When Expedia asked me about my favourite places to eat around Ireland, a lederhosen-bedecked part of me could hear Julie Andrews singing about a few of her favourite things in an alpine, Sound of Music setting. Not that I’m about to burst into song or – worse, still – parade about in lederhosen, but you might indulge me, all the same, if I wax just a bit lyrical on the subject of favoured spots for supping.
If the entry for Earth in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was “Mostly harmless,” then my entry – making the rather colossal assumption that I’d have one – would probably read: “Mostly spuds.” However, even if it is (mostly) possible to do so, man – or, in my case, woman – does not live by potato alone, and my favourite food places, inevitably, serve much else besides.
Coming up with a list such as this is always fraught. Through the good offices of this blog, and in being a contributing editor for John and Sally McKennas’ Irish Food Guide, I’ve had the privilege of eating in many fine places indeed, more than I could do justice to here. In the end, the selection below is as much about favourite food people as favourite food places – the one almost invariably determines the other.
W.J. KAVANAGH / L. MULLIGAN GROCER
WJ Kavanagh, Dorset St.
Well now, this is clearly not so much Spud Sunday as it is Tuber Tuesday. Sorry to keep yiz all waiting but, in my defence, I offer up two words: Electric Picnic.
The mammoth festival of music, comedy, craft and sheer spirit, which made its annual descent onto the midlands village of Stradbally this past weekend, is one which draws you into another world for three days, where nights last forever, days start slowly, and wellies are de rigeur. Spending the weekend as a judge for the food awards at the event – which prides itself (among other things) on bringing a better standard of festival food to the 30,000+ electric picknickers – might just be the jammiest gig in town. Suffice to say that I didn’t need to be asked twice if I wanted the job and, along with the legend that is John McKenna of the Irish Food Guide, we munched and crunched our way through the best of the festival grub and deliberated over who was dishing up the good stuff. Given the quality, range and value that was on offer, it was a tough job. Really. Whether it was the hearty, seafood-filled Rathmullan coddle from Rathmullan House in Donegal or the sausage and egg breakfast baps from Offaly-based Organic Kitchen or the honeycomb ice cream from Featherbed Farm in Wexford or just about anything from the local ladies of the Stradbally Country Market, there was plenty to please the picnic-going tastebuds.
WJ Kavanagh, Dorset St.
Now here’s something that I couldn’t be more pleased about – the opening of WJ Kavanagh’s on Dorset St., by the people who brought you L. Mulligan Grocer. The Mulligan’s crew have done nothing short of redefine what it means to be an Irish pub with Irish grub and Dublin is a better place because of their endeavours. The new premises is bigger and brighter than L. Mulligan’s and (as co-owner Seáneen describes it) the menu will be lighter to match. There will be lunches, there will be coffee (with the assistance of coffee meisters from 3FE), and jam jar cocktails will join craft beer, whiskeys and whiskies on the drinks list. There will also be afternoons – many I hope – spent in the nook by the fireplace. I’m happy because it’s here and even happier because it’s near.