A Special Report is content that is edited and produced by the Special Reports unit within The Irish Times Content Studio. It is supported by advertisers who may contribute to the report, but who do not have editorial control.

Out to lunch

Here’s a taste of the latest dining options and trends

Lorraine Heskin, co-owner of The Gourmet Food Parlour, Salthill, Galway. Photograph: Mike Shaughnessy

Lorraine Heskin, co-owner of The Gourmet Food Parlour, Salthill, Galway. Photograph: Mike Shaughnessy


Fancy giving meat a miss?

Vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians – the pansexuals of the table – are on the rise. But where to eat in the capital?

To feel great inside and out check out Happy Food, situated at YogaHub in Camden Court. It has a range of tasty plant-based food, made fresh on site each day, for breakfast, brunch, lunch and afternoon snacks.

Think of it as healthy comfort food, with dishes such as ‘Bowl of Gratitude’ – green peas and red lentil dhal in tomato sauce, served with brown rice and onion jam – or ‘Bowl of Happiness’ – sweet potato and mushroom brisket with guacamole, marinated tomato, corn slaw and brown rice. What price happiness? €9.50.

Food businesses get social

Got a food business? A new specialist social media agency promises to be just the recipe for the attention economy.

Food Social will work exclusively with chefs, restaurants, food and drink producers. It’s the brainchild of Olivia Collins, director of Food PR, its 15-year-old sister agency.

“We’ve found that even some of the leading food business owners in Ireland have struggled with managing their social media presence and growing their social channels, so Food Social developed organically as an answer to our clients’ growing needs,” says Collins.

“Many businesses are not using social media to properly communicate key messages about their business. Part of our offering is working with each client to reveal their true voice and find their position in a crowded space.”

Services include competition and promotions management, social listening and engagement, and social media advertising. The agency is already working with Glovers Alley by Andy McFadden, Esquires Coffee, The Kings Head, Food PR and The Dockside Deli.

Gourmet Food Parlour does the dishes

The Gourmet Food Parlour chain has galloped to success all around the city – and now the rest of the country too – with eight locations and a successful catering division. The business was started by college friends Lorraine Heskin and Lorraine Byrne 13 years ago. This year it has been named a Deloitte Best Managed Company and is launching its own crockery collection.

Says Galway native Heskin: “We are delighted to launch our new crockery range. We really feel it encapsulates the Gourmet Food Parlour modern style with a traditional twist. As an expanding company, we wanted to explore the world of homeware design. We feel that our interiors in each location are really unique, and a style that our customers would like to bring into their homes.”

It’s just the latest string to the bow of a company that is also official nutrition partner to the Dublin GAA county board and partners with FoodFlicker, the online nutrition company. The business opened its newest location, in Galway’s Salthill, in October.

Cloud Picker on cloud nine – and Pearse Street

Cloud Picker Coffee Roasters – Dublin’s very first micro-roastery, run by partners with their heads in the clouds and feet very firmly on the ground – will open a new coffee shop on Pearse Street before Easter.

Currently in the cafe at the Science Gallery, where it has been for nine years, it will move almost directly across the road to its new space on Pearse Street, the Cloud Picker Cafe.

Working with local design talent Designgoat, the old projector room for the Academy Cinema on Pearse Street is being transformed into a handsome cafe serving breakfast, lunch and excellent coffee to eat in or take out, which will open from Monday to Friday from 7am to 3pm.

Established in 2013 by partners Frank Kavanagh and Peter Sztal, Cloud Picker Coffee Roasters is Dublin city’s first micro coffee roastery. Based for the past six years on Sheriff Street in Dublin city centre, Cloud Picker roasts speciality coffee from all over the world and supplies cafes and restaurants with coffee, equipment and barista training all around Ireland.

Vivo viniculture

The fourth annual Spanish Wine Week will take place from April 8th to April 14th, celebrating the fascinating regions and grapes of Spanish viniculture with tastings, talks, special restaurant and wine shop offers and competitions – all organised by Wines from Spain.

The week includes a range of events throughout Dublin. Pickle restaurant hosts a dinner on April 9th pairing north Indian food with wines from northern Spain, while Urchin at Cliff Townhouse has a Cava tasting with wine writer Corinna Hardgrave on April 11th. Sherry expert Paddy Murphy and Rafa Salazar from Vinostito host a sherry and wine lunch paired with exceptional Irish seafood on April 14th in Fish Shop, Smithfield.

WILDE at The Westbury will have a five-course winemakers’ dinner exclusively focused on female Spanish winemakers on April 10th. Also at The Westbury, in Balfes on April 8th, special guest Gregory Buda, director of education at New York’s award-winning Dead Rabbit, hosts a sherry masterclass, guiding guests through a journey exploring sherry and its versatility in cocktails, with four sherries, cocktails and matching tapas.