Stitch and Bear

Food & drink adventures and restaurant reviews from Dublin and Ireland

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

[Events] 2016 wine tastings

Here's a collection of the wine tastings and wine events of which I am aware. If there are events missing, please feel free to get in touch with me and share the details.

September 22nd - Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild

O'Briens Wine are delighted to welcome Christophe Salin, President of Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) for a very special masterclass tasting at the Fitzwilliam Hotel. On the evening consumers will have the opportunity to taste a range of wines from the Domaine's estates in Bordeaux, Chile and Argentina, each of which meets the same exacting standards of quality applied to the iconic Ch√Ęteau Lafite.
Tickets cost €25 each and can be booked online here.

September 22nd - Raw & wild wines at Fumbally Stables

Natural wine is a punk movement in a very traditional industry, but what is it and how is it different from conventional wine making? Shane Murphy (La Rousse Wines) will host an evening workshop, including an in-depth discussion on: biodiversity; wild fermentation in the winery; and the difference between conventional, organic and biodynamic farming and their importance to wine production. You will get to taste six lively wines from these producers, along with a few more surprises and of course, some cheese!
Tickets cost €45 each and more details can be found on


Sunday, September 18, 2016

[Review] Two new Thai hotspots in Amsterdam

I've been out and about in Amsterdam recently, trying to get to some of the more newly opened restuarants. To help me keep track of all the latest openings, I like to refer to two great Dutch blogs Your Little Black Book and BySam. Both blogs are written mainly in Dutch, but it's easy enough to find your way around on both. 

I visited two new Thai restaurants lately, both of which were fun and modern. In the middle of town, you will find Adam & Siam on Rokin, while the more casual Soi74 Thai Food Cafe in de Pijp is a little bit more out of the city centre.
Stitch & Bear - Adam & Siam - Interior
Interior at Adam & Siam


Sunday, September 11, 2016

[Review] Charlotte Quay, Dublin 4

The restaurant space on the ground floor of the Millennium Tower on Charlotte Quay has seen several restaurants come and go. Firstly Ocean Bar & Restaurant and more recently, the delightful Mourne Seafood. It's a location with a gorgeous setting, overlooking Grand Canal Dock, but it has no street frontage. And that's surely a main contributor to the previous closures. After all, most restaurants rely on footfall and passing trade. 

So, can Marc and Conor Bereen buck the trend with their new Charlotte Quay restaurant? They do know what Dublin likes to eat, given the strong success of their other popular locations Coppinger Row and the South William. Under Conor and Marc, Charlotte Quay has received a significant overhaul. Gone is the light and bright interior of Mourne Seafood, replaced by marble countertops, chic fittings and moodier, darker lighting. There's a smart little cocktail bar where you can sip a drink while waiting, but where we struggled to hear each other due to the high ambient noise levels. My Flo and basy gin-based cocktail (€12) was light, tinged with elderflower and bright basil, but just a touch cloyingly sweet. 
Stitch & Bear - Charlotte Quay - Flo and basy cocktail
Flo and basy cocktail


Sunday, September 4, 2016

[Blogging] 8 years of blogging lessons

I only realised recently that I've been blogging as Stitch & Bear for over 8 years. That means it's been 8 years since I looked at the Blogger homepage and wondered "What will I call my blog?" Once I got over that major hurdle, then I was left with the question "What will I write about?"

To be very honest, I wrote a lot of crap at the start. Unlike many bloggers today, I didn't start blogging with a game plan in mind. I just started writing. A sense of purpose and clarity for Stitch & Bear didn't emerge for quite a while. I think it was 2011 when I finally said "Enough crap, Stitch & Bear is going to be about food only!"

Since then, I've gained weight, which is a natural consequence of being a voracious eater who wants to taste everything. I've also met many wonderful people who are involved in the production and service of food and drink. I've written approximately one blog post per week and I've learned a few things along the way...
Stitch & Bear - Blogging lessons I've learned


Thursday, September 1, 2016

[Competition] Win a pair of tickets to the BBC Good Food Show in Belfast

The BBC Good Food Show is making its first appearance in Northern Ireland this September, and to celebrate this first the promoters have given Stitch & Bear a free pair of tickets to give away to a lucky reader.

The BBC Good Food Show
Some of Britain's most popular chefs, including handsome baker Paul Hollywood, James Martin, Emmett McCourt and the lovable Hairy Bikers, will share recipes and tips in the 1800 seater Supertheatre. In addition, over 100 culinary exhibitors will be in attendance,, giving visitors the chance to shop for local produces, enjoy taste testing and learn even more tips and tricks from the exhibitors. 

Standard tickets start from £18.50 and are available online. VIP packages with prime seating at the Supertheatre and VIP lounge access plus other benefits are also available 

The show runs from Friday October 14th to Sunday October 16th, at the Belfast Waterfront, with doors open 9am - 6pm daily.

The competition is now closed, and I am delighted to announce that Gemma Thompson of Belfast is the lucky winner. Congratulations Gemma, your tickets will be in the post shortly.

How to win?
I'm keeping this simple. You can enter by any one of the following methods:

(1) Liking and commenting on the Stitch & Bear Facebook page
(2) Emailing me with the subject BBC Good Food Show
(3) Following and tweeting me on Twitter with reference to the competition

The fine print
The competition will close on Sunday, September 11th. The winner will be contacted for their postal address details, and tickets will be posted to them by the promoters. Please note that the tickets are valid for Friday or Sunday only.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

[Review] Fishbone, Clontarf, Dublin 3

It's always nice to have a seafood restaurant actually located near, you know, the sea! Talk about a novel concept but seafood always seems nicer when it's eaten within a hop, skip and jump of the sea. New restaurant Fishbone is located on Dublin's lengthy, sea-hugging Clontarf Road, just opposite the Dollymount Wooden Bridge. While sitting inside, something immediately reminded me of the long-established Bay restaurant, so I wasn't at all surprised to learn that Fishbone comes from the same proprietors.

Fishbone is set back a little bit from the road, with a bright yellow exterior that immediately catches the eye. There's outdoor seating for those lovely sunny days while inside, it's bright and light, with a lovely modern atmosphere, tempered with a slight Moroccan feel. The chalkboard menu is wonderfully attractive, and packed full of daily specials and tempting dishes. As you look out the front window, another chalkboard menu entices you with the list of house cocktails.
Stitch & Bear - Fishbone - Blackboard menu
The blackboard menu at Fishbone


Saturday, August 6, 2016

[Review] Amuse, Dawson Street, Dublin 2

Exciting food and fine dining are not often common bedfellows. Well, not as often as I'd like anyway. During our recent holiday on the Amalfi Coast in Italy, we dined in two separate one star Michelin restaurants, and came away feeling decidedly "bleh" after one and "meh" after the other. In fact, one of the meals was the singularly most sexist experience I've ever had. I never thought I'd describe a meal in a Michelin restaurant as "sexist", but there you go. You live, you learn.

Which is why I'm glad that a recent visit to Amuse restaurant on Dawson Street showed that the creativity of chef Conor Dempsey has abated not one jot. The awarding of Michelin stars in Ireland has long been a source of great puzzlement; indeed it took several years for the neighbouring Greenhouse restaurant to secure its star. Based on my experiences, I feel that the food at Amuse is at the required standard, but who knows if the Michelin judges agree with me.

Amuse is located at the southern end of Dawson Street and often flies unnoticed, not helped currently by the ongoing Luas works. The dining room is small, but the tables are set well apart. I personally love the lampshades, which match in style the plates and glasses used.  Conor's cooking is described as Franco-Asian, which is a hint as to the types of ingredients he likes to use.

We started with an aperitif of lovely sparkling rose, made with Pinot Noir grapes. Shortly, a selection of various seaweed and rice crisps, with puffed rice, goats cheese and a delicious mussel arrived. These were accompanied by a stunning little bowl of gently sweet coconut and pea soup, with salty pops of trout caviar lurking within. Our final amuse consisted of an intense basil puree with anchovy and warming horseradish.
Amuse bouche of various crisps and toppings
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