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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Saturday, May 20, 2017

[Review] Michaels of Mount Merrion, Dublin 14

Ever hear of the saying "Never trust a skinny chef"? Cue mental images of a jolly fellow, who clearly enjoys food, wine and their own cooking. These days a lot of chefs are running triathlons, completing marathons or just plain staying fit, in an effort to balance out their hectic careers and the fact that they're constantly around food. Tom Kerridge, well known for his delicious cooking, recently dropped over 70kg, and published a diet cookbook along the way. 

It's always reassuring when you meet a chef with a clear passion and sheer delight for the food that he cooks. One such chef is Gary (Gaz) Smith, who previously worked as Development Chef for the Kinara restaurant group, which included Michaels of Mount Merrion, before he took the helm as Chef Patron at the revamped Clonskeagh House gastropub. Having worked his magic there, Gaz and  his wife Rita have now taken ownership at Michaels of Mount Merrion and the results are simply delicious. 

Stitch & Bear - Michaels - Talha-tini
Cucumber and prosecco Talha-tini

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Monday, May 15, 2017

[Review] La Paradeta, Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona

On our recent trip to Barcelona, I was starting to feel fatigue. Fatigue from trying to find the perfect restaurants, bars and cafes; fatigue from all the options available in Barcelona. Sometimes all you want is something straight up, simple and delicious. And then we came across La Paradeta.

We had passed by La Paradeta several times as we walked to and from our hotel, but I had never clicked what lay inside. La Paradeta is a chain of self-service seafood restaurants, which started out in 1994 and has now expanded to 7 locations across Barcelona and Sitges. The restaurant near Passeig de Gracia is a flagship location, with a large dining area simply decorated in a blue and white nautical theme. Burnished aluminium tables and chairs maintain the canteen vibe.
Stitch & Bear - La Paradeta - Langoustines
Langoustines 

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

[Review] Restaurant Breda, Amsterdam

Breda is a city in the south of the Netherlands, that's probably not very well known to us tourists. It's also the home city of young gun chefs Freek van Noortwijk and Guillaume de Beer and sommelier Johanneke van Iwaarden. Having enjoyed huge success with their first Amsterdam restaurant Guts & Glory, they then proceeded to open Restaurant Breda on the beautiful Singel canal. 

Ever since it opened, Breda has been gathering the accolades for its modern international cuisine, and I decided to book ourselves in for lunch as part of my goodbye to Amsterdam. Lunch is available in different lengths with 3 courses for €29.50, 4 for €37.50 and 5 for €45.50. From the outside, it's unassuming. Inside, the dining room is high ceilinged, as you'd expect from an Amsterdam grachtenhuis (canal house) and the decor is on the smart right side of shabby chic. But yet, the tables are covered with fine linen, silver and crystal. Intentions are being signalled loud and clear.
Stitch & Bear - Breda - Bread and butter
Bread and butter

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

[Review] Nightmarket, Ranelagh, Dublin 6

I've spent the past 16 months travelling every week for work, flying out to Amsterdam first thing on Monday morning, returning late on Thursday. But now it's all over, and I'm back in Dublin for the foreseeable future. On one hand, I'm delighted. Normal life can resume again, rather than living permanently out of a suitcase. But on the other hand, I'm already missing my flights and hotels, and of course, I'm desperately missing Amsterdam, a city in which I've spent close to 2 and a half years working. 

But being home does allow me to start visiting all those new spots I haven't tried yet.  And first up was Nightmarket, Ranelagh's newest restaurant, taking over the location left vacant by the recent closure of An Bhialann. It's so new that signage is still to be erected and the website is still in launch mode.  Owned by by Conor Sexton (known for Dublin's well-loved Koh restaurant) and his wife R, Nightmarket promises traditional regional Thai food. Sounds great.
Stitch & Bear - Nightmarket -  Yum Makeua Yao salad
Yum Makeua Yao

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

[Review] Bodega 1900, Barcelona

When Aer Lingus told us that they were cancelling our planned flights to Porto, I was very disappointed. I had been immensely looking forward to visiting the port houses in the Vila Nova de Gaia district and sampling a few fine ports while sitting on the banks of the river Duoro. To compensate, Aer Lingus did offer several rebooking options (at no extra charge!) and so we found ourselves back in Barcelona. 

The last time we had visited Barcelona, I had tried to get a reservation in one of Ferran Adria's locations, but I was not successful. This time out though, I secured a reservation at Bodega 1900, a relaxed tapas and vermouth (or vermut) bar, with a focus on traditional recipes, prepared from a modern perspective. 

And, oh boy, did Bodega 1900 deliver. From the minute we walked through the narrow green doors, I felt at home. It's gloriously traditional, with lino on the flooring and cupboards lining the walls. Pictures from the history of Bulli line the walls in fantastic disarray. But despite all this, you catch glimpses of waiters using fine kitchen tweezers to delicately position meats on boards, and suddenly you feel that there might be something else going on. 
Stitch and Bear - Bodega 1900 - Spherified olives
Spherified "olives"

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

[Review] Lucky Tortoise Dumpling Pop-Up

I got a little bit excited recently. That kind of excitement usually only happens to me when I get near the vicinity of real Chinese food. As a result, Capel Street and Parnell Street have the kind of effect on me that you normally only get when purchasing illegal pharmaceuticals. Show me genuine Sichuan or Hunan food, or some top notch dim sum and I am one happy lady. 

So you can imagine that my ears perked up when I heard about The Lucky Tortoise, a dumpling and dim sum pop-up at The Hill Pub in Ranelagh. Firstly, I really enjoy the Hill Pub. Friends and owners Derek Marsden and Darragh Nugent have done a great job revitalising this traditional pub with superb pub food and a fantastic selection of craft beers. Secondly... dumplings! Thom Lawson, the man behind the Lucky Tortoise, is bringing his creative take on high quality and affordable food to the historical tradition of the dumpling and dim sum. 

Stitch & Bear - Lucky Tortoise - Lucky Tortoise

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

[Review] Greenes, MacCurtain Street, Cork

Greenes Restaurant on Cork's MacCurtain street is one of the grande dames of Cork's dining scene. It's located in a former bonded warehouse in the city's Victorian quarter (by the way, when did that moniker appear?)  which it shares with Isaacs restaurant and the boutique Hotel Isaacs.

As restaurant entrances go, the entrance into Greenes of Cork is pretty special. Step off the continual bustle of MacCurtain Street past the wrought iron gates, under the cobbled archway and enter into their little courtyard. Cork is a city of steep hills, and you are reminded of that when you see the sheer rock cliff surrounding Greenes, and their famous waterfall cascading down.

Greenes has been around for yonks, and in that time there have been ups and downs. Many head chefs have come and gone, but it's maintained a special spot in the city. Award-winning chef Bryan McCarthy currently holds the head spot and he has done much to elevate Greenes. There's a strong focus on modern Irish food, using the fresh, local produce, combined with traditional preservative techniques such as fermenting and pickling. 
Stitch & Bear - Greenes - Trout with crab
Goatsbridge trout with crab

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