Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Bay

Another post from guest blogger Stephen Boyce of It's a Big Shopping Centre - haigh and Rate This Toilet fame.

The Bay

Last night we decided to go out for dinner seeing as both my wife and myself were sick over the Xmas and New Year and didn't get out once. We went to a place just down the road from us in Clontarf called "The Bay" ( as we were enticed by the menu items displayed online. The place always looked busy and packed whenever we drove past which seemed to be another plus point for it. We were to be left very, very disappointed.

When we went in we were surprised by the, how shall I call I, compact and dijouness of the tables. Our table for two was separated by about 3 inches from the table beside. For me, I couldn't push by seat back at all due to the closeness of the table behind me. Putting this aside, we went looking at the menu. There was the full menu and a smaller dinner special menu both of which did not fill me full of the joys of life. See, I don't eat seafood of any type, shape or form and so the decision of what to have was sort of made for me (I have to point out at this stage I don't eat seafood, raw tomatoes or mushrooms).

The first thing we noticed that was wrong was that as we were seated and handed the menu's we were not told what the specials were. This we noticed as it said on the menu that there were specials on the blackboard of which we saw only one and it had 2 desserts and a soup on it. Not a good start.

For starters I ordered the barbary duck on a rocket salad with sundried tomatoes on a raspberry sauce. My wife had crabcakes with a salad. Nicole's starter came perfect but on mine, instead of the sun-dries tomatoes it had ordinary tomato cubes which I didn't like as you know. I had to wrap all the rocket in the raspberry sauce to get rid of the tomato juice. The duck, while lovely, was a bit overcooked. The crabcakes starter I was assured was lovely.

For mains, I went to order the organic sirloin steak but was advised that it was not on the menu tonight (may have been helpful to be told that when given the menu's initially). We both ordered the angus striploin steak, served with boiled baby potatoes and wild mushrooms. We also ordered a side each of seasonal vegetables. We both declined the wild mushrooms and asked for the sauce on the side.

When we got our main courses the steak was cooked to perfection. However, as we waited for our vegetables we enquired to them only to be told that they were forgotten and would be 5 minutes to get. We were offered some side salad but declined. The steak came with 4 baby boiled potatoes and some pepper sauce. That was it. For almost €27. Not worth it at all. Also there was no thought or presentation to the dish. Nicole didn't finish her dinner as she stated it was simply "meat and spuds" and there was nothing to complement these. I ate my steak to line the stomach for the beer yet to come. And we come to the 2nd very disappointing service part. When it was discovered that the vegetables were not made the manageress made no effort to come over and apologise. Also, as Nicole sat there unable to eat the rest of the steak the mangeress walked past twice and made not effort to check if everything was alright. Nothing.

We thought dessert might make up for it and ordered the banoffi pie with fresh cream and the warm chocolate brownie and fresh cream. Again the presentation was shocking in that there was none. The banoffi (a small slice) came in the middle of the plate with the cream on top. Even a small squirt of a sauce would be better than the nothing it came with. While nice, again it was nothing special. The brownie was lovely with a slight bit more presentation as I had 4 berries on the side.

When we went to pay for the dinner, we were expecting the usual "how was your dinner?" question. However, the manageress (she assumed she was as she dressed different from the rest of the staff) asked nothing. No apolgies for the main course. Nothing.

The whole experience has left me very unwilling to return there, even for breakfast, as I don't want to be disappointed again and I also have an issue going somewhere that makes little effort to the customers.

Overall (from 5)
Service - 2
Starters - 3
Main - 2
Dessert - 3
Value for money - 2

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Liberty Grill

The Liberty Grill
Washington Street

It's been said before, what Ireland is really lacking is a good place for breakfast. While it's been sorted out in other countries, Ireland has never copped on to breakfast as a proper meal. Sure, we do have the brilliant breakfast roll, but if you want somewhere other than your local Spar, then there are not so many options. You can often find a full Irish, but these vary a lot in quality and not much else.
Then I got introduced to the Liberty Grill. A perfect place for breakfast and even better for brunch for a lazy morning. Eggs, scrambled, Benedict or Florentine. Pancakes with maple syrup (tested by our local Canadian food taster and passed with flying colours).
They also do burgers, fries, Californian breakfasts, vegetarian options, the lot. The coffee's not bad either, better than the week old tar I've got served along with the full Irish elsewhere. Prices are reasonable, 2 plates of eggs, a side of pancakes, a side of fries and a coffee come to around 20 quid. Give it a go.

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Eddie Rockets

In the last week we visited 2 Eddie Rockets and had hugely different experiences there. The first was in Blackpool and it was well worth the visit. A 50s style American burger joint, with booths and jukeboxes, it's a nice place to go.
In Blackpool the food was great. I had a chilli cheese dog (very very messy) and Urs a veggie burger which she raved about. We also had the cheese fries, onion rings and I had the vanilla shake. Now none of this is exactly health food, but it was all really good. At around 30 euro for the lot it was reasonable enough too. The only issue we had here was the service, our waitress was from Eastern Europe and didn't have very good English. I know the "I'm not racist but..." is a cliché but I really feel if you work in a burger joint you should understand words like "cheese". If I want to order cheese on a burger I should be able to. Still, not enough to deter me, and other than healthy new years resolutions, I'd be back.
We then went to the other Eddie Rockets at the Kinsale Road Roundabout. This was terrible. Our waitress understood our order, but they were out of cheese, vanillia milkshakes and whatever else we tried to order. This time I had a burger, which arrived overcooked and slightly warm instead of hot. It was ok, but if I'm paying for a burger I don't want something that was cooked three hours ago and left under a heat lamp. I was hungover, otherwise I wouldn't have eaten it. The fries weren't very good either. At 20 euro here for what we ordered, it was way overpriced.
So, Eddie Rockets, it seems to depend on which one you go to. Some are a great place to go, a nice diner for a burger, and some, well I'd rather MacDonalds.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

O'Briens Irish Sandwich Bar

Another guest blogger here, this time Stephen Boyce of It's a Big Shopping Centre - haigh and Rate This Toilet.

O'Briens Sandwich Bar,
Wilton Shopping Centre,

I can honestly say that having had various experiences of O'Briens this is one that I would make an effort *not* to go to again.

When they changed the Triple Decker I forgave them and found a new sandwich, but I can say that over the last few years I have found staff getting less friendlier and the food disimproving. There are less fillings and higher prices and this particular sandwich bar really hit a new low.

I had asked for something simple: ham and cheese on white bread with mayo. Mayo was put onto only one slice of bread, then one slice of ham and a squeeze of cheese to the centre (imagine closing your fingers together and what you fit in the middle was it). I asked for a cappuccino which was roasting hot and undrinkable, hardly any froth and what was there was burnt. I tried adding milk in but I still couldn't drink the coffee.

I had intended in sitting there for 40mins or so, eating a nice sandwich, drinking the coffee and reading my book but instead I lasted about 15 mins (including queuing time) and left quite disgusted at my eight wasted Euros.


Monday, September 10, 2007

nosh + coffee

Ballincollig Town Centre
Main St., Ballincollig

I will actually be making an effort to *not* go to this cafe again. It is conveniently close to work. Has a great selection of items: smoothies, sandwiches, bagels, cookies, coffee, juices, and so forth but the service was terrible and the food wasn't that great either.

I went with Matilda, and we both decided to get the cranberry and brie baguette. The girl at the counter had no idea what we were talking about, and behaved as if she didn't believe this item existed on the menu. Undeterred, we explained where it was and continued on.

When our sandwiches came they only had brie and cranberry on them... no sign of rocket (despite there only being 3 ingredients for this sandwich on the menu, it appeared that they had forgotten 1/3 of them). I brought the sandwiches back up and told the person that I thought there was supposed to be rocket on the sandwiches. She paused for a second from cleaning the grill and turned around to say, 'We're out of rocket,' and turned back around again. The sandwich would have been pretty extra crap as it was, so I said, 'Could we get some salad or something on them then?'.

As we were eating, our juice and smoothie came. My smoothie had the same consistency as Matilda's juice. And 3 separate times while we were eating our brie with a tad of bread sandwiches we were asked if other orders belonged to us.

I give it a 1.5: the food was edible and the atmosphere/location great.
Would i go back? Not willingly.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Mahon Point SC.

Bennigans styles itself on an American diner or pub, serving up the wings, burgers and sandwiches you'd expect here. Walls are plastered with posters and tvs showing music videos. Sunday to Thursday they run a Movie meal deal, main course and a ticket for the cinema upstairs for €20 a head.
Somehow it just fails. The burger I had there last night, their BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger was pretty flat and lifeless. Ursula's chicken strips were somewhat better, but I just don't think either was worth the €13.95 price tag. They fail to capture what makes an American diner. The ability to do fast food really really well. There's a lack of effort to the food here, a lack of thought or care.
What I did like here before was the heart attack inspiring Monte Cristo; "ham, turkey and Swiss and American cheeses on white bread, then battered and fried ‘til golden. Dusted with powdered sugar and, served with red raspberry preserve". They no longer do this though it was nice to try, even if it did knock six years off my life.
The only reason to eat here is convenience to the cinema and the movie meal deal. Really though, you should be checking out the food court upstairs.

2 stars. Will I go again? Probably, but not anytime soon.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007


6 Bridge St

This is a tapas bar on Bridge Street I've been meaning to try out for ages. Especially since Ursula thought I called it a topless bar. Even after I repeated myself. Damn Monaghan accents. Even without the toplessness it's still worth a visit.
It's usually packed at the weekends and you have a long wait to get a seat, but on the Tuesday night we went it was quiet enough.
We ordered five mains and two desserts and they were all good. Very good. Although they do mostly wine, they have a grand beer selection to wash it all down.
At just over fifty euro for the lot, it's very reasonable. The portions were larger than you'd expect for tapas, and with all this we were stuffed, even though we were late going in and having missed dinner. We had tortilla, cheese, potatoes, salad and tarts. All very good. I would say the mains are better than desserts, so don't waste time leaving a bit of room for the sweet trolley. Your taste buds would be put to much better use trying something else off the main menu.
I'd recommend going with a group of friends, ordering half the menu and then sharing everything. We were a bit rushed when we went, but it's definitely a place I'll be back to. There's still so much on the menu I want to try.

cheap camera phone images just don't do it justice

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Lennox' on Barrack Street

Lennox Chipper
Barrack Street

Not the usual restaurant for this blog, but one of those you just have to try. Arguably the best chips in Ireland. Chips, not fries. Proper spuds cut into long strips and deep fried. This chipper on Barrack Street in Cork is the one to try. Don't try the other Lennox', it just doesn't cut it. Forget all the takes of Burdocks in Dublin, this is the place. Perfect for on the way home from the pub.

The veggie burger also gets two thumbs up from the vegetarians, but a large chips is all you need to order.

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