Macau has been a significant restaurant in Belfast for the last two decades - many would say it serves the city's best Chinese food. The restaurant opened at a time when Belfast Chinese food was hip and savvy, and its customers were both the city's Chinese community and the community of Northern Irish chefs.
The first person we contacted, after the result of the U.S. Presidential election was in, was Elizabeth Field. No matter what the situation was – a political conundrum; a problem with finessing marmalade; how to cook goat meat; finding the best tweed in Donegal – Elizabeth was always the best informed and most reliable person to whom you could turn.
This week we ordered fish online from Ireland’s new online fishmonger, Gannet Fishmongers’ EatMoreFish.ie. The fish came promptly, travelling from Galway to West Cork via a courier, who left it in our local shop (who kindly put it in their fridge until we picked it up).
Have you noticed the independent cafe look being ‘borrowed’ more and more by commercial outlets up and down the country?
Simply looking the part as a café used to guarantee something but, these days, an instagrammable interior, speciality coffee and a brunch menu don’t always equate to what you might expect.
But don’t let the fact that Storyboard has all these things put you off! They have managed to tick all the indy cafe boxes and still deliver something fresh.
There is something very winning about how they roll in Urbanity. It starts with their bold sign, written in a clear font and declaring triumphantly: “Roasted in Smithfield”. That’s no idle boast, and they know it.
On leaving Richard McCracken’s Cyprus Avenue restaurant, we drove down the adjacent Cyprus Avenue, made globally-famous by the song of the same name on Van Morrison’s timeless 50-year-old classic, Astral Weeks, and almost collided with a group of Japanese tourists.
The name is still evocative, it still draws people in, and it's a clever tie-in for Mr McCracken's restaurant, an East Belfast neighbourhood destination that opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a street-side terrace, an occasional market stall, and an ambition to serve the community with good food.
Sitting at the corner of North Main Street, in Cork city, between the small local shops and ethnic supermarkets, Priory Coffee is a smart, dainty coffee shop.
We were originally drawn in for a coffee, but were then quickly taken in by the unique style of the room, a style that seems to bring a touch of Manhattan to the other side of Patrick Street.
With it’s white office ceiling tiles, complete with strip fluorescent lighting, you might expect Sticky Bun to feel like an alienating café space, something found in a shopping mall. Happily, the opposite is the case. Into this sterile streetside environment in Clonakilty town centre, Kay Burke has cleverly mixed up the space with painted wooden chairs, high and low stools, a jaw box sink, tea pots from Wall & Keogh, painted panelling, fire extinguishers, a large gilt mirror and a counter full of delicious foods that create an enticing atmosphere of deliciousness.
Most Memorable Meals:
I ate in restaurants almost as many times as I cooked at at home this year but the following meals linger longest in my mind.
Traditionally, a person knew they were getting on in years when the policemen they walked past on the street looked disconcertingly youthful.
That’s bunk, these days.
These days, you know the years are catching up with you when you look around the restaurant where you are having lunch or dinner, and everyone else is younger than you.
Thing is: they won’t just be younger. They will be much, much younger.
Take three Irish restaurants, in three Irish cities.