Restaurant Review: Union 8 Kilmainham Dublin

Literally just back from trying out this trendy neighbourhood restaurant that has recently just opened up in Kilmainham. It is located near to the tourist attractions of the Irish Museum of Modern Art and also the Kilmainham Gaol (Jail). As it is really the only fine dining eatery around this area, it has become a huge success.

Today I decided to skip the busy lunch hour and dinner hour on a Saturday and instead went in at 3.30 between sittings. On entering the establishment you are at once greeted by a friendly waitress who shows you to a table. Granted the tables at the walls are quite close together so you undoubtedly feel like you are eavesdropping into other people’s conversations, however this is possibly due to the fact the restaurant space isn’t that large, so they make the most of every possible nook and cranny. Once you get over this fact it is quite enjoyable.

The honest truth, I really just came here for the chocolate fondant! I have heard manys a rumour about this particular restaurant’s chocolate fondant, I just had to try it out. And so I persuaded by boyfriend to come along for his lunch (my dessert in the middle of the day). I also had a glass of the house white wine which was pleasant and light. The boyfriend got the soup of the day which was a tomato soup and it came with beautiful homemade brown bread and real Irish butter. It was yummy if not a tad expensive (€6 for a bowl of soup always feels ludicrous, but it was good soup).

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Who are we kidding here, I know all of you probably only want to know about the chocolate fondant so here goes…..It was epic!! Firstly I must do a special shout out to our lovely waitress who sadly informed us at first that the fondant was not on the lunch menu but once she say how disappointed I was, she immediately went and asked the chef if it was at all possible to prepare one for me just this once. It’s not often you come across such helpful and willing staff so I must give them a special thanks!

Back to the fondant, at first when it was placed down in front of me, my first impression was that it was tiny! It was served on a huge white plate however so this was probably why. It was accompanied by homemade (delicious) pistachio ice cream on a bed of shortbread crumbs. Yes it did have that moment where you cut into it using your fork and the chocolate inside just flows out…..my mouth is watering again just thinking about it! Below I’ll attach some images for your aesthetic enjoyment 😉

Overall the soup, the dessert and the glass of wine cost €18. Warning alert, prepare to spend a lot of money here, the average item on the lunch menu costs €10. The dinner menu also could be a bit cheaper. The early bird costs €23.50 for two courses everyday from 5-7pm Sunday-Thursday and 5-6:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays. If dining off the a la carte menu, the cheapest starter is €7 and that’s for the soup! Main courses will set you back €16.50-27.50. Desserts are €6.50/€7. A bottle of house wine will also cost you €24 red or white.

So is it worth this cost? well they have no other competition in the area and the food is quite good and did I mention everything on their menu is gluten free!!! (as it says on their menu). The food is really good from what we experimented with anyways and Kilmainham has been crying out for a fine dining restaurant for quite awhile so its not a surprise to see it abuzz with activity. What I’ve learned about eating out in Dublin, people are willing to pay good money for great food and I think this is the perspective you need to have in your head before you walk into this quaint restaurant.

My score? 10/10 for the fondant! That’s for sure. The service is great and I love their jugs of tablewater with shreds of cucumber and springs of mint. If you are in the area definitely try this place out, I was quite impressed!

As always if you have any queries leave a comment or contact me on my social media pages.

The Busiest Bee 🙂

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Restaurant Restaurant: Moycarn Lodge and Marina

Score: 3.5/5

Yesterday I decided to pop home to my hometown of Ballinasloe, which is located about a forty five minute drive away from Galway City. Ballinasloe town is probably most famous for it’s October horse fair held annually in the town and rumoured to have been the fair in which Napoleon himself bought his horse. Our only claim to fame I would assume. Anyways one of the biggest issues with Ballinasloe town is the lack of dining options. There are plenty of bars (maybe too many) and not one but four Supermacs chain fast food restaurants, as it is also the hometown the the fast food chain. However despite all this my family and I continually find ourselves travelling to the nearby town of Athlone to go out for dinner. It is a shame but that is the reality. The only closest thing to a dining out at night option we have, is the bar/restaurant of the Shearwater hotel or pub grub.

However yesterday I discovered a little gem hidden just outside the town of Ballinasloe with easy access off the motorway. This gem is called the Moycarn Lodge. In the past I have frequented this establishment only when there was a big event on, such as 21sts, communions, retirement parties etc. However I failed to realise that they actually are a pretty impressive restaurant also. In fact one would assume as it hosts guest accommodation that it would just be a bar with simple bar food. However I am glad to say this is not the case and in fact at nighttime they have a separate room for their dinner time.

We arrived for an early dinner at 5pm and to be honest on catching sight of the bar I guiltily assumed not to expect much. Once handed the menus however this opinon quickly changed. The menu had a great variety of meals. From starters such as deep fried brie to main courses such as beef stif fry. There is literally something for everyone on this menu. I also couldn’t get over the reasonable prices of the courses. A side dish is only 2.95!

My mother and I decided to share a starter and settled on the deep frie. It came out in four segments served on a bed of lovely house saled and some kind of raspberry relish which complimented the bitterness of the brie brilliantly. Unfortunately we ate the starter so quickly because it looked so good that I forgot to take a picture! Take my word for it, it was yummy.

For the mains I chose an old reliable: Chicken goujons with a side salad and homemade wedges. Now I did have to pay extra for the wedges as the dish actually came with normal fries but I prefer wedges so I was a bit disappointed to pay extra but they were still quite tasty, in my opinion they were more like oven cooked chips not wedges at all but they were delicious. They are usually served with sweet chili sauce but I prefer garlic mayonnaise which was fantastic.

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My mother ordered the house chicken curry which to be honest just tasted like the tin of McDonald’s curry sauce so it wasn’t homemade but it still was tasty. Her only complaint was that it had coriander through it, which in my family is a big no-no because it’s quite fragrant and tastes like perfume and it’s an odd complaint I know, but we all can’t stand it! So after doing an autopsy on her dinner for a good 10 minutes picking out the coriander, she was finally able to enjoy the meal. It was served really nicely as you see below, with plenty of vegetables which we both love.

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With a glass of wine and a glass of cider the total of the mean came to €34 which was decent enough. The staff were friendly and very laid back so the experience was very relaxing. We stayed for another half an hour even after finishing our meals and could go up to the bar to pay the bill.

Overall Moycarn Lodge is definitely a place I’ll go back to for food. You would get more of the fine dining experience after 6pm I would say but for what we got I was very pleased. The only drawback was the inability to swap fried for wedges for free but despite this I still enjoyed my meal. I would definitely recommend it to those interested in a laid back venue with beautiful scenery and a friendly family atmosphere.

As always if you have any queries or opinions, please feel free to comment or contact me on my social media accounts: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

The Busiest Bee 🙂

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Restaurant Review: Il Folletto Galway City

Ok so I’m quite a fan of Italian restaurants, so much so that I would think I’m quite competent to know what good quality Italian food is. This place did not produce good Italian grub. I did really want to like it, it’s location is perfect down near the Spanish arch, the street is buzzing outside with lots of atmosphere, however this ends when walking into the restaurant. It was dead.

I should have taken this as a sign of things to come, but the €19 value menu really drew me in, plus a free glass of wine with your meal! Why not!

We were placed literally at the door to the kitchen right in front of the bar where we were listening to every conversation between the staff. It was my own fault for not asking to sit elsewhere. They also had a fan or something on in this area which meant not only were we freezing but our food became cold within seconds of serving.

On to the food. Well where to start. I ordered the bruschetta classic, I literally order this in every Italian restaurant I go to, that’s how crazy about it I am! But this bruschetta was completely flavourless! No garlic flavour at all, and it was served on what was basically a slice of toasted bread. My boyfriend, who eats everything, even tasted it and commented how bland it was.

For the main I made another error and ordered the pasta arrabiata. This dish is literally one of the easiest Italian dishes to make, chicken pieces in a spicy tomato sauce with slices of chillies through it and lashings and lashings of garlic. That’s it. What I got was literally fusilli pasta (not homemade) in a soup like sauce (convinced it was the leftover soup sauce that day) with only 2 slices of chillies (I counted) and the chicken definitely wasn’t cooked fresh. What was even more unnerving was that there were strings of spaghetti going through my fusilli pasta, which means that it was either the minestrone soup that the spaghetti strings were in or worse they never cleaned out the pot they cooked my pasta in. What made matters worse was half way through the dish I discovered a piece of chicken that still had a vein or capillary attached to it. Yuck!

When I informed the waiter of my unhappiness with the dish, he went in to the kitchen to question the chef on the chicken piece. The reply I received was that it had been a bit of hard chicken! Now in all my years of cooking and eating chicken I have never come across a bit of chicken like that before and I’m very sorry I didn’t take a picture of it to attach to this review so anyone reading could understand the utter disbelief to this ‘hard chicken’ statement I received

Having said all this, my boyfriend had a nice enough meal. He got the meatballs to start and the chicken escalope for the main and he only complained that the portions were too small.

So overall I would definitely not recommend this restaurant to Italian cuisine lovers and I personally felt I wouldn’t serve this food to my dog. I’ve never ever had to leave such a negative review in my entire life so for those thinking I’m being harsh, it’s all the gods honest truth! I’m quite a foodie so I was really really disappointed by this experience.

The only thing going for this restaurant is the great value of the menu price wise and the free glass of wine, but my strong advice is to go elsewhere!

Restaurant Review: Cactus Jacks Galway

 

Cactus Jacks is one of those restaurants that can actually be described as doing exactly what it says on the tin! This is one hipster restaurant you do not want to miss. It provides tasty Mexican cuisine at a totally reasonable cost (€19.95 for the early bird menu and a bottle of house wine for €12 during this time makes for a truly economic dining experience).

Cactus Jacks is tucked away down a quiet side street just off Quay street and one would worry that this would mean the atmosphere would be dead, however upon entering the restaurant the opposite was true. This restaurant is quite hipster smart, laid back in decor but this added to it’s appeal. A pleasant waiter greeted us on entry and quickly seated us at a table to our liking. He was very efficient and provided a lot of useful information regarding the menu and what not.

We actually arrived into the restaurant after early bird hours, but our waiter having noticed we ordered a bottle of house wine was quick to point out that next time we should come before 7 so we could avail of the €12 bottle of wine but that he would do us a deal and give us a second bottle for that price. Which was quite generous and had we been out with friends, it would definitely have been an option, however as there was only the two of us, we had to decline. It was still quite nice of the waiter to offer all the same.

Onto the food, it was truly a delight. I ordered the cheesy nachos for my starter, I was not disappointed, Cactus Jack’s signature chilli is to die for, with a hint of chocolate in it too so what’s not to like. It was served with nachos on the side which I also liked because often when you serve chilli on nachos they become quite soft and icky. There was also a little tub of sour cream to complement the dish. My boyfriend ordered the chicken skewers, which he said were lovely, if not a tad bit dry so maybe serving it with a dip sauce might be an idea? Just a thought however.

For the mains I ordered the Moroccan lamb burger. I was one of those picky customers where instead of regular fries I wanted sweet potato fries and instead of the hummus I wanted the relish and so on, but the waiter took all of my demands in stride and was quite easy going about it. The burger was amazing, and so deceptively filling! I was struggling to finish it half way through.

I also had ordered a side portion of the grilled Mediterranean vegetables, these however were the only disappointment with my main meal. They were covered in the herb thyme, which is ok in small doses but this was literally thyme overkill! Thyme is quite over powering in my books and less is more is always the key in my opinion and another herb could have been better suited e.g. oregano or in less is more terms, it would have been nicer just lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. However these are all just my own personal views and I realise my taste buds may not appeal to others, but again I will say it was a hell of a lot of thyme so I challenge anyone not to react the same way.

My boyfriend ordered the chicken supreme, he enjoyed it although it did advertise it as a large chicken breast and it was maybe a medium sized fillet. Again this is just a minor thing. Following the meal we weren’t rushed out of the restaurant like you would be in other restaurants, we were able to enjoy the rest of our wine in peace listening to the fantastic playlist of music they played in the restaurant, I did mean to get the name of the album but completely forgot, but it definitely added to our lovely experience.

Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our dining experience and look forward to dining in Cactus Jacks again hopefully in the near future. The food is wholesome and flavorsome and the early bird menu and wine offer is definitely a deal breaker that would make me want to return again! It’s also quite a nice place for all sorts of crowds: families, couples, tourists etc. so there is something for everyone.

Restaurant Review: Rosa Madre Temple Bar

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Rating: 4/5

A group of friends and I dined in Rosa Madre quite recently. From the get go the staff were so attentive, catering to our every need. I readily admit I’m very picky when it comes to food so it takes a lot to impress me but having said that I would definitely recommend this restaurant to Italian food lovers, as it truly is the real deal.

On to the food: For a starter I had the bruschetta and it was so flavorsome, it was quite a big portion, three bruschettas topped with homemade mozzarella served with a rocket salad and drizzled with the restaurants signature olive oil, which if they ever start selling would make a fortune it’s that amazing!

For the main I ordered a pasta dish as I wanted to check out the homemade pasta. It was a pappardelle pasta dish which looked tiny when it came out but it was quite filling. Now I had assumed because it was described as a sausage dish that there would be slices of sausage in it but I was a bit disappointed in the end to discover that it was basically a glorified blolognese sauce. Also I love having vegetables in my pasta dishes but as this dish didn’t come with vegetables in the sauce, I ordered a side of the grilled vegetables (peppers, courgettes and aubergines) and to be honest they were much nicer than the actual main. They were grilled and seasoned to perfection and I honestly would rather have been eating a plate of them by themselves.

I was too full for dessert but one of our party ordered the Tiramisu which looked fantastic and it was a good sizes portion also.

For wine we had two bottles of the house white (€52 in total), and two bottles of red also (€64 in total). I only had the white which was quite pleasant, it almost had a fizz to it, and it complimented our meal perfectly.

The most impressive thing we found about our experience was that we weren’t rushed out of the restaurant after our meal was over. Too often in Dublin restaurants you’re hounded out as others may be waiting for your table, but we had booked in for 7:30 and we didn’t leave till after 11pm. Meanwhile the staff were so attentive, filling up our wine glasses when they noticed they were empty, also bringing more bread out in case we wanted some with our mains. Our waiter was also extremely knowledgeable wine informing us what went well with particular meals, and also answering whatever query we had regarding the menu quite efficiently.

Overall one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in Dublin City to date, and only for my disappointing main I would have given it full marks. I would thoroughly recommend this restaurant to all fellow foodies and cannot wait to visit it again in the near future.

Restaurant Review of the week: Rouge Galway City

I’m still dreaming about the wonderful meal my boyfriend and I had in Rouge last night. From the get go the staff were welcoming, and were extremely knowledgeable regarding the food and wine menus. They were very attentive to our every need. Also a shout out has to go out to the wonderful jazz piano player who serenaded us with wonderful music from the moment we sat down and really provided a great atmosphere to the restaurant.

The food, where can I begin! Less is more is the trick with this restaurant. We chose the €19 value menu, which provided two courses, very reasonable altogether. It wasn’t a fussy menu at all, in fact some would say it was quite limited but I really enjoyed this, because what they do offer they excel in to a level that can’t be beaten. The starter was a traditional amuse bouche which consisted of a little bowl of soup (sweet potato and mushroom) along with a canapé, a brioche filled with garlic butter and chives and a mini quiche with smokey bacon and Gruyere cheese. Wow, it was amazing, a real explosion of flavours in your mouth. We were both in awe at the end of the course, which looks small but is quite filling considering there is also traditional french bread and olives on the table from the get go. Do not skip this course, it set the tone for the night in its excellence.

Onto the main, we both had the steak with pepper sauce. I got the dauphonois potatoes, and my boyfriend had the roasted carrots and parsnips. Again this course was an absolute hit! I would recommend those that do not like their steak rare to ensure you request well done. We both requested medium but it was medium rare so it was quite red in the middle but was still delicious. I also requested extra pepper sauce which they waitress brought out within seconds of my request! Amazing service!

For wine, we had a bottle of the house whites, it was €26 and quite tasty and complimented our dish well. Overall the bill came to €64 and I can honestly say it was the best €64 I have ever spent! I would return in a heartbeat to this place and would recommend it most definitely. You have to experience the wonders of Rouge, one of the best restaurants that I have ever been!

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