Welcome to July’s Irish Times Food & Drink Club newsletter. We've got news of our next event exclusively for club members, outstanding new places to eat, our In Season column and food festivals worth checking out.
Meet The Chef dinner: Frank’s
This month's event exclusively for Food & Drink Club members will be held in Frank's, the hot new wine bar on Camden Street, Dublin, which recently scored 9.5 from our restaurant critic Catherine Cleary. The 18-seat communal table at Frank’s will be reserved for club members who will get to meet and eat with not one but two great chefs on Wednesday, July 31st (6-8pm).
Darren Free is the chef turned restaurateur who opened Delahunt on Camden Street, and now Frank’s, in a former pork butcher shop on the same street in Dublin. His head chef at Frank’s is Canadian Chris Maguire, formerly of Lock’s.
Free will share his insights into what’s really involved in opening a restaurant, and what makes Frank’s a very different concept. Maguire will be cooking at his workstation right alongside the communal table, while talking about the interesting techniques he relies on in his induction-only, no frying, mini-kitchen.
The menu is being created specially for the evening and will include two snacks, starter, fish main course and dessert. The signature cocktail for the event will be created by mixologist Martin Holec from The Sitting Room at Delahunt.
Tickets cost €45 - details below of how to reserve a place. Be quick: last month’s event sold out in minutes.
To get a taste of our Meet the Chef events, have a look at last month's wonderful evening at Little Mike's, with chef Gaz Smith and butcher Rick Higgins.
It has been a record-breaking month here at The Irish Times as far as restaurant reviews go. Is the standard of eating out in Ireland the highest it has ever been? That’s the burning question we’ve been returning to over the past four weeks, with three 9/10 scores in a row from our food critic Catherine Cleary, followed last weekend by a 9.5/10 for Dublin 8 hotspot Bastible.
Only 10 restaurants have achieved that almost perfect score during Cleary’s tenure as the Irish Times restaurant reviewer. What is remarkable is that Bastible’s 9.5 followed directly on from three only slightly less-than-perfect scores for Potager in Skerries, Barrow’s Keep in Graiguenamanagh, and Frank’s in Dublin. So what’s up? Is the famously exacting Cleary in a mellow mood, or has Ireland’s restaurant industry hit a particularly sweet spot?
"What all four of those high-scoring places have in common is a chef/owner at the helm. They’re run by people obsessed with flavour, creating beautiful dishes, many of them grounded in the bounty of vegetables we have at this moment in the Irish growing season. It’s a very good time to eat well," Cleary says.
You can read all of her reviews here.
In Season: Little Gem lettuce
Try these three great main course salads that take this reliable, sweet little lettuce into a new realm, with recipes from Donal Skehan, Felicity Cloake and Lilly Higgins. ( 1.3945728 publishing 6am Friday 12th)
Food calendar: What’s on this month
- The second Connemara Oyster Festival is taking place in and around Ballyconneely this weekend. You can get more details here.
- In Kerry, the Valentia Island King Scallop Festival takes place on July 20th-21st. Updates available here.
- Donegal food lovers have the third iteration of the Off The Street Food Festival in Letterkenny to look forward to, on July 27th-28th. See here for more details.
Two great cafes
In tomorrow’s Irish Times Magazine, Catherine Cleary scopes out Pearse Street in Dublin 2, finding much to like about two relative newcomers. "Bread 41 and Cloud Picker Café are making Dublin better from the inside out," she says.
Also in the Magazine, chef and columnist Jess Murphy shares what she likes to cook for family and friends: try her three versatile crowd-pleasing dishes - hoisin chicken wings with buttermilk ranch dressing, meatballs with chilli and yoghurt, and roasted courgettes with halloumi and spicy mojo dressing.
Vanessa Greenwood demystifies baklava, the filo pastry, chopped nuts and syrup confection that’s not that difficult to make at home. John Wilson marks Bastille Day with recommendations from France’s four best-known wine regions.
Have a wonderful month, and check back with us regularly at irishtimes.com/food for food news, reviews and food features. Also, if you enjoy reading this newsletter, why not share it with your friends - they can join the club here.
Thanks for reading.