Tagged in: restaurant

Castello Bruno, a gem in Castleknock, Dublin 15

Not a million miles away from central Dublin this family restaurant on the Main Street of Castleknock village was introduced to me my good friend Joe Griffin who lives a medium stones throw away in Dunboyne.

We called in for lunch in-between meetings at the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation in Brunswick Street North and Castleknock College; as one does!

It has a pleasant and comfortable atmosphere and a staff to match. I had intended to have a snack but the menu was far to appetizing and, on top of that, they were offering Chicken Puttanesca, breast of chicken in a piquant sauce containing chilli and anchovies (I’m a sucker for anything containing anchovies). We both chose this and added a portion of fries between us to accompany it. In for a penny in for a pound we rounded off with an excellent Tiramisu and coffees. Add in a bottle of Peroni and the bill was €53.60 – great value for money as well.


Market Place Restaurant, via Borsieri 21/a, Como, Italy

We picked this restaurant from a recommendation on eating out in Como in the New York Times; sent to us by an American friend.  It is not a classical Italian Restaurant by any means but the service is very good and professional and food is definitely different.  It is intimate with about a dozen tables and for this reason it is advisable to book.

There is an  à la carte menu or two “Tasting” Menus, one “Classic” and the other  “Gourmet”.  “In for a penny in for a pound” we chose the Classic: 

Market Place Menu

This started with Marinated Bream and Panzanella, a Tuscan Salad and was followed by A pochet egg (a poached egg yolk) on spinach with chanterelles and Parmesan foam. Believe it or not it was really tasty even if the pochet was lost in translation)

Then came the really Italian course: Lasagna with potatoes, leeks and a Parmesan pesto – Yum.

There was a choice of “mains”, the meat option being a rack of pork with roasted peppers and endive cream or a Trancetto (if you can find a good translation please comment on this page – my best guess is “slice”) of barbecued Umbrian fish. We chose the pork which was delightful.

To finish off there was shortbread and chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

I have included the menu above as some of the courses are, for me, quite difficult to translate, but I am sure there are some cunning linguists who can offer an explanation.

We had a very nice bottle of Italian Red, a Trentino Pinot Nero DOC 2009 “Forte di Mezzo”, Maso Cantanghel Pinot Nero which is a very fine sounding name and probably explain the price tag of €28.

The evening was wrapped up with an espresso and a grappa as usual.

An interesting experience at €110.50 but probably a little way out for our tastes.

The Ginger Bistro, Hope Street, Belfast

Ginger Bistro

Located only about a couple of hundred yards from the Grand Opera House the Ginger Bistro is in an ideal position for a pre theatre meal.

The menu which runs from 5 to 6.45 is an extremely well priced truncated version of the main menu.

We ordered a plate of breads to share which came with one of the best  tapenade I have tasted.  Oh yes; and a perfect melt in the mouth wheaten.

As mains we opted for the pies, one fish and the other a Shepherd’s.  The shepherd’s included perfectly cooked lamb, in large chunks, chorizo and black pudding. Both came in individual pie dishes piping hot.  The potato topping was nicely browned without being dried out.  Altogether very appetizing.  We accompanied them with chips and a bottle of South African Shiraz.

I took an Americano to round it all off.  Total bill £45.00.

The service was personal and efficient so we will no doubt be back.

The Governor Rocks at Donaghadee


We visited for Sunday lunch on a Groupon voucher. The menu was pretty comprehensive and all available.  We chose the goats cheese with parma ham and whitebait as starters both of which were very good. For mains my wife had Roast Sea Bass with prawns and capers on samphire with new potatoes whilst I had the duo of Monkfish and Mackerel with sweet red onions, roast potatoes and a massaman curry sauce (which I had on the side). They have a very nice Chablis which complemented the fish really well.  We followed it up with the cheese board.  The cheeses were ripe and tasty and served with crisped homemade bread. I do not think the prices were exorbitant given the quality and quantity of the dishes and £24.00 for a good Chablis is not over the top (we didn’t realize you could bring your own wine).  The staff were very young and friendly if not totally au-fait with the dishes but then this was not Deanes. The decor is definitely different but does not detract from the atmosphere.  An enjoyable experience and we will probably call again.

Knags Revisited


Too much trouble to cook yet again so called in to Knags this evening at around 6.30.  Good job we didn’t leave it any later as within an hour they were queued up to get a table.  As per our last visit the service was great as was the Scampi (real shellfish in crisp batter – not the usual mush in a soggy stodge) and the chicken stack.  Carrots that tasted of carrot and a very nice little side salad.  No problems getting a ramekin of mayonnaise to go with the skinny chips (you really should try chips and mayonnaise).  House red is a very palatable Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon.  Rounded it off with vanilla pod Crème brûlée and an espresso.

At Last – Knags – the alternative to Chinese and Indian in Glengormley

Glengormley has needed a quality restaurant that caters for tastes other than India and Chinese for some time and at last it is here. The staff are wonderful and take an interest in the clientele. The menu is varied and changes dependent on time of day and day of week so you are covered for everything from a bacon butty to sea bass and prawns with garlic and chilli. We shared mixed breads with dips to start and then cod gougons with mushy peas for my wife and sea bass and prawns with garlic and chilli dip for me. these came with a choice of potatoes, ours garlic saute, and mixed vegetables. We washed it down with a very palatable Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. Did not try the sweet menu but ended with an espresso. Bill £48.00. No complaints at all.

Scalini, 85 Botanic Avenue, Belfast

First time we have tried Scalini’s Italian restaurant on Botanic Avenue.  They do not accept bookings for parties under 8 but as this was a pre theatre meal we arrived at 6 to find plenty of room.  Beware that you may have to climb a few staircases to your table as they are set out on a number of floors. The service is friendly and efficient, they whisked our coats away which is something that is sadly lacking in a lot of restaurants. Having seated us and provided menus we were not immediately hassled to give in our order.  We were accompanied by Linden and Amy and all four of us settled on the pasta as main course.  My Fusili Milanesi, smoked bacon, chilli, mushrooms and peas was not to be faulted and as I got a share of Linden’s Carbonara and Josephine’s meatballs I can also vouch for the standard of these dishes.  Amy did not give me a chance at her Linguini Pescatore, but as the plate was bare except for mussel shells we can take it that it met with similar approval.  The house red is an Italian Shiraz which goes very well with pasta and is a snip at £13.45.

Of course we couldn’t pass up the sweet menu. Try the Affogato, a scoop of vanilla ice with biscotti served with a shot of expresso and the same of Amaretto on the side. Moorish.

Lovely meal well served and all in including wine £69.50 – who could ask for anything more.

CO CO, 7-11 Linenhall Street, BELFAST, BT2 8AA

If you haven’t been yet try it out. We were invited by friends to the Hi-Life Dining club get together celebrating  COCO winning their Restaurant of the Year award.  Due to circumstances beyond my control this is the first chance I have had to update my site.

When we arrived there was a very accomplished all girl swing/jazz band performing in the foyer.  A chat with their manager somewhat later in the evening identified them as the Swing Girls.

This intro was accompanied by a remarkably good Prosecco Frizzante (last time I had one this smooth was in Treviso) and canapés.

Our companions for the evening were the  Grahams’, the Johnstons’, both of whom we have dined with before, and William Wallace and his wife Claire. Two famous names on one table!

The first course was Hand Dived Scallops, seared, with Jerusalem artichokes, gnocchi and a lobster gratin and accompanied by a South Australian white wine.

To clear the palate a grapefruit and Campari sorbet followed.  This is not for the faint-hearted. I am a Campari fan and found the combination, how shall I put it, interesting.  If one is not a Campari fan I can understand the comment “breath taking”!

The main course was a Chateau de Blomac Minervois 2008 – Oops! Sorry! that was just the wine that went with the roast sirloin, potato rosti truffle Madeira etc. By this time the conversation and craic had become as important as the meal and the impeccable service, overseen by Tom, the Aussie manager, assured that a memorable evening was under way.

I’ll not repeat the error of the previous paragraph, the sweet was an Apple Tatin, I’ve added a link to save explanation, with vanilla ice cream and; yes, you’ve guessed, a superb Sauternes.

The coffee was a real godsend and we did manage the petit fours, though in truth we did not really need them!

All in all an  evening memorable for the food, wine and excellent company, not necessarily in that order.

An experience we hope to repeat in the not too distant future.



ACCS Conference, Wexford 2011

Not the best position for up and down

The best way to start an ACCS conference is with a round of golf and when Rosslare Golf Links is the venue it takes a lot of beating. There was quite a good turn out and the threatened rain did not appear, however the off shore “breeze” made for some interesting approach shots.  The bunkers also made a deep impression!

The conference was held at the end of March in Whites Hotel in the centre of Wexford town and it is certainly to be commended for both service and food.

The SOS Stand

We always enjoy this conference as the delegates are a really friendly crowd and the officers and staff of the association  are a pleasure to work with.

It is a time to catch up with many acquaintances that one only sees once a year, both clients and other exhibitors.

The first day ended with an excellent dinner followed by the inevitable poker school.  As usual we hjad to borrow a deck from reception as nobody had thought to secrete one on their person!

Of course the highlight of any conference is the Gala Banquet on the second and the hotel did us proud with a superb six course meal. A copy of the menu is displayed here. No prizes for the error which was missed by most people, including me, until well after the event!

A few horth speeches followed,   the Bishop making a definite play to be considered for a spot on Comedy Club, and these being completed the music department of Gorey Community School entertained us . Both the choir and musicians were absolutely outstanding and would have held their own om any professional stage.

Of course the evening ended with another obligatory poker school in one corner and a ceili in the bar.

We had decided to stay on for an extra couple of nights so, once the conference was more or less wrapped up on Saturday morning we took off on a tour to our old camping haunt at Carne Beach. I used to leave Josephine and Maggie Shore and the two children there, in a tent, for August and commute at weekends.

Carne beach

The Lobster Pot

Another landmark of the area was the Lobster Pot restaurant and this appears not to have changed to any degree in the past 23 years!

Kylemore Quay

Following this we motored on round the coast to Kylemore Quay for lunch and then back to Whites for a snooze before venturing out for dinner.

We had chosen a French restaurant, Jacques Bistro, at the Greenacres gallery just around the corner from the Hotel.

It is unique in as much as many of the tables are set in the wine shop so one is surrounded by racks of wine! The food and wine were excellent, though the cheapest wine on the list was €29!  I went for one of the specials, a Casoulet of Toulouse sausage, pork belly and duck on a bed of beans – unbelievably filling!  Josephine picked another special, Black Sole Muniere.  Needless to say I managed their Crème Brulee.

Jacques specials

Altogether a most satisfactory few days.