Restaurant Reviews from Grebe

Status: Guru

Credibility Score:
52.5%

County: Dublin

No. of Reviews: 65

Member Since: 28 November 2008

Last Visit: 05 October 2013

The Best Restaurant

Elephant & Castle restaurant

18/19 Temple Bar, Dublin 2, City Centre South, Dublin, Area Code: Dublin 2

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Cuisine:
American

Price Range:

Good
429 reviews

Reviewed 09th September 2012 ( visited 08th September 2012 )

The husband and I have been going to the Elephant and Castle for about 25 years (the website says it's been open 20 years, but they shouldn't lie about their age!). Like everyone else we are fans of the chicken wings and we usually share a portion to start. Over the years we've seen the portion size fluctuate. On this occasion the portion was generous, sufficient for the three of us (husband, younger son and I). Call me cynical but it may have been because the town was heaving with Americans. We've also seen the menu expand from burgers, salads, omelettes and sandwiches to include lamb, seafood, pasta, etc. I had the smoked haddock and gruyere omelette (not on the original menu, I'm sure) and the males had burgers. I liked my omelette very much. For pudding the son had creme brulee (good) and the husband and I shared a garden of the gods sundae - very nice. The husband and I shared a bottle of red wine and the son had a diet cola. The bill came to €97.75 - not bad. A word to the wise - avoid the toilets.
Most Visited Restaurant

Elephant & Castle restaurant

18/19 Temple Bar, Dublin 2, City Centre South, Dublin, Area Code: Dublin 2

View on Map

Cuisine:
American

Price Range:

Good
429 reviews

Reviewed 09th September 2012 ( visited 08th September 2012 )

The husband and I have been going to the Elephant and Castle for about 25 years (the website says it's been open 20 years, but they shouldn't lie about their age!). Like everyone else we are fans of the chicken wings and we usually share a portion to start. Over the years we've seen the portion size fluctuate. On this occasion the portion was generous, sufficient for the three of us (husband, younger son and I). Call me cynical but it may have been because the town was heaving with Americans. We've also seen the menu expand from burgers, salads, omelettes and sandwiches to include lamb, seafood, pasta, etc. I had the smoked haddock and gruyere omelette (not on the original menu, I'm sure) and the males had burgers. I liked my omelette very much. For pudding the son had creme brulee (good) and the husband and I shared a garden of the gods sundae - very nice. The husband and I shared a bottle of red wine and the son had a diet cola. The bill came to €97.75 - not bad. A word to the wise - avoid the toilets.
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Mayfield Deli & Eatery
Terenure Road North, South Dublin, Terenure, Dublin

I first ate here last year and was favourably impressed. More recently, I had morning coffee with a group of women a couple of Saturday mornings ago. Most recently, I ate here earlier this evening with the husband, a son, a sister and brother--in-law and a family friend. The menu is limited but that's a good thing (I would be worried about a small restaurant that offered a wide variety). The menu stated 2 courses for Eu22 and 3 courses for Eu26. We arrived at 8.30pm and all the special main courses had gone. A couple of us had the special starter (roast tomato and pepper soup), the son had nachos, the sister had the Basque stew and the husband and I had chilli prawns. No problems. Everyone loved their starters. Main courses: three duck legs, a Mexican burger, a lamb burger (mine), and a hake with a curry sauce. Again, everyone was very happy. Finally, the puddings. A chocolate tort, a panacotta with rosewater and figs, two crumbles, a cheese plate (an additional Eu3), and a date pudding with toffee sauce (more like a cake than a pudding). For the prices, the food couldn't be faulted. Everything was well presented and the staff seemed to be very efficient. The wine list is limited but well suited to the menu. We had a lovely evening and enjoyed the quirky lay-out and decor, including the features and furnishings in the general area of the loos! Well done to everyone at Mayfield.

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Diwali Indian Restaurant
Unit 1, Castle House, South Great Georges Street, Dublin 2, City Centre South, Dublin

Let me start by saying that our visit to Diwali took place on Culture Night. Town was jammed, all the restaurants were heaving, and we were probably lucky to get in anywhere half decent. We asked for a table for 2 and I was pleased when we were brought to one right in the back corner rather than shown to the one just inside the door. We had to wait briefly while the table was cleared but the waiters were exceedingly polite all the while. We hadn't been sitting long when we were asked to make way for a party of four. Normally I would be happy to oblige but the tables offered to us were either (1) at a busy corner close to the till and en route to the kitchen and toilets or (2) the one close to the door. I chose not to move - why would I downgrade? We chose the platter of vegetarian snacks for 2 to start: very tasty bhajis, samosas and pakora. Himself ordered chicken in a spinach-based sauce while I ordered a Nepalese curry with lamb. We think we waited nearly an hour after our starters for the main courses and then I was brought chicken instead of lamb. For some reason it took only 10 minutes for the correct dish to arrive. The mistake was dealt with apologetically but it made wonder how an authentic curry could have been produced so quickly. Two hours after our arrival we just wanted to get out but it took more time for our bill to be presented. We declined the free digestifs but appreciated the offer. To sum up: the food wasn't exceptional but it was tasty. The tables are far too close together and no one should be expected to sit so close to the front door. The staff were polite but the service was somewhat slow (perhaps understandably given the bustle about town). Fair value at Eu78.

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Elephant & Castle
18/19 Temple Bar, Dublin 2, City Centre South, Dublin

The husband and I have been going to the Elephant and Castle for about 25 years (the website says it's been open 20 years, but they shouldn't lie about their age!). Like everyone else we are fans of the chicken wings and we usually share a portion to start. Over the years we've seen the portion size fluctuate. On this occasion the portion was generous, sufficient for the three of us (husband, younger son and I). Call me cynical but it may have been because the town was heaving with Americans. We've also seen the menu expand from burgers, salads, omelettes and sandwiches to include lamb, seafood, pasta, etc. I had the smoked haddock and gruyere omelette (not on the original menu, I'm sure) and the males had burgers. I liked my omelette very much. For pudding the son had creme brulee (good) and the husband and I shared a garden of the gods sundae - very nice. The husband and I shared a bottle of red wine and the son had a diet cola. The bill came to €97.75 - not bad. A word to the wise - avoid the toilets.

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La Maison
15 Castle Market Street, Dublin 2, City Centre South, Dublin

There were five of us former colleagues out for an early bird mid-week chat and catch-up. M had booked the table. I was running late and the others had already ordered, but it wasn't a problem and my starter arrived at the same time as everyone else's. They all had the moules and I had the board of home-made pates with sourdough bread. I loved mine - rillettes, a smooth pate and a terrine. For my main course I had the vegetarian risotto. It was tasty, not exceptional, and rather a scant portion. I can't remember what the others had, but M loves chips and ordered a portion, which she thought were great. I managed to squeeze in a pudding: cafe liegeios. No whipped cream, but more sophisticated. We had white wine with our starters and red later. We each chipped in €58 which covered the tip and was value for money. I hope to be back.

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Locks Brasserie
No. 1 Windsor Terrace, South Dublin, Portobello, Dublin

The husband treated me to a pre-birthday dinner at Lock's last Friday. We had prosecco at the bar before being shown to our table. The special starter was green and white asparagus with duck egg poached at 63' and hollandaise sauce. We both had it and it was gorgeous. Then I had the sole and he had the lamb. We were both very pleased. I didn't fancy any of the desserts but managed to drink two Amarettos instead. We had a lovely evening, with good service in a very pleasant atmosphere ... and I wasn't footing the bill!

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Rustic Stone
South George's Street, Dublin, City Centre South, Dublin

Last Thursday was my second visit to Rustic Stone in just under 2 months. It was a much better experience than my first visit. I went with 3 former colleagues and we had lots to talk about. We chose 3 starters: olives and grapefruit, chicken wings, and cubes of melon in ginger, all of which were beautifully presented. Two of the others had burgers which they enjoyed. I had the sumptuous pork pappardelle - absolutely gorgeous - and shared the orange salad. Two others shared a lime salad. All four of us shared a brulee pan d'epice for dessert. We relished everything on our plates. Our waitress was brisk, efficient and friendly. We had a great evening. I had been a little concerned about the booking as I booked via Menupages last month. I phoned to check that the booking had gone through but it seems that I was booked in for the 28th May rather than 28th June, so just as well I'd checked. Anyway, the food was full of interesting flavours and visually appeal. Well done to all concerned.

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Beaufield Mews Restaurant
Woodlands Avenue, Dublin 18 , Stillorgan, Dublin

Beaufield Mews is not somewhere that springs to mind for a night out even though it's been around for a long time. I went there a few years ago and wasn't wildly impressed but last Friday evening was a very pleasant surprise. It wasn't busy so my group of six benefited from very attentive service. An amuse bouche of home-made samosa was very welcome, followed by our starters. I had scallop and Galway clams (very tasty) followed by duck, which was really delicious. A couple of the group had steak with oxtail vol au vent and were very pleased. We were given a selection of vegetables - creamed spinach, flavoursome baby carrots, crunchy grated turnip, potatoes cooked in a variety of ways. Only a couple of us had dessert and were impressed. I wasn't footing the bill but I think it was very good value.

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ely winebar
22 Ely Place, (Just off St. Stephen’s Green), Dublin 2, City Centre South, Dublin

Five of went out for the early evening dinner. Our table was booked for 6.30pm and the colleague who had booked was told we'd have to be out by 8.30. Par for the course in the run up to Christmas, I suppose. Unfortunately, no one else wanted a starter and I wasn't brave enough to go it alone, something I would regret later. Two of us had the crab ravioli which was pleasant, but appallingly overpriced for the portion size. The others had burgers, which they enjoyed but found them to be on the small side. One of the girls had cheese on hers which was still in a slice, rather than melted, but she admitted it was her own fault for ordering her burger medium rare. We shared three cheese platters between us, which were very tasty and went some way to plugging the gap in my stomach. We had three bottles of Pinotage and coffees afterwards. The bill included a service charge, but the waitress was keen and attentive, so we threw in a bit extra. €250, all told.

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La Cave
28 South Anne Street, Dublin 2, City Centre South, Dublin

It's been years since I was in La Cave. I first went there in the mid '90s as a guest of someone whose choice of restaurant was his saving grace! This evening we were celebrating something and the husband had suggested La Cave. We arrived at about 6.30pm and there was no problem getting a table for three. The basement was as I remembered it - cosy and casual - and we were presented with three different menus (mainly variations on a theme). The husband had pheasant to start (a little dry, he thought), I had baked goat's cheese (very well accompanied by honey and walnuts), and the 12-year-old had snails (a sophisticated choice for a child of that age and he loved them). The main courses were venison stew (the husband loved it - rich, tender and tasty), duck (succulent) and sirloin steak (the child devoured it). The husband was underwhelmed by his cheese plate, but the child and I enjoyed our creme brulees, despite the insufficient burnt sugar topping. The service was good. Three courses for the three of us, a diet cola and a carafe of South African pinotage came to €118. Good value, good service and good atmosphere. I hope to go back sooner rather than later.

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L'Officina by Dunne & Crescenzi (Kildare)
Kildare Chic Outlet Shopping Village, Kildare, Kildare Town, Kildare

The husband, son and I took a break from shopping and headed into L'Officina just after 12.30pm on a wet bank holiday Saturday. We were just in time. We beat the queues. The husband had a bowl of minestrone, which he described as tasty, with plenty of vegetables and not having the canned tomato aftertaste. He could choose from white or brown bread. The son had a bagel with steaky bacon, cream chees and jalapeno relish. All I can get out of him is that it was good. I had the Siena sausage ciabatta: not as exciting as I'd expected. Afterwards the husband had a very generous portion of tira misu: luscious (I thought there was too much cocoa on top). The son had pinenut custard tart which he described as "really nice." I had a selection of biscuits: all well presented and tasty except for the hazelnut and chocolate ones. The food, a smoothie and two coffees came to about Eu46, including service charge. The service was mostly efficient and charming, the exception being a delay in bringing two of the desserts. The husband thinks it was a little on the expensive side for what it was. I thought it was fair.

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Koh
6-7 Jervis Street, Millennium Walkway, Dublin 1, City Centre, Italian Quarter, Dublin

Koh was the proposed venue for a reunion of former colleagues, one of whom had eaten there before and enjoyed it. I was surprised by how big it was on the inside. The service was courteous; we weren't in a hurry and the service was paced accordingly. The plan was to start with cocktails. A couple of the girls were disappointed that they couldn't have the pink gin cocktails as the watermelons were still at sea! I enjoyed my mojito. Eventually we were decanted into the main restaurant and from there into a nice little booth. There is an extensive menu so it took some time for us to make up our minds. I really can't remember what everyone else had, but they were very pleased with their meals. I had the gyoza (three different dumplings) to start (okay, not memorable) followed by really delicious southern monkfish and giant prawn curry. We couldn't manage desserts. The bill for 5 starters, 5 mains, teas and coffees, wine, a bottle of champagne came to about Eu310. Not bad.

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Mayfield Deli & Eatery
Terenure Road North, South Dublin, Terenure, Dublin

Cycling by Mayfield three weeks ago, I had to slam on the brakes and go back to take another look! The guys have taken on the building next door (formerly an office supplies company and perhaps an abattoir serving the butcher's shop that Mayfield is located in) and called it Union Square. What caught my eye was the new pale green paint, the open gates and the tables in the yard. I had a quick look around and decided to call back at some stage. On the evening I kept my promise to myself, I brought my 12-year-old son with me. We hadn't booked (I didn't realise you needed to) and were lucky to get the last table at about 6.45pm on a Friday evening. It was just inside the door and being a cold-blooded creature I was a little concerned. I was probably overly conscious of staff going back and forth between Mayfield and Union Square, and the door opening and closing, but it wasn't too drafty. The menu includes meat, cheese and fish platters, as well as hot and cold meals. The son chose the meat platter, selecting 3 different meats from 6 or 7. I went for the fish platter. For cold food, the platters took quite a long time to arrive, but couldn't be faulted for generosity of portions and tastiness. The bread accompanying our platters was delicious and served in biscuit tins! (There a lot of interesting quirks in the decor, furniture and crockery) The son had a chocolate brownie for dessert - very big, very chocolatey, but not nutty enough. His home-made lemonade was very sweet (he couldn't finish it) and the tap water tasted of chlorine. The bill for 2 platters, 1 dessert, the lemonade and a glass of wine came to about €38. I was very pleased and am planning to go back.

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The Lookout
The Square, Baltimore, Cork

We were really looking forward to our visit to The Lookout and were generally pleased with our meal. On the first floor and with a full glass front, the restaurant has a wonderful view of Baltimore harbour and sea. The discerning 11-year old had half a lobster tail to start (good), the husband had a whole crab (good, but an extra claw didn't seem to be as fresh as the rest of the beast), and I had a mackerel and smoked salmon platter (not stunning but adequate). The son's moules frites were very salty but he enjoyed them anyway. The husband's scallops in a sweet brandy and cream sauce were very good, but the red cabbage and carrots were too sweet to be an appropriate accompaniment (something sharper would have been better). Those vegetables were fine with my monkfish in basil cream. I could smell the basil as the plate was put before me, but I was surprised that the chopped parsley garnish overpowered the basil. The son really enjoyed his rich chocolate dessert (excellent value at Eu2). These courses, a bottle of muscadet, 2 Irish coffees and a mineral came to Eu150 - good value. I loved the space - it's rare these days to come across tables not jammed together. Criticisms: we were warned that 4 items (including a wine) were "off"; the service was a bit hit and miss (not sure how professionally trained the waitresses were), and the finish of the decor was a rather sloppy (the flooring could do with some work, light sockets in the toilets had obviously been moved around).

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Java Bay Restaurant
Manor Street, Stoneybatter, Dublin

I met a friend for lunch today - her first visit to Java Bay. It's very close to my office and over the years I've popped in for sandwiches or the office has had sandwiches delivered. For a little place with a tiny food preparation area they do a great selection of sandwiches, wraps, panninis, etc. I usually have the Greek pannini, wrap or foccacia, which means olives, roasted vegetables and feta cheese. Their Swiss style (ham, cheese and mustard) is good too. They make massive “muffins” (they call them that but they’re really heavy-duty fairy cakes – goblin cakes, maybe?!) which go down a treat. I avoid the soups (too salty) and the salads (too much sauce on the take-away versions). The front of this café has had a lick of paint and a new awning has been installed. One of the staff was a little unsure of the menu items but enquired immediately. Get there before 12.45pm if you want to get a seat. Two sandwich variations, two bottles of mineral water and two coffees: €20.65.

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La Mere Zou
22 St Stephens Green, Dublin , City Centre South, Dublin

The husband has been working hard lately and travelling alot so suggested that we went out for a meal last night. We didn't have to pay a babysitter so we decided to splash out a bit. We hadn't been La Mere Zou for several years and have always enjoyed it. Last night was no exception. He was able to phone and book a table for 8pm at quite short notice. When we arrived we had our pick of tables, but the place was almost full by the time we were leaving. My starter was the duo of foie gras served on a board. In one corner were two slices of tender liver and diagonally opposite was the other part of the duo. It was meltingly wonderful. The husband had crab for his starter and it was also very good. We both had moules mariniere and frites for our main course. The jus was tasty. The husband thought he could taste fennel in it, but the waitress reported back from the chef that there was no fennel. The moules were good but not as good as the starters. Neither of us could manage a pudding even though the selection was very tempting. Two aperitifs, starters, main courses and digestifs and a bottle of Gigondas came to €130. The service was very dignified and pleasant throughout.

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Fallon and Byrne
11-17 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2, City Centre South, Dublin

Last night was the second time in six weeks that I have eaten in the basement of Fallon and Byrne's (I forgot to review it after the first time). I was out with colleagues and we opted for similar items: the charcuterie plates or the pate platter or the cheese platter. Last night one of the ladies had the oyster platter. I had the pate on both occasions. It has a very rich, buttery taste and a velvety thick texture. We shared two cheese platters between the five of us. I don't think the platters are extraordinary but I like the decor and style of the F&B basement. Also there is a great buzz about the place (no sign of a recession last night!). The service can be patchy. A very obliging waiter took our photograph and was very pleasant, but other waiters forgot to bring me cutlery with my pate platter (I had arrived after the rest of the ladies). Five "main course platters", two cheese platters and two bottles of Ribera del Duero came to about €160.

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Vermilion
94-96 Terenure Road, Dublin 6 , Terenure, Dublin

It's been many years since my last visit to Vermilion and on that occasion I was decidedly underwhelmed. Tonight's visit has won me over. I used 2000 menupoints and booked on line for 5 people. A follow-up phone call yesterday left me uncertain that the booking had gone through but even if a mistake had been made, there were plenty of tables tonight. The husband and older son both had the vegetarian combination to start, the younger son had chicken tikka, the ma-in-law had meat samosa, and I had parippu vada, which is like onion bhaji. The portions were generous and I couldn't resist eating every scrap of my starter. My main course of jumbo prawns masala was spicy and the waiter was disappointed that it didn't bring me out in a sweat! It was really good. Ma-in-law also had jumbo prawns but in a sweet mango sauce, which she thoroughly enjoyed. Spouse and younger son had lamb chatpata, which they both relished, while older son had lamb chettinad. I tasted all the sauces and they each tasted of the ingredients listed in the menu and not like bottled sauce mixes. Four of us had pilau rice and one had steamed rice. The sons both had puddings, which they lapped up hungrily. All the dishes were very good, the service was attentive, efficient and not overfamiliar. Vermilion has gone up in my estimation and tonight's experience was more like when it first opened (its standards lapsed a couple of years after it first opened, hence my long absence). It's not cheap for a suburban restaurant but if tonight's standard was typical, it was worth it. Five starters and main courses, two puddings, eight Cobra beers, and two soft drinks came to €180 (less €25 when using my voucher), and the husband threw in a tip. A summer festival will run through June and July - I hope to get to at least one of the events. Tonight was the best meal I've had in a Terenure restaurant in a long time. Well done, Vermilion.

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Howards Way (Rathgar)
8 Orwell Road, Dublin 6, Rathgar, Dublin

A friend and I would go to Howard's Way for lunch after treating ourselves to a facial down at the Kenilworth junction. The trick was to book the facial for 11am on Saturday mornings then dash up Rathgar Ave to beat the lunchtime rush. Anyway, it's been a while since we were there. Last Friday the husband, the 11-year old and I took ourselves to HW. The tables are too close together but business is business. The waiting staff greeted us cheerfully and were efficient all evening. The child ordered his favourite items: chicken wings to start and pork ribs for his main course. He had no complaints about his generous portion of wings (I thought the sauce was a little too sweet) and tucked into his ribs with relish. I started with garlic mushrooms - two caps cleverly joined together to form a ball - and followed with the cod special. I can't remember the spouse's starter but he had the cod too. We agreed that it was very good. Some of the vegetables in my side dish were a little undercooked but passable. Only the child could manage pudding - creme brulee which he razed to the ground! The food is good but not extraordinary, but then neither are the setting or the prices (approx €70.00 for all the food and a bottle of house white). It's a nice place and I would go back.

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Cavistons Seafood Restaurant
59 Glasthule Road, Glenageary, South Co. Dublin, Sandycove, Dublin

The husband and I treated ourselves to a late lunch today and found a parking place easily just around the corner on Link Road. It took only a few minutes to take our seats in Caviston's. I like the casual bistro-style decor and although I can imagine that you might be a bit too close to your neighbours for comfort on a busy Saturday night, we were fine this afternoon. (The toilets are on the "bijou" side, too.) Unfortunately, I was a little under the weather, so wasn't up to giving the menu the full attention it deserved, given that we were belatedly celebrating our anniversary. We opted for the special menu. While waiting for our first course, we were given a small selection of breads and a rather cloying dip. For starters the husband had queen scallops with warm salad and a slightly sweet sauce that "lacked sharpness". I yielded to the temptation of the crab claws with lots of melted butter and garlic. The husband's arteries went into spasm when he tasted one but I just wolfed them down. Delicious. For his main course the husband had John Dory. I had a tiny taste and despite my blocked nose could get a faint scented taste from the fish (saffron?). I thought it was pleasant but the husband thought the fish slightly overcooked and the sauce too heavy. My main course was king scallops, served in a creamy Dijon mustard sauce and presented in a large cockle shell. I quite liked them; they were tender but had been seared a little too long. Burnt flakes spoiled the sauce in the cockle shell, while the sauce on the plate was edible. The husband chose the chocolate marquise for his pudding - too rich for my tastes - while I went for the blueberry and almond flan. Gorgeous. The service was a little slow sometimes, but the waitress was effusive in her apologies for the burnt scallops and didn't charge us for them. Three courses and a glass of house wine each, a coffee and a tea came to about €75. Despite my quibbles, I would go back.

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McDonagh's Seafood House
22 Quay Street, Galway, Galway City, Galway

I first visited McDonagh's of Galway back in 1986 and would try to go there on the rare occasions when I am in the city. Last night I called in on spec with two colleagues (J and S). It was a rainy Monday night and the place was busy enough but not full. I wasn't hungry enough for a starter, but J and S managed. J had mussels (I think) and S had prawns. My main course was scallops with black pudding. Very simple but delicious. J couldn't resist the scampi for her main course and I cannot remember what S had, except for her portion of proper chipper chips. J enjoyed her scampi but wasn't overly impressed by the portion of mushy peas. The menu is quite impressive overall. There were two specials on last night - hake and silver bream, which would have been grilled. Two starters, three main courses and a bottle of a French Languedoc white wine came to under €90. The waitresses were cheerful, friendly and helpful. McDonagh's is a great Galway institution.

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EIGHT, Bar & Restaurant
8 Dock Road, Galway City, Galway

It's been ages since I reviewed a restaurant outside Dublin. I was in Galway with colleagues (J and S), one of whom had cut out the recent Irish Times review of Eight. J booked a table for the three of us last week and on Sunday evening we strolled into the city from our hotel in Newcastle. We were about fifteen minutes late but no one held it against us. The place was buzzing. J and S both ordered squid to start and I ordered the crab meat with cream cheese. There was a mix up: two crab meats and only one squid arrived, but the mistake was dealt with quickly and the apologies were effusive. J and S proclaimed their squid to be delicious and tender. I couldn't be as fulsome in my praise of the crabmeat starter. While attractively presented, it comprised only white meat so was bland, and the cream cheese didn't liven it up much. Furthermore, I was sure the decorative strip of tomato wasn't freshly cut, and the whole ensemble had probably been sitting in the fridge for a while. For our main courses, J had steak ("the best I've had in the west") while S and I opted for the aubergine fritters, which were served with with perhaps too much tomato sauce (was it passata?). Very tasty nevertheless. J had a glass of white wine to accompany her squid starter then joined S and me in drinking our bottle of Rioja. Despite a couple of quibbles about the food, we really enjoyed our meal. The service was really good, efficient and friendly, and the atmosphere was vibrant. Two courses for three, a glass of wine and a bottle of red wine came to about €115. Very good value. I would definitely go back.

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Sean Mac D's
69 Harolds Cross Road, Harolds Cross, Dublin

A friend ("Bella") and I strolled down to Sean Mac D's for lunch last week. Bella had been once before and liked it and I had read the recent favourable review in the Irish Times. The lay-out of the pub was surprising. There is a little section at the front, right next to the big window, that suggests a little sitting room but with only a waist-high wall separating it from the main bar area beyond. This area is very big and with very few seats. (I wasn't paying close attention so am willing to be corrected.) Bella and I sat in the "living room" area, by far the cosiest section of the bar. There was a couple eating chicken wings which smelled delicious, not unlike my favourites found in Temple Bar! The lunch menu was simple - a selection of sandwiches and paninis and a few hot meals. Bella chose the Irish stew and I went for the asparagus risotto. The stew looked very simple - something I could have cooked myself - and Bella was pleased enough. My risotto was tasty if a little overcooked - plenty of Parmesan shavings helped to make amends. The pleasant waitress brought salt and commercial white pepper. This type of pepper is a mistake with dishes like risotto and is not sophisticated enough to match the items on the menu. When Bella asked for black pepper, she was presented with one of those giant pepper mills, the type that doesn't fit easily into a handbag if you were so inclined! Bella's bill for the stew and a glass of Guinness was just over €10, while my risotto and glass of Sancerre came to €15.40. Not bad. I am guessing that Sean Mac D's will cater for a varied clientele: staff from and visitors to the hospice opposite, the local residents around Harold's Cross Park and a little further north along the main road, and those from a bit further south at Kenilworth and Terenure. It's better suited to pedestrians than to motorists (parking is limited and difficult to access).

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Marios (Terenure)
103 Terenure Road East, Dublin 6, Terenure, Dublin

It's been 6 months since our last visit to Mario's and we were very pleasantly surprised by the re-instatement of the benches along one wall. Our waitress informed us that there are plans to re-instate benches along the opposite wall of the front alcove. Good move. The husband and son had bruschetta to start - very generous portions. I was offered a side plate so that I could share, but declined. The lads were well pleased with their starters. The son had a pizza with pepperoni and red onions. It looked a little overdone in places to me, but he was happy. The husband and I both had the special - sole with creamy red pepper sauce. Absolutely delicious - well done to the chef. The accompanying vegetable side dish was generous but bland. Two starters, 3 main courses, a glass of wine, a beer and a soft drink came to a reasonable €78. Service was friendly and efficient.

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The Woolshed Baa & Grill
Parnell Street, The junction of Jervis street and Parnell street., City Centre North, Dublin

Let me preface my remarks about the Woolshed by saying that if I were at least 25 years younger and had any interest in sport, it would be my sort of place. But I'm not, I don't and it isn't. A friend and I were going to the nearby cinema and I had spotted the queues outside the Woolshed doors. We had considered going down Capel St for a Chinese or other ethnic meal after the film, but I'd eaten Thai food twice already during the week and fancied a burger. There are plenty of burger joints to choose from on Parnell St but this looked the most promising for two middle-aged women, one of whom fancies herself as a gourmet. We both had the Mexican burger (€11.50 each) and asked for it to be cooked well done. It came as ordered, but I didn't like the presentation and arrangement of the food. I didn't like the way the guacamole and salsa were spread on one half of the bun and the way the cheese was melted on the other half with a dollop of tomato ketchup on top. The burger was fine, the chips were lovely. I couldn't complain about the service given the standard of the food. €26.50 (?) for the burgers and two minerals sounds cheap but for a Euro or two more, you can eat better burgers presented more aesthetically in Temple Bar.

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The Chili Club
Anne's Lane, South Anne Street, Dublin 2, City Centre South, Dublin

I was at the Chili Club last night with five colleagues for a celebration. It's only five weeks since my last visit (another work-related occasion) and I enjoyed the food then. We went for the "early bird" menu (€14.95 for two courses), which is excellent value, if a somewhat truncated set of options. We were almost evenly divided on our starters - chicken satay skewers and vegetarian spring rolls. I had the latter - prettily arranged quite tasty. The main course selections included Pad Thai, green chicken curry and red prawn curry. I had the Pad Thai and was pleasantly surprised. None of us had pudding. One of the girls (K) eventually asked for a cheese plate, only to be told the last plate had just gone! I'm not sure what the red wine (a Rioja of some sort) but it was delicious. So, six 2-course early birds and several bottles of wine came to €250 (including a 10% service charge). I thought the service was good. My colleague (G) had asked for her curry to be as mild as possible and they did their best. G, a frequenter of restaurants, was shocked that they had run out of cheese plates so early in the night. The website photographs make the Chili Club look much more spacious than it really is, but when you're having a good time you can overlook these things (not sure about the staff who have to squeeze between the seats, especially upstairs). The toilets (one for each sex) were barely adequate.

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Frankies Italian Bar and Grill
42 Temple Bar Square, Temple Bar, Dublin

It was Christmas Eve and we were in search of chicken wings and the thrill of being in town in the countdown to the big day itself. Our first choice of restaurant was closed for the day, so we opted for Frankie's. The husband, the eleven-year-old and I shared a plate of chicken wings between us and were pleasantly surprised. The other two had burgers. The child said: "I don't have the words in my vocabulary to describe how good this burger is!" Now there's a compliment. The husband enjoyed his burger. My spinach and ricotta cannelloni was satisfactory. Anyone who was in Dublin in the run up to Christmas will know what the footpaths were like (i.e., icy) and that the city centre was quiet. Although it was lunchtime, you could almost see the tumbleweed blowing down the cobbled lanes of Temple Bar. Frankie's was very quiet - not great for them, but a cause of attentive service for us. A shared starter, three main courses, a bottle of red wine (reasonably priced) and a soft drink came to about Eu85. I'm not going to dream of white Christmases again!

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Lemon (Dawson St)
60 Dawson St, Dublin 2, City Centre South, Dublin

The husband, 11-year old and I dropped into Lemon for a quick lunch. It wasn't our first visit so we knew what to expect. The youngest of our trio wanted a crepe with egg and bacon, the husband followed his lead, and I had a hot chicken tikka sandwich. The food preparation area looks quite industrial and the tables and benches are somewhat too close together - not a good choice for the unwary, bag-laden shopper. The staff all seemed good humoured. The system has a few kinks - my coffee arrived several minutes before my sandwich - but overall it's serviceable. Two savoury crepes, one sandwich, two coffees and a bottle of water came to €25. The husband groaned (he was paying so he's entitled to a groan) but I thought it wasn't bad.

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Wallace's Taverna
24 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1, City Centre, Italian Quarter, Dublin

It’s about 10 months since I first ate at Wallace’s and it was still called Taverna di Bacco. There were six of us and we got a table at around 8pm, not having booked beforehand. I had a delicious starter with plenty of rocket, pancetta and Parmesan cheese shavings. My first choice of main course would have been the spaghetti with clams but they’d run out of clams. My second choice was prawns cooked in chili and served with another salad (healthy, but I was still hungry when we left to go on to the next part of our night out). I enjoyed my meal. I can’t remember what the others had but no one was overly impressed. Our waiter was lovely, charming and helpful. Our table was very close (too close, perhaps) to the entrance of the wheelchair users’ toilet. I nipped in (yes, I know I should have gone upstairs) and wasn’t impressed by the state of the room: it wasn’t particularly tidy and the various fittings seemed a little loose. That said, we had a good time and chipped in €40 each for our food and wine.

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Kanum Thai
16 Orwell Rd, Dublin 4, Rathgar, Dublin

I had passed by Kanum on Orwell Road a couple of weeks ago and was attracted by the sign saying no MSG is added to their food. Last Friday the spouse and I wandered up for a meal. I should have paid closer attention to the seating arrangements, as it was more casual than I had expected (and I'd made himself change out of his crumpled jacket and jeans!). That said, we ordered a combination starter for two (Eu12) comprising crab cakes (delicious), fish cakes (I don't recommend these by any means), prawns, etc. Then we both had a duck curry (Eu11.50 each) - there was loads of it and it was really tasty. I didn't detect any MSG and the food didn't cling to the inside of my mouth, unlike the food from some take-ways. The food is served in American-style containers, presumably so that you can take your left-overs home, and you collect your plastic cutlery, etc, yourself. There was a delay for some reason (we didn't notice), but the staff were very attentive and apologetic. There was a constant take-away trade, which combined with the limited choice of drinks, high counters, the bins near the cutlery dispensers and the paper containers are not conducive to sitting and eating at a leisurely pace. Nevertheless, the food is good and while we may not go back for a sit-down meal, we will certainly make it our Thai take-away of choice.

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Patrick Guilbaud
21 Upper Merrion Street, Dublin, City Centre South, Dublin

Guilbaud's is one of those restaurants that you have high expectations of: the food, the service, the attention to detail, the understated glamour. You keep it in mind for special occasions. Two years ago I was there twice, once to celebrate my own milestone birthday and again to celebrate a friend's. On both occasions I was delighted and as impressed as I'd expected to be. So Guilbaud's was the obvious choice for my husband and me when choosing somewhere to celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary last week. I booked on line about two and a half weeks before the event, and noted that the booking form has a field for entering special occasions. The two of us were very excited about our night out, despite the unexpected cold and rain. The experience at Guilbaud's that night was like the parson's egg: good in parts, not so good in others. First the good points: We appreciated the time taken to explain the degustation menu and to check our likes, dislikes and allergies. The food was delicious, as one would expect. The degustation menu was a good choice and gave us the opportunity to try out a whole range of things - the lobster ravioli stands out in my memory. The service was generally good despite some lapses. We had asked the sommelier to choose and serve glasses of wine to complement the courses of the degustation menu and we were delighted with everything put before us. There were some less pleasing points, mainly to do with the service but my written complaint has since been dealt with satisfactorily.

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Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK South Anne Street)
5 South Anne Street, Dublin 2, City Centre South, Dublin

The sister ("Big T") and I were looking for something quick to eat while en route to the George Michael gig. I suggested Gourmet Burger, having been pleased with the food the last time I was there (about 18 months ago). Around 5.30 on Tuesday evening the place was pretty busy and we were probably the oldest there! We stood at the "wait to be seated" sign while the waiter stood at the counter going through some papers. Instead of coming over to us, he beckoned us in from where he was standing. I wasn't impressed but he was very pleasant once he had guided us to a table. There is a good selection of burgers and you can choose different sizes, which are priced accordingly. You can also opt to have salad instead of a bun with your burger. Big T had a glass of the house red and I had a glass of rose while waiting for our orders, which took more time than they should have to arrive (customers at our neighbouring tables ordered after us but got their meals before us). I enjoyed my blue cheese burger; it was well done (which I prefer) but no one asked us how we wanted our burgers. Big T was very impressed with her classic burger and the side order of chips were pretty good. The two meals and drinks came to about Eu44. The food was good, but there weren't enough waiting staff. The toilets and wash facilities are tiny and could have done with an inspection.

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M&L Chinese Restaurant
13-14 Cathedral Street, Dublin 1, City Centre North, Dublin

The spouse and I ate here early yesterday evening before going on to the theatre. My colleagues reminded me about the review published last month in the Irish Times. We had the same main course as that reviewer - Szechuan sea bass off the bone - and a portion of green beans fried with chilli. Both portions were ample and delicious. We're not experts in Chinese food, but we know what we got was several notches up from our local take-away. The place had filled up by the time we were leaving (around 7pm), mainly people of Chinese origin, which is supposed to be a good sign. You need to bring cash as credit cards are not accepted. Two portions (including rice), two beers, and two beers came to a very impressive €31. A great way to begin your evening out in the city centre.

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Indian Brasserie
Butterfield Avenue, Rathfarnham Village, Rathfarnham, Dublin

My family has gone to the Indian Brasserie occasionally since the mid-1990s. It was really good when it started out and the extensive buffet was excellent value for money. The buffet selection has dwindled over the years, as has the standard and authenticity. Anyway, we went back last night for a family occasion, not having been for well over a year. It was a Sunday night and not very busy. The buffet starter options were bhajis, pakoras, samosas, kebabs, with salad, raita and pickles. Main course options where rogan josh, chicken ghotali(?), another chicken choice and two vegetable options. All were tasty, but raita and pickles should be offered as accompaniments to the main courses, in the interests of authenticity. As someone who was reared on curries (my father was from India), I know what I am talking about. We had a pleasant evening and enjoyed our food, and the manageress had good intentions in her assistance. The non-Irish staff were helpful but tense. I have scored low on service because we all saw and heard a manageress apparently berating and/or instructing one of the waiters in a loud voice. This is unacceptably rude behaviour - if you have something to say to your staff, at least take them aside and do it politely and quietly.

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The Tea Room Restaurant
The Clarence, 6-8 Wellington Quay, Temple Bar, Dublin

Ten of us went here for the office Christmas night out - our second choice after it was decided the first choice was too expensive given these recessionary times. We were able to book with only about 2-3 weeks' notice. It was €26 for 3 courses and there was a good choice. While waiting we were presented with duck- and salmon-based "amuse bouches" and a selection of breads. I enjoyed my wood pigeon breast starter and my main course (confit of loin pork) was meltingly tender and delicious. The haddock main course was attractively presented. The chips in duck fat - yummy! I had the selection of signature desserts - so so. A couple of the girls had the pumpkin creme brulee which arrived decidedly un-bruleed. The room itself is very pleasant - I expected it to be cold and wore my vest (!), but it was comfortably warm. The service was attentive and efficient, although there was a delay between the starter and main courses. Excellent value.

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Il Corvo Restaurant
98-100 Upper Drumcondra Road, Dublin 9 , Drumcondra, Dublin

I was very pleasantly surprised by this restaurant the other night, especially it being a Monday night. Three of us were hosting a visitor from England. We arrived at about 7.30pm so still had the option of the early bird menu, which seemed very reasonable. My garlic mushrooms starter was very good and my creamy linguine alla carbonara was rich and tasty, with plenty of bacon. Everyone else had good things to say about their various dishes. We shared three desserts between the four of us - bread and butter pudding, berry crumble and ice cream with chocolate sauce - all rather mediocre. The service was efficient and pleasant. Those of us sitting right next to the window found it drafty - not sure that a small electric fan heater on the floor meets health and safety standards. Four starters, four mains, three desserts, two bottles of Montepulciano (€18.95 each), and a couple of after-dinner drinks came to about €132. Very good value.

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Dún Restaurant
Royal Marine Hotel, Marine Road, Dún Laoghaire, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin

I haven't been in the Royal Marine since before it was refurbished. That occasion was a family funeral and today's was another such occasion. A three-course buffet lunch was catered at quite short notice in the Dun Bistro and it was very good. There was a choice of soup or cold starter, followed by three hot choices (beef, salmon or tortellini). The salmon was served in a delicious wine and cream sauce, those who had the beef said it was very good too. I didn't have pudding but there was a selection comprising passion fruit meringue, bannoffee (more cream than toffee as far as I could see - a common enough failing) and black forest gateau (making a comeback since it debut-ed in the 1970s). Very good, attentive service. Non-Irish nationals have really raised the bar in terms of restaurant and hotel service in recent years.

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Mao Restaurant (Chatham Row)
2-3 Chatham Row, Dublin 2, City Centre South, Dublin

The spouse and I went for a very quick meal before the theatre this evening. He was running late so we only had half an hour to spare, but the waiter looking after us made sure we got our order quickly. The spouse had the chicken ramen, which he enjoyed even though he declared it to be somewhat sweet and lacking in chicken. I had the Malaysian chicken and rice. There was a very generous portion and it was very tasty. Yoghurt came with it in a ramekin - something I associate with Indian curries more so. We liked the decor and the buzz of the place. Two main courses and one glass of house white wine came to Eu29.40.

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Queen of Tarts (Temple Bar)
3 - 4 Cow's Lane, Temple Bar, Dublin

I treated my ten year old to lunch here today, having heard rave reviews of the cakes at the Dame Street branch. He was very excited about his ham and cheese foccacia bread sandwich (Eu7.95), but was put off it by the mustard. Mustard wasn't mentioned on menu (I checked the menu with the waitress) but he declined a replacement and ate about half of it, avoiding the mustard. I think we should have been given a discount but none was offered or put on the bill, but never mind (in future, it might be wise to check if customers want mustard, especially where it's not mentioned specifically). Anyway, I enjoyed my roast vegetable sandwich with hummus. The child had a generously sized brownie which more than made up for his sandwich - not a crumb of it left. I had shortbread - coconut was mentioned on the menu but I couldn't taste it. I was really pleased that my tea was served in a nice little crockery teapot - all those who still use steel pots take note! There is a pleasant buzz to the place and our waitress was cheery and efficient. Two sandwiches, two puddings, one fresh orange juice and a pot of tea came to Eu29.95.

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Alexis Bar And Grill
17 / 18 Patrick Street, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin

Last night was my second visit to Alexis' (I was here last November for a family occasion when twelve of us were very happy with the food and service). The spouse, the ten-year old and I had been to an early evening drinks party nearby and had snacked on canapes so weren't that hungry. We strolled over to Patrick St and were able to get a table immediately - the restaurant wasn't full at 8.30, nor was it full when we were leaving. We opted for one course each. The spouse liked his confit of duck but wasn't overly impressed. The ten-year old couldn't finish his pasta but he did like it. I had the risotto with mussels, which I enjoyed but did wonder how it was possible to make risotto so quickly (we didn't have to wait long for our food). The service was friendly and reasonably attentive and there was a good buzz about the place despite being only about two thirds full. Three main courses, two glasses of wine and a diet cola came to Eu66. Not bad.

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Bar Italia
26 Blooms Lane , Lower Ormond Quay, City Centre North, Italian Quarter, Dublin

I have been here on several occasions over the last few years (a Christmas night out and a number of lunches) but it has become the lunchtime rendez-vous for a particular friend and me. We both had the vegetarian antipasto platter (aubergine, peppers, pecorino cheese, tomatoes and artichokes). Very straightforward and seems like a healthy option. Our concentration was on the chat during our very long leisurely lunch, during which time other people came and went. One hitch in the service (a misunderstanding about the number of platters ordered - we received one rather than two) was dealt with but not quickly. Otherwise the service was good and attentive enough. Two main courses, a carafe of the house red, two ice cream-based desserts and two coffees came to Eu50.50. We'll be returning.

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Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill
51 Dawson Street, Dublin 2, Dawson Street, Dublin

I was first here in August with an old friend who has been living in the USA for over 20 years and really enjoyed it. The spouse and I were looking for an early dinner on this occasion and, having left another place around the corner because the tables were too close together, we dropped in to MPW's. It was some time before 6pm when we arrived and it wasn't too busy, but the maitre d' took a while to decide whether he could fit us in or not (he may have been nervous because MPW himself was there!). The menu seems to have expanded since my earlier visit - more fish than I remember. Spouse and I shared a portion of oysters, something I have to steel myself for, but I needn't have worried: absolutely delicious, served with half a lemon wrapped in muslin and a ramekin of vinaigrette (lemon is better!). Then he had grilled tuna which he pronounced to be wonderful (I nervously tasted it - tastier than I expected) and I had poached salmon on spinach. Delicious and a generous portion. Our Pinot Grigio was a perfect accompaniment. The service was just right. One starter, two mains, the wine and two coffees - €90 approx.

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TriBeCa
65 Ranelagh Village, Dublin 6, Ranelagh, Dublin

Three of went to Tribeca last week as a treat for our wedding anniversary (two of us are married to each other, the third person is No 2 son! Couldn't get a minder). It was our third visit in the last 8 months or so so we knew what to expect - a handier but less frenetic version of the place whose menu Tribeca mimics. Ranelagh was very quiet that evening, but Tribeca was beginning to bubble around 7-ish. We were shown to the wine bar upstairs, which is cosier than downstairs. One portion of the buffalo wings did the three of us nicely. I had the burger with guacamole and the spouse had the Tribeca burger, while No 2 son had omelette. The chips were great. None of us could manage pudding. The service was very pleasant and attentive. One starter, three mains, one diet cola, a bottle of Rhone and two alcohol-enriched coffees came to Eu91 (approx), which is excellent value.

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Jo'Burger
137 Rathmines Road, Dublin 6 , South Dublin, Rathmines, Dublin

Have often passed this place but it didn't register until after Tom Doorley reviewed it a couple of months ago. A friend suggested it for a night out so off we went. We didn't arrive until just before 10pm (last orders) so it was emptying out. I liked the style of it - a little bit scruffy but that's in keeping with the laid back atmosphere. We liked the menus presented in old annuals (the Numskulls in the Beezer Annual, 1996 weren't a patch on the ones I remember from my childhood). I had a lamb burger with flat mushroom, we shared a side dish of fried sweet potatoes and a portion of pickles. Everything was very tasty. The waiter seemed like a fun guy - very bouncy and charming. I liked the live DJ and music selection - it was a very bit loud, but then I am middle-aged. Two burgers, two side dishes and a bottle of Shiraz came to €48. Not bad.

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YO Sushi (Dundrum)
Level 1, Unit 26A, Dundrum Town Centre, Dublin 14, Dundrum, Dublin

I'm quite sure what to make of this as a dining experience. It's snazzy with the conveyor belt dishes and coloured bowl pricing system and the call system. I liked the food - it feels healthy - but I think I prefer to eat off proper plates (fogeyish, I know). My second visit and a bit off my beaten track, but okay for an occasional treat.

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Afsana
3 Temple Bar, Temple Bar, Dublin

The spouse and I called in here on spec having walked down from Parnell St in search of an Indian restaurant. The usual offerings were on the menu and it was slightly cheaper than another Indian a little further along. As someone who grew up eating curries made with authentic ingredients or Bolst's or Patak's products, I learned years ago not to expect much from so-called Indian restaurants in Ireland. (By the way, the staff in Afsana are Pakistani but no one seems to be worried by small matters such as national borders.) I had samosas to start, apparently made with filo pastry: tasty but oily. My lamb madras was enjoyable, as was the shared saag dansak. The spouse enjoyed his courses, too. The food was good, if not authentic, and the service was pleasant, but they have cut corners on the decor (a very cheap, corner-cutting finish that doesn't compete well with other eateries in the area). Good value, though: 2 starters, 3 mains and 2 beers each cost Eu59. We will go back but won't dress up.

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Elephant & Castle
18/19 Temple Bar, Dublin 2, City Centre South, Dublin

I can't believe it's two years since my last visit to E&C. The husband and I, then the family, have been occasional visitors since about 1987 in the days when you could still drive down Fleet St and park opposite the restaurant. Anyway, we had the much anticipated chicken wings, which are markers of the economic climate, ie., portion size waxes and wanes. They'd waned again yesterday. Not only that, they weren't as succulent and as tender as we'd expected. The explanation we were given was that "health and safety" doesn't allow raw meat in the kitchen and the wings have to be blanched then re-heated. The menu has expanded over the years from when it was basically sandwiches, omelettes and burgers, and icecream sundaes. The husband enjoyed his burger, I enjoyed my new-fangled smoked haddock and Gruyere(?) omelette and the 11-year-old loved his omelette. They devoured a creme brulee between them and I could manage only half of my Kaffeeklatsch (still my favourite dessert). The service was generally good - we appreciated the time taken to explain the lesser quality of the chicken wings - but I didn't appreciate having to wait several minutes longer than the others for my main course to arrive. A shared starter (not good value), three main courses, two desserts, two beers, one soft drink and two delicious ginger ales came to about €78. My continued gripe about E&C is that the toilets don't live up to the style and lay-out of the restaurant (far too small) but the innovation of decent soap and handcream goes a tiny way to offset this.

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Brambles Café Bistro
102-104 Terenure Road North, Terenure, Dublin

It's been a year since my last visit and I returned for the same reason as before: my younger son's birthday and he was allowed to choose where our party of six went. There was no problem booking and then changing the booking - staff were pleasant on both occasions. When ordering our pre-dinner drinks, the adults opted for prosecco. The waiter proposed a cava, which on tasting it was rather too sweet for our liking. It was no problem to revert to the prosecco. The newly 12 year old had chicken wings to start (same as last year) and enjoyed them. I had the mackerel starter - not great. One guest had delicious mushroom and Gruyere cheese filo pastries. (Can't remember the other starters) For mains the child had burger and chips (again), which he really enjoyed. One guest and I had the salmon en croute (very good) with asparagus. The husband had the brill special which he thought well executed. Other mains were duck and penne pasta with a tomato sauce. Only the birthday boy could manage dessert - a pavlova served on a platter with a birthday greeting in chocolate sauce (a nice touch). The service was reasonably efficient and friendly. Six starters and main courses, one dessert, a bottle of prosecco and of Beaujolais, a couple of beers, a soft drink, a tea and a coffee came to about Eu260. Not bad.

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Alex Restaurant
Conrad Hotel, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, City Centre South, Dublin

I have eaten here on several occasions in the course of my work (mainly lunches) and have never been particularly been impressed by the quality of the food - always attractively presented but not tasty. So I shouldn't have been surprised by the quality of the meal I had last night. I was entertaining an overseas guest. We both had the same - some sort of potatoe croquettes served on spinach (€21 each) and a side dish of the vegetable medley. My meal was not hot and definitely cold in spots (my guest said his was fine). I had to re-order my side dish, and when it arrived the broccoli was barely cooked (I don't like overcooked veg, but this was almost raw). My guest enjoyed his dessert - a chocolate fondant, I think. I opted for poached figs with honey ice cream. I shouldn't have bothered. I'm guessing that the figs had been poached some time before and chilled. They looked horrible, weren't warm enough and I had to leave them. The two meals with side dishes, two desserts and a so-so bottle of Pinot Grigio came to about €96 (I think). If I'd been paying for it myself and not having to be polite to my guest I would have complained bitterly (cowardly, I know).

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Peploes Wine Bistro
16 St Stephen's Green, Dublin , City Centre South, Dublin

Seven of went here last night for a celebratory meal. No sign of recession here - it was packed. I had the soup of the evening - white asparagus. Very creamy and delicious - the added fish did nothing for it, however - and very filling. I was unable to finish my main course - delicious lobster risotto, the rice being perfectly al dente. My colleagues enjoyed their various dishes, with the fish pie being a big hit. Only one of us was able for dessert - creme brulee, which she pronounced divine. There was a great buzz to the place and our waiter added to the fun of our evening. Service was attentive and efficient. Haven't been here for years - previously had the impression it was too big for its boots, but this view was adjusted favourably last night.

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Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK Liffey Valley)
Unit 40B, Liffey Valley Shopping Centre, West Dublin, Liffey Valley, Dublin

Went here yesterday afternoon prior to going to the cinema. A little bit of a wait but we weren't in too much of a hurry. The three children asked for burgers from the main menu - none wanted the salad and relish. The spouse and I both went for the blue cheese burgers. Everything was very tasty - the chips were delicious (three portions between five of us was sufficient, given the size of the burgers and the sesame buns), and the salad with pecorino was surprisingly good. We enjoyed our meal - a little pricey maybe for a children's treat, but the food is of good quality. The service was a little slow, but very obliging.

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Chez Max (Palace Street)
1 Palace Street, Dublin 2, City Centre South, Dublin

I liked this place, but not whole-heartedly. Very pleasant and efficient Francophone staff, pleasant surroundings and decor, satisfactory range of items on the menu and reasonable protions. I can't complain about my smoked duck salad starter, but wasn't overly impressed by the grilled prawns in the main course (possibly the sauce in which the vegetables were cooked was over-seasoned or over-spiced). The spouse's prawns in the starter lacked taste but his main course duck was delicious. Everyone else in the group seemed satisfied with their meal and prices weren't scary. A good wine list.

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Les Freres Jacques
74 Dame Street, Dublin City Centre, Temple Bar, Dublin

We were last here about 18 months ago. Our visit last night was a celebration - three out of the party of four were marking milestone birthdays and we wanted something special. Our friends were great company, so the food did not get the attention it deserved. The spouse started with oysters (€10 for 7) which he says were good. Two of us had scallops with prawns - not bad, but not memorable. We can't remember the fourth starter. The spouse says the sole he ordered for the main course was overcooked. I had lamb noisettes which were elaborately arranged on the plate, but again they didn't distract me from the conversation. We think our companions had beef. I had some sort of rich fudgy dessert, the spouse liked his apple pie and icecream, and the companions' dessert involved icecream in pretty little pots. I am sorry that I cannot be clearer about what we ate, but either our conversation was too good or the food wasn't good enough! We weren't as impressed with it as on our last visit. That said, the service was friendlier and less haughty than I remember, and certainly not intrusive. Four starters, main courses and desserts, three aperitifs, a bottle of young Sancerre, a bottle of red and two coffees came to about €400. Not bad.

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Bellagio
92 Terenure Road North, Dublin 6W, Terenure, Dublin

Went this evening almost on the spur of the moment. Haven't been here for years. Like the new look - certainly the smartest restaurant in Terenure at present. The selection on the menu was impressive. The seafood and Bellagio pizzas were particularly impressive, and the pizza dough was just right. My rigatoni a la norma was tasty - lovely grated fresh parmesan - cbut the sauce ould have been a little hotter. The younger members of the party had massive portions of apple pie (more like a cake) with huge scoops of vanilla ice cream.

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Baan Thai (Leopardstown)
Central Park, Block P, Dublin 18, Leopardstown, Dublin

Five of us went en famille last night to celebrate a birthday. Parking is not very handy - there are double yellow lines outside and no obvious free parking areas. The service was attentive and pleasant, marred only by the waiter talking about the oldest member of the group as if she wasn't there. He was enquiring if she would be able to climb into the booth (and meant to be kind, I'm sure) but he should have asked her directly - she's not deaf and she was standing next to me! Anyway, there was a very extensive menu. Everything we ordered was very tasty and one of the party who has spent time in Thailand thought it was all reasonably authentic. The dessert menu featured those horrible pre-packed icecreams as well as Thai fruit salad, banana fritters, etc. Only the younger members opted for dessert and enjoyed their choices. No evidence of a recession here - the place was fairly busy for a Monday night.

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Ryan's & F.X. Buckley Steakhouse Parkgate Street
28 Parkgate Street, Dublin 8, City Centre South, Dublin

I had lunch in the FXB restaurant today but was offered the Ryan's pub lunch menu. Although the FXB menu said lunch was 12-3, one waitress in the bar told us it wasn't available until after 3pm. Anyway, whichever menu it was, the food was delicious. Two of us had the crispy fried haddock with chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce. The fish was melt-in-the mouth tender; the chips were delicious and were served in a paper cone; the peas, served in a ramekin, weren't too mushy; and the sauce was pleasant. I really couldn't fault this course. For dessert my host chose banoffee pie to share. I deliberately don't choose banoffee any more as most restaurants skimp on the toffee sauce and the biscuit base is often dry. Today's offering was marvellous - a mix of biscuits in the base (including chocolate), a proper caramel sauce and plenty of it, and a thick layer of whipped cream. A massive portion - too much for one person - and maybe a touch too much chocolate powder sprinkled on top (crumbled Flake is much better). The waitress upstairs was chatty, welcoming and efficient. A great lunch!

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Lisa's Trattoria
81 Terenure Road North, South Dublin, Terenure, Dublin

I haven't been to Lisa's for many years (the last time I went the "fresh seafood cocktail" comprised canned prawns and piccalilli out of a jar - only the lettuce was fresh) but was lured back by the promise of homemade gnocchi. Also a friend recently said it was the best Italian restaurant in Terenure. Other restaurants in this area have gone for more fashionable decor with clean smart lines so in comparison Lisa's is an oasis of homely, dated kitsch. Our main courses were adequate. One of us had the gnocchi - I'm not convinced it was homemade but it was tasty enough. Unpretentious surroundings and heaped portions of food.

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Plan B
Manor Place, Stoneybatter, Dublin

Today was my fifth lunchtime visit to Plan B. I had the Plan B antipasto (€10) - a generous platter of sundried tomatoes (really full of flavour), fish in vinegar, some sort of ham around cream cheese and hot salami. There was a more than enough bread served with it. My friend had the basil and tomato soup of the day - a favourite with my colleagues. She didn't want bread and the waitress very kindly suggested Ryvita in stead. Our two courses, a pot of camomile tea and a caffe latte came to €19.50. Very good value for simple, tasty food in unpretentious surroundings.

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Seven
73 Manor Street, Stoneybatter, Dublin

I eat lunch in Seven occasionally and am always impressed by the food. I haven't been for a few months and met a friend for lunch earlier today. It wasn't too busy when we arrived, but there was just one waitress on duty, so she was run off her feet by the time we were ready to pay the bill. The friend and I both had the vegetable tagine with yoghurt (Eu8). We didn't have to wait too long for our generous portions of rich, tangy tagine (almost like ratatouille) with couscous. Our attention was mainly on our conversation, but we enjoyed our meal and my friend was impressed by the place. The waitress was pleasant. Two main courses, two bottles of mineral water and two coffees came to about Eu24.50. Not bad.

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Jimmy Chungs
Eden Quay, City Centre North, Dublin

Not bad but doesn't live up to its own publicity. Handy location but "authentic" Chinese? I don't think so. No vegetable dishes. A meat, carb and fat fest. The whipped ice cream dispenser was a huge hit with my 9-year old. Staff very pleasant.

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The Winding Stair Restaurant
40 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1 , City Centre North, Dublin

Was at the Winding Stair last night for office Christmas night out. Loved the food (plentiful portions) but each of my courses had an accompaniment (chutney or similar) that was overwhelmed by cloves. Service was good. The draft from the entrance was chilling - was glad I didn't have my back to it.

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Wagamama - Stephen's Green
St Stephen's Green Centre, South King St, Dublin 2, City Centre South, Dublin

Three of us went there yesterday evening. Just got in before the queues formed all the way up the stairs and out the door (5.30-6.00pm). We love the choice, the buzz and the food.

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Sawadee Thai
94 Terenure Road East, Dublin 6, Dublin 6w, Terenure, Dublin

It was almost exactly a year since our last visit to Sawadee Thai and for the second time we were there to celebrate the older son's birthday. There were seven of us (five adults and two children) and we were able to get an evening booking the previous day. The main feature of the evening was the chat and catching up with a friend who lives abroad. I can't remember what the others had, but I really enjoyed my crab cheese samosas followed by a coconut curry with duck. A couple of members of the group had pad Thai (we were able to bring the left-overs home with us) and I don't remember anyone complaining. I occasionally pass by Sawadee in the evenings and it has looked busier. The water reductions in Terenure are certainly taking their toll - we were unable to have plain tap water and there were warning signs on the lavatories. My husband found the service pleasant. I recently had a bad experience with their take-away service so was feeling more critical. We were a chatty group and it took us ages to even look at the menus, but the staff were patient. Five starters, seven main courses, four soft drinks, bottled water, a glass of wine and several beers came to approx €275.

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The Lord Edward
23 Christchurch Place, City Centre South, Dublin

I was at the Lord Edward again last night (have been going since the early 1980s). The service was as attentive as ever, the fish was delicious and there were a couple of nice touches added. There aren't many places like this left in Dublin.

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Montys of Rathgar
88 Rathgar Road, Rathgar, Dublin

Liked the food. Atrocious decor!

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Bijou Bistro & Wine
46/47 Highfield Road, Dublin 6, Rathgar, Dublin

It's been 9 months since my last visit to Bijou and my ongoing concern is the volume of the music. It seems to depend where you sit as to how the volume will affect you. My friend and I were tucked into a corner near the stairs and it wasn't too bad. I was relieved as other spots seemed very noisy as we walked through. Anyway, I had the ham terrine to start with piccalilly. Very tasty. My main course was the salmon with mash. Really good. I can't remember my friend's starter but she wasn't impressed by her main course of vegetable risotto. It looked very wet and she said it tasted wet. Also, she thought the commercial vegetable stock was more noticeable in some morsels than in others. We shared a dessert - fruity pannacotta: not very exciting but not bad. When booking the table a few days earlier I was told they would "want it back" in two hours. However, we were there for well over an hour later than the time we'd expected to be turfed out. Two starters and main courses, a shared dessert and a bottle of sauvignon blanc (very palatable) came to €98. A reasonable night out with good service.

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