Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

[Review] Circa, Terenure, Dublin 6W

There's something magic and just a little special in the air at Terenure, and it's all due to a collaboration between four friends. There is no shortage of new restaurant openings in Dublin, and in order to stand out, you've got to hit the ground running. But when you consider the collective experience of co-owners Ross Duffy, Robert Murphy, Emmet Murphy and chef Gareth Naughton.

Just about everything at Circa makes me sing with happiness. The dining open is bright, open and spacious with plenty of room between tables. There are beautiful shades of green and brassy golden fixtures, plus a stunningly elegant  marble-topped bar for drinks and dining. Even the pine green subway tiles in the bathroom make me smile and this that this is the most beautiful bathroom. 
Stitch and Bear - Circa - The May menu
The May menu at Circa


Sunday, March 3, 2019

[Review] Assassination Custard, Kevin Street Lower, Dublin 8

It's been a while. I wrote my last review on this blog in September 2018 not realising that my life was going to enter into a whirlwind phase. I was promoted at work, putting me firmly into the ranks of senior management. I started a work project that quickly took over a large chunk of my time, and we purchased a house. Following a long day at work, I would often find myself painting or sanding in a hurried effort to get our house ready before we moved in. Christmas dinner was served on two mismatched tables, with a fancy gold cloth hiding all manner of sins. Life does indeed have a mean sense of humour at times.

Anyway, it's time to get back to food and eating out. Assassination Custard is a little spot on Kevin Street owned by Ken Doherty and partner Gwen McGrath that has attained cult like status amongst food lovers since its opening in 2015. Its mystique is enhanced by the steel shuttering that usually hides the interior and the limited opening hours (12pm - 3pm, Monday to Friday only) which are not so great for those of us that are office based. Given that there are just a mere 12 seats spread across the 2 tables, I can advise that it's wise to get there early, especially as dishes tend to run out quickly with the first wave of diners. I arrived at 12.15pm only to find all spots taken, the only time I've ever found Irish people early for lunch.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

[Review] The Ivy, Dawson Street, Dublin 2

Remember the hype of swapping Panini football cards or Pokemon cards? You wanted to see what everyone else had, jealous of your friend's stash or gloating over your good fortune. Right now, the Irish food critics are in a foamy frenzy, the likes of which we haven't seen since the great swops of Italia 90. 

What's causing all this noise I hear you say? What is causing food critics to trade photos and experiences, eager to read the next review and revel in the next salacious salty comment? Perhaps the question is more zen. Are you even a food critic if you haven't written a review of The Ivy?
The rather stunning interior, courtesy of @theivydublin

Sunday, July 29, 2018

[Review] Host, Ranelagh, Dublin 6

This review is a love story, a story of a girl and the perfect grilled pork chop. But before we get into the details of how this came about, I need to get something off my chest.

We've all become conscious of the horrendous lives of battery-farmed chicken but we don't yet have the same awareness when it comes to pigs. Pigs are smart, very smart in fact. I've laughed as my father has duelled with Houdini-like pigs, determined to escape their field at all costs and I've cursed when they manage to find, dig up and chew through the solitary water pipe that ran under their large field. I've enjoyed glorious pork, ham, bacon and homemade black pudding from the free-range pigs occasionally raised by my parents, and I wonder why we tolerate treating such a smart animal with such utter disrespect, raising them without sunshine and open air, and slaughtering them to produce discounted €3 packs of bland pork chops. 

Anyway, back to the review and why this porcine diatribe is relevant. Host Restaurant in Ranelagh has been open for nearly a year now and during that time, I've become quite a fan of the approach of co-owners Chloe Kearney and Niall McDermott (also head chef). The style at Host is minimalist, all the way from the bright white exterior with its oh-so-discreet signage right through to the exposed air ducts and open kitchen. It's a small space, but a clever mix of seating options brings a form of texture to the dining room which is bright in daytime and alluringly cosy at nighttime. 
Host restaurant, Ranelagh


Saturday, July 21, 2018

[Review] Mad Egg, Charlotte Way, Dublin 2

Chicken is a meat I rarely order when dining out. It can be bland, dry and just an all-round snoozefest. But there is undoubtedly a place in my heart and my stomach for  classic crispy chicken dishes like chicken Kiev and fried chicken. In fact, there are a lot of fried chicken fans out there, as I learned when listening to an episode of BBC's The Food Programme podcast. And when there are lots of fans, it's always a good idea to take that seriously.

New casual restaurant Mad Egg located on Charlotte Way at the southern end of Camden Street, takes fried chicken very seriously indeed. Since opening several months again, it's been packed all day and evening. I know, I work nearby. I was initially skeptical about opening a restaurant in that location, but hey, what do I know?
Love me Sticky Tenders with chicken salt fries


Saturday, June 23, 2018

[Review] Bento at the Bonsai Bar, Dublin 2

I was recently invited* by Bonsai Bar to come visit and try their new bento box offering. I gladly accepted as I've always liked the creativity and sheer tastiness of Dylan McGrath's food and I was curious to see what twist he would bring to this Japanese staple which is essentially a pre-packed meal. The Bonsai Bar is located in the same building as Rustic Stone and Taste at Rustic, sandwiched between the two on the first floor. I remember reviewing it several years ago when it was called Bar Rustic, prior to its makeover into Bonsai. While the back bar has had a makeover, the overall decor hasn't changed significantly and those lovely black leather chairs that I liked so much first time around are still in use. 

The bento menu concept is available from 4pm - 8pm Wednesday to Saturdays only. There are three varieties on offer, simply called meat, fish and veg, each with 4 dishes and priced at €18 each.  Some of the constituent dishes are available to order separately for €7, so if you really want one particular element, you can enjoy it without ordering the full bento. 
Stitch & Bear - Bento at Bonsai Bar - Roast salmon
Roast salmon with broccoli and sesame


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

[Travel] A weekend in the Priorat

Last August, I found myself standing on top of a hill in the Priorat, surrounded by vines laden heavy with grapes, under the intense searingly dry heat of the late summer sun. The vineyards were enjoying the quiet time that comes before the hustle and bustle of the harvest. It was a pretty intense moment, where I really felt connected to the land, to the vines and to the magnificent wines of the region. 

Stitch & Bear - The Priorat - Torres Priorat winery
The Torres Priorat winery at El Lloar
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