Bar Duende, Southgate Shopping Centre, Colpe Cross, Co. Meath

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Drogheda / Ireland / Restaurants / Uncategorized

When Duende Bar and Restaurant opened about two years ago, we started visiting because they had a nice selection of tapas, which we invariably ordered.  In recent months, however, the menu has been evolving and moving away from serving tapas and Spanish style dishes. Head Chef Janos Sarkozi, who has previously worked at Tankardstown House, L’Ecrivan and Scholars Hotel, is showcasing his dishes, alongside the main menu which comprises the likes of Steaks, Burgers, chicken wings, etc.

This is being achieved with the introduction of a Tasting Menu of Specials offered on Wednesday evenings.   The 7-course menu, which includes tea or coffee, is priced at €35 per person and runs from 6 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. Also included in the price this week was a complimentary glass of wine or bottle of beer per person.  I am not sure if this is offered every Wednesday.  Anyway, our choice was a glass of Rioja and a beer.

To begin, the amuse bouche consisted of roast beef, pickled mustard seeds, radish, and truffle powder.  I thought there was a hint of horseradish in the cream which lay under the slice of beef and complimented the entire dish.  All the flavours of a “roast beef dinner” but refined and well presented.

The next course was confit duck with in-house-made capellini (Angel Hair pasta), shimeji mushrooms, a creme fraiche, pecorino, and parmesan cream, and finished with shavings of parmesan cheese.  No need for salt or pepper here, as the cheeses and baby nasturtium leaves doubled as condiments as well as garnishes.  We thought this was a delicious combination of textures and flavours.

The Fish Course was cod cheeks, which are so easy to get wrong, unfortunately, because of their size.  If overdone they are dry, tasteless, and unpleasant to eat. These, however, were far from that.  Lightly salted and fried, they were perfectly cooked and accompanied by broad beans, celeriac & rocket purée, and a lemon and cream foam.

The palate cleanser was next, which was Quercy Melon Granita with a citrus flavoured foam. This was light, well balanced in flavour, and instantly refreshing.

Pork Loin with roasted red-pepper sauce, chickpeas, chorizo, fresh herb crumb, topped with a Basque Piperade, and garnished with nasturtium petals.

The pepper sauce paired very well with the Pork loin which, again, was perfectly cooked. The chickpeas picked up the smokiness from the chorizo, and the herb crumb added an extra layer of flavour without having to add salt.  I gave the piperade to my dining companion simply because I don’t like sliced peppers. but I do like red pepper sauce!

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The dessert course was Strawberry Panna Cotta, cinnamon crumb, and strawberry ice cream covered in a white chocolate shell.

Strawberries served four ways – Panna cotta, fresh pieces, gel, and ice cream.  The panna cotta had the characteristic “wobble”, and the perfect vehicle for seasonal fruits.  My “no dessert” fellow-diner and I finished every last spoonful!

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Petit Fours – Mini Chocolate Macarons, White Chocolates filled with orange cream, and Marzipan rolls.  Unfortunately, I passed again on the Marzipan due to a personal and general dislike of the taste. I declined tea or coffee, and just managed to find room for a Macaron and white chocolate orange cream!

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Our bill came to €82.10, of which €70 was for the Tasting menu, and €12.10 for two extra drinks.

This was, without a doubt, one of the best meals I have had in the locality recently.  I would certainly recommend if you are in the area to drop in and try for yourself.  The tasting menu changes each week so there will be plenty to try during future visits.

A restaurant which has a tried-and-tested core menu, running along side innovative Specials is always somewhere which appeals to us, and that is why Duende is now on my list of “Favourites” in the area. Well done to Chef Sarkozi and his team, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Disclosure:  “Nothing to Declare”  

Sollun Restaurante, Nerja, Spain

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Restaurants / Spain / Travels

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While researching for our first trip to Nerja, Spain in 2015 I found dozens of restaurants, but one stood out for me and that was Sollun.  We must have visited eight or nine times during the course of our time spent in Nerja over the past two years.  We returned on Monday evening last, after a twelve month hiatus.  Owned and run by Head Chef Juan Quintanilla,  it is a fine-dining restaurant with Michelin Bib Gourmand status, and a casual and friendly atmosphere.

His style of cooking is precise and refined with meticulous attention to flavour and detail.   The Menu Degustación (Tasting Menu) which we ordered, is simplistically described  –   Snacks, Bread and Olive Oil, Starter, Fish, Meat, Dessert.  It is far from simple!   When this is ordered, he checks with the diners regarding allergens and personal likes/dislikes, and presents a meal derived from the main menu and also a few tweaks and surprises. He takes the time to serve the dishes himself and explains each element on the plate.

Our meal, as ever, was a delight, and the following is an overview of what we enjoyed. Having said that, some of the items may not be to everyone’s taste, but each to their own.

Snack – “Paella” – a Prawn cracker, made from prawn heads, pea purée, and mussel purée –  A clever take on elements of Paella in Amuse Bouche form

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Bread and Olive oil – In-house made toasted sesame bread sticks, white rolls, sea salt and a delicious local olive oil

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Starter – Veal Sweetbreads, Artichokes and a Wild Mushroom Sauce

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Fish – Grouper, Fideua (Spanish pasta) with squid ink,  lobster sauce and pea purée, garnished with dehydrated carrot

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Meat – Lamb with polenta cubes, aubergine and pumpkin purée

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Dessert – Black Pepper Meringue, Vanilla Ice Cream, Raspberry sorbet, blueberries and a blackcurrant gel

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Petit Fours – Chocolates with passion fruit centre

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The Tasting menu we had costs €40, and an extra €16 with the wine paring (which my Husband opted for).  Our bill, with some Cava and a Double Espresso, came to €120. Exceptional value for what we had.  If you have a special occasion or a little room in your holiday budget, I would highly recommend a visit if you are in Nerja.

Eastern Seaboard Bar & Grill, Bryanstown, Drogheda, Co. Louth

Drogheda / Restaurants

Well, I suppose it was inevitable that I would begin this blog with a post about my “go-to” restaurant.  If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you could not possibly have failed noticed that little fact!  I haven’t written a post regarding The Eastern Seaboard in a number of years, so what better place to start than with our favourite neighbourhood restaurant.

On Monday evening, last, after a necessary shopping trip to town, we were feeling a bit peckish and just not in the mood to cook at home.  As it was still rather early in the evening (and the week), not having a reservation wasn’t a problem.  However, the restaurant was quite busy by the time we left.

To ease ourselves in to the evening,  I ordered a simple bowl of Lucques Olives.  Grown in the Languedoc region of  France, they have a firm, slightly sweet flesh but not overly so. When I say simple, they may look simple, but are the most delicious olives you will ever taste….. trust me!  My dining companion (Hubs) chose a glass of Pinot Grigio to accompany his meal.

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For his starter, Hubs chose from the Specials menu – Potato, Spring Onion, Callaghan’s (Bettystown) Black Pudding croquette, topped with The Wooded Pig Charcuterie (Slane) Salami slices, shavings of fennel and a quail egg, served with  paprika mayonnaise.  This dish really must make another appearance on future Specials menus.  It was packed with flavour from each ingredient, and brought together beautifully with the creamy mayonnaise.

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When it came to ordering a main course, I opted for a starter-sized portion of Garlicky Crab Claws from the main menu, while Hubs chose a “Special” –  Rib-Eye steak served with split Langoustines. and a side of fries. The sweet, soft-as-butter Langoustines were excellent partners for the medium-rare steak.

The crab claws (as with everything else at The Eastern Seaboard) are consistently good, and are served with two unadorned Crostini. These are perfect for dipping into the tasty broth in which the claws are served. 20170116_182206

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For dessert, Hubs decided to order “Eric’s Creme Caramel”, again, from the Specials menu, which was gently spiced with some Togarashi Salt.  He doesn’t order dessert as a rule, but was curious to try it.  “A definite winner” he declared!  I chose the Bread & Butter Pudding, warm custard, chocolate sauce and  served with vanilla ice cream, both desserts equally appropriate for a cold January evening.  We finished our meal with a double espresso for himself,  a macchiato for me, and  made our way home…..until the next time!

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Booking is advisable, especially at  weekends, and can be made either through The Eastern Seaboard page on Facebook, or by calling the restaurant directly.

I hope you enjoy if you visit, and I have a feeling you will!

A New Start, A New blog…

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Uncategorized

I decided a while back to leave my recipe blog “Cakesbakesandotherbits” behind me, as I haven’t added any posts there since November 2015. My blogging mojo left me, not surprisingly, after my Dad died that month and year, and with all that came after. I just didn’t have the time, interest, nor the energy for working on recipes and photographing same. I had a rough old year in 2016 with health issues, but managed to overcome them, and still getting there with other things, which are ongoing. Anyway, enough of that!

As most of you already know, I love eating out, and finding the good and the great that this country, and beyond, has to offer. It suits me better to visit, and perhaps, or perhaps not, as the mood takes me, write a blog post about places I find.

All I ask, at this stage, is that you will bear with me…. I have lots of plans and visits in mind, and cannot wait to discover new restaurants, cafés, etc., and hope you like what I find, as much as I do.

For now, this new blog is a “Work in Progress”…..