Monday, March 23, 2009


View of Gruyere

Enjoyed my lunchtime visit to a very busy Market Lane last week.

Started with the French Onion soup, with Gruyere, and it was a very good start indeed. Then on to the haddock dish, served with potato and chorizo. A magnificent plateful and very very tasty.

I had been on the lookout for a white fish dish as I strolled town and looked at a few menus (Isaac’s, Boqueria, Star Anise, Continental) before I settled on the market lane and they sure didn't let me down.

That meal confirmed the Oliver Plunkett Street venue as my top lunch venue. There is extra value there these days: a lunch special at €10.00 and an early bird at €20.00. Well worth a try!

I can also confirm that my favourite Chinese is still Ying’s Palace in Mayfield. Checked out the local opposition, the Orchid in Ballyvolane, recently but my opinion is that there is better, in terms of both food and value, available at Ying’s Place.

Friday, March 13, 2009


The Tholsel, with Fleva (and Bridgestones) close by.
For more on Kilkenny go to:


Historic Kilkenny is a short enough trip from Cork.

Highlight is the gallery in Kilkenny Castle, a must visit, but you can take or leave the tower (don't think you’d get planning permission for it nowadays).

Countryside is pleasant with some fine ruins (Jerpoint Abbey for example, a much better visit than the remaining bits and pieces of Duiske). Some lovely villages too within a short distance of the city, particularly Inistioge (Don't forget a visit to nearby Woodstock) and Graiguenamanagh (on the Barrow).

Arriving in the town, had lunch at the hotel, the Kilkenny Inn (a mid range decent enough three star, quite close to the small town centre). Lunch was a Cajun chicken in a tortilla, with chips and salad, all for less than a tenner. Nicely done and good value.

Kilkenny seems to be a favourite trip to for the Dublin food critics (also hen and stag nights - check that out when booking your hotel). You could fall over the many awards around the place. The door at Fleva (High Street) is loaded with Bridgestones. It is well worth a visit. I had a three course early bird there for €26.00. Mains was Pork with cheese and a mustard jus and the desert, bread and butter pudding with whisky soaked raisins, looked and tasted amazing, should have taken a photo.

For a couple of Euro less, you get a three course at Lautrec Bistro (St Kieran’s Street). Portions are probably bigger here (not that they are small in Flevas) but quality is high. I enjoyed my braised lamb and the unusual dessert of orange tasting semolina with blueberries. They also do a Plat du jour for €21.00.

Wines at each establishment started around €5.75 per glass but the best glass of wine I had was at the big Left Bank Bar, down by the Castle. Most of the bars here are small but this highly decorated bright place has soft sofas and a roaring fire and bamboo plants growing to the high ceiling. I took my six euro glass of Merlot over to one of the sofas and didn't leave for an hour, a very enjoyable hour indeed.

It was a quick and enjoyable visit to the place that bills itself as Ireland’s Medieval City – not quite true. Officially it may well be a city but many towns are as big and you do have to work to find the medieval bits. The population is about 22,000, not much more than that of Douglas. It is about the same as the non city of Tralee and much less than non city Dundalk (35,000)! But obviously the Cats won the argument some time ago! Same as they’ve won so many hurling titles – now you can’t take that away from them!

For more on Kilkenny go to:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Best of Britain and Ireland

The Best of Britain & Ireland ’09 Exhibition
a travel event happening in London during March.

There have been some major changes to the video recipe competition we highlighted not too long ago

Firstly there is now a fantastic prize, a culinary tour in the Cotswold with accommodation and up to £200 travel expenses provided up for grabs. Secondly we have now partnered with on the competition to make it even easier to enter. All you have to do is tag your video bobi09com

Full details are here:

It would be great if you could get involved, either by entering yourself or just mentioning it to anyone you think would be interested. All our blog readers will receive 30% discount on double ticket. You can book a double ticket (two adults) for just £10.50 – that’s a 30% discount on the full price of £15.

To access this great offer, call 0871 230 5588 or visit and quote BOBI30.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Chicken with orange - gorgeous


Went to the Ambassador, a well established city centre Chinese restaurant, last night. Enjoyed a good meal: a set menu for two costing €65.00. Wines start around 20 euro.

We had the usual prawn crackers, crabmeat and corn soup, a combination dish (little envelopes of meats, a breaded fish piece, skewers of chicken, cubes of duck... sauces, dips), a three part main course (chicken with orange, Chinese Duck and shredded beef fillet in a black bean sauce). All top class.

And now a note for establishments such as Jacques that charge over the odds for coffee. We got a small cup of a decent coffee and, twice more, they called to the table offering top-ups. Nice touch.

It is a comfortable place and the service is good and delivered with a smile. No shortage of staff. They fill your water regularly, pour out your wine, take your coats and even put the napkin on your lap.

They have about six set menus around this price, along with an extensive a la carte of course. No doubt it is a good place and I didn't have any quibble at all (on the contrary). But, by way of comparison, you can get a very similar menu in Ying’s Place (Mayfield) for about 60 per cent of the Ambassador price. You pays your money... as they say.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Best of Britain & Ireland

The Best of Britain & Ireland ’09 Exhibition
a domestic travel event happening in London during March.

Best of Britain & Ireland ‘09 exhibition is to be held on 26-29 March 2009 at London’s ExCeL. It celebrates the best of Britain and Ireland, and is looking for the best of British and Irish cooking through an online competition. They are inviting amateur and professional chefs to celebrate and show off their favorite British or Irish meals. The best video recipes will then be showcased to over 20,000 visitors to the ExCeL centre on the 28th and 29th March and on The Best of Britain & Ireland website:

Click here for details:

Firm favourites


It has been a month of favourites, regular visits to Isaacs and even more so to Jacques . Both stood up well to the stress testing. Enjoyable fish dishes in each spot, Haddock one evening in Isaacs, Hake at Jacques.

Jacques is pretty expensive but value is good though I find paying €3.50 for a cup of coffee (a good cup I must admit) annoying and won't be doing it again.

There is value to be had in Jacques on the €25.00 menu which is available most weekdays and up to 7.00pm on weekends. The number of choices is limited but what you do get is top class food and the menu changes regularly.

The recession is biting and there are an increasing number of early birds available around town – make sure you check the local press before you go out.

During the Celtic Tiger we probably got used to speedy and efficient service in the restaurants – sometimes you were glad to get in, they were so busy. But the old personal warm friendly touch was lacking in most places. Nobody was discourteous. But, once the formalities were concluded, there was nothing extra, proprietors and staff didn’t even use the Irish fallback of the weather in conversation.

Now that things are slowing down, it might be no harm to cultivate that kind of rapport again. A warm greeting doesn't do any harm. I know myself that certain shops in town are a joy to visit. Ronnie Moore’s and O’Leary’s Camera World are good examples. I started going there years ago, felt welcome and still go there. Restaurants please copy.