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Out to business lunch, dinner and a fine ball of malt

Some of the latest options available for busy corporate diners and imbibers

Sprouting up

Sprout & Co has just opened in Kildare Village, its seventh and largest restaurant to date with 120 seats over two floors. Founders Jack and Theo Kirwan have hung a life-sized wicker tractor sculpture from the ceiling and have repurposed the roof of an old milking parlour to line the walls. The open-plan kitchen shows the work that goes into the dishes by its energetic team. And of course the food is every bit as tasty as the design flourishes.

"We have a seasonally changing menu, using locally sourced ingredients and organic salad leaf from our farm as the central part of our products," says Theo. "We love combining Irish ingredients with international flavours. Our best sellers to date have been the sataysfied chicken bowl, the umami shrooms and our paprika chica, which is topped with a yoghurt dressing our Mum created whilst living in Spain in her twenties."

Wind down in Winedown

Montague Street, off Harcourt Street in Dublin, has long been home to an outpost of Maeve O’Malley’s fabulous Meltdown, daytime purveyor of melted cheese magnificence. But for just over a year now it has also played host to a proper, grown-up restaurant too, offering a relaxed, funky space adorned with contemporary Irish art and serving up elegant tapas-style plates and delicious wine pairings. Small plates for seafood lovers include Moroccan fish stew with crusty bread (€11.00) and Peruvian scallop cerviche (€14.50). Meat eaters can choose from dishes such as Asian marinated bavette steak skewers, with house rayu and pickled ginger (€13.50) or slow braised pork belly, celeriac puree, with parsnip crisps and pickled apples (€12.50). Vegetarian plates include grilled halloumi with romesco and grilled courgette in a sherry vinegar reduction (€7.50), and burrata salad with heirloom tomatoes and peach (€10.50). New this year is a large plate selection which includes tuna with sesame crust, with porcupine prawn bisque and tender stem broccoli (€18.50), seared Silver Hill duck, with caramelised figs and blackberry jus (€18.00) and Jerusalem artichoke risotto three ways (€16.50). Winedown is open Tuesday-Saturday from 5pm to 9.00pm for food, and for drinks and nibbles until much later.

Burgers with and without soul

Kelly Moran must be one of the country’s youngest hoteliers. The 20-something bought the Kildare House hotel in Kildare town in 2019, having leased the property for the previous six years. The building, which dates to 1777, needed enormous amounts of TLC, as befits its original purpose – an infirmary. Having undergone a massive renovation programme it is now a beautiful boutique hotel where 21 bedrooms and reception spaces have had original features such as ceiling roses and other stucco work restored. The hotel’s latest addition, Soul Burger, is a vegan friendly burger bar offering a perfectly balanced selection to tickle the taste buds of vegans, meat eaters and health-conscious flexitarians alike.

“Soulburger came about from not finding what I want to eat myself,” says Kelly. “I am a vegetarian and love vegetables but it’s so hard to find a comfort food vegan option, like, for example, loaded fries. Everywhere has a veggie option at this stage but most people just offer the same old vegetarian dishes, and it tends to be very boring. We thought, Kildare needs a place where meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans can enjoy a ‘like for like’ food experience so no one is left out and there are dishes for everyone to enjoy.”

Whiskey galore

Egan’s Irish Whiskey, known for its premium Irish whiskeys with innovative cask finishes, has added a new release to its core range. Egan’s Conviction is a blend of single malt, and single grain Irish whiskey, each no less than 10 years old, aged in bourbon barrels and married together in XO cognac casks. The new addition to the Egan’s portfolio has just been named best blended whiskey (12 years and under) category winner at the World Whiskies Awards 2022. It’s available from independent retailers nationwide priced €90.

Originally established by brothers Henry and Patrick Egan in 1852 in Tullamore, Co Offaly, P&H Egan was known to produce some of the finest Irish whiskey in the world for over 100 years. In 2013, fifth and sixth generation family members Maurice and Jonathan Egan restarted the enterprise and have been sourcing and ageing expressions that celebrate their lineage ever since.