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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Sunday, July 2, 2017

[Review] Klaw Poke, Capel Street, Dublin 1

Keeping on top of food trends isn't an easy thing to do in our Instagram world. And it's even harder to identify which trends will translate into long term market success. Here in Dublin, restaurateur and seafood lover Niall Sabongi has firmly gotten behind poke (pronounced POH-kay), a healthy Hawaiian staple that's been steadily growing in popularity across the globe. 

I first came across poke while watching Guy Fieri travel through Hawaii and I was intrigued by the simple, sushi-like concept of marinated chunks of raw fish served atop bowls of rice. Last year, while working in Amsterdam, I got the chance to try poke for the first time. And I've got to say that I liked it very much. It was both tasty and allowed me to pick and mix various poke ingredients to create varied, healthy lunches for myself. 

At Klaw Poke, Niall has created a selection of pre-defined poke bowls to help the uninitiated or undecided, or you can mix it up as you want. For my first visit, I opted for the Octopoke, a mix of grilled octopus, radish, macadamia nuts, samphire, salty pineapple and radish atop a mix of rice noodles and leaves, dressed with nam jim. Fresh, light and fragrant, it definitely ticked all the virtuous boxes. 
Stitch & Bear - Klaw Poke - The octopoke bowl
The octopoke bowl

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

[Review] Madina Desi, Mary Street, Dublin 1

Today's post will be a short one. But it does feature a little restaurant that I love to visit time and time again. It's affordable, tasty and authentic. And in a city full of Indian restaurants, Madina Desi is one of the very few that I know of which serves Indian street food dishes. 

My first favourite dish is the humble dosa. Hailing from the south of India, a dosa is a light, semi-crispy pancake made from a fermented batter, often using rice or black gram. It's considered to be a pretty healthy option due to the increased protein content and the extra vitamins produced by the fermentation. Health benefits aside, it's a satisfying snack, pulled apart piece by piece, dipping each piece into the accompanying sambar and coconut chutney (€7.95). 
Stitch & Bear - Madina Desi - Dosa
The basic dosa served with sambar and coconut chutney
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Sunday, June 11, 2017

[Review] Eatyard, South Richmond Street, Dublin 2

Food markets have been floating around Dublin for several years now, but most are daytime events, servicing local office areas. Irish Village Markets currently run three weekly markets around the city, while the market operated by Waterways Ireland on the Grand Canal at at Lower Mount Street was recently denied a renewal of its planning permission following objections from local businesses and residents. It's such a pity to see lunchtime food options and entrepreneurship being curtailed. 

While I was working in Amsterdam, Market 33 opened up in the Zuidas district. Open all day, it's a clever offering in the middle of a mixed residential and office area. Office workers can grab pho, sushi, poke or even a burger during their lunch break, before returning later in the evening for a drink and some bitterballen with their friends. I used to head there most days for lunch, rotating between the different stalls. 

Here in Dublin, the incredibly successful team from the Bodytonic group have given us the wonderful Eatyard. Open from 12m on Thursday to Sunday, this compact collection of box containers and food trucks offers some of the best and most vibrant street food in the capital. 
Stitch & Bear - Eatyard - Entrance
Eatyard entrance, next to the Bernard Shaw on Richmond Street

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Monday, June 5, 2017

[Review] Rachel's, Washington Street, Cork

The Allen family of Ballymaloe fame has tried, and failed, to open restaurants in Cork city before. It seems a woman was required for success, and this time, Rachel Allen has put her name to Cork's latest restaurant opening. A TV chef, cookbook author and daughter-in-law to Darina Allen, will Rachel's high flying fame bring enough star power to Cork's somewhat fickle and occasionally staid dining scene?

Rachel's is located in the Courthouse Chambers, directly across from the Courthouse on Washington Street. A neon sign with Rachel's handwritten signature illuminates the entrance. Inside the decor is beautifully chic in muted tones of blue and grey, with splashes of colour from modern art pieces dotted around the space. The space is large, with half given over to the restaurant and open kitchen complete with wood-fired oven. The remainder is used for the Piano bar, a relaxing space to sit and chat over pre- or post-dinner drinks. 
Stitch & Bear - Rachel's Cork - Cocktail menu
Cocktail menu
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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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