Showing posts with label Dublin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dublin. Show all posts

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Happy Tapas Time at Lola’s

Crema Catalana

Happy Tapas Time at Lola’s

As you round the corner and see the lively queue outside and note too through the glass the tightly packed tables at the front, you guess this visit to Las Tapas de Lola in Dublin’s Wexford Street is going to be a good one. And that feeling gets better with the warm unhurried greeting and chat at the door. And it just gets better and better as the evening goes on.

We are soon seated in the main part of the restaurant, taking in the buzz and the decor in the interior where there is a little more space between the tables. The menus are already on the table. We have about fifty tapas to choose from. Just as well we had done a little homework online.

Another little chat as we settle in and a welcome complimentary drink of lemon, red wine and ice. Cheers! Lots of drinks to choose from, wines (Spanish of course), Spanish beers too but we start with the Sangria!

We order four tapas, for a start. The first is soon delivered. The Chicharrones is Marinated pork belly, slow-cooked and flash-fried until crispy. And delicious.
Chicharrones

The next three more or less arrive together. Very impressed with the Chorizo frito y morcilla (Chorizo & Spanish black pudding). Albondigas is the Spanish for Meatballs which arrive in their rich house tomato sauce. Completing the “awesome threesome” is Higado al ajillo (Sautéed lamb liver with garlic & parsley).
Chorizo & Spanish black pudding

So it is half-time and what will we have for the second half? We do change from the Sangria to their Estrella beer, available on tap. About time we had some fish (the menu is divided into sections) and spot “a creamy Gratin of scallops & white fish” called Vieiras gratinadas. It is creamy for sure and excellent.

Liver
Something healthy perhaps? Why not Traditional Catalan grilled vegetables? Our server says this is served cold. No problem, we say. And it’s not, the Escalivada is different and again delicious.

We are about to hit the wall here, so settle on a shared dessert - well we’ve been sharing everything else in the round terracotta plates. The Crema Catalana is the perfect finish. 
Grattin

If you intend to visit Las Tapas de Lola, do check the menu online before you go. Not alone will you see what is on offer but you can also find background information on how they came to select it and even where you can get the very best of that particular tapa in and around Barcelona. 

Take the popular Churros for instance. Did you know that tradition dictates that churros are eaten early morning either on the way home from a night out or for breakfast? Check out the menus and opening times here

Service had been friendly and efficient all through, always time for a quick chat, and the send-off was just as warm as the welcome. Very Highly Recommended.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Dublin's Café en Seine. Palate Pleasing. Eye-catching.


Dublin's Café en Seine.
Palate Pleasing. Eye-catching. 

The reimagined Café en Seine in Dublin’s Dawson Street is spectacular. Highlight perhaps is the Paris style Street Garden with its retractable roof and a capacity of 250 guests standing and 80 guests seated. Trees rise from the pavement up over the bar and the shopfronts and the scene is eye-catching both in detail and in its entirety.

Great place for people spotting, they say. And we did meet a Californian billionaire who told us he gives away millions every day. Unfortunately, he had finishedispensing them for the day and we couldn't be bothered coming back the next!

Our main purpose was to try out the food in their new 50 seater restaurant at Café en Seine, this the main feature at very front of the  building and also decorated in eye-catching style.

Here, head chef Stephen Gibson and his team, using Irish suppliers, “have brought a new dining experience to Dublin and have created a menu that reflects the ever changing tastes of Irish palates”.

We enjoyed the experience (including the music, (jazz, soul and rock 'n roll) from start to finish, including the enjoyable banter with our servers. They would get much busier later on but still had time to check back with us every now and then. You may read the menus here yourself. They also do lunch.

Starters are grouped under a Sharing Plates heading and these may be had in other parts of the building as well. They have after all no less than five bars, including two upstairs.

We had been  tipped off about their Crispy duck wings (12.00), served with chilli miso and sesame, and they were outstanding, almost led to a bit of scrap as you get three! Our other starter was the Salt Baked Beetroot (with goats cheese, pickled cherries, pistachio), completely different to the duck but totally delicious (7.00).

And no danger at all of scrapping during the main event, the generous Moroccan Lamb Shoulder (€50.00), especially for sharing. Indeed they do a few of these. Once we had chosen it, our server was more than pleased. He seemed to know a lot about this style of dish and said they do it well here. He was spot-on! 

The other server make a little show of presenting the large platter and it came with side dishes of couscous, yoghurt, smoked aubergine, harissa, flat breads. This was excellent and lots of meat too. And our red wine, the Les Oliviers blend of Merlot and Mourvedre (Pays D’Oc), fruity, supple and rich, was a more or less perfect match (32.00).

Time for dessert then and again we shared the lovely Crême Brulée (7.00). Off to stretch the legs now with a walk among the buzzing downstairs bars; this was early in the week and the two upstairs bars open only at the weekend.
 
Back to the garden

So we took two of the very comfortable bar stools at the first bar we came to and ordered some Liberties Ale (€5.90 a pint). Our eyes were wandering all over the colourful decor, even the magnificent displays of drinks behind the bar. It was then we spotted the tall trees further down and drifted along to the Street Garden to finish off the evening. Very enjoyable all told, even that late night chat with the Californian and his companion.
Choice is yours!
also on this Dublin trip:
The Little Museum of Dublin

Pearse Lyons Distillery
The Silk Road Café & Chester Beatty Library

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Eastern flavours and culture at Silk Road Café in Chester Beatty Library


Eastern flavours and culture at Silk Road Café
 and Chester Beatty Library

During one of the first Culture Nights in Cork, the Kay Harte of the Farm Gate Café had Abraham Phelan down from Dublin as guest chef and the queues were long. You can still find Abraham’s food in Dublin, at The Silk Road Café, a mecca for students, artists, other gallery visitors and more, in the Chester Beatty Library.

Here, the dishes served reflect the global reach of the collections - with Middle Eastern, North African, Mediterranean, vegetarian and coeliac friendly dishes served on a daily basis. No shortage of choice here when lunch begins at noon as they have about a dozen different offerings. Earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon, they serve teas and coffees and lots of good things, including baklava.
Quite a dining room at The Silk Road;
the kitchen and other rooms are to the right.

We had been taking a look in the Library itself and came down to the café, splendidly situated in the atrium, at noon. There is no written menu but the staff are very helpful here and soon we were sorted.

Breakfast had been generous and there was a big dinner on the horizon so nothing too much was required and we picked a three pronged small salad (8.20) and a vegetarian moussaka with salads (11.50).

Their selection of 12 dishes changes daily and all are served with rice and vegetables or with two of twelve vegetarian salads. 

The main courses could include a lamb moussaka as well as the vegetarian one. You’ll find a fish dish and a number of chicken offerings including curry. There may also be a pie and freshly made falafels. 
All cakes, biscuits and breads are homemade and you will find mixed berry scones shoulder to shoulder with chocolate brownies, fruit tarts, fig cake and baklava. 

To finish up, we ordered tea and the good value here was underlined with a pot (of at least two cups) for two euro.

We were fit for more walking after that and went back up the stairs to the museum. Entry is free but donations of a fiver are suggested.

You may have seen something of the current major exhibition “Gift of a Lifetime: Treasures from the Chester Beatty’s Collection” on TV. 

It includes folios from the Beatty Rosarium (a collection of devotions to the Blessed Virgin) consisting of 8 amazing miniatures. There’s an equally impressive late 12th century Deluxe Gospel Book from the pinnacle of the Byzantine period and also a 13th century Gospel Book, also from Turkey and one of the most important copies of the Qur’an in existence.

On this floor, you’ll also find the Art of the Book, everything from tiny snuff containers to large Dragon Robes but mainly displaying fascinating manuscripts, books, schools and bindings.
A summertime view from the roof garden of the Chester Beatty

Another floor up and you’ll wander through the Sacred Traditions Gallery, all about the world’s major religions, most of them from the east, including of course Christianity and Islam. The library reaches out to young and old with, among other things, lectures, tours and workshops. You may also explore some of the collections online. Check it all out here.

And don’t forget to visit the rooftop garden. The views are restricted, probably for safety and security reasons, but you do get a good look out over the area, including Dublin Castle to your left.

That Abraham Phelan visit to Cork was in 2011 (how time has flown!) and among the tasty bits he was busy serving up were Spanah Fatayer, Fil Fil Mahshy, Musken, Dagaj Bil Lemon and Patingan Mahshy.  (Hope those spellings are correct!).

While going through the info at the Silk Road website, I saw they do an Afternoon tea with a twist. There are no finger sandwiches or any scones but sweet and savoury treats from more than 15 countries. Sushi, chicken shawarma parcels, small bowls with paella are mixed with Persian love cakes, date truffles and Indian burfi. Click here for the Menu.

also on this Dublin trip:
The Little Museum of Dublin

Pearse Lyons Distillery
Café en Seine


Heading east


Monday, January 21, 2019

Pearse Lyons Whiskey Lifts Liberties. More than a distillery


Pearse Lyons Whiskey Lifts Liberties
More than a distillery

We begin our tour in the graveyard of the former church of St. James, now home to the Pearse Lyons Distillery. Here in the Golden Triangle in the heart of The Liberties we end with a sip of the golden Pearse Five-Year-Old Single Malt, the design and packaging inspired by the former church, now restored and with a unique blue glass spire. In addition, there is also a genuine old pub, McCann’s, on site and some of the tours end there for a drink. 

The late Pearse Lyons on video frame
When you have finished the tour, having heard how Deirdre and Pearse Lyons took over the rump of the old church and the overgrown graveyard (where up to 100,000 had been buried over the centuries) and transformed it, you realise that this is much more than just a business venture, more than a distillery.

We are here for the whiskey of course and our tour allows us quite a tasting, beginning with The Original. This has been raised in US barrels (from the Lyons Town Branch distillery in Lexington) and the vanilla shows. It is a lovely whiskey, citrus and smoke on the nose, sweet, light and a little smoky as you sip.

Our patient guide at this stage is James and he has all the answers telling us that our next whiskey, the Distiller’s Choice is a 3 to 9 year old blend of no less than seven Irish whiskies, 6 sourced by Mr Lyons plus their own malt whiskey (ex ale barrel, Lyons also have a brewery Alltech). 

The Lyons distillery is quite new (though they had set up their equipment in Carlow for a few years before opening here in St Jame’s), hence the sourcing. The blend is perfect, again a touch of fruit (including citrus) on the nose, smooth and sweet and very satisfying indeed.

James was quite enthusiastic about the third whiskey, the Founder’s Choice, a 12 year old single malt. Again fruity on the nose with herbal notes too, sweet, oaky, herbal and spicy on the silky palate and finish. No wonder it is James’s favourite!

Number four is the Cooper’s Select, 42% like all the previous drinks. This a blend of 80% Single Malt and 20% Grain and has spent four years in Sherry cask. Dried fruit and coffee on the nose and that rich combination continues on the palate. This is an after-dinner drink and a very nice one too! But if you fancy it, you’d better act quickly as they won’t be producing this exact drink again.  James: “When it’s gone, it’s gone”.

Yeast at work
The future is represented in more ways than one in our final Pearse tasting, the Single Malt. Its bottle shape is different to the previous four and will be standard for Pearse whiskey in the future. The standard within is exceptional. This by the way is all their own malt, raised in first and second fill Bourbon casks. 

“It is the first five-year age statement Irish whiskey to appear from a new distillery in the whole of Ireland in more than 25 years. Presented in 4,000 individually numbered bottles, this limited release 5-Year-Old Single Malt was produced on two small-batch copper pot stills, and aged in bourbon casks.”

It is sweet, oaky, peppery. Still  young, yet full of promise, all very encouraging indeed. And it was also a bottle that I bought before I left!
James, with the Single Malt

Had an enjoyable taste of their Ha’penny Dublin Dry Gin, a small-batch, pot distilled gin featuring 13 expertly selected botanicals including Geranium, Dandelion, Lavender and Blackberry – all of which would have been growing in the nearby Phoenix Park in Victorian times when the bridge was built. The Ha’penny series also features a whiskey.

The counter where we tasted is set up in the church under a stained glass representation of a cooper at work. The stained glass windows are amazing; one commemorates the area’s connection with the Camino to Santiago di Compostela, another depicts how Irish Whiskey is made; the fourth shows the natural ingredients grown for “uisce beatha”. Amazing how the warm amber light from the windows fills up the distillery interior, reflecting on the copper stills and the Caen stone pillars. 

Outside though, the work is continuing and will continue for a long while to come, as our excellent tour guide Bernard told us. Many a story has emerged from the graveyard and no doubt more to come, all exciting much interest locally and further afield.

The headstones shed light on the trades that The Liberties welcomed in the past. Tradesmen and women who worked as coopers, distillers, linen merchants, shoemakers, bakers, bishops and soldiers have all found a resting place here at St. James’ Church alongside many members of the Lyons family. 

The graveyard is next door to Guinness property and one of the more prominent graves, right up by the wall of the church, belongs to Sir Haldane Porter, an assistant managing director of Guinness at his death in 1944.

The oldest person buried here is Florence Walltropp, 105 years old at her death. They also found five leaded coffins, always a sign of a contagious disease; these five are of one family believed to have decimated by the 1832 cholera outbreak in Dublin.

And the Golden Triangle? At one time, close to 40 distilleries were in operation in Dublin, nestled in a one mile radius around here, better known as the “Golden Triangle.”
Cooper at work
The four big distillery players at the time were George Roe and Company, John Power and Son, William Jameson and Company and John Jameson and Son. Today, the Pearse Lyons Distillery is playing a leading role as the Golden Triangle in the heart of The Liberties makes a remarkable revival.

A visit here is Very Highly Recommended. For the whiskey yes but it is, after all, much more than a distillery. Read more here

* Pearse Lyons greets all visitors during an introductory video to the tour but sadly the great man died last year. He will be missed for a long time and will be remembered whenever a person from the Liberties, or indeed a visitor on his or her way to the distillery, spots the distinctive blue spire.
also on this Dublin trip:
The Little Museum of Dublin
Café en Seine

Monday, February 13, 2017

Darwins - The Origin of the Steak

Darwins - The Origin of the Steak
Steak
 If you’re on the prowl in Dublin and looking for steak, then head to Darwins Restaurant in Aungier Street. While you’re waiting for your order, take a peak at those big guys on the wall, your ancestors, the origin of the species.

When that steak comes, you’ll straighten up immediately as the aromas waft up from that fillet. Indeed, you’ll have a good choice of cuts here: Dry-aged Strip loin (14oz); New York Strip loin steak (14oz); Rib eye steak on the bone (20oz); Rib eye off the bone (12oz - it was a big bone!); that Premium eye Fillet steak (10oz); and Centre cut T-bone steak (20oz).

Darwins have something of an advantage in that their steaks are sourced from their own in house butchers. “Before it’s delivered to you it is hand selected, aged to perfection and hand trimmed. It is then seasoned, seared and cooked to order over a very hot grill to seal in the flavour.”
Lamb
 All the steaks are served with a potato mash and there is a choice of sides including House Chips, skinny or chunky. And no shortage of sauces either. The usual suspects such as Pepper sauce, blue cheese sauce, garlic butter, Sauce béarnaise, and mushroom sauce are on the list but you’ll also see one or two rarer ones such as Barolo jus.

I had all that to pick as I went through the menu and my final combination was that Premium Eye Fillet with that excellent Barolo jus along with a side of the chunky chips. Steak heaven!


Steak is not the only meat they do well here. Wicklow Lamb is another speciality. You won't have as much choice as with the beef but do look out for this one: the Assiette of Wicklow lamb, half rack and eye fillet cuts, buttered mashed potato.

Deconstructed cherry cheesecake,
definitely destructed a few minutes later.  
This, their award winning lamb dish, is served with a Barolo and dark chocolate jus and it is served pink “but if you would like to alter the temperature just let us know”.

In fairness, they let you know in advance and you’ll see this temperature chart on the menu so do have a look and then you’ll know exactly what is coming up.
Blue: slowly warmed through, takes the longest to prepare
Rare: 52 °C very red cool centre
Medium rare: 55 °C very red, warm centre
Medium: 60 °C middle of the steak red, pink surrounding the centre Medium well: 65 °C pink in the centre of the meat, brown towards exterior
Well done: 71 °C cooked through tends to be without moisture.

My steak was medium and was perfect. CL asked for the lamb to be medium as well. Both were as ordered and each dish was a delight, washed down with Reserve de L’Aube, a fruity and easy-drinking Syrah/Merlot blend from the Languedoc. But they do have a good choice of wines and also a bunch of craft beers, mainly from O’Hara’s.

Darwins
80 Aungier Street 
Dublin 2
Tel: 01-4757511 
Fax: 01-4758942
Hours: Dinner: Monday – Saturday, 5pm – Late.
Closed Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

FX Buckley. Exquisite Steak in Dublin City

FX Buckley
Exquisite Steak in Dublin City
No shortage of beef here!


Ended up with James Joyce in Dublin the week before last.

Just name-dropping, really. I was in the FX Buckley Steakhouse in Pembroke Street, another Dublin institution, and had just finished an exquisite steak dish. No room for dessert but certainly room and inclination for their James Joyce cocktail made with Powers Pot Still Whiskey, Triple Sec, Rosso Vermouth and lime juice.

Francis Xavier Buckley opened his first butcher shop on Moore Street in 1930 and this soon became a well-known Dublin institution. Since then it was part of a natural progression to open their own steakhouses around the city and serve their famous beef from their butchers to your table. You’ll find them in Pembroke St.,  Crow St.,  Ryan's Parkgate St.,  Bull & Castle (near Dublin Castle) and at The Pub @ FXB Monkstown.

With large glass-fronted fridges behind me, I thought my 8 ounce fillet looked a bit lonely on the plate with its little pot of pepper sauce (30.00). Of course, I could have had ordered a larger size or more sides than just their Beef Dripping Chips. But is was perfect. Exquisitely so. Tender and full of flavour and big enough too, a succulent sufficiency. And those chips. Must be the best around!
Meanwhile, CL was tucking into her Six ounce medallions of fillet beef, served with spring onion mash, shallots, mushroom and red wine jus (23.00). With all the steak dishes, you can order extra sides.

The Irish “grass-fed heritage steaks” are normally Angus or Hereford but from time to time, they may have Dexter or Irish Moiled meat available. All will have been aged for 28 days by the time they reach your plate.

The only steak that features on the A La Carte starter list is the Fillet Steak tartare. There are some great choices here including Black Pudding Croquette; Carlingford Lough Oysters; Asparagus, poached egg and Hollandaise; Foie Gras and Duck liver Paté.
CL was delighted with her Kilkeel Harbour Scallops, served with a Buckley black-pudding, with crushed mint peas and hollandais (13.50). A terrific combination with, surprisingly, the peas playing a starring role.

My choice was the FX Buckley cured salmon blini, with chive crème fraîche and mustard honey dressing (9.50). Went through that one fairly quickly, I can tell you, very tasty indeed.

What to drink? We had been at a wine-tasting that afternoon so settled on beer in Buckley’s. The fact that they have their own ale helped. It was a nice one too though I preferred the large bottle of O’Hara’s Pale Ale. By the way, there is no shortage of wine here. It is a massive list with the reds in the majority, some very expensive, some very affordable.

And no shortage of cocktails either. When it came to making up my mind, I decided to stick with the locals and Mr Joyce. And I enjoyed his company very much indeed.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Dunne & Crescenzi. The Friendly Italian

Dunne & Crescenzi
The Friendly Italian


Tagliatelle con pancetta Tuscana
We were in the mood for Italian, food that is, in Dublin one night last week. We had Dunne & Crescenzi on our short list and a recommendation from Joanne (@dudara on Twitter), a Cork “exile” in Dublin for the past nine years or so, sent us off to South Frederick Street and a lovely meal.

Quite a big crowd in, though the two rooms weren't full and that gave us the chance to have  a look at the Italian wine (over 200 types, I think), stored in shelves on all the walls. We settled on a Valpolicella Classico Biologico La Corte Del Pozzo (8.00) and a Rosso di Montepulciano Fossolupaio DOC (8.50), both smooth, both perfect.

Just as well we weren't ordering a bottle - we could have been there all night, such was the extent of the list. As it was it took a quite a while to read through the menu, pages and pages of great choice. We had been nibbling at earlier venues so a small starter was in order and we found just the thing under the Stuzzichini heading.

The word means snacks (approximately) but still the plates were large enough, reasonably priced at six euro each. They were also very appetising. One was Porzione di salumi misti (Portion of Emilia Romagna charcuterie) and the other Porzione di Speck di Trento (Portion of smoked prosciutto). Big tasty snacks!

The "snacks" and Vinsanto

They had a couple of specials on the board and the translation was done with a friendly gusto - service overall was excellent.


I picked one from the board: Tagliatelle con pancetta Tuscana, olive taggiasche, carciofi e pecorino (15.50), that is, if I remember rightly, Tagliatelle with Tuscan bacon, olives, artichokes and pecorino. I loved it, every little bit, loved the colours, the textures, the flavours, not least the olives that added a salty contrast.  
CL went for the Salsiccia senese e fagioli borlotti, Slow cooked fragrant Tuscan fresh sausage, tomato and borlotti bean casserole (13.50). It was a cool enough night and this was a warming dish, that beautiful sausage and a small mountain of beans.

As I mentioned, we had been "grazing" elsewhere earlier, so reluctantly left the Tiramisu and the other desserts alone. Instead we settled for a delicious glass of Vinsanto Tuscany. This well balanced sweet wine was dispatched slowly, sip by sip, postponing all the sweet while our exit into the cool night. The hotel though wasn't too far away.

If you're looking for an Italian around Grafton Street or the Stephen’s Green area, then Dunne and Crescenzi is Very Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Summer Days in Dublin. Capital Food and Fun

Summer Days in Dublin
Capital Food and Fun
View of Dublin Castle and surrounds from rooftop garden of Chester Beatty Library

 Just back after a terrific trip to Dublin in the sunshine. And I enjoyed every minute (almost!)  of the three sunshine filled days. On the fourth day, it rained and we met our one and only grumpy taxi-driver of the break, but we were then starting on our way home. Before that, we had very courteous humorous taxi-drivers and the fares seemed reasonable throughout.


Our first trip though was by Luas and that took us close enough to our base, the Trinity Lodge. Didn’t know much about it when we booked a few months back. It is very convenient for the city centre, situated on Frederick Street (just off Nassau Street), next door to Dunne & Crescenzi.



Dublin Castle and State Apartments yard
It is spread over four Georgian houses. There was no lift in our building and the breakfast room was across the street. But everything was up to scratch. Very welcoming and helpful with city information (including maps and taxi calls), a good choice at breakfast (no buffet here - cooked from scratch), there is free Wi-Fi and security is excellent and an Air Coach stop is just 50 metres away.

That afternoon we headed for the Teeling Distillery (€14.00), a new operation in the heart of the Liberties where we had an excellent tour and tasting.
St Patrick's
Next stop was at the nearby St Patrick’s Cathedral. Admission here is five euro. The present building dates from 1220. The Cathedral is today the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland (a church of the Anglican communion) and also serves as a popular tourist attraction in Ireland.

No shortage of history here as you'd expect and there are busts of Douglas Hyde and Erskine Childers (both Irish presidents) and Jonathan Swift ( dean of the cathedral). There too you’ll see the Boyle monument, erected by Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork, in 1632 in memory of his second wife.
Queue for Book of Kells
 Then the mood lightened as we reached Grafton Street and its entertainers. This became a daily stop such was the high standard on offer. All kinds of fun on the street including music, magic and acrobats. You know you're in a capital city when you have to slow down to stroll through the crowds. Later, that evening we had a capital meal, and a great welcome from Cork chef Ross Lewis, at Chapter One .


The sun continued to shine on day two. After a stroll around St Stephen’s Green, we entered Trinity College (€13.00) to see the Book of Kells . We took the general tour - you sign up just inside the main door. It costs just a few euro more than the Book of Kells admission and is well worth it. Our guide, Johnny, took us around the grounds, explaining the buildings, the place and its people (past and present) with no little humour.



Arnaldo Pomodoro's 'Sphere Within Sphere' at Trinity
We had to join a “five minute” queue tour for the book itself. And it was crowded inside as people squeezed in around the display. Might be better to come here in the off-season! The famous Long Room in the Old Library is also part of the tour. Here some 200,000 of the library’s oldest books are stored, the heaviest on the bottom shelves, and all are overseen by a great collection of busts that include Mr Swift again!

The afternoon was spent at the Chester Beatty Library (free). Here the emphasis is very much on the Middle East and Asia, the source of the world's main religions and, in the permanent displays, you'll see a massive collection of related books and other materials (including the “armour” of a Japanese warrior) illustrating the religions and the cultures of that part of the world.
Grafton Street

The current exhibition is Damsels for Dinner: Tale of Oeyama. The Chester Beatty’s mid-17th- century version of the story, produced in a set of three magnificently illustrated scrolls, is on display in the ‘Arts of the Book’ gallery until January 2016.  

Downstairs, you'll find the highly rated Silk Road Café which offers a range of mouth-watering menus from Afghanistan, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Morocco and Palestine, as well as Ireland. You will, of course, pay for your meal but there is no admission charge for the library itself.



Ely Dessert
That evening, on the way to the 3 Arena, we called to Ely at CHQ for their fabulous Early Bird. Great value too at €22.95 for two courses. The restaurant - they have another one in Ely Place, off Stephen’s Green - is noted for using local produce (much of it from the family farm in Clare)  and its fabulous wine list. Highlight was the main course of Braised Beef Cheek with a vegetable tagine and butter beans, tender and delicious. Very convenient for the arena, and other venues, but well worth a visit in its own right.


There was a great buzz there on that Friday evening, packed upstairs and downstairs. The vaults downstairs reminded me of the old bond in Cork. Wonder would Ely be interested in taking that over?



Diamond's forever
Off then to see Neil Diamond. Think I'd have been better off if I had booked dinner, rather than Early Bird in Ely. But I must also say that mine was very much a minority opinion. The place was packed with fans and he told them they loved him and they enthusiastically agreed. Good finish with Sweet Caroline but lots of the earlier songs, even those from his new album (one of which, Art of Love, took five years to write!), sounded old. Glad to get out in the fresh air.


Got a taxi up to the fantastic Botanic Gardens (free) on Saturday morning and had a great couple of hours there. Read the account here. You can walk through a gate from the gardens to the Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum. Here we saw the graves of many famous Irish men and women. We’ll call again as there is much to take in. Time was running out for us, otherwise we'd have taken a guided tour.




Tower marks grave of Daniel O'Connell
 After getting the bus back to the city and working our way through a protest march, we felt we deserved a beer. And we got a very good one from the micro-brewery in Sweetman’s Pub on Burgh Quay, just at the south side of O’Connell Bridge. They have seven of their own beers on offer but I settled for the outstanding Pale Ale. Great buzz there and very highly recommended. Oh, by the way, they do sell other craft beers and some ordinary beers as well!


Another call to Grafton Street and its entertainers on the way back to the Lodge before heading out that evening to a splendid finale at Restaurant Forty One where we absolutely enjoyed the meal and a little chat with chef Graham Neville. A great way to finish a fabulous few days in Ireland's capital city.



Glasnevin grave of O'Donovan Rossa
Chapter One Restaurant
National Botanic Gardens