John McKenna's blog

Archive - all the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.

Restaurant of the Year

The Greenhouse, Dublin


The Greenhouse

“There were, of course, many other courses and many other words that I might apply - accomplished, innovative and inventive, to name but a few. Memorable, though, is the word that will undoubtedly linger.” That’s how Aoife Cox summed up Mickael Viljanen and Eamonn O’Reilly’s ground-breaking Greenhouse Restaurant. Memorable is the word for some extraordinary cooking, and great service.


Photo: Aoife Cox

Artisan Producer of the Year and Food of the Year

Thibault Peigne, Tartine Bakery
Mag Kirwan, Goatsbridge Trout


Producer of the Year:

Thibault Peigne

Tartine Bakery, Swords, Co Dublin

Thibault Peigne is one his way to becoming the Arbutus Breads of Dublin. His masterly baking is a revelation – sourdough loaves that will keep perfectly for 10 days! Sourdough loaves that are packed with organic goodness! – and his philosophy of bread is as inspiring as the very taste of the bread itself.


Artisan food of the Year:

Retailer of the Year

Cafe Rua



Spencer Street, Castlebar, Co Mayo

Nobody presents the totality of their business better than Aran McMahon in Castlebar’s RUA. He cooks with masterly insouciance and flair, and he communicates with masterly style. His shop and restaurant have a grace that is simply life-improving, and his team follow this modern master every step of his enlightened way. Just on the other side of town, Aran’s sister, Colleen, runs another superlative show at Café Rua.

Farmer of the Year

Ronan Byrne, The Friendly Farmer


Ronan Byrne

The Friendly Farmer, Galway

The legendary Joel Salatin, of America’s Polyface Farm is one of Ronan Byrne’s biggest influences, and Mr Byrne has used Mr Salatin’s influence wisely, and created one of the best and best-known farm brands in Ireland. His pasture-reared poultry is magnificent, and so is his farming philosophy: “The better you treat an animal the better it tastes”. That’s a real friendly farmer.

Destination of the Year & Food County of the Year

A Caviston
Birgitta Curtin, County Clare


Destination of the Year:

A. Caviston

Greystones, Co Wicklow

“I think we will be going here for our next fish restaurant outing”, was how Leslie Williams summed up a happy lunch at Amy and Shane’s superb Greystones destination. Ms Caviston and Mr Willis are some team – smart, calm, ahead-of-the-curve, sociable, hip – and they have created a don’t-miss! destination on the main drag of pretty Greystones thanks to great fish cooking and a superb shop.


Food County of the Year:

Inspiration of the Year

JP McMahon, Galway


jp McMahon

Cava, Anair and Massimo, Galway, Co Galway

jp McMahon has made over Galway's restaurant scene in his own image: smart, funny, incredibly hard-working, experimental and tangential. He blazed through the Galway food festival like a man possessed. Which he is.

Megabites Service Award and Design Award

The Malthouse, Galway, County Galway
McCartneys of Moira


Service Award:

The Malthouse

Galway, County Glway

“Is there another restaurant team that tries as hard as the crew in The Malt House?”, we asked, rhetorically, in The Irish Food Guide. Not that we know of. Mary and Paul Grealish’s team are worthy of whatever superlatives you can summon, and their work creates one of the most beloved of restaurants on the west coast.


Design Award:

McCartney’s of Moira

Moira, Co Down, Northern Ireland

Megabites - One to Watch Award

Will Brown, The Old Schoolhouse


Will Brown

The Old Schoolhouse, Comber, County Down

Will Brown's cooking delights and teases and pleases. For a young guy, Mr Brown has a culinary maturity way beyond his years and, if he wants it, the future is his. A smartly revamped new room in The Old Schoolhouse in the new year will see this young man the media darling of 2013.

2012 Megabites Award

Caitlin Ruth, Deasy's Ring


Caitlin Ruth

Deasy’s, Ring, West Cork
Ms Ruth has had a fabulous year, slowly inching her way towards the public recognition that her brilliant cooking in Deasy’s deserves. If you want to know the sort of food that will persuade people to travel miles to eat in an old Irish country pub, Caitlin Ruth’s cooking shows exactly what is required. A West Cork star.

Pick Me!

Fiano Irpinia Fiano 2011

Fiano Irpinia Fiano 2011 13%

Ciro Picariello produces wines using the Fiano grape near the village of Summonte in Campania, using natural methods, and no filtration or fining. The 2011 Fiano Irpinia is a thrill, an inquisitive and unexpected wine that could take you all the way from smoked salmon to Xmas pudding via the turkey and still leave you wanting more. The mouth feel is lush and oily, with a raisin-ish aroma and flavour. A quixotic, enlivening, man-on-the-wire wine.


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