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Everything posted by Patrick_O

  1. Simon has covered most bases but I'd also recommend The Mermaid Cafe for Saturday or Sunday brunch/lunch. I've also had a couple of decent dinners in The Pig's Ear and like the Winding Stair, the cooking is modern Irish. As Simon pointed out, Saturday night is going to be very busy for St. Valentines so I would strongly recommend l'Gueuleton on Fade St. for Saturday evening. They don't take bookings so go along before 6pm and queue for a few mins. You can go straight in or stick your name down for later and go next door for pint! Any of the others mentioned should be fine for Sat/Sun afternoon. Mermaid, Winding Stair and Pig's Ear also open Sunday evening. Have a great weekend and don't forget to let us know how you got on.
  2. We'd be delighted to get a Bib Corinna. We're ticking over quite nicely at the moment but it would certainly give everyone a boost to have some positive news to report.
  3. It just might be the year that Neven Maguire lands a star for MacNean Restaurant... great chef, the place has had a serious refurb and the wine list is much improved. Things were a bit shaky for Oliver Dunne in Bon Appetit during his first year with a star. Hopefully they've improved and his star is safe. ← I couldn't agree more Corinna. I think this is Nevin's year-they certainly appear to have gone all out for it. I also agree about Bon Appetit. It's had very mixed press throughout 2008. They were definitely finding their feet when I ate there.
  4. Chris, as others have mentioned, best to book the most popular places for a Saturday night. There shouldn't be too many tourists there mid Jan so you should be fine to just turn up mid week. One note of caution-we expected Bologna to be cold but we were not prepared for just how cold it was. Despite wrapping up really well and carrying plenty of pasta fuelled insulation around with us, we were frozen to the bone most of the time we were there. Not sure if it was a one off cold snap so best to check before you go.
  5. Just back from a fantastic 10 days in Italy with 3 of them spent in Bologna. I will definitely be retuning as the period over New Year is not the best for dining as many restaurants are closed. Those that are open tend to lean more towards tourists and therefore it is difficult to get a true feel for the standard of local cooking. However, we perservered and managed to eat quite well. Franco Rossi. We had dinner on NYE. It was a seven course set menu with wine and champagne included and became a struggle after about the third course as the portions were a little generous. There were three fish courses, one pasta, two meat and then dessert. Some of the cooking was good ( zampone was the star of the show) but some was very poor ( manza was truly awful). Overall, it was pretty run of the mill old fashioned food served in similarly old fashioned surroundings. It was fine to experience once but I can't see us ever going back. Montegrappa Da Nello Very enjoyable inexpensive trattoria. Definitley aimed at tourists but none the worse for it. Food is simple, honest and well prepared. Tortellini in brodo was full of flavour and the pasta had just the right texture. Veal chop was seared to a nice crust on the outside and nicely pink inside. No culinary fireworks but good ingredients properly cooked and good value for money-just what you want from a neighbourhood trattoria. Teresina Without doubt the best food we ate in Bologna. Situated on Via Oberdan, we had to walk past this place on our way to the city centre and liked the look of the menu and dining room so decided to try it. We were glad we did. Seated in the narrower of the two dining rooms, we started with gnocchi and tagliatelle with ragu. Both were very well made with the gnocci light as a feather and the pasta dense and toothsome. The ragu was as good an example of simple slow cooking as I've ever had. Mains were rabbit and pheasant. Both had been prepared with a lot of skill, particularly the rabbit leg which was boned, stuffed with a really tasty force meat and slow roasted. Both were simply served with roasting juices and braised chard. Accompanied by a caraffe of very drinkable house red, this made for a fantastic lunch on our last day. I posted before the trip abour contemporary dining...this is exactly what I meant. In between these meals we had great antipasti at the countless enotecas dotted around the Piazza Magiore and also a slice of decent pizza or two. Back to work now about a stone heavier but already planning our return to Bologna where Il Sole and Marco Fadiga are on the radar! Many thanks to everyone for helping make the trip so enjoyable.
  6. Last night in florence tonight before we head to Bologna for New Year. We've followed some very useful recommendations from the board here and our experiences were very positive overall. Il Ritrovo We ate here on Saturday evening and really enjoyed the food. Portions were a little on the large side but standard of the cooking was very good. I had a pasta dish with ragu ( it was like a short rigatoni but the name escapes me at the moment). It was perfectly cooked ans the sauce had the depth of flavour only achieved from long slow cooking. Very tasty but way too generous so I left half to leave room for the main event- the famous grilled Florentine rib steak with rocket and parmagiano. The beef was very similar to Irish grass fed beef - full of flavour and tender but with just enough chew to make it interesting. It was perfectly charred on the outside with a very rare centre within..it was everything we had hoped it would be. We shared a very good tiramisu and and a couple of excellent espressi to finish. The lady who was front of house was very charming but a little under pressure as her two children were in the dining room and she had to juggle serving her guests with looking after them. There weren't many other diners there and I would say that overall it wasn't a memorable Saturday night experience but based soley on the food it was very good. I would probably go back for lunch rather than dinner next time. Osteria Del Cinghiale Bianco On a freezing cold day we arrived here for lunch without a booking and were warmly welcomed by the professional and courtious staff. In contrast with the previous evening, the room was nearly full and had a very relaxed and convivial atmosphere. I started with papardelle and wild boar ragu followed by roasted rabbit and my SO had the antipasti plate followed by linguini with black truffles. Everything we ate was superb and had the unmistakable flavours of well sourced ingredients cooked with a lot of skill and care. We have booked in again for dinner this evening and I will post my report tomorrow. Hopefully it's as good as lunch! Ciao!
  7. Disappointed to hear that Franco Rossi was below par-we're booked in there for NYE. In Rome at the moment and had an excellent lunch yesterday at Ristorante Cesarina on Via Piemonte. Cooking is classic Roman and the the suckling pig was the star of the show. As always, we had a great time at Gusto aswell. Some of the staff can be a bit too cool for school but the wines are superb and the quality of the food ( especially their Italian and French cheeses) is always good. Off to Florence later today and have a long list of places to try. We're shooting in the dark somewhat but looking forward to discovering some hidden gems!
  8. Thank you all very much for your helpful comments and suggestions. As one poster pointed out, I was actually referring to decor rather that food. In Rome for example, we always enjoy a mixture of dining experiences from the little family owned trattoria to somewhere like Gusto for example that serves excellent traditional Roman dishes but in a bright, modern setting. It's not foams and fuss that we're looking for. I was just wondering if there were any such places in Bologna..no major problem if there isn't!
  9. Heading off to Italy for a couple of weeks over Christmas and New Year and will be in Bologna for a few days. I've browsed the archived threads and researched other sites and many of the same names keep popping up. Trouble is, they all look quite dated. Are there any contemporary restaurants serving good food in Bologna? My SO and I enjoy good trattoia food and wine but also like modern restaurants and would really appreciate a recommendation that fits the bill in Bologna.
  10. Hi Joey, Now is a good time to visit Dublin as there has been somwhat of a renaissance in recent years and trends have followed London where provenance and quality at affordable prices have become far more important to the restaurant going public. I can't think of any specific "old-standard traditional Irish" restaurants that I'd want to recommend but the following few take great quality seasonal Irish ingredients and create simple, interesting dishes: Winding Stair (www.winding-stair.com) Lock's ( www.locksrestaurant.ie) The Pig's Ear. This is only new so no site yet but I've eaten there a couple of times now and the cooking is excellent. Lots of retro classics such as prawn cocktail and jelly & ice cream but a couple of stand out dishes were the lobster and pea omlette and pig's head terrrine with crispy pig's ears. Good old fashioned bacon and cabbage is hard to beat for winter comfort food. Although not Irish cooking, I'm also a big fan of L'Gueleton on Fade Street (www.lgueuleton.com) for good quality casual French bistro food. For a high-end blow out, check out Mint (www.mintrestaurant.ie) or Thorntons ( www.thorntonsrestaurant.com). Arguably the two best restaurants in Ireland run by undoubtedly the two best Irish chefs cooking here at the moment. Enjoy!
  11. I haven't heard where Fred is Corinna but I have it on good authority that they plan to return to fine dining despite the fact that Cafe La Serre does a decent brasserie trade and fine dining never worked for them in the past. Not sure what the thinking is behind the move.
  12. I heard over the weekend that Paul Carroll is to take over as head chef at the Lyons Estate in Celbridge, which has also had it's fair share of turbulence over the past year.
  13. Had to cancel unfortunatley Corinna and work instead. I've heard nothing but good reports so I'm definitely going to get there in the next week or so.
  14. I'm planning to go to Bentleys this weekend RDB-I'll let you know how I get on.
  15. Thanks Corinna. It was unexpected but very much appreciated. Still a bit groggy today- the awards lunch finished up around 2am this morning!
  16. Plenty of poorly informed generalisations flying about. Food in Dublin has progressed significantly in the last few years if you care to research it. I know an English guy who eats nothing but curry -but I'm guessing he's not representative of the entire nation.
  17. Went to LCE on a Thursday evening a couple of weeks ago and after eventually finding it on the top floor of a grim shopping centre, ( Open table gave the incorrect address when booking), we were very impressed. They were full all evening but service was efficient ( although I agree that it could be a little more polished). Highlights food wise were rabbit rillettes, which were dense and perfectly seasoned, smoked eel which was rich yet had a beautifully subtle smoked flavour, and spit roast baby lamb which as good an example of this dish as I have even eaten. I was less impressed by the pike boudin which was very light but bland and my partridge would have benefited hugely from a few minutes less cooking time. The dining room had a great atmosphere and the wine list had an excellent selection which were sensibly marked up. After an excellent review from Tom Doorley in the Irish Times a couple of weeks ago I'm sure it will prove a popular destination with Irish diners visiting London.
  18. I had lunch in Roussillion and dinner in Arbutus last Friday. Both hold one star but were polar opposites in terms of category of restaurant. Rouissillion represents the old school of 1* and the whole experience seemed to be "michelin by numbers". Arbutus, on the other hand, was a good example of the haute bistro type cooking which michelin currently favours in Paris. For what it's worth, the food in Arbutus was far superior in terms of flavour and imagination. I also had a superb dinner in Le Cafe Anglais last week and although it might be a too soon for this guide, I wouldn't be surprised if they were to pick up a star in the future.
  19. Thanks Corinna, thats exactly what I was looking for. I haven't booked RHR or Petrus yet..naively figured a mid week dinner in Januaury would be safe enough a couple of weeks ahead...I'll call today.
  20. Cheers Worzel, Bacchus certainly sounds interesting-would it be a better bet for lunch or dinner? Would really like to try the starred Indian restaurants but we're only coming from Dublin and Atul Kocher is due to open here early next year so we'll porbably give Indian food a swerve this time.
  21. I've got some business in London in January and plan to shoehorn a couple of days gorging in while I'm there. It's been a while since I've visited so I will have one top end dinner in either RHR or Petrus. That leaves two lunches and one dinner ( provided I don't expire from gout by day two!) I specifically want to check out places that are producing simple yet high quality bistro fare. Places such as St. John, Arbutus, Wild Honey, Comptoir Gascon, Market etc ( I'm sure there are plenty I haven't heard of) I would be very grateful for recommendations for lunch and dinner.
  22. Just to buck the trend a little, myself and three guests had an excellent lunch there last week. Food was definitely two star but service, whilst friendly and efficient in parts, needs more work. We started with an amuse of langoustines with a light nage and osietra caviar. So far so very good. The set lunch offereing of two courses for Eur30 looks great value but we chose from the a la carte. Starters average Eur25 and main courses Eur45. I started with veal sweetbreads seared to a nice crust on the outside and perfectly melting in texture in the centre. Served with some simple reduced veal stock, black truffles and shaved vegetables, this was a perfectly executed dish with just the right balance of light and rich that great cooking should have. My guests had the lobster and salmon ravioli, foie gras and smoked goose terrine, and king crab salad. All declared excellent, although I must admit to making exactly the same comment as Tom Doorley about the ravioli..why bother with the farmed salmon? For main course two of us chose partridge, one venison and one halibut. The partridge was roasted on the bone, breasts removed & legs ballotined and sereved with a rich mead sauce. The bird was perfectly cooked and presented and while not exactly pushing the culinary envelope, it was very assured cooking and the strength of the sauce was well judged and allowed the mild gaminess of the partridge to come through. The venison was nicely hung and served just the right side of rare to give it a buttery texture. It's accompaniment of chocolate filled gnocci was too rich and was left uneaten. Halibut was studded with salmon and served with a horseradish veloute. Another successful dish with a beautifully cooked piece of fish at the centre and garnish and light sauce doing what they should. We finished off with some Irish and French cheese which was served in perfect condition. Some scorched espresso was the only real low point of the meal. The wine list is comedically large and should be lowered from the ceiling on a hoist! Although it is only possible to read about on tenth of the list, there are some excellent wines at surprisingly restrained mark ups if you look hard enough. Overall we found the cooking to be safe two star stuff that probably needs an injection of imagination but could not be faulted on execution. The room itself, like the rest of the hotel, is very American hotel chain style..high on cost, low on taste ( think gold plating, marble everywhere and lots of pastal colours and floral patterns). Service started out very well but got patchy at the later stages and the room needs a strong managerial presence. If they can tweak the menu and improve the service, they will be a shoe-in for two stars.
  23. I'm quite excited about this venture and hope it can help raise the bar at the top end of the Irish restaurant scene. If it is successful then hopefully it will attract other 3* heavy hitters to Ireland because I feel that there is a market here for restaurants of the highest quality. With one or two notable exceptions, we do not have restauarants of the calibre of Ramsey's in Ireland and I think it's a shame that people who like to experience restaurants of that standard have to hop on plane to the UK or Paris etc. Mind you, having tried to get a reservation it appears that it will be mid 2015 by the time non residents get to eat there!
  24. Interesting views Augustine, there aren't many who'd agree with you about Trevor White. In general, those who review restaurants tend to divide opinion and whilst I do not always agree with his views, I believe Tom Doorley is best critic we have at the moment. Not sure what all this has to do with MPW's mug being plastered on a billboard at The Point but hey ho!
  25. I'll third Pierre Gagnaire! I'd also suggest Arzak is San Sebastian. Alternatively, as perviously mentioned, you could stay in the UK and do The Fat Duck.
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