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, February 18, 2017

[Review] Mr Fox, Parnell Square West, Dublin 1

It's not often you walk into a restaurant to be greeted by a magnificent taxidermied fox, standing upright, holding a perplexed looking pheasant with a jaunty looking shotgun broke open over his shoulder. I never figured that Mr Fox was the kind who needed to resort to weaponry to catch his prey.

This fine fellow is part of the foxy decor at the smart Mr Fox, a basement restaurant located on Dublin's Northside. Previously occupied by Joy Beattie's Hot Stove Restaurant, this location is just a stone's throw away from the illustrious Chapter One. The closure of Hot Stove however tells us that adjacency to Irish cooking royalty is not enough. Will Mr Fox be smarter?
Stitch & Bear - Mr Fox - Mr Fox
Mr Fox interior design

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

[Travel] 3 new Amsterdam hotspots

Amsterdam can be so cold during the winter months. But it's also a city that's never quiet. Tourists and weekenders are always thronging the streets, especially in the middle of town. There are always new bars and restaurants to check out, so here are three of my latest finds for you to enjoy.

Bar de Vlieg


Bar de Vlieg is a four month pop-up collaboration running until the end of March 2017 between the famous and historic d'Vijff Vlieghen restaurant and the Nolet Distillery from Schiedam which is run and staffed by bartenders from the Fabulous Shaker Boys. You may not immediately recognise the name of the Nolet Distillery, but you will know their range of Ketel One vodkas and Ketel 1 jenevers (Dutch gin).

The location is what makes Bar de Vlieg really special. It's located upstairs in a small, warm cosy room in a  complex of 5 17th century townhouses on Spuistraat that make up the d'Vijff Vlieghen restaurant. Every single inch of the room, from the brown wooden panelling to Dutch wall tiles and the original windows literally screams history. The bar staff are immediately welcoming and most importantly the drinks are exceptionally good, served in beautifully delicate glassware. Try the jenever martini for a blast of rocket fuel and feast on the Dutch bar snacks in order to prevent any consequences.

Stitch & Bear - Amsterdam - Bar de Vlieg
Cocktails at the Ketel One pop-up at Bar de Klieg

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Sunday, February 5, 2017

[Review] Kyoto Asian Street Food, High Street, Waterford

It's great to see the food scene in Waterford being reinvigorated, as some form of recovery finally takes hold in the Crystal City. Mr and Mrs H had recently been praising a new Japanese restaurant that had opened in the former Johnny Fan's premise on High Street, and so it was duly put on the list for our next visit. 

Kyoto Asian Street Food is firmly in the vein of many recent openings in Dublin. A light interior with solid wooden tables and benches reflect the Japanese heritage, while the menu also offers curries and dishes from other Asian cuisines. A series of hand-painted wall murals add colour to the sleek design. One of the most interesting things I noticed was the steady trade from younger customers, a sure sign that this restaurant has the right food for success.
Stitch and Bear - Kyoto Asian Street Food - Interior
Interior at Kyoto Asian Street Food

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

[Review] The Green Hen, Exchequer Street, Dublin 2

When you eat out a lot, it means that you tend to return to certain restaurants on a regular basis. A list of favourite spots develops over time, with new restaurants being added once they've proven their consistency. The reverse is also true, and I occasionally bid a sad farewell to a once-favourite that has slipped down the list, perhaps due to the departure of a chef, or a change in approach. 

One venue that has been on my favourites list for a long time now is The Green Hen on Exchequer Street. The reason it's on my list is three fold. It has French style food, it offers a great value set lunch menu, and finally, lunch is available on Saturday and Sunday (instead of being forced into brunch as is the case in so many spots now). 

The Green Hen has a classic French bistro vibe with a heavy red curtain buffering those inside from the cold outside. Inside, the brightness is dialled down, making for a secluded spot in the busy middle of town. A beautiful bar decorated with a large vase of fresh flowers, dark wood panelling and parquet floors complete the atmosphere. 
Stitch & Bear - The Green Hen - Wild game terrine
Wild game terrine with spiced chutney, crumb and toasted sourdough

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

[Review] Ember, Milltown, Dublin 6

I was intrigued when I heard about a new restaurant opening in Milltown. Oddly though, my major source of puzzlement was not about the venue itself, but trying to figure out where "Milltown Shopping Centre" was located. After a few seconds, it clicked with me that this was the fanciful name for the stretch of  local shops and services that are located outside the entrance to Mount Saint Annes. Fair enough, I'm going to rename Chez Cronin to Chateau Cronin. 

Ember is the latest in a very welcome series of local restaurants and bistros that are opening up around the suburbs. As it happens, it's a few minutes brisk walk from my house and is a very welcome alternative to schlepping around for a taxi to make me into town. Owner and chef Greg O'Mahony brings his fine dining credentials to bear in this very stylish venue. The interior is extremely smart and luxurious and will only get better over time as the parquet floor picks up some lustre and the red leather acquires a patina imparted by well-fed backsides. 
Stitch & Bear - Ember - Interior
The elegant interior at Ember

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

[Review] Hartwood, Tulum, Mexico

I've fallen in love with Mexico. Beautiful white soft beaches, mysterious Mayan ruins and azure warm seas. What's not to love? Well, if you're staying in an all-inclusive resort, probably the food.

We spent 10 days recently south of Cancun on a blissful holiday. Our first stay was at the Bahia Principe Sian Ka'an, which is the adults only, luxury section of a sprawling resort. It was set amidst the jungle, with easy access to a glorious beach and it was wonderful. We then spent a few days at the lively Hard Rock Cancun, where we were treated like royalty. In both cases, I cannot complain in any way about the quantity or quality of the food we ate. But in both cases, the resort restaurants were out of touch with modern dining and overwhelmingly felt like bland American suburbia. I suppose that's hardly surprising given that American tourists are probably the single largest tourist segment in Mexico. But I was personally disappointed that the food wasn't more modern and more importantly, reflective of Mexico itself. Genuinely, I could have been in any country in the world if all I had to judge on was the food. 

One night however, we did leave the seclusion of our resort bubble, and we took a taxi down the road to the town of Tulum, to the internationally acclaimed Hartwood restaurant. And there, next to the sea, under the night sky, we finally got to see something real, something unique and something a little bit special.
Stitch & Bear - Hartwood - Dining outdoors
Dining outdoors at Hartwood

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

[Review] Craft, Harold's Cross, Dublin 6W

Saturday lunchtime found us driving over towards Harold's Cross so as to allow me to pick up my mobile phone which I had "forgotten" in a pub on Friday night. In other words, I might have been a bit oiled, and making sure that I had my mobile phone with me when leaving wasn't top of the list of priorities. (BTW, if you haven't checked out the great cocktails in MVP, then you really should. Just don't forget your phone!)

The upside of this unplanned trip was that I finally had an easy opportunity to visit Craft bistro for lunch. Ever increasing rent costs mean that only venues with big backing are opening in the city centre, with other smaller ventures being pushed outwards where rents are cheaper. Thankfully, this is to be benefit of many neighbourhoods, giving the opportunity for some seriously good dining without the trek into town. Think Forest & Marcy on Leeson Street, or newly starred Heron & Grey in Blackrock. In the case of Craft, chef Phil Yeung, formerly of Bang Cafe and Town Bar & Grill is the man with the plan. 
Stitch & Bear - Craft - Torched mackerel
Torched mackerel
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