Showing posts with label Limerick. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Limerick. Show all posts

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Limerick’s Locke Bar. Food And Music Down By The River

Limerick’s Locke Bar
Lively, By The River
Crab claws

Limerick’s Locke Bar is so well located, just by the water on George's Quay. We were there a few weeks back and obviously the timber seats and tables on the river-banks were not in use. But you could easily imagine them full in summer with a string of boats tied up at the pontoon below. The bar, a large one, is also situated conveniently close to attractions such as the Hunt Museum and King John's Castle. And, in addition, it is well known for its food and music, not to mention the buzz.

That buzz hit us full on as we walked in the doors early on a Thursday evening. We were trying to get our bearings when a server spotted us and sorted us out. Soon we were seated in the small square restaurant, alongside the bar and facing part of the long counter.

She showed us the specials on the wall and soon we were ordering, sipping a deliciously zesty Deakin Estate Artisan's Blend Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (5.75 a glass) as we did so. My starter was the very enjoyable Dingle Bay Crab Claws with Chardonnay cream and Garlic Bread (10.50). I got through that pretty quickly while CL took a bit longer as she enjoyed her mussels from Castletownbere, served a la Mariniere (9.00).

Chicken (and Chardonnay)

We were tempted by the Pork and Salmon specials on the board but in the end settled for two off the regular menu. I was delighted with my the Supreme of Irish chicken with asparagus spears, gratin potatoes, bacon and mushroom cream (14.50). Excellent chicken with a rich and creamy sauce.The Tempura Fried Scampi (16.50) was not of quite the same standard, the tempura that bit much for the delicate fish.

We could also have had dishes such as the Beef and Locke Stout Casserole, Fish and Chips, Fish Pie and Burger. It is generally fairly typical well-priced well-cooked pub grub. Dessert was also an option but, after a good lunch at Sage earlier and a good feed here, we gave it a skip.

They serve their own stout and a very good selection of Irish craft beers including a few from Nine White Deer in West Cork. You often notice just one craft cider in Irish pubs but there were at least three here: Dan Kelly's, Craigie’s, and Longueville House. They specialise in whiskey too.

Benches on the bank

Locke's Bar is situated on the original site of one of Limerick's oldest pubs - they've been drinking here since 1724. It was cosy the other night, with the fires burning nicely. But it would be great to see it in its summer glory and maybe try that casserole with a pint of their own stout on the bench outside.

Whatever time you come, you'll get the buzz and the music. There is a session every night of the week and everyone is welcome. Will have to call back.

*In the Gents at the Locke Bar, they have a metal shield along the base of the pissoir to prevent you spraying your own shoes! I christened that the Parapee (based on the French parapluie!).
The Locke Bar
3 George’s Quay

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Hook & Ladder Delivers Satisfaction

Hook & Ladder Delivers Satisfaction
Tuna galore!

So, you’ve just visited the Hunt Museum or done a rake of shopping and are looking for a good lunch in the middle of Limerick City. Well, you could do worse than call to Hook & Ladder in Sarsfield Street.

Quite a menu here, featuring some fantastic produce from around Munster, including Gubbeen, Arbutus Bread, St Tola, Rigney's Farm and M & D Bakery Waterford and more.

The building is also a shop, selling home accessories (lamps, for instance), and there is a busy cookery school here with a great variety of classes. The formula proved successful in Waterford and has spread to Limerick with two other outlets in the city.


The cafe was quite busy when we called for lunch recently but it has lots of space, both on the ground floor and in the basement. So we were soon seated and checking out the menu. With a dinner booked for later on, I gave the starters a skip.

Went through the list of sandwiches, burgers, quiches, even a curry, before settling on one of the salads: Salad Nicoise (Ortiz tuna, semi sun dried tomatoes, olives, boiled egg, romaine rocket & red wine vinegarette). It was a quite a large one, with a very generous amount of tuna on the plate. Enjoyed it all though, every little tasty bit.

We had a discussion before dessert. Very necessary as they have about a  dozen listed - they bake here every day. We could have had anything from a Blueberry and Poppy Seed Muffin to a Chocolate Fudge Cake and Chocolate Ganache. Our choice was closer to the top end, a gorgeous Strawberry and White Chocolate Meringue Roulade that we shared and enjoyed with a couple of cups of decent coffee.


Enjoyed our break at this friendly cafe with its many decorations including a large olive tree in the middle of the floor and an arrangement of upside down flower-pots on the ceiling. All in all, a good place for food (they also do breakfast here) and Highly Recommended.

See also:
Two Days in Limerick City

Holiday break in County Limerick
Buzz at the Coqbull
Limerick's Locke Bar
Sage Cafe

7 Sarsfield Street


Tel: 061 413778

Twitter: Twitter @hookandladder2


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Two Enjoyable Days in Limerick. Culture, Cuisine

Two Enjoyable Days in Limerick
Culture, Cuisine
Drove into Limerick city on a Spring Wednesday with King John’s Castle as the main target! But, it being close to lunchtime when we arrived, Hook and Ladder in Sarsfield Street was our first call. It was busy, busy. But very good. Enjoyed a lively Salad Nicoise there and shared a scrumptious Strawberry and White Chocolate Meringue Roulade.

Finished off with a cup of Earl Grey and headed for the Castle. It is a great visit. Lot of info, presented in all kinds of ways and then of course there is the building itself - you can even get down underneath it. And the views from the top are magnificent. Lots of history here and you may check it all out on the website.
Salad at Hook & Ladder
Food is never far from my mind so I was surprised to read that it was the Normans who introduced the rabbit to the Irish diet and also spinach, fallow deer, frog and maybe even hedgehog!

Poachers were around then too, as you might expect. And so the Corporation controlled the highly profitable fisheries, including the salmon fishery at Corbally which was guarded by a watchtower to prevent illegal fishing.
Beer with Coqbull burger
Salmon or no salmon, the citizens of medieval Limerick ate well from the locality. Wild mushrooms, wild garlic, pork, bacon, beef, barley butter, eggs, cabbage, herring, hake, cod, eels and ling all featured. And it was washed down with ale. And with wine in the wealthier households.

For instance, one board records a master carpenter being paid 9 pence a day, enough to buy him six bottles of French wine. They don't say if the six came from the top shelf or the bottom!
Clarion Hotel
Drove up along the city then to the striking modern building, the Clarion Hotel on Steamboat Quay, and checked in, having parked in a nearby high-rise car park. There are great views of the mighty River Shannon (Ireland's longest river) from many parts of this well-equipped hotel.

Food again took us into town in the evening. But the first call was for a drink, a great draught of Trouble Brewing’s Sabotage India Pale Ale. After that and a friendly chat in the Cornstore we strolled down the street (Thomas Street) to the lively Coqbull where the Bull (and the Chicken too) reign in burger heaven. My bun contained the Supreme Bull, slathered in Cashel Blue cheese, and all washed down with the Dark Arts Porter, another gem from the Trouble Brewing folk. The other drink we enjoyed was the Session Ale by Black’s of Kinsale.
In City Gallery of Art
No inclination for dessert here so back to the hotel bar which shares the space with their Kudo’s restaurant. We settled back into the comfortable seats with a couple of very familiar beers: Rebel Red Ale and Chieftan Pale Ale, both by Cork’s Franciscan Well Brewery and both on draught. Cheers until tomorrow!
People's Park
Day Two
Excellent choices at breakfast in the Clarion’s Synergie Restaurant this morning, the views over the river a bonus. Some lovely fruits on offer, including juicy melon. No big fry today for me, though the hot buffet was popular. Finished off with a cuppa and a couple of croissants.

First stop today was the Limerick City Gallery of Art in Pery Square and indeed inside the railings of the People’s Park. There were a couple of exhibitions winding down here but the big problem for this gallery is lack of space for its permanent collection. About 200 paintings, some of them highly rated, are squeezed, edge to edge, onto the available walls. You can't see the wood for the trees.
You may pick-up a photocopied list on the way in and use it as a guide. Evie Hone’s A Walk in the Woods at Marley, William Orpen’s Man of the West, and some works by Marie Jellett caught my eye and I also liked the series of industrial landscapes, including one of the local Dock Road (where the Clarion now is), by Dieter Blodau. And, for a food connection, see the fruit photo. There is also an exhibit of butter and briquette (bog butter?).

After a walk in and around the park, it was time for lunch and so we headed to the nearby Sage in Catherine Street. Very friendly service, efficient too, though it got a bit stretched as lunchtime peaked. The food was excellent here and I very much enjoyed my fish plate: steamed salmon and prawns and a selection of salads. We enjoyed a couple of cups of their excellent coffee.
Hunt, by night
Soon we were back on the street and heading down to the old custom house on Rutland Street where the Hunt Museum is situated. This is a private museum so, unlike the City Gallery, there is an entrance fee. But they usually have one free exhibition on and the current one is about 1916 and local involvement.

Quite a lot of letters and memorabilia highlighting the efforts for Ireland of John Daly, long before 1916, and of his nephew Edward who was one of the men shot immediately after the rising. John, who was Mayor of Limerick (he was dubbed the Fenian Mayor) and who had a bakery in the city, died a few months later.
Three floors lie at the heart of the main museum. We followed the suggested course and started in the First Floor which examines the development of decorative arts. Quite a few wine jugs on display, also a drinking horn, a huge salt cellar, a Japanese sweetmeat dish, an 18th spirit barrell along with punch and soup ladles. High art too and you’ll see a few Roderic O’Connell works, including his sturdy Breton Woman. Here, too you'll find the Midleton Mace.

Up then to the second floor which houses the archaeological collection, and more. Lots of stuff from ancient Greece and Rome, including a 1st century wine strainer and a 2nd century wine cup. And, more up to date is an Irish Drinking Vessel, made from wood and dated 16/17th century. Here too you’ll find other interesting objects including the Mary Queen of Scots Cross.
Wine-time at the Clarion
Down next, via the impressive 18th century stairs, to view the Religious Art collection on the ground floor. A coin here is reputed to be one of the “30 pieces of silver”. The Limerick diocese has some noteworthy pieces in the display, including a very impressive mitre and crosier. And on the way out you'll pass three large cartoons for stained glass by Evie Hone (who we met earlier in the day).

Anyone for coffee? Well, the museum can sort you out here too as they have a lovely cafe with views out to the water of the Shannon.  So if you want a light lunch or a cup of coffee (quite good too), go no further.
Rowers at sunset on the Shannon
We enjoyed our coffee and headed back towards the Clarion, walking up the banks of the Shannon, part of the way on boardwalk, with lots of seats too if the sun is out and you want a rest or maybe just a stop to enjoy the view which might include a large flock of pigeons on the eye out for people with bread, the many swans just as eager.

We thought we deserved a glass of wine by the time we reached the Clarion. We had a chat with the friendly bar staff and settled on a glass each of Freixenet Mia Tempranillo (Spain) and a Finca Florencia Malbec (Argentina) and enjoyed them.
Craft beers in the Locke
Dinner that evening was down at the Locke Bar but before we headed out, we spotted quite a lot of rowing activity on the Shannon and the sun about to go down. It wasn't the most dramatic sunset you’ll ever see but the silhouetted boats made a pretty picture.

It was quite enough as we headed down the main streets (O’Connell and Patrick) to Georges Quay where the Locke Bar is situated on the riverbank. On opening the door we were struck by the buzz and the crowd;  a friendly server soon welcomed us and found us a table in the restaurant where we enjoyed some decent bar food.

And more wine, of course, a couple of enjoyably flavoured Artisan’s Blend Sauvignon Blanc Semillon from Australia. There was even wine in my gorgeous starter: Dingle Bay crab claws, chardonnay cream and garlic bread. The bar, which also has a large floor upstairs, can feed hundreds and the numbers were rising as we left. In the summer time, the seats by the banks will be full too and many boats will be tied up down on the river.

Day 3: We were back down that way again in the morning for a quick look at Limerick's famous Milk Market. Saturday is the main day here for food, so we were a day early. A little early for most as it turned out. It was supposed to be a ten o'clock start and, with a Bank Holiday weekend ahead, perhaps the traders were getting into the mood and there was virtually nothing of note happening when we had to leave about the 10.30 mark. Another time.

And another time also for Limerick itself, after two very enjoyable days there. There was even a laugh in the toilets. No Mna or Fir for the Coqbull; they go with Standing and Sitting. In the Gents at the Locke Bar, they have a metal shield along the base of the pissoir to prevent you spraying your own shoes! I christened that the Parapee.

For more on Limerick, check out the Tourist Office.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Aroi’s Tubby Buddha’s A Good Food Sign

Aroi’s Tubby Buddha’s A Good Food Sign
Char-grilled duck
There’s a tubby Buddha in Aroi - you’ll see him on the stairs as you enter. It’s a good sign. You’ll be well fed here. And at a fair price.

On your entrance, you’ll see lots of well-dressed staff. Another good sign. They'll take good care of you. You won’t even have to ask for your water glass to be re-filled. And there are smiles all round.

You’ll also notice lots of customers here in the Carey's Lane venue. You may even have to wait a few minutes for a table. Another good sign. You are in an excellent restaurant, serving Asian street food, all mains for a tenner.

Aroi started in Limerick about twelve months back but this is the Cork Aroi, boy. Both are proving very popular and there has also been much praise from the critics for chef Eddie Ong Chok Fong.
Aroi's menu is on your table when you arrive along with the chopsticks (don't worry - knives and forks and spoons too!) and it looks neat and tidy but there is much reading in it, great choices under headings such as Curry, Stir Fry, Grilled, Rice, Wok Noodles, Noodles Soup, and Salads. Twenty four dishes in all described in detail for you, the hotter ones marked with an “S”.

Each of the mains costs €10.00. But do check out the sides as well. There are about nine of them, most of them costing a fiver, great to share if you are part of a group. By the way, the lunch-time menu is the same and the usual deal here is one mains and a gelato dessert for ten euro.

We had previously been impressed with some of the curry dishes, including the Red Duck and the Yellow Fish, so we went for something different on this occasion. Nuea Pad Khing (stir-fried beef strips, scallion, ginger, chilli and wood mushrooms), was one under the general Stir-fry heading. Superbly cooked, this went down well.

No shortage!
The other mains was the Char-grilled duck served with Thai green vegetables and Tamarind sauce. Again, both the meat and vegetables were perfectly cooked, a joy to eat.

And then there were the sides. Went a bit overboard there! Rice in a separate bowl came with the beef and, in addition, we ordered: fish cakes, full of flavour in their own delicious sauce; superb crispy duck rolls, again with a delicious sauce; and a small stack of the crispiest chicken wings with dipping sauce.

After all that there was little room for gelato - their only dessert! No shortage of drinks here, by the way: wine, beer, soft, teas and coffees. No shortage of anything really! Excellent food, excellent value for money.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Not Your Usual Food Conference. A 1st for Ireland

Darina Allen opens food conference, a 1st for Ireland

Weston A. Price Foundation International
 Food Conference for Limerick 
Darina Allen

February 7th and 8th 2015 at Thomond Park in Limerick will see the first Food Conference of its kind take place on our island. Named the Wise Traditions Ireland Conference the focus is on Food, Farming and the Healing Arts and will no doubt appeal to foodies and non foodies alike.

The Foundation is dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet through education, research and activism based on the solid research of nutrition pioneer Dr Weston Price.  It supports a number of movements that contribute to this objective including accurate nutrition instruction, organic and biodynamic farming, pasture-feeding of livestock, community-supported farms, honest and informative labeling, prepared parenting and nurturing therapies. 

Founded in 1999 by Sally Fallon Morell, the Foundation has grown and expanded in its membership and activities exponentially.  In an era when populations are struggling with ill health, both physical and mental, digestive problems, allergies etc it is timely that this event comes to Ireland and gives an opportunity for us to see how it is possible to regain health and reverse many chronic health conditions using the wisdom of our ancestors. 

For an eye opening and mind-expanding two-day event that will challenge all your beliefs about nutrition, don’t miss this one of a kind conference where you get to hear expert speakers, meet nutritionists, parents and people who care about their and their family’s health, and eat some delicious food too!

Key speakers: Darina Allen - Ballymaloe Cookery School and Champion of local food.

Sally Fallon Morell - USA, author of Nourishing Traditions, the cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats. 

Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride MD PHD, She is well known for developing a concept of GAPS (Gut And Psychology Syndrome), which she described in her book  Gut and Psychology Syndrome   - Natural Treatment for Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Depression and Schizophrenia

Joe Fitzmaurice - Award winning bakery and bread school Riotrye, Cloughjordan Eco Village 

David Wetzel - founder of Green Pastures (fermented Cod Liver Oil) 

Elizabeth Ryan - Founder of Raw Milk Ireland Campaign 

Tickets for the event cost €70 for one day and €117 for the full two-day event and a delicious lunch based on WAPF and GAPS principles created from locally sourced produce is included in the price.

Further information and tickets available on or 

a press release

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Mustard Seed. An oasis in Limerick.

Mustard Seed. An oasis in Limerick.

Baked plaice, sep puree, prawn dressing and fritter, buttermilk froth.
Enjoyed a few days in County Limerick recently and our base, The Mustard Seed in Ballingarry, had much to do with it. The former convent has been, over the past 18 years or so, converted into a very comfortable place to stay. You get a warm welcome here every time you walk in the door, tea and shortbread at the ready, even if you’ve been gone for only a few hours.
Warm Strawberry with lime puree, walnut powder, beet meringues, balsamic and elderflower syrup

And you relax with the cuppa, sitting back in the most comfortable sofas with the fire blazing away in front of you on the colder days. Comfort is to be found all over the Mustard Seed. Here too is some very interesting furniture and a massive collection of paintings, arts and crafts (many with an eastern theme). 

Pan-fried Irish Hereford rib-eye of beef, served with a goat cheese and celeriac risotto, roast almond mousse, Iron Age rare breed pork profiterole
And then there are the gardens with trees, shrubs and flowers to the front and mainly fruit and vegetables at the back but no shortage of herbs either. Some flowers scattered here and there and even a Buddha shrine.
Cheese plate including Cashel Blue, Milleens, local cheddar
The Mustard Seed is renowned for its food. Deservedly so. Breakfast is a treat here. Of course you may have your full Irish but my favourite was the Ummera Smoked Chicken in an omelette. Lovely breads too, available at breakfast and dinner. At dinner, there are great choices, local produce well handled and presented and served.

Nectarine cheesecake, sorbet and honeycomb
And that five star friendly service runs through the whole operation. You are treated like one of the family from start to finish. So well done and a big thank you to Dan and John and to the entire team for looking after us so well over the three night break that we will remember for a long time.

The Mustard Seed is a terrific base to see Limerick, both city and county. This time we decided to concentrate on the county, a county that has quite a lot to offer. It is easy to reach, easy to get around as distances are short. So why not give it a try rather than just passing through to somewhere else (which is what I did for many years, I must admit).
Clockwise from top left: Mustard Seed, a "blue" window, a petit treat, artichoke
and resident Buddha.
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Limerick Day 2: Superb Wild Geese. Medieval Kilmallock. No go at Gur.

Limerick Day 2
Superb Wild Geese. Medieval Kilmallock. No go at Gur. 
Crab in Smoked Salmon
Not the best of days but a superb finish. And not just the ending back here at the Mustard Seed, sipping some red wine in front of a blazing June fire!

That final luxury came after a superb meal in Adare’s Wild Geese, run for the last 14 years by David Foley and Julie Randles. Enjoyed a tasty Goat Cheese Amuse Bouche and then followed two of the best starters you are likely to find.

CL’s was a Terrine of lamb fillet, with a chicken and basil mousse, wrapped in smoked bacon served with Lentil dressing and homemade tomato chutney. Not listed were orange bits and an apple puree. Nothing superfluous, all added up to perfection.

Dominican Friary, Kilmallock
Mine was also high class: a parcel of Kenmare smoked salmon stuffed with crabmeat and served with a cucumber and dill salsa. Sharp and tasty, it woke up those taste buds, just like a flurry of sea foam coming over the cliffs and waking you up on the morning after the night before.

For the mains, I went for the trio of Barbary Duck: Roast Breast, Spring roll of confit and a warm salad of smoked duck. Three out of three! And CL’s Roast Atlantic Cod, topped with crab meat, on a bed of rösti and with a sauce of mussels was a happy dish, like the fishing fleet coming in.

Wine was something of a compromise between white and red but the Round Hill Merlot from sunny California lacked nothing in quality and gained a couple of fans on a drizzly night at the Munster crossroads of the tour buses.
Lough Gur
Nearby Kilmallock, once the crossroads of Munster, has a wealth of history and the buildings, or at least the remains of buildings, to prove it. Most visitors will be familiar with John’s Castle on Sheare’s Street. Built in the 15th century, it is a “fine example of a ‘Peel’ tower. It has been suggested that it saw use as a town gate; other uses included as an arsenal during the war against Cromwell, a meeting place for the local corporation, a school, even a blacksmith’s forge!

Also visited the Priory, a 13th century Dominican abode. The five-light east window of the church is one its impressive features. Not too much of the cloister remains. Another 13th century ruin, that of the Collegiate Church, stands nearby.

Another call was to the massive Church of SS Peter and Paul, built towards the end of the 19th century and still functioning. Juts behind it is the Martyrs’ Monument, erected in memory of three priests hanged in the last quarter of the 16th century and beatified in Rome in 1992.
Had been looking forward to my visit to Lough Gur but there was a big disappointment in store when I found the Heritage Centre closed. Checked their site and found it had been due to open in mid-June and now Sunday the 30th is mentioned as the re-opening. There are some walks around the lake and I enjoyed them but, without the back-up of information from the Centre was unable to do much more. Didn’t even see “the crannog or lake-dwelling which is still visible from the Lake shore” according to the website.

After the peace and quite of Lough Gur, the traffic through Adare was almost a shock. Got parking in the large lot behind the centrally situated Heritage Centre as did many more, including quite a few tour buses.

Wild Geese dessert
Needed a coffee after the morning’s exertions and got a good one in the Market Place, about 100 metres uphill from the Heritage Centre. The Market Place is a very busy spot with an extensive menu but, with dinner booked, I settled for the coffee and an excellent slice of apple tart, real chunky apple pieces!  Tasty stuff.

After that it was back to Ballingarry and a wee rest before heading out again to the Wild Geese.

Check out Day 1 here
Day 3 here