Goodbye sangers, hello smoked salmon salads

Enda Kenny and Charlie Flanagan, who can now pick anything from BLTs to panini

Enda Kenny and Charlie Flanagan, who can now pick anything from BLTs to panini


The menu in the Dáil bar is getting a makeover. In the ultimate confirmation that the olden days of hard drinking among the political classes of Leinster House are gone, the pint has been replaced by the panini in the affections of the famous watering hole’s regular clientele.

If truth be told, the Dáil bar has been a very sedate place for many years. It is most unusual to see politicians or journalists drinking alcohol within its confines before the working day has ended. Even at night it’s a quiet spot.

It is the visitors who keep the pumps and optics in regular use. If it wasn’t for the students stud- ying the democratic process of an evening courtesy of a friendly TD or Senator, the place would be near-deserted on some nights. Visiting delegations and guests of politicians are the core customers these days.

On Thursday afternoon Gráinne Barrett, the new catering supremo in the Oireachtas, invited TDs and Senators to sample a proposed new food menu for the members’ bar. It was just soup and sangers at lunchtime until last year when, in a major break with tradition, the politicians were allowed to order the joint of the day from the canteen.

(Although Lord Ross of Dublin South has always been accommodated with his preferred dish of smoked salmon salad.)

Now, there’s a BLT on ciabatta on offer and any number of panini you might care to name, all served with hand-cut chips and presented in “a rustic manner”. The emphasis is on healthy eating, with salad ingredients supplied by Keelings of north Dublin and all dishes locally sourced, where possible.

Speaking of healthy eating, it has not gone unnoticed around the House that Fine Gael party chairman Charlie Flanagan is half the man he was this time last year. Charlie has shed the pounds thanks to a new diet of sensible eating and is spreading the gospel of a healthy diet.

Looking svelte too is Mary Mitchell O’Connor, also show- ing the benefits of a new diet.

For the less disciplined, though, there are always those handcut chips to go with the salad. There’s even smoked salmon on the menu, to keep the Shane Rosses of this world happy.

“She put up a beautiful spread, all tastefully done,” a happy TD told us afterwards. “The fishcakes were to die for and the Senator beside me nearly licked the bowl after his stew, it was so nice.”

It is intended to roll out the new menu in the Visitors Bar. This should inject more life – and revenue – into the old saloon.

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