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Gastro dining is taking over.

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It used to be that restaurants fell into certain categories which were fairly clearly divided. When myself and Paolo started to work on Taste of Ireland ten years ago, nearly all the listings and reviews were for restaurants rather than bars or cafe.

That has now changed, and whether it’s a casual bite with craft beers in The Exchequer, three to try in D4, gastro treats at the Ballymore Inn  Co. Kildare or a feast at Brasserie on the Corner Galway, it’s just a small sample of what’s on offer

Fade Street Social

“ The best meal I ever had” So wrote Paolo Tullio in his review of Mint restaurant in Ranelagh, where Dylan McGrath won his Michelin Star. I was at that meal and it was sublime and so it really shouldn’t have been a surprise  that when Dylan opened Fade Street with a gastro bar on one side and the type of inventive tapas that Dublin hadn’t seen before, it was going to be brilliant; and so it was, and is.

Crab toasties, acres of impossibly thin carpaccio, French fries with truffles and parmesan, or some sprouts in chestnut puree that I still remember from two Christmas’s ago, Fade Street is the top of the gastro tree in Dublin. Add in some kicking cocktails, a Winter Garden on the roof and a young and enthuasiastic staff and it’s the perfect antidote to a grey day in Dublin.

Read our latest review here

The Exchequer

The Exchequer Bar and Restaurant in Dublin’s Exchequer Street has been winning awards since it opened. There is now a sister wine bar in Ranelagh, so it seems they are still keeping customoers happy.

It seems to go from strength to strength and has been evolving all that time. Some people seem to believe a good restaurant is a set thing; not so, the really good ones grow and change, while keeping true to core values. That’s what The Exchequer have done and it works a treat.

The Vintage Inn, Sober Lane and Artisan Parlour Ringsend

The Vintage Inn is a bar and restaurant in Irishtown, quite close to the bottom of bath avenue, and beside the new Sober Lane. It is a traditional pub, and new owner Kathy Gleeson - who is the daughter of the previous owners - has treated the past with some respect, while adding some new touches and a bit of design flourish.

Perhaps the biggest flourish is the food menu, which offers a short menu of lunchtime treats, a savage Sunday lunch and an evening menu that offers fabulous sliders,  homemade pies, a selection of flatbreads and lovely homemade desserts.

Sober Lane is in Irishtown, on the stretch of road between Sandymount and Ringsend, close to the bottom of Bath Avenue. It is next door to The Vintage Inn and together they are creating a buzz down this way.

Sober lane is the brainchild of Ernest Cantillon, who we know well through his Cork restaurant, Electric and he organised the Cork Food festival for a couple of years. Ernest is a man on a mission and he has now brought his Sober lane to Dublin, to feed the Jackeens on a winning menu of good burgers, pulled pork, kick ass robs and some retro desserts.

The Artisan Parlour was Paolo’s find last year, not a gastro bar, but one of the new breed using carfully sourced produce to create interesting and inventive food. “The word 'artisan' is one I like, especially when it's applied to food stuffs. It's the movement that brought the vast array of wonderful cheeses that we now have, and bit by bit it's bringing us smoked fish and meats, outdoor-raised farm animals and even buffalo mozzarella.

The Artisan is easily found in the lane behind the library, right in the middle of Ringsend. If you're lucky, you can even get parking outside. Inside it has that 'artisan' look of recycled woods, produce on display, and simple tables and chairs set up for dinner. If I had a reservation about the interior it was that the tables were small and were placed very close together. As it happened, on the night we were able to move our table and get a bit of room, as the space behind us didn't get used, but had the room been full to capacity, I suspect we would have been uncomfortably squeezed.”

Read Paolo's review here

The Ballymore Inn, Co. Kildare

The Ballymore Inn opened their doors 16 years ago under the watchful eyes of Barry & Georgina O Sullivan, and was one of the first gastro pubs at the time. It is located in the centre of Ballymore Eustace, 11 kilometres south of Naas and less than a forty minute drive from Dublin.

The food here is understated but Georgina's skill as a cook, together with carefully sourced ingredients, married with flair and consistency make Ballymore a destination for food lovers from all over the country.

Read out full review here

Brasserie on the Corner, Galway

Brasserie looks as brand spanking new as it did on day one, pretty good going since it has been rammers since opening. The same team is in place and manager Eimear has expanded the wine list, and brought the team together into a really cohesive unit.

The Brasserie is very nicely decorated inside. The original building has been completely rebuilt; even the brick arches that divide the dining room-which look as if they have been there forever- are new.

As you walk in, there’s a long bar counter with padded stools, and beyond that there are the dining areas. The tables are topped with thick, shiny wood, the chairs are deeply upholstered and comfortable, and the table settings are comprised of good cutlery and glassware.

Check out our full review here


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