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!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

[Event] Bar 1661 pop-up from Bán Poitín

Several years ago I attended the Irish launch of Bán Poitín, and immediately loved their modern, vibrant version of this much-maligned traditional Irish spirit. Now, the Bán Poitín Bar 1661 cocktail pop-up is asking you to forget the traditional image of the illicit bottle wrapped in brown paper hidden under the kitchen sink, and instead experience the quality and style of modern poitín. 

For 6 weeks only, Bar 1661 will be located in a retro basement next to Berlin Cafe on Dame Lane where it will serve a changing cocktail menu based on just one spirit, poitín. In addition, drinks will incorporate under-used and under-valued native Irish ingredients, supported by over 25 producers, distillers, foragers and farmers. 
Stitch & Bear - Ban Poitin Bar 1661 - Cocktails
The Gaeilgeor and Leprechaun Zombie cocktails

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

[Review] The Legal Eagle, Chancery Place, Dublin 7

The Legal Eagle pub on Chancery Place, next to the historic Four Courts and beloved of solicitors, barristers and court attendees, had stood empty since 2012. It was acquired by Brian Montague and his business parter Elaine Murphy in 2014, but work on their other projects The Woollen Mills and The Washerwoman took precedence, delaying the opening until just recently. Was it worth the wait?

Every part of the overhauled Legal Eagle speaks in muted but confident tones. (In fact, just like the kind of solicitor or barrister you want to represent you should you ever find yourself appearing before the courts). A solemn and decorous dark green exterior with touches of gilding gives way to the spruced up interior. The general layout is true to the original, but now smart high backed leather stools line up alongside the bar, while exposed red brickwork and assorted copper vessels gently warm the walls. It's smart and modern, yet feels so comfortable and barlike.
Homemade pickled eggs
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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

[Wine] 2 wines to try from Aldi

I've been sampling a lot of Aldi wine recently, and it's fair to say that they are offering some great value for money at the moment. Out of all the bottles I've tried, two have stood out as bottles that I am happy to recommend to you. 

First up is a barrel-fermented Limoux Chardonnay from Langudedoc legend and wine producer Jean Claude Mas. It's a rich, full-bodied wine with crisp lemons and apples, a touch of honey, underpinned by a luscious buttery, nutty oak finish. The heavy bottle is uniquely attractive in its own right. This is a cracker served cold on its own, or with a Sunday roast chicken. Plus, it scored an impressive 90 points on a recent Decanter tasting



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Sunday, September 24, 2017

[Opinion] The importance of transparency in blogging

Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve kept up with the Twitter storm that has followed tweets from chefs Gaz Smith (Michaels of Mount Merrion) and Garret Byrne (of Michelin-starred Campagne in Kilkenny). No matter which side of the fence you are on, this debate has revealed some ugly sides to the world of food and travel blogging. 

It is claimed that a blogger contacted Campagne seeking a free meal in return for blog and social media coverage. On the surface, it appears gauche and self-entitled on the part of the blogger. But on the other hand, it was a business offer that Garret could either accept or refuse, and refuse he did. 

As a blogger, I’ve always tried to feature restaurants and venues that I feel deserve to be shared. As a result, I could probably count on one hand the amount of times I’ve written a strongly critical review. I’ve obviously eaten in many restaurants where the best thing was the exit, but I’ve rarely chosen to feature those spots. 

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

[Review] Sova Vegan Butcher, Pleasants Street, Dublin 8

I often wonder how much vegetarians miss eating meat? Or in the case of vegans, how much they miss products such as butter and cheese. There's no doubt that being vegan is a dedicated life choice and with very few exceptions, vegans are poorly catered for in mainstream restaurants. But like any grouping, once a critical mass is achieved, commercial options do become viable. 

About 2 years ago, Sova Vegan Butcher established its permanent home on Pleasants Street after a period of pop-up residencies. Long time vegetarian, now vegan, Bart Sova is the eponymous owner and proprietor of this restaurant, which has tables on the cozy ground and first floors. It's been on my hit list for quite a long time, and I finally find the time and mood following a very zen-inducing yoga class at the close-ish Little Bird Cafe. We arrive on Saturday lunchtime, and we are quite lucky to get a free table amidst the busy churn of brunchers and gym-goers. Judging by the popularity, its clearly doing something right.

I suppose the clue to understanding the menu is present in the oxymoronic restaurant name, as many of the dishes on the menu are described in terms more familiar to meat eaters. Amongst the brunch menu you can choose from a full Irish breakfast complete with sausages, bacon, pudding and scrambled tofu, a chia burger, a pulled porc bap or even a doner kebab (made with seitan protein).
Stitch & Bear - Sova Vegan Butcher - Potato gnocchi
Potato gnocchi with mushroom ragu
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Sunday, September 10, 2017

[Review] Beaufield Mews, Stillorgan, Co Dublin

There are some restaurants that exist outside the vagaries of time. They are not influenced by fashions and trends, they don't serve the current trendy dish, but instead they offer a solidly comfortable experience that everyone enjoys. They are always there for family celebrations, arrivals and departures, and form part of the background fabric that keeps everything stable. 

In Dublin, one such restaurant is Beaufield Mews. Located in Stillorgan, it's Dublin's oldest restaurant, having been in the same family for over 70 years. Outside, there's a lovely courtyard, which is charmingly lit at night. The downstairs restaurant and gardens at Beaufield Mews are arguably the most famous part of this former coachhouse and stables. But we are here to dine upstairs in the Loft Brasserie, a spacious and high ceilinged set of rooms with plenty of elbow room between the tables. 
Stitch & Bear - Beaufield Mews - Beef tartare
Classic beef tartare
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Sunday, August 27, 2017

[Wine] Torres Priorat

DISCLOSURE: My visit to the Torres winery at El Lloar in the Priorat was provided free of charge by Pico Communication and Torres. Many thanks to all those who helped arrange the visit. 

The Priorat is a sun-baked, mountainous region inland from Tarragona and south of Barcelona. Climbing up through the mountains via the modern but very windy roads brings about a sense of awe. Abandoned terraces are visible, cut into the hillsides, once verdant with vines but now abandoned for decades. The combination of emmigration and the fascist rule of Franco took their toll on the Priorat, resulting in an 80% reduction in the area under viticulture. 

The DO Priorat winemaking region was created in 1954, but it wasn't until the late 1980s and early 1990s that things started to change. In 1985, the bottling of bulk wine was phased out and the production of quality wine was phased in. Then came the revolution. In 1989, winemaker Rene Barbier and a gang of likeminded winemakers bought land in the Priorat and introduced fine winemaking techniques along with French grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. The world started to take notice, the modern reputation of Priorat wines was born and it has continued to grow ever since.
Stitch & Bear - Torres Priorat - Vineyards at El Lloar
The vineyards at Torres near El Lloar

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

[Wine] Torres Purgatori

We spent a recent weekend in the stunning Priorat wine region, which is located a bit under a 2 hour from Barcelona. It's one of just two DOQ wine regions in Spain, the other being Rioja and it's a majestic place, renowned for powerful red wines which possess incredible minerality. When you see the steep, sun-baked terraces, perched on the sides of the hills and mountains, it just all makes sense. 

If you travel even further inland far away from the sea, through the Priorat and near the city of Lleida, you will enter the territory of DO Costers del Segre. It's a harsh, semi-arid region with dry, hot summers and colder winters. According to Spanish winemakers Torres, the monks of the famous Montserrat abbey would carry out their penance at the Desterrats estate in Costers del Segre, working the land to produce food for the diocese. In the manner typical of monks all over the world, they also managed to produce some excellent wines in the region, which now inspire the name of Purgatori, the first Torres wine from this region. 
Image taken from Torres website

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Monday, August 7, 2017

[Opinion] A tale of two cocktails

The incredible growth and creativity that the Irish cocktail scene has exhibited in the past few years is a wonderful cause for celebration. The parallel explosion in the Irish spirits industry, including whiskey, gin and vodka, has given Irish bartenders expanded access to top quality ingredients for their creations. 

Many bars and hotels now have a cocktail programme of one form or another, which can range from the pedestrian but decent, to the original and highly creative. From a business sense, cocktails and premium drinks can offer an attractive profit margin which makes it worth while to invest in staff training and inventory. But in order for a cocktail programme to be successful and gain a solid reputation, bartenders need to exhibit consistency and adherence to quality standards. 

Let me illustrate with an example...
Stitch & Bear - A tale of two cocktails
The original on the left, the second on the right

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Sunday, July 30, 2017

[Event] Tiger Street Eats

The recent announcement of Michelin-starred street food in Dublin, courtesy of Tiger beer, definitely caused a bit of buzz. At €10 per ticket, the Tiger Street Eats event offered the chance to try the world famous chicken from the Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle street food hawker stand.  Tiger Street Eats is a concept designed to showcase the vibrancy of Singapore streets, and has already travelled to Auckland, Kuala Lumpur and New York. Dublin was the first European venture, and as you'd expect in a city that would go to the opening of a postcard, the tickets quickly sold out. 
Stitch & Bear - Tiger Street Eats - Placemat
Tiger Beer Street Eats
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Sunday, July 23, 2017

[Review] Caffe Amore, South Georges Street, Dublin 2

This is going to be another quick mini-review. I simply don't have a lot of time available at the moment to write lengthy detailed reviews. And given the fact that lunch at Caffe Amore was also a quick daytime affair, it feels appropriate. 

Caffe Amore is on South Great George's Street across from the junction with Fade Street, and I had passed it many times without fully clocking it. But one Saturday morning when walking past, the daily specials board caught my eye. And so my lunch plans were made. Caffe Amore opened in 2015, when Neapolitan Luli Montagne realised his dream with the help of Lino and Marino. And ever since then, it's been serving up pizza, spritz and other Italian favourites. 

We take a small table in the compact dining room, from where we can see the open kitchen. Italian pop radio fills the little dining room, and there's an immediate sensation of Italy, even though I can see Dublin passing by outside. Two glasses of fresh and crisp Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi  (€7 each) complete the transformation from Dublin to Italy.
Stitch & Bear - Caffe Amore - Daily Specials
Daily specials at Caffe Amore

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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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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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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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