Good Food Ireland establishments in the Restaurant and Café sector fly the flag at the very highest level for Irish produce. Local food drives every menu, in every café, bistro, restaurant, tea room or fine dining premises.
BEST OF IRISH
Our Restaurant and Café offering is all inclusive. No matter what your budget or occasion, you’ll find an array of choice in our highly esteemed Approved Provider selection. Dining a la carte with a Michelin star chef, eating fresh strawberries from a farm shop on the side of the road, enjoying the best of modern Irish in casual dining surroundings – Good Food Ireland offers all. Every experience is a fine dining experience. Ross Lewis of Chapter One and Derry Clarke of L’Ecrivain in Dublin are at the pinnacle of fine dining as their Michelin stars attest. In both cases, local produce and sourcing lies at the heart of their menus. Cooking skills and creativity spill forth a cacophony of tastes. Both Chefs will settle for nothing less than perfection and it shows. They are not alone. Galway City is known for it’s vibrancy. At Kai Café Restaurant, off the wall defies gravity! New Zelander Jess Murphy is probably Ireland’s most creative cook in the casual dining league. Susan Fehily’s River Lane Café is a well kept secret. Those in the know, know. Strangers soon know. Here is a haven of home cooking and baking with the taste of West Cork inherent. Just some examples of the diversity of Good Food Ireland’s network. We’re certain you’ll enjoy.
Central to our ethos is commitment to sourcing. Forging working relationships with suppliers is essential to success. In some cases, this means travelling to a producer or grower to collect key menu components.
Seasonality is another huge component of a Good Food Ireland menu. Don’t expect strawberries in December. Our network of cooks and chefs celebrate seasonal ingredients in the months when Irish grown produce is at it’s best. In terms of economy, environment, nutrition and taste, this makes perfect sense. Some produce has zero food miles since a good many of our chefs and cooks grow their own. Seasonality equates to ever changing menus with quirks and surprises thrown in. Kevin Aherne of Sage Restaurant in Midleton, Co Cork, makes up his Saturday lunch time menu when he returns from perusing Midleton Market. Specials in Nash 19 in Cork city make up the daily blackboard menu. This sometimes involves a run to the English Market when a dish proves so popular it sells out during lunch.
Ireland’s beef is world famous. The grass fed system here is one of the best. That ensures quality meat from cattle that have wandered around masticating, ruminating and looking over ditches, all the while finding their dinner. Philosophical beef tastes better! Breed is all important. Prime traditional cattle like Black Angus and Hereford have joined forces with Shorthorn, Highland Cattle, Dexter and other heritage breeds in the fields of Ireland. All these are known for succulent juicy meat and in the hands of the best butcher, hanging and dry ageing on the bone for at least three weeks develops flavour and tenderness. Michael O’Neill in Lismore Co Waterford is just such a butcher.
Modern Ireland has lots to offer in culinary terms. Today’s chefs are adding to the established wealth of traditional specialities that have stood the test of time. Heritage dishes are still made and served proudly in Good Food Ireland cafes and restaurants. We take pleasure in highlighting them as part of our rich food history. Boxty is so famous in the northern counties of Sligo, Donegal and southern Ulster that it had a poem written about it! Boxty on the griddle/Boxty in the pan/If you can’t make boxty/You’ll never get a man’, was the swansong from mother to daughter down the years! Visitors to Good Food Ireland’s homely B&B’s, gentile guesthouses and swanky hotels start the day with The Full Irish Breakfast of fried home produced bacon, sausages, black and white pudding and eggs. Food of working farmhouses of Ireland over decades. Northern Ireland boasts its own version. The Ulster Fry can sometimes include a halved lamb’s kidney and usually, Ulster Farls, a soft soda or potato based bread. The capital of Ireland claims Dublin Coddle. Salty bacon and big sausages meld with potatoes, carrots and onions in rich gravy. This meal in one pot is loved by Dubliners and all those who visit the city.
Irish Stew. That’s a whole other discussion. This heart warming earthy feast is probably over two hundred years old. Lamb or Mutton? Barley or no Barley? An ever evolving concept, conversation and source of jovial arguments. Waterford Blaa is loved by all. This soft roll dates back to the times of the Huguenots of the 17th Century. It’s said in Waterford city that there isn’t a blaa to be found after eleven o’clock! Not surprising, since this soft white roll dusted in flour, which derived from France, is filled to the brim with bacon, egg and sausage. Tripe, Drisheen, Cruibins and more…Cork city was the thriving hub of the meat export industry for many centuries. From this came the wealth of offal now famous in the region. Widely embraced by the city population as an affordable alternative to beef and pork. Stroll the English Market and Cork’s butchers to find them. Cruibins (Crubeens - pig’s trotters,), pig’s tails, hocks and liver are renowned. Tripe has been in the Cork diet for many centuries. Drisheen is unique to Cork, a sausage of beef and sheep’s blood often served with tripe. The Farmgate Café in the English Market specializes in all these traditional Cork dishes. The many wives of yesteryear who never knew how quick the world would change, would not be surprised their dishes still exist and are celebrated today. Good Food Ireland chefs have embraced them. The evolution continues.
Good Food Ireland is happy to boast about our wealth of seafood restaurants and cafes. Many have sprung up in recent years. Coastal regions are now awash with good places to eat the finest freshest seafood. Ireland is surrounded by water. But it’s relationship with fish has not been one of any great intensity until recent decades. Fish has always been traditionally eaten on Friday’s, when religion dictated that meat was not allowed. It’s all change these days. Nutritionists have been successful in passing on the message that fish is good for us! We are very lucky to have active fishing ports at Castletownbere and Killybegs. Plus other small harbours where local day boats operate. This means a plentiful supply year round. Sustainability is a modern day issue. Recent times have seen cod stocks dwindle. As a result, many of our chefs and cooks have actively chosen not to use the fish on menus. Sustainable and seasonal fish are fast replacing the traditional choices.
Smoked Wild Salmon has been one of Ireland’s most famous products. Until a few years ago, wild fish were caught at sea in season. As river stocks inland were drastically reduced, a ban was placed on catching the king of fish out at sea. Since then, there has been no commercial fishing for salmon at sea. Fish are farmed in deep water sea tanks in the Atlantic off the west coast of Ireland. The best of these are organically farmed under strict conditions as to feed and density of stock in tanks. Wild Salmon can still be caught in season by anglers with licence, in rivers where stocks are deemed healthy. This means only a few fish are taken each season, keeping stocks sustainable. Fish producers are also taking the sustainability issue seriously. At Goatsbridge Trout Farm in Co Kilkenny, a natural river habitat managed in an ethical way ensures good supplies of farmed healthy rainbow trout. These are supplied to retail and the restaurant trade. Chefs are delighted to receive an incredibly high quality fresh product for their menus. At Royal Spice Indian Restaurant in Kilkenny, Goatsbridge trout fillets are given the spicy treatment to make trout like you’ve never tasted it.
Some of our restaurants chefs have fishermen in the family. Billy Whitty of Aldridge Lodge in Wexford is one. His father provides locally caught lobster and crab, while his sister is a seafood supplier who uses family day boats which fish the Wexford coast. That’s Billy's guarantee that fish are traceably Irish.
MEET THE CHEFS
How do we start to tell you about our chefs? We have already mentioned Michelin Star chefs Martin Kajuiter, Derry Clarke and Ross Lewis. We revere Myrtle Allen, the woman behind real Irish food and the dynasty that is Ballymaloe House. Evan Doyle, the Maestro behind Brooklodge Hotel and Wells Spa in Macreddin Village Co. Wicklow, is yet another trailblazer of the Good Food Ireland ethos. Evan’s Strawberry Tree restaurant is the only certified organic restaurant in Ireland. Accredited by The Organic Trust, this restaurant serves only certified organic Irish and seasonal wild and foraged Irish ingredients. Even the smallest establishments offering the most concise of menus brings culinary magic to the table. At Burren Tea Rooms in the heart of County Clare’s Burren region, owner Sadie Chowen respects nature. Her fragrant herb patch is utilised for the lightest and freshest herb teas, made to order with vibrant leaves picked straight from the garden.
If you choose ethnic as a dinner option, award winning Executive Chef Sunil Ghai of Chakra at Jaipur Restaurant in Greystones Co Wicklow, is a master of authentic Indian Cuisine. Travel to Country Choice in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, and expect nothing but the best Irish beef and locally grown vegetables concocted into trad and modern Irish dishes by Peter and Mary Ward and their astounding team of great cooks. Scones or dessert? Visit Robert Ditty’s Home Bakery and Coffee Shop in Castledawson, Derry. Here you’ll enjoy Robert’s famous oatcakes, seasonal fruit tarts and sweet treats in a simple setting.
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