In between spending every second trying to get our new and improved website up and running, we've naturally found time to eat - those calories won't replace themselves. Here's some of what we've eaten over the past fortnight, and what we thought of it...
A Quick Dinner, l'Gueuleton, Dublin 2
It's been a while since we sat under l'Gueuleton's red and white stripped awning, sipping a glass of wine and enjoying a plate of steak frites. With an hour for a quick bite in town we headed for one of their outside, wooden tables and found that steak frites are now a whopping €39. Gnocchi in a tomato vodka sauce with mozzarella and unadvertised artichoke (€24) was the best thing we had, the gnocchi firm and pan-fried. Pork fillet au crepinette was fine and forgettable - box-ticking tourist food with flavour not at the forefront.
Truffle chips weren't hot or crispy, and while tenderstem broccoli with chill, garlic oil and almonds had great flavour, the broccoli was overcooked. It's a great spot for city centre people watching, or just to pull in for a glass of wine, and staff were uniformly lovely, but on the food front they could do better - Lisa
All The Pastries, Ella's Heaven, Dublin 1
We’ve been meaning to visit Ella’s Heaven on Talbot Street for a while, and the main attraction in the mainly Georgian bakery and café is their Khachapuri - baked, boat-shaped dough stuffed with tangy cheese and topped with a fresh egg yolk. The airy, pillowy bread is perfection dipped in the cheesy, eggy topping, and at €7.50 it’s exceptional value for Dublin in 2022. Don't miss the potato pie, baklava and cream horns too - Ronan
Dinner, Thyme, Athlone
Athlone on a warm Saturday evening was packed (including plenty of hen parties - nature is returning) so the dark and woody interior of Thyme felt like a refuge from the noisy streets, and we can see why this restaurant has so many admirers. Smoked Gubbeen gougères topped with chorizo and cheese emulsion set the right tone, and we knife-fought over the last of the tomato and basil butter that came with the sourdough. Starters of rabbit and woodpigeon terrine, and seared scallop with uchiki kuri squash were packed with really fresh flavours.
For mains, lamb loin with confit belly and pressed shoulder was one of those dishes where you quickly glance around to see if someone will notice if you lick your plate (corner tables for the win), while seabass with langoustine bisque and fennel was light and something we'd happily eat again and again. The evening was rounded-off with desserts of a perfectly lovely 70% chocolate mousse with raspberries and a black sesame tuile, and a pink pepper panna cotta buried under crisp shortbread and strawberries, which divided opinions. One person at the table thought it tasted "too peppercorny", but they were wrong - Helen
Dinner, The Fatted Calf, Athlone
If you're eating your way through the Midlands, The Fatted Calf has probably crossed your radar before. Previously operating out of an old pub in Glasson, Co. Westmeath, it moved a few years ago into the glass-box street-level unit of a shopping centre in the middle of Athlone. We've yet to find a restaurant in a shopping centre that has an atmosphere that makes you feel like, well, like you're not sitting in the periphery of a shopping centre, but the menu here definitely feels more upmarket. A snack of chorizo croquettes made us sit up, pay attention, and look forward to what else was to come, and sarters of Castletownbere crab with ruby grapefruit and pico de gallo, and scallops in a savoury broth with mushrooms were both excellent.
Unfortunately the 10oz fillet advertised on the menu came out as two smaller pieces of meat meaning that the request to have it cooked (vegetarians, look away now) blue meant that we had one perfectly blue piece, with the other smaller steak was closer to medium-rare, but the taste and quality couldn't be faulted. Accompaniments were very limited so the beef spent its remaining minutes hanging out with some chips that were pale, soggy, and a bit sad looking. The pork saltimbocca was a much lighter dish with pancetta, roast peach and basil salsa, served on a salad of apple and rocket, but again, the accompaniment let it down - boiled new spuds are a joy, but on a plate with apples and peaches is not the place for them.
Dessert game here was strong - chocolate orange fondant with salted caramel gelato and honeycomb was perfectly molten in the centre, and the caramel doughnuts with affogato were super pillowy, but we didn't register till afterwards that it was on the menu as Baileys affogato". We tasted no Bailey's, just a pretty weak espresso - Helen
Hummus & Fatayer, Izz Café, Cork
There are plenty of places in Cork I feel drawn to revisit every time I have the pleasure of being in town, but few have a pull quite like Izz Café. Since setting up shop on the city's south quays three years ago, Jordanian-Palestinian couple Izzeddeen and Eman Akarajeh's Middle Eastern feasts have become a local institution. For my money theirs might be the best hummus in Ireland, gloriously creamy and served with a steaming-hot, puffed-up portion of bread, tangy olives and pickles. I also finally got the chance to try their fatayer: a cheesy, eggy breakfast pie with sesame-sprinkled dough and seriously rich filling. Do not miss this next time you're down south - Ronan
Farm-To-Fork Dining, Camus Farm Field Kitchen, Clonakilty
An hour's drive southwest takes you to Camus Farm's Field Kitchen on the outskirts of Clonakilty: a farm-to-fork fine dining experience that's all about connecting you to the land whose spoils you're about to enjoy. Given that, I'd have loved a few more dishes with real focus on own-grown ingredients - most plates mix with produce from other suppliers without much indication of what came from where. Still, it all tastes excellent. The opening beetroot borani worked wonders with a sourdough flatbread, while slices of smoked pollock matched with grilled peppers and gigantic ripe capers for a beautiful blend of fresh flavours. As enjoyed in the setting sun of late summer, there's few experiences out there quite like it - Ronan
The PB&J Sandwich from Bake by Graham Herterich
After getting my hands on a preview copy of Graham Herterich's (more widely known as The Cupcake Bloke) new book Bake, I could barely wait to procrastinate from actual work by trying out some recipes. His fruit scones are perfectly light and fluffy; his rye, ale and honey bread is a joy with sliced ham and mustard (or butter, or cheese, or jam), and his PB&J sandwich is a celebration showstopper. It's a bit fiddly and mistakes were made resulting in a thinner than planned jelly layer and some broken sponge, but the taste, my word the taste... - Lisa