Coppinger Row

A few weekends back a dear NYC friend of mine and major Beyoncé fan, was visiting Dublin for the first time so when I told her that Queen Bey & Jay-Z once dined in Coppinger Row back in 2014 it was a no-brainer where we were headed for our lunch reunion!

The restaurant is a small but busy spot just off of South William Street with a subtle laid-back atmosphere and if the weather permits it, I’d recommend to dine al fresco (glass of wine optional).

For starters we shared the smaller portion of the Garlic & Chili Prawns á la  Plancha,  which consisted of 5 juicy jumbo prawns.

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For mains, Miss V (my dining amigo) had the gnocchi while I chose one of the daily specials which was a mackerel salad with rocket, orange segments, olives and tomatoes. The mackerel was so tasty and the portion size was perfect.

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We both really enjoyed our time at Coppinger Row. Staff were friendly and there was no rush to clear our table. I think it’s an ideal place for a longer relaxed lunch or a date as many diners including us seemed to spend quite some time even after meals have been finished enjoying a drink or just chatting.

http://www.coppingerrow.com/

https://www.facebook.com/coppingerrow/

@coppingerrow

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Staple Foods x Nobó Pop-Up Dinner

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of both Staple Foods and Nobó since both of their early days so when I saw this event on my Instagram feed one day I instantly booked my good friend and amazing blogger Louise Cooney and I in for the first night.

Bookings were available for 6.30 p.m. or 8 p.m. meaning earlier diners only had their tables until 8 p.m. Arriving at 6.25 p.m. to an empty restaurant for what was advertised as a sold-out event was a little bit surprising. By 6.45 p.m. a few more diners had arrived but it was not crowded as I had expected. Staff were warm and quick to come around for orders, I’m guessing because of the time restriction to get the first batch of diners in and out before the next seating.

For starters we both chose the ‘Jamaican style vegan nachos, with slow cooked beans, roasted root vegetables with pineapple and an avocado, tomato, coriander salsa with garlic, lime chili sea salt topped with melted vegan cashew cheese’. Phew – what a mouthful! Pity the same couldn’t be said for the portion size that came however.

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Honestly, I didn’t enjoy this dish. Perhaps to no fault albeit my own, but I had envisioned something completely different when I ordered this dish so I was a little confused/disappointed when it arrived and I found myself tucking into whole cloves of garlic on top of a portbello mushroom. For me, this was the worst dish of the night, even presentation-wise I was really let down as this is course that should set the tone for the night.

After our starter we were given a palate cleanser, provided by Nobó which was a Pink Sherbert flavoured sorbet. I loved the baby pink colour – apparently coming from beetroot; and it really did taste just like sherbert but it was served in a shot glass, meaning it was tiny and with one of those wooden sticks you use to stir your coffee. Melting sorbet and a stick? Not ideal. So far, so not-so-good.

Mains were better though. Louise had the ‘Warm orzo and herb salad on a sweet potato & parsnip purée, served with balsamic glazed figs and pistachio’. 

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While I had the ‘Pan-seared and roasted fennel, with chili baked potato cubes, mixed peppers and edamame pods, served with an orange vegan beurre blanc sauce & crushed toasted almonds’. 

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Both of us chose to add on the ‘white wine, coconut  and orange braised chicken breast with a hint of chili’ which came shredded in a seperate ramekin and was charged a €4 supplement.

I enjoyed my dish. The portion size was much more generous than the previous two courses, particularly with the chicken added on. It was flavoursome yet it lacked any real “wow factor” and frankly, I’ve been more impressed by some lunches I’ve had in Staple Foods than I was by these two courses.

To finish we were served a ‘Vegan sundae with Nobó Irish Salted Caramel Frozen Goodness, vegan chocolate sauce, a banana & coconut caramel, hazelnut sea salt praline and strawberry consumé’. This was delicious, as Nobó always is, I just wish there had been more – a “sundae” in my eyes (and if you Google image search the term) usually depicts something much more decadent.

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Our four-courses, with our chicken supplement but no drinks, cost us €29 and I couldn’t help but feel a bit hard done by for this when you consider how good Dublin and Ireland’s current food scene is and how much that same price tag could get you elsewhere. In future I think I’ll just stick to being a Staple Foods lunch-gal!

For those that are curious to see what the rest of the menu had to offer:

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http://nobo.ie/

http://staplefoods.ie/

 

Foodworks, Kilkenny

So now that I’m back in Ireland for some time over the summer I thought I should share with you so of the wonderful places I find on my treks and trails around the country.

On a recent trip to Kilkenny, my sister and I visited Foodworks for lunch and we were really impressed by the quality of food served. Dishes were well presented and combined exciting ingredients and flavours. An added bonus is that much of the produce used in the restaurant comes from their own Foodworks farm.

I chose what was listed on the menu as Cod, which on the day was actually Hake, with courgette, pine nuts & sultanas. I thought the addition of rhubarb and sweet potato crisps were an interesting play on flavours as well as colours. The hake was perfectly cooked, soft to the fork and the dish also came with a side of roasted potatoes and vegetables.

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My sister chose a lighter option of their daily soup – a deceivingly big bowl of green goodness – Spinach & Courgette.

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Foodworks is located on 7 Parliament Street, Kilkenny, just after the entrance to Market Cross shopping centre car park and is definitely worth a visit. Great for a fancier lunch or perfect dinner.

http://www.foodworks.ie/

Tribeca

This was not my first visit to Tribeca, I had first visited a few weeks back and from entering I loved their cool and quirky interiors. Graffiti on the walls, sneakers dangling from a bookshelf, mismatched furniture – yes it sounds awful, but ultimately it works and is effortlessly hip.

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On that fist visit of mine, my friend and I shared a portion of sweet potato fries and edamame flavoured with pink Himalyan salt to begin – both were the perfect nibbles while we sat chatting and catching up. The sweet potato fries were one of the best I’ve tried in Dubai and a generous portion at that and well, you can’t really go wrong with edamame.

For mains on that occasion I had the Paleo Lasagne and my veggie amigo, the Superfood salad with avocado, carrots, kale, goji berries, chickpeas and wasabi peas. I was surprised at how the lasagne arrived – I had a preconceived image in my head of a traditional looking lasagne but with the pasta layers substituted for a vegetable, for example layers of eggplant or zucchini. Albeit, half an aubergine arrived stuffed with organic, as is Tribeca’s ethos, minced meat, courgette, tomato and some chopped peppers scattered on top. It was tasty but I couldn’t help feeling like both portions were adequate but not overly generous. That being said with the appetisers we had to begin I was sufficiently full at the end of the meal, but would mains alone fill me up? I don’t think so.

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So last evening on my second visit, this time with my carnivorous boyfriend in tow, I was curious to see how portions would fare and if they would be substantial enough for a male diner.

Arriving early we started with drinks – their menu of which is extensive. The cocktail list is inventive but I found had an overwhelming array of flavour & ingredient combinations. I think less would be more. Nonetheless, we wanted to try them out so we ordered the Sunset Park tea (pictured behind) and the Cubanhood (pictured forefront). Unfortunately neither of us liked our drinks. The cubanhood was sweet to the point that I couldn’t drink it while his Sunset Park Tea was more bearable but still too sour for both our taste buds so abandoning the cocktails I stuck to water while he switched to a beer.

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Prepped from my last visit we decided to go the whole hog and order three courses. For starters we ordered the Grilled Prawns marinated in olive oil & lemon with a hint of chili & garlic and the Baby Octopus Salad served with smoked chickpea & rocket.

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Both dishes were simple but well cooked and flavoursome – particularly the prawns.

Going paleo for mains I chose the Zucchinni noodles with chestnut mushrooms, mixed cherry tomatoes, kale & macadamia nut pesto. The dish left a lot to be desired. It lacked flavour and was much too oily that I couldn’t enjoy eating it and left more than half uneaten. There was also very little mushrooms or tomatoes in the dish.

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I also ordered a side of Sweet Potato fries which as aforementioned I love from here. Big portion and the fries aren’t too thin that you feel like you are just eating deep-fried shards of nothing.

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Mi amore tucked into the Tribeca burger & fries with cajun mayonaise, tomatoes, beetroot & caramelised onions (with requested no cheddar) and as a self-proclaimed Dubai burger connoisseur, he was quite impressed with Tribeca’s version.

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Suprisingly full at this stage – my previous doubts about how filling their menu is now diminished; we ordered one dessert to share. We chose the only dairy-free option which was the Paleo Banoffee Pie with coconut, honey, pecan nuts & chia seeds but this was definitely the biggest let down of the night.

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The consistency and textures of the dish were all wrong. Chia seeds when soaked become sludgy, so paired then with similar gooey-textured banana slices it made for a very unpleasant sensation when eating. Banoffee pie should have a caramel layer and most importantly a layer of crunch, neither of which were present in this dish. I applaud their inventiveness but it just did not deliver. There are so many great paleo/vegan banoffee recipes available or imaginable nowadays that I hope they will revise their recipe and improve it. Who knows maybe they could try my famous Banoffee recipe!?

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My verdict? Tribeca would be top of my list in terms of venues and ambience. This is definitely somewhere I would go with a bunch of friends for drinks and some yummy nibbles such as their starters/bar snacks. Their full food menu still needs some work but I believe they are on the right path and I am excited to see their progression and improvement.

http://www.tribeca.ae

Tresind

Located on the second floor of the Nassima Royal Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, Tresind is a self-called “modernist Indian fine dining restaurant” that I have been eager to visit for some time now. My family and I are big Indian food fans, so with my folks and my sister in town it was the perfect opportunity and boy was it worth the wait!

Arriving for our reservation at 7 p.m. to an empty restaurant was a little worrying yet these worries were soon dismissed as by 8 p.m. almost every table in the house was full and remained that way for the entirety  of our meal. A few tables even had turn-overs during that time and most of the diners during our visit were Indian themselves which is always a good sign.

Upon making our reservation I had advised the restaurant about my food intolerances (no wheat or dairy) and they were most accommodating. Once seated, the head chef came to speak with me about what options he could offer me from the á la carte menu while my parents and sister chose the eight course tasting menu which consisted of 13 mini dishes.

I have to say that even though I wasn’t eating all of the dishes on the tasting menu the theatrical side of their preparations (especially those done at the table) and presentation was so enjoyable even as a spectator. Foodie or not, I would highly recommend choosing the tasting menu option which at 375 AED I think is fantastic value for the quality and quantity of food provided.

To kick off we were served an amuse bouche of a pani puri – a traditional Indian street food, but deconstructed and reinvented, prepared “science lab” style at our table. Designed to be ate in one bite, the spoonful was a burst of sweet and spicy flavours with textural interest thanks to the nuggets of crunchy chickpeas.

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Although I will feature some photos of the tasting menu I won’t comment on them seeing as I did not taste them. What I did taste first however was a beautifully presented tamarind dressed melon salad, sent compliments of the chef, before my  chosen starter of scallops arrived. I adore scallops but often they are a small dish for a big price. This was not the case here though with four plump scallops served alongside a rich peanut and chili sauce.

For main course I ordered the coconut fish curry – the fish was cooked perfectly so that when touched with my fork it fell away easily. The thick sauce and accompanying appam (a rice flour pancake with a steamed egg in the centre -something I was thrilled to see on the menu, bringing back sweet memories from my Sri Lanka trip last year!); soon had me realising that my eyes are bigger than my belly!

Some pictures of the dishes offered on the tasting menu are shown below.

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Overall Tresind proved utterly delightful in every way – from their food to the staff who were warm, friendly and well informed that I cannot wait for my next visit and try their new summer menu & you should too! 😉

http://www.tresind.com

 

Zaroob

Last evening I visited Zaroob – a Levant street food vendor inspired restaurant offering wholesome, simple dishes in a brightly coloured, quirky environment set to mimic a traditional Middle Eastern street.

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Given the cool evening that it was we chose to dine outside on the open terrace. The space was filled with wooden chairs, steel tables and plenty of greenery to help blend into the Golden Mile area in which the eatery is located on the Palm Jumeira. One thing I will mention here is that the wooden benches could do with some more cushioning for sitting on in addition to those at our backs as they wouldn’t entice me to stay seated there for long periods of time.

One menu and a pen are provided to the table for diners to ‘tick the box‘ next to their desired dishes. Our waitress Mini was very helpful recommending and explaining various dishes and we ended up ordering quite a feast!

Dishes are prepared in an open kitchen inside and arrive as ready. Our order consisted of a falafel platter, a mixed shawarma platter, beef alayet, puffed eggs, mixed vegetables & pickles, fattoush, hummus with tatbileh and hummus with meat and pinenuts. In hindsight for eyes were bigger than our bellies and this amount of food could have easily fed three or four hungry people!

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The mixed shawarma platter had a generous portion of meat but was a little dry. Personally, I preferred the hummus tatbileh over the hummus with meat and pine nuts – the meat was a bit tough, especially in comparison to the soft stir-fried beef tenderloin.

The fattoush though was fresh, well dressed with crunchy leaves and a good accompaniment to the other dishes. Whilst the falafel was the first dish devoured.

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My dining partner and I both agreed that the beef alayet, (pictured in the pan on the far left below), was the tastiest dish, consisting of stir-fried beef tenderloin in a pomegranate sauce with onions and red peppers.

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All in all, Zaroob offers a fun, casual dining spot for quick and simple Middle Easten dishes at a reasonable price.

http://www.zaroob.com

 

 

 

 

Crumble Café

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a bloggers evening at Crumble café in downtown Dubai, less than a one minute walk from the Burj Khalifa metro station. I was surprised to learn that Crumble is in fact open for over one year, however in the past month has undergone somewhat of a transformation and I believe are now on the right track to success with a fresh healthier approach to food.

Entering Crumble, the café is modern and spacious with quirky prints displayed on the walls. Most of the seating is downstairs but there is a few tables upstairs along with a children’s play area which is perfect for families.

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On arrival I ordered the unusual sweet potato, banana, chia, oat and almond milk smoothie mostly out of curiosity but also because I love all those ingredients so I was intrigued to see how they would fare when put together.

How was it, you ask? To be honest – a little boring. There was no distinctive taste of anything. I know I know, of course I would say this – but even a dash of cinnamon or some subtle flavour would have greatly enhanced its taste.

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Canapés soon arrived, some of which were not listed on the menu so I was a little confused as to why they were being served, but nonetheless, included smashed avocado with buffalo mozzarella and semi-dried tomato and a fig confit with fresh fig slices served on discs of toasted bread. As well as a chicken wrap with mango salsa and a rice paper wrapper containing the roasted peach and goat’s cheese salad from the menu. I tasted the fig confit, minus the bread, but found it was very sweet. I didn’t taste the chicken wrap but the smashed avocado was a hit with everyone, as it always is.

The Roasted peaches with baby spinach, rocket, goat’s cheese, pecan nuts, an almond crumble and a mustard dressing when served as the canapé wrapped in rice paper was underwhelming but when tasted later as its true dish of a salad bowl it was my favourite salad of the menu. Simple and flavoursome with all important texture and crunch.

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When mains rolled around I ordered the Cod fish with a Ragout of chickpeas, kidney beans and cauliflower which came with two large wedges of sourdough bread. The fish was well cooked, easily falling apart and the portion size was more than substantial.

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The four available salads on the menu were ordered for the table. These included the Pomelo & Prawn Salad with green Mango, cilantro, mint, shallots, carrots, toasted sesame, peanuts, lime and chilli dressing; Balsamic Roasted Beetroot Salad with pumpkin, sweet potato, chickpeas, grilled halloumi, baby spinach, pumpkin seeds, sumac vinaigrette; Super Bowl Salad of red quinoa, wild rice, cherry tomatoes, charred corn, kale, pomegranate, ricotta, walnuts, medjool dates, jalapeno vinaigrette and the aforementioned Roasted Peach Salad.

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I loved how the kale had been crisped in the Super Bowl Salad and was glad to see wild rice mixed in with the quinoa as quinoa is being completely over-done on menus around Dubai this past year. Again there was a good play on textures with lots of simple flavours.

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Personally the beetroot salad didn’t excite whilst the pomelo and prawn salad although fresh and light was just O.K.

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All in all, it was a very enjoyable experience and I am very much looking forward to returning again soon, particularly to taste their delectable sounding breakfast menu with features such as Coconut Quinoa Porridge and Skillet Baked Eggs.

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Crumble is open daily from 7:30am – 10pm.

For more information, call +971 (0)4 448 9061, visit their www.facebook.com/crumble.uae ; or follow them on social media @crumble.uae

YO! Sushi

Last night I shared a lovely evening with The Real Geordie Armani (http://www.therealgeordiearmani.com) and some other fellow bloggers at YO! Sushi in the newly opened expansion in the Mall of the Emirates.

Lucky us, we were given the opportunity to taste as much of the 80+ dish menu as we wished before then learning how to make our own sushi.

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Prior to last night’s visit, it had been quite some time since I ate at YO! Sushi back home in Ireland/UK or sushi in general. To be very frank I have gone slightly off the idea of sushi and raw fish so I arrived apprehensive, yet I was pleasantly surprised to see how many options there were on the menu that weren’t raw or fish based at all!

Two of the things I really like about YO! Sushi is how you can watch the dishes roll by as you browse the menu and decide what you fancy. As a hugely visual person and when eating dishes that are unfamiliar, I think having a verbal and visual menu, as this outlet does, is hugely beneficial and makes ordering much easier.

Some of my favourite dishes included the Eggplant and Kaiso (pictured far right in the second picture below) salads but the true show-stealer was the Crispy Salmon Skin HandRoll.

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I think I could happily visit and just eat two or three of these guys. I am salivating thinking about them today.

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There are plenty of healthy options available and some others worth mentioning are the Coriander Seared Tuna and Kaiso Gunkan.

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All in all YO! Sushi provides a nice healthy light meal option that won’t break the bank and allows for a novel dining experience.

Find them on Facebook: Yo! Sushi Middle East

Twitter: @YoSushi_ME

Instagram: @Yosushi_ME

 

Raw Vegan High Tea

Last weekend I had the pleasure of being invited to sample the new Vegan Afternoon Tea now being served at Mozzo Centrale, in Umm Sequim1, with my dear friend Rania (@cleanyummydubai).

The restaurant has a ladi-back vibe and a quirky interior with multi-coloured bicycle frames adorning the ceiling and mismatched lighting and furnishing.

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To kick off, we both ordered peppermint tea to accompany our feast – and a feast it was! Bear in mind the pictures shown are a portion size for one person!

Starting from the bottom – *cue Drake song* lol – we began with the savoury options which included a dehydrated red bell paper wrap with rocket pesto, vegetables and watercress and a carrot & faxseed cracker with a hummus spread, black olives & fresh parsley. Following these was a rosemary onion bread with herbed “cream cheese”, fresh chives & black pepper. This one was really delicious, I loved the freshness of the herbs, but the real winner for me was the sundried tomato and basil tart loaded with a creamy, cheesy, carrot and parsnip linguine. 

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Savouries safely devoured it was onto the middle tier which consisted of a very sweetly wrapped parcel, complete with mini wooden-pegs to safely envelope two dehydrated scones – of lemon & a cranberry raisin variety, both served with whipped cream and raspberry jam.

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The cream was really light which I think was thanks to the addition of coconut rather than it being a solely nut-based vegan cream as is often the case. I personally love textures in food so the cranberry raisin scone won this battle thanks to its chewy dried fruit additions.

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Scones tucked away. We were onto the top tier heroes.

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First up – a mango tart with lemon cream filling I loved this one. The mango was perfectly ripe, soft but not overly sweet as they can often be at this time of the year.

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One dessert in and we were, as you could imagine, already sufficiently stuffed! But never ones to shy away from a challenge we persevered! Next we made a move for the caramel shortbread with its oozy middle layer and the almond fig bar. The shortbread was surprisingly light but unfortunately we both found the fig bar just too sweet for our taste buds.

Our tummies now pushed to their limits we decided to call it quits and pack our double chocolate brownie to take home.

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I enjoyed my brownie later that evening with a big glass of coconut milk and again, as was consistent with the other components of the tea, the play on textures with the crunchy cacao nibs, the soft chocolate top and the set base, was divine.

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I would highly recommend this experience whether you are vegan, dairy-free like me, or none of the above! It is an alternative, truly guilt-free take on a traditionally unhealthy, sugar laden feast.

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Dublin Round-Up

There is some really exciting things happening in Ireland and particularly Dublin at the moment. Every few weeks or months there are new, healthy, hipster and quirky cafés and coffee shops opening up. I have a number of favourites across the capital, some old regulars and some exciting newbies!

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Blazing Salads – I’ve lost count of how many loyalty cards I’ve clocked up in this place! Plus while you’re there you can grab a tub of Nobó (i.e.: the best ice-cream ever!!). Located on Drury St, opposite George’s St Arcade.

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Kaph – the best matcha lattes in town, plus the added bonus of an excellent people watching spot thanks to their location opposite Blazing Salads. Pull up a bench outside or a cushion in the window and have some banter with their fun and friendly staff. Plus they stock Paleo Man Foods paleo treats like Banana & Walnut cake, Chocolate Coconut Brownie & Carrot Cake!

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Staple Foods – with an original location in Temple Bar and a brand new ;ocation on Grattan St, Dublin 2, these guys do hands-down the best vegan Sweet potato soup I’ve ever tasted – scratch that, the best frikkin soup I’ve ever tasted! So many vegan/vegetarian options here and also stockists of Paleo Man Food treats.

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The Fumbally – a little off the beaten track on Fumbally Lane, is always whipping up interesting new dishes in one of the coolest, chilled out venues in the capital. I love their falafel and black sesame milk!

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Fallon & Byrne – located on Exchequer St is where I go when I am seriously hungry! Or don’t feel like cooking and get a dinner to take home. My favourite is the Fish Stew served with your choice of 2 sides.

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Pictures courtesy of @fallonandbyrne & lovindublin.com

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Rustic Stone – on George’s St, works with a leading nutritionist so the entire menu is coded – wheat, gluten, sugar, dairy free, contains nuts, superfoods, – you name it! and there are tons of healthy options. The smell when you walk into the restaurant is also amazing from many diners cooking their own meat or fish on the stone at their tables.

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Brother Hubbard – on Capel St was a regular of mine during my time working in nearby Arnotts department store. I’m delighted to see the guys doing so well and what started as a one-roomed café has now expanded into 2 buildings, 2 floors, an edible garden and a sister café which I’ve yet to visit!

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For some finer dining.. 

Forest Avenue – located on Sussex Terrace was one of the most enjoyable meals I’ve ever had. My visit was some time ago but it must be mentioned for the level of customer service and standard of food provided. Staff went above and beyond to cater for my dietary requirements. Sourcing wheat free bread specifically for me that night and ensuring no wheat or lactose was in any of the 6 courses of dishes prepared for me. As my companion and I opted to try one of every dish between us there was one fish dish which the chef felt it would be a shame for my friend not to have the dish as was designed with a dairy-containing sauce, so they thoughtfully added the sauce to only one half of the dish allowing me to sample the other half. I love how open yet relaxed the kitchen is and how the chef often brings dishes down to the table.

Forest Avenue Dublin 2014

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The newbies on the block..

These two new-comers to Baggot Street are much too conveniently located between my sister’s house and my agency, Morgan the Agency in Dublin making them the ideal breakfast, lunch – oh and snack stop! on my journeys in and out of town.

Cocu – Order and go style take-out counter with healthy warm and cold salad boxes – think brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, spinach, avocado and all other sorts of goodness. The concept is simple, you choose your base, choose your main then choose your ‘sprinkle’. They also have delicious healthy sweet offerings.

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Pictures courtesy of @cocokitchen

Eathos – 3 words – The Paleo Muffin. Oh gosh. Muffin aside, there are bountiful bowls of salads and plenty of naughty treats as well as a healthy vegan cake. Pricey but one for a treat!

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Pictures courtesy of @eathosdublin

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A little further astray.. 

OK so not technically Dublin but The Happy Pear in Greystones, Co.Wicklow, is only a short but extremely beautiful DART trip from the city centre. The trip alone is worth going to Greystones for! Or hop off at Bray and walk the coast from Bray-Greystones to build up an appetite (approx. 1hr walk). Don’t fancy that? Well you can always stroll on the beach conveniently located next to the station in Greystones.
Happy Pear Greystones

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