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!

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
We were passing by on a recent Saturday when Nightmarket's brunch menu caught our eyes. I'm not a huge fan of brunch in general, as I find it all very samey samey. However, a spicy Thai brunch sounded just the ticket. 

With 15 dishes to choose from, ranging from small to large, it took a little bit of effort to settle on our choices. My eye was immediately drawn to the unusual sounding Yum Makeua Yao, a delicious and fragrant salad of grilled Thai aubergines with a soft-boiled egg and loads of fresh herbs (€8). Strongly flavoured by dried shrimp floss, this is definitely one of more unique dishes I've eaten, and I loved it. 

Kai Jiew Goong Sup, or Thai omelette with prawns and spring onion (€9), was light and fluffy, while Ping Moo, Gai & Nuea (beef, pork and chicken skewers) were beautifully grilled, served with name jim jaew dipping sauce (€8). Our final choice was a bowl of the classic chicken coconut soup Tom Kha Gai (€7), which was both intensely tasty and prettily decorated with drizzles of chili oil. 
Stitch & Bear - Nightmarket -  Thai omelette
Kai Jiew Goong Sup or Thai omelette
Stitch & Bear - Nightmarket - Tom Kha Gai
Tom Kha Gai
Stitch & Bear - Nightmarket - Thai brunch
Brunch at Nightmarket Ranelagh
Stitch & Bear - Nightmarket - Interior
The outdoor seating at Nightmarket
All dishes impressed us immensely with their depth of flavour and striking authenticity. Beautifully presented, and accompanied with punchy, aromatic sauces and dips, Nightmarket has made a really strong impression on me. According to Conor, there are more exciting developments planned, so keep an eye out.

And a word of warning, approach the chili-infused fish sauce with caution!

Nightmarket, 120 Ranelagh, Dublin 6
Tel: +353 (0)1 538 5200
URL: www.nightmarket.ie
Twitter: @nightmarketd6
Instagram: @nightmarketd6
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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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