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Business bites

Entertaining clients doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Here are some good-value dining options

The Hops bar at D Hotel, Drogheda, specialises in signature cocktails, fine wines and craft beers.

The Hops bar at D Hotel, Drogheda, specialises in signature cocktails, fine wines and craft beers.


D for design overhaul

D Hotel Drogheda has followed up its newly renovated Hops bar and Il Ponte restaurant with great new menus. The beautifully refurbished Hops bar, which specialises in signature cocktails, fine wines and craft beers, is all wood and warmth while at Il Ponte – think chequered table cloths and trattoria style – the food is handmade and delicious. Overseen by head chef Simone Pettenuzzo, pizza and pasta dishes cost about €12, with entrees from €15 to €22. The four-star hotel, bought by Gleann Hospitality earlier this year, has complimentary parking, a great location on the river and is just half an hour from Dublin via the Port Tunnel.

Bargain bites

Start-ups are always looking for ways to make scarce capital go further. If you’re looking to bring clients to lunch but worried about budgets, sign up to Escapes.ie. At the time of writing it had meal deals, for want of a better phrase, such as two courses from the a la carte menu at the Terenure Inn for €28, down from a standard bill of €53.80. A three-course dinner for two at Roly’s Bistro in Ballsbridge costs €49, almost half the menu price, while a three-course lunch at the same venue is just €29.95, down from €52. There’s a great range of restaurants included, in a good variety of locations across the city, including the Shangri La in Stoneybatter, the Upper Deck Restaurant in Howth and Beeftro in Dundrum and Balfe Street. New offers daily.

Best for brunch

Travel site Expedia is giving a shout out to nine Dublin eateries as best for brunch. Not ideal for business but if you’re looking for something for the weekend – something substantial enough to see you through until tea that is – it suggests you check out the Middle Eastern-style brunch menu at Brother Hubbard on Capel Street or Harrington Street, the Coco Pops French Toast at San Lorenzos on George’s Street, or the homemade brioche at Queen of Tarts in Temple Bar.

Also hitting its hit parade is Juniors in Ballsbridge, which will rustle you up a classic Irish fry complete with a cocktail. That’s two cures in one. If you’re really looking to mess with the lingo, check out Le Drunch, the lunch/dinner combo on offer at the swish Marker Hotel. Available between 2pm and 5pm on Sundays, you’ll find Galway Bay oysters, pulled Ballywillan wild boar and spicy scrambled eggs. By the way, the ‘drunch’ originated in Paris, according to the hotel, so it’s definitely a thing.

What’s on the menu?

Coming to a restaurant near you – dream weavers, flavour chemists and edible candles. Culinary Inspiration, a new report from Bord Bia, the food development board, looks at what Michelin star chefs and high-end restaurateurs around the world are successfully introducing to their diners.

Among the innovations it found were water tapped from birch trees, used to add freshness to dishes, candles made from beef dripping and menus with emojis that diners can use to influence lighting and music selections.

“We are exploring culinary trends in cooking style, food preparation, ingredients, flavours, fusion and presentation among leading chefs and restaurants around the world to get inspiration for the next big trend,” says David Deeley of Bord Bia’s Insight Team.

They’ve been right on the money before. “For example, pulled pork emerged onto menus in Austin, Texas, in 2008, emerging from the global trend towards smoked and barbecued and then went onto grow to global dominance in 2015 where it was on virtually every menu you saw and now today, on most supermarket shelves too,” he says.

This year it found leading chefs embracing a range of things, including Nordic-style cuisine, sustainability, seasonality, nostalgia, story-telling, delighting the senses, and simplicity. Says Deely: “If we jump back to the early noughties, you would see that fine dining was all about molecular gastronomy with foams, emulsions and science. Fast forward 10 years, and we see organic farming, foraging and less cooking starting to emerge, with fine dining now seen as accessible to everyone.”

The maître d’ culture is also regressing, he says, in place of more engaging, personalised and social experiences that use the environment, theatre and fun, to enhance taste. “The world’s leading restaurants are paying closer attention to individual wants and needs, as opposed to dictating exactly what and how their guests will eat.”

Fit for a princess

The venerable Shelbourne Hotel has just completed the last stage of its multi-million euro refurbishment and if you’re looking for a super special stay, check it out. The newly renovated Princess Grace Suite is now the best room in the house, or rather rooms, with antique furnishings, Waterford Crystal chandeliers and suitably glamorous decor from Guy Oliver of Oliver Laws, the London design company. Sleeping four, it’s all yours for €7,500 a night.