broken. On a surprisingly warm August Bank holiday I certainly noticed it when I sat down. I noticed it even more whenever I would lean back on the leather sofa back and find myself sticking to it. Hmmm. They did admittedly apologise for it post-dinner, and I can only imagine how crazy sauna like the kitchen would have been. Nevertheless, most of the food was pretty good.
They have a strong food ethic about locally sourced produce and even list the number of miles each of the major components come from. On to the food itself.
We had bread brought by a waiter accompanied by a creamy butter (easily spreadable because of the heat) and an additional cream made out of fish roe. The butter was tasty but I didn’t really enjoy the fish cream because it was a bit too fishy for me. The next “snacks” arrived in a book that opened to reveal three small bites – perfectly crisp pork crackling, a shortbread biscuit with a concentrated tomato topping and another crisp bread with some smoked cream. A great selection of textures, flavours to kick start the appetite.
The next dish was a clever mushroom cappuccino that smelled so earthy and full of rich flavours. Downed in one go but the flavour lasting a long time after.
The next dish was a clever take on a breakfast dish (bacon and eggs) and the presentation here was absolutely extraordinary. We first had the tiny little egg holder placed in front of us with a tiny teaspoon before being presented egg shells nested in hay. The tops were trimmed perfectly, not a crack in sight and each filled with a light eggy custard that reminded me of silken scrambled eggs but much creamier and rich. It had infused a smokiness bacon flavour and the tiny bits on top certainly added that dimension. I could have eaten a few of these ones if they offered.
The first dish on the tasting menu was also one of the weakest. Listed as Orkney sea scallop carpaccio, kohlrabi, frozen pink grapefruit, lemon skin puree, block olive and samphire I think the heat of the restaurant didn’t do anything good for the scallop. Delicate slices of scallops tasted a little bit too fishy and not really in a good way and I was worried I would end up with food poisoning (which I didn’t!)
Fortunately the next dish made up for the first, roasted Dorset monkfish, cauliflower, dehydrated grapes, apple & curry and spiced caramel. Soft moist fleshy fish complemented by an array of sweet, spiced flavours that disappeared very quickly.
We both opted for the lamb which was a strange choice because my sister doesn’t like but only because the other alternative was a pheasant which we both didn’t want. She was very surprised when it turned out to be a very tasty dish. Lake District rack of lamb, braised shoulder, fregula in basil, olive powder, artichoke and smoked tomato chutney. Strong flavours but not overpoweringly so, and perfectly pink lamb that melted away in your mouth.
A cute interlude with a tiny coronet filled with ice cream and topped with chocolate. A great palette cleanser and an introduction to our dessert course.
It was served with sweet corn cream covered in chocolate and some caramel popcorn
Our dessert was called “Nuances in Red” made up of yoghurt ice cream, pear in hibiscus, picked roses and hibiscus granite. Being an ice based dessert, this dish suffered a lot in the heat. The granite pretty much turned into liquid by the time we took our first spoonful despite being served from a liquid-nitrogen based bowl at the table. At the same time, the yoghurt ice cream was quickly turning back into its liquid form. Nice elements that I think I would have enjoyed more if I didn’t feel like I had to eat it so fast.
We ordered some tea and was offered some madelines as well as unnecessary but still delicious macaroons.
A wonderful evening and the quality of the food was definitely up to standard and the service impeccable. My sister even caught Jason Atherton on our way out and he was kind enough to pose for a photo. Seemed like a nice guy and deserves his reputation as a cool headed chef and restauranteur.
On my second business trip back to Dublin, we continued our eating well spree. It also happened to be the first time I ordered room service, mainly because I had a quick workout in the hotel gym and had a conference call so I didn’t really want to be eating too late. The “silver dome” service was very nice indeed. But back to the food in Dublin.
I organised for a couple of work dinners and one of my colleagues constantly mentioned, “I am yet to have a bad meal in Dublin yet!” Of course, it helps to be doing a bit of research on what is good, get some local recommendations. I do agree with his sentiment though, and as I mentioned the last time I was here, the food scene has changed. Good value meals are found if you are happy to do early bird, although still be prepared to pay London prices as some of the more popular restaurants.
Cheating a bit, here are the highlights on this trip.
The Chameleon (Indonesia)
This restaurant missed my research radar, but a friend recommended it and I’m glad they did. The specialty of the house is the Rijsttafel (rice table) or an elaborate multi-course meal of many bites. I highly recommend eating on the first floor as it has more ambiance than the downstairs. They do have traditional seating areas where you sit on cushions but I think it tends to be very uncomfortable unless you are used to sitting like that dinner.
Indonesia food is very similar to Thai or Malay foods with curries, satay and pan-fried vegetables common dishes. The Chameleon does a wonderful presentation of the food and I highly recommend a menu that contains the confit pork belly. It’s a small tiny square that melts in the mouth and jam packed full of flavour. I liked the sautéed cabbage and the fresh salad that made the meal a bit lighter.
Generous portions and friendly service match up to the Bib Gourmand recommendation given by the Michelin Guide. It also means that you have to book in advance as all the tables fill up rather quickly. The food here is traditional Irish, using locally sourced ingredients, beautifully presented and, most importantly tasting amazing.
I started with the traditional Irish chowder soup that was thick, creamy and extremely hearty. The dark bread (Guinness I think) was a perfect accompaniment, or even just good by itself. Although tempted by so many other options on the menu I continued a seafood theme with mussels and frites. The frites were just how I liked them, remaining super crunchy on the outside, super fluffy on the inside and perfect for dipping into the sauce that came with the mussels. Unnecessarily so, the mussels came with brown shrimp and mayonnaise on toast for that extra decadence. I wasn’t the only person to be impressed by the execution with one person claiming the steak was the best one they had eaten for a long time and a thumbs up on the pork belly.
I couldn’t resist trying the ginger cake – a lighter alternative to the brownie that others ordered and we all went home very full and very happy.
Kinara Kitchen is part of a wider group around Dublin and I was hoping for some very tasty Indian/Pakistani food. I had previously tried Konkan (listed as the best Indian in Dublin) but was a bit disappointed. Kinari is noticeably more up market, complete with your asian-inspired cocktails to take you home.
Sticking to my vegetarian dishes, I was tempted to give in to try the Tandoori dishes (the monkfish was apparently amazing!) I stuck with two classic dishes, a Tarka Daal, and a Channa Masala.
Although both dishes are based on chick-peas, they taste totally different. The tarka daal was definitely decadent, like you could almost taste the ghee running through the dish. Strong chilli flavours had my taste buds going and I thought a good level of heat considering the local taste for blander stuff. Thumbs up to this dish. The Channa Masala was also wonderful.
Great stuff to the naan bread as well and though not really needed, I did try a dessert in the form of sugar-soaked doughballs and ice cream – a classic Gulab Juman.
Kinari Kitchen is located in the very posh district of Ranleigh.
I was recently reading about different afternoon teas around London and with the recent summer “heatwave” our beautiful city experienced, one that caught my attention was the “iced afternoon tea” at the Paramount located high above the Centrepoint tower in the middle of the city.
Paramount has obvious advantages of beautiful views of the surrounding area and has a bar and a restaurant combination that makes it a popular destination at nighttime. Paramount serve afternoon tea only from 3pm-5pm and it is worth making a booking in advance as they only a small number of tables that are located right next to those gorgeous views.
The “iced afternoon tea” turned out to be a pretty decent afternoon tea, although I think the “iced” part of it disappointed slightly with only two of the small items being desserts (a tiny coronet cone filled with melting gelato and a cold mango mousse slice) The food was actually pretty well executed with a good selection of sandwiches, cakes and, of course, scones with clotted cream and jam. A good, hearty selection that is not bottomless although you can ask for refills of the tea.
The deal is pretty reasonable although note that you’ll obviously pay a premium for the drinks given the location of the bar/restaurant.
On one of my most recent flights I came across a short article about food trends in London. I certainly found myself agreeing with with the author who wanted London to get over its apparently never-ending openings of “American dirty food” Think of burgers, fried chicken, hot dogs (sometimes with champagne) and you get a gist of what the author was going on about.
With the opening of Five Guys and Shake Shack, most recently, I was impressed to hear of Navajo Joe’s undergoing a transformation, opening as “Joe’s Southern Food”
Although joining in with part of the “American dirty food” trend including what looked like good fried chicken, I was excited to hear about their “Beer-can BBQ chicken”, or a chicken roasted and BBQed whilst perched on top of a beer can. The idea is that the chicken remains moist whilst still acquiring the lovely smoked flavour around the coals.
As you can see, it looks pretty impressive when it arrives on its own carving trolley.
Along with the chicken you can order a number of sides, and I was quite impressed by the mac and cheese. Slightly saucy and tasty, it worked amazingly with their home made hot sauce.
The verdict? Impressive. Tasty, smoky skin that doesn’t feel greasy and super moist and flavoursome chicken meat that had a lot of taste even without the aid of all the sauces they had on offer.
I found service really friendly and quite attentive with our tap water frequently being refilled since it was a super hot day and we sat alongside their large glass windows by the entrance.
On a very bustling Saturday in Soho (it was Gay Pride this year), I met with my sister who wanted to try a French restaurant called Le Escargot. Dressed in just a T-shirt and jeans, I felt immediately underdressed after stepping into the dining room. Fortunately, the ruckus outside and the casual nature that is London, the staff didn’t mention anything and they still provided a very friendly service.
I was sat immediately as I waited and perused the menu. Classic French dishes abound. I wouldn’t describe any of the dishes as adventurous, nor anything that jumped out as exclusively new, but I assumed they would be able to execute them well.
Although I have enjoyed snails in the past, they aren’t exactly a dish that I would order without good reason. They certainly have an interesting, slightly chewy texture if cooked well. My sister ordered a set for her appetiser that looked beautifully presented.
I opted for a wild garlic soup, that I didn’t realise would arrive in a deep, stunningly green colour. Delicious and perfectly paired with crispy croutons.
My sister continued the classic French ordering with a Steak and Frites. Once again presentation beautiful although the frites weren’t as crisp as they possibly could have been.
I wanted something a bit lighter, a bit fresher so I ordered a fish dish that came accompanied with some fresh vegetables. The vegetables still had a good amount of bite, definitely not overcooked and vibrant in the colours.
Service was friendly although sporadic throughout the evening. Our waiter, a young gent had good table manners but seemed a bit stretched when dealing with all of his tables. I found this strange as there were a few others around who seemed to watch rather than attend to any service, and this was testament when we wanted to get the bill. Our meal filled us up, and instead of wanting dessert, we wanted to pay. It probably took about ten minutes to even flag someone’s attention and many minutes later to actually get the bill and pay. The only bad mark on the evening.
One of my favourite places for a decent chicken satay and a consistenly good Malaysian food expeirence is Rasa Sayang found in London’s chinatown. Constantly busy and often with queues lining outside, they offer affordable and good quality Malaysian-Chinese foods that are difficult to find around town.
Other than the chicken satay which is top notch with a good quality peanut sauce, one of my favourite dishes is the Char Kway Teow.
This noodle dish is best when it has that “wok char” or a slightly smoky flavour that comes from the intense heat the dish should be prepared with. Combine it with a selection of meat and seafood and the salty, dark coloured rice noodles turn into a comforting dish that is sure to fill you up. Consistenly done well here.
I’m surprised to learn I haven’t written up about this place before. It has been open a long time and I have eaten here a number of times before. Other dishes worth having are the Singapore Chilli Crab if they it on the menu, the Mee Goreng (a spicier, more tomato based version of the Char Kway Teow) and the Hainun Chicken dish.
Out of the handful of times I had a chance to eat at a restaurant in Sao Paulo, one of the most memorable was a great value lunch time was at Restaurant Momotaro. It’s a newer restaurant and they do a tasting menu at lunch which was significantly more food than I was prepared for. Very well executed, tasty and filling.
The restaurant is located in quite a nice neighbourhood. I have a feeling it is one of the more affluent neighbourhoods based on the cars and the types of people. Given there was very little public transportation options, I took a taxi both here and back from the hotel I was staying at.
The interior is done up very nicely. Warm, modern yet touches of Japanese elements still dotted around.
There is quite a gap between this post and when I ate here, so the commentary will be pretty light. Here’s a nice salad with a ginger dressing complete with a light miso soup.
This cocktail was supposed to be a yuzu (e.g citrus) drink but ended up like a Japanese style Bloody Mary, spicy but tasty. They didn’t charge me for this drink strangely enough and when I pointed it out, the waiter sort of shrugged it off. Maybe it was because I was taking a lot of pictures.
Delicious tempura. I remember this was light, crispy and plenty of it. Accompanied by the classic tempura dipping sauce.
Crumbed vegetable cutlet.
The order of food came out rather rapidly and randomly. Maybe because it was so many courses for a lunch menu, the next came out even before I had finished the one before it. Here’s the sushi platter and in the foreground you can still see I had plenty of tempura and the vegetable cutlet yet to finish. Fortunately the sushi was not really going to go cold. The sampling of fish was superb though – a wide variety and even that dish alone would have been sufficient for a light lunch.
I think this yakitori chicken was probably the weakest dish. There was certainly plenty of it in this tiny bowl, but I found the brown sauce was a little dull and there was just simply too much that it almost felt like it was swimming in it.
I thought I was done with the mains but after that came yet another dish complete with some grilled fish, another cutlet dish and a teriyaki chicken was that superb – moisty, salty and just right.
Dessert came with in the form of ice cream and a syrup of some sort. Perfect as a way to finish off the meal although probably not very Japanese.
An amazingly affordable lunch time menu that came to the equivalent of about £20 (which is even more amazing for Brazil which isn’t as cheap as you expect).
I had a short project in the town very close to Portsmouth. We were a little far to be travelling to Portsmouth for dinner as we stayed at the very nice hotel, The Langstone Hotel. This area is best navigated by a car, but we ended up catching taxis around as it was pretty much to and from work, and then to and from dinner. We ate pretty well out there, but only after doing a bit of research. Here’s a list of places we ate at:
Located within the Langstone Hotel, this restaurant did surprisingly good food both in terms of interesting ingredients, combinations and presentations.
They had a decent vegetarian selection and the only strange point was the insistence of having different, over-sized plates for the food where the waiters/waitresses were unable to put cutlery in the right spot. Still pretty nice. Fare is probably best described at Modern European.
A nice Indian restaurant where I had a really hot curry (tasty though) with some great naan bread. They had a jazz band playing Thursday night and I would have liked to give the curry with naga chilli a go but was a little timid about it.
Literally at the other end of Hayling Island, this remote restaurants sits amongst a marina where you can watch all the people enjoying food on their boat and the surrounding atmosphere. Nice fresh seafood and a bit more of the pub than restaurant feel.