Have a cheap and cheerful Christmas
Taxis, restaurants, drinks, more drinks and presents for people you don't really like. Here's how to cut the cost of having fun this Christmas - and still have fun
Because it’s Christmas, you’re obliged to get together with different groups of friends or co-workers and blow half your budget on overpriced Christmas menus in hectic restaurants with harried staff who clearly want you to hurry up, eat and give them the table back. Ross McNally, manager of the popular Pygmalion restaurant in Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, which serves tapas and meals around the €10 mark and has an appealing Christmas menu, says many city centre restaurants are booked out from today.
Yum and The Greenhouse, both in Dublin, as well as Aniar in Galway, are among the restaurants that tweet when they have unsold seats or cancellations.
There are more tables outside the cities, especially in the suburbs, and staying local reduces taxi costs. Denizens of Cashel, Co Tipperary, are blessed with a secret treasure, Indian restaurant Rajput, while the people of Gorey have The Pigs Tale.
Most greater Dublin areas have at least a reasonable to excellent choice.
Reconsider the Christmas menu
It’s not always a good deal. Look out for places that ditch the early-bird or the special menu for the month of December, calling it Christmas and adding an extra 20 per cent. It can still be good value – just not as good as the rest of the year.
Who pays what?
It’s a good idea to agree on a budget in advance and stick to it. Even though it can be awkward and uncomfortable for the person who raises it, you should also agree how you’re splitting the bill. Is everyone just paying for what they had, or would you prefer to shell out for the extra bottle of wine and the four cocktails that your friend’s boyfriend had?
Skip the restaurant altogether and get cheaper grub in a pub. Take Eat at Massimo in Galway, for example. It’s from the owners of recent Michelin-star awarded Aniar. It uses the same suppliers and serves steaks, pizzas, salads, burgers, pies and pub grub that beats the pants off most Irish restaurants. On Sunday afternoon, there is a whole pig on a spit and succulent pork with duck-fat chips, organic salads and beetroot and yogurt dip for only €10.
The owners of Sober Lane in Cork city, with excellent pizzas and bar snacks at reasonable prices, have been getting it right for a long time. The pizza and pitcher of beer for €20 is a perennial favourite. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a local pub worth hitting. The Gravediggers in Glasnevin, north Dublin, is a popular tapas spot. L Mulligan Grocer in Stoneybatter also takes an imaginative and unpretentious attitude to pub grub, with steaks, chicken Kiev and pork belly all well worth the average €15 price tag.
Always cheaper than buying wine on the premises, but check out corkage costs in advance. The popular Middle Eastern restaurant Keshk, just off Dublin’s Leeson Street, is almost always busy and charges no corkage. Cork’s Cafe Gusto charges €5 corkage. Most hot dishes are under €10, while the small cicchetti (Venetian tapas) are €1 each. Many Indian restaurants are also BYO.