A new year guarantees to herald one thing – a suite of resolutions to be healthier and more upstanding human beings in general, that will most likely be broken by the end of the first month! We all have great intentions, but there is simply no substance to them. Hence why Dee Laffan has created the ultimate list of actionable new year’s resolutions; 12 great places to eat in 2018, one for every month of the year.
Sugar is going to continue to fall down the ranks in 2018 as healthy food trends continue to rise, plus the new sugar tax on drinks will be introduced in April.
Maintaining a healthy blood sugar level throughout the day is also key to helping with sugar cravings and the best way to do this is eating slow-release-energy foods that keep you satisfied for longer, without feeling full or bloated. The food served up in The Rocket Man is a perfect example of this kind of food. Try the falafel – quite possibly the best falafel in Ireland – with slaw, sauces and pickles wrapped in their baked-to-order flatbreads.
They say you can eat your way to healthier skin. If that’s the case then Sweet Beat Café is certainly the place to start, offering plant-based food including super salads, cold pressed juices, wheatgrass shots and probiotic drinks. Their lunch menu changes daily but usually has some raw or vegan-friendly food, hot dishes, soups and sweet treats.
Eating your five-a-day ensures you get lots of vitamins C and E and selenium is a super antioxidant that helps protect your skin. Phyto-estrogens are amazing for good skin as they keep natural hormones in balance and can be found in plant foods such as soya bean products and wholegrains, all plentiful on Sweet Beat’s menu.
For islanders, we are not the best for eating fish. Our attitude towards it have been stunted but that is changing. Especially with the likes of Niall Sabongi from Klaw Dublin making great seafood more accessible and raising awareness of sustainability. He is not alone, there are many great establishments across the country who are advocates of this and Fish City is one of them. All of their cod and haddock are Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified.
Dishes such as MSC Paprika Grilled Hake (served with islander kelp pesto and warm tomato & couscous salad) and MSC Red Fish (served with sautéed broccoli, peppers, chorizo & white wine cream), will become new favourites.
The best way to adopt a healthier lifestyle, and get the benefits for our body and mind, is to eat plenty of vegetables daily. The popularity of vegetarian and vegan food is only going to increase in 2018, so there will be lots of options when dining out. One place that embodies the farm to fork and root to tip concepts already is GIY’s Grow HQ in Ardkeen. Their ethos – GROW, COOK, EAT – is a simple one and all food produce used in the Grow Café is either homegrown or is sourced locally. As they are dependant on regular harvesting, the menu is 100% seasonal and dishes are always changing.
Try their HQ Hero, one vegetable prepared five different ways as one complete meal, for a truly fun and delicious way to explore the versatility of veg.
A new and exciting opening in late 2017, Bao Boi on Barrack Street in Cork City offers ‘Steamy Love in a Bun’! If you haven’t tried a steamed bun before, your tastebuds are in for a treat. The concept originates in China, but the little pockets of pillowy softness have found their way across Asia and the world more recently, popping up on menus in restaurants and street food markets, including David Chang’s famous Momofuku.
Bao Boi serves up steamed Taiwanese bao burgers with fillings from local Cork producers – the best of two worlds! Options include: Bao Chicka Bao Wow (with sesame, seaweed salad & pickles); Market Fish Bao (with seaweed lemon mayo, pickled dillisk) and Miso Glazed Macroom Wagyu Beef Bao (with pickles, kimchi & dipping sauces).
You can’t get a better value lunch than in the café in the National College of Art and Design. Created by artist Jenny Moran, the space is a bustling, cosy spot to enjoy your food while surrounded by art installations. I particularly love the alcove seating with the street light shining down from the glass pavement blocks above.
The menu is succinct, often just a few options but that is not a bad thing, the ingredients and flavours are always creative, aptly so for the establishment it is located in. Indian, Middle Eastern, Irish dishes are often in tandem, consistently delivering nourishing, delicious food at extremely reasonable prices.
When we think of the term ‘weekend break’, getaway, or escape, we think of tranquillity and vast surroundings of scenic outdoor spaces, with few people, and somewhere we want to detach ourselves from technology and the online world. Inis Meáin Restaurant and Suites is the solution.
Stress can be a difficult thing to reduce in our day-to-day lives, but we can manage it better by taking time out to relax and truly unplug for a few days. By their very geographical location, the Aran Islands are a beacon for people looking for that escape and the Inis Meáin Restaurant and Suites offer an amazing opportunity to experience something unique to that area. The restaurant is idyllically located overlooking views of the Atlantic Ocean, where you can enjoy a four-course taste-the-view dinner made with food wild or cultivated from the island – think seasonal ingredients like sea urchins, lobster and lamb.
An exciting addition to Galway City’s food scene this year, Tartare Café & Wine Bar is a casual restaurant that defines the word ‘local’. By design, it has encapsulated a local, neighbourhood restaurant, but also through its menu it advocates local produce.
“All of the dishes on both the daytime and evening menus draw on a wealth of in-season West of Ireland produce.” You can find sourdough sandwiches, soups and salads during the day and dishes like Tuna Tartare, Oyster Emulsion & Dillisk, Venison & Barley Stew on the evening menu. Of course, oysters are always on the menu too.
Treat you and your partner to the most romantic break away in the stunning Ashford Castle. The luxury of the surroundings will give any couple notions of love! Guaranteed.
Apart from the magical castle and picturesque estate with lakeside views, the food is pretty special too and lots of variety to keep you entertained. Irish cuisine is championed but in different formats; the George V Dining Room offers a fine dining experience, a more casual dining setting is Cullen’s at the Cottage – a seasonal bistro – or The Dungeon – not as scary as it sounds, and then you can also have Afternoon Tea in the elegant Connaught Room.
Airfield in Dundrum is a 38-acre farm open to the public with a full year-round programme of events. If you plan a family get together, but not sure of what to do, take a look at their calendar of events to see if there is something on. Either way, it is a fun day with lots of activities and lest we forget, great food, to be enjoyed.
Education is a pillar of Airfield’s ethos, around all areas of food production from farming to cooking. Tours of the farm including specific areas like the egg collection at the hen houses, or milking the Jersey cows, or calf feeding are among some of the things to see regularly.
We all know at this point that the truth about fat has been proven now to be that we need it in our diet in the form of good fats. What we had been told about fat was incorrect – Fat is good! This being said, the most important way to generally be healthier is to follow a well-balanced diet, including essential fats.
Dooks Fine Foods in Tipperary offers exactly this kind of fare. Owner Richard Gleeson used to work with food legends Ottolenghi and chef Skye Gyngell, while at Michelin-starred Petersham Nurseries. He opened the deli-style café in his hometown and after a year in business is now also doing (sold out) Saturday night tasting menus. Recent lunchtime hot dishes included tempting options like braised lamb shank with apple and shallot, queen potatoes, pickled cucumber, and baby gem lettuce.
It might seem like the simplest of all new year resolutions to achieve, but we often forget to enjoy our lives as we’re so busy living them, to taste the food that we’re so busy photographing, and take for granted where the food on our plates has been grown, produced and cooked.
Outside the village of Killenore, Burren Glamping is a fantastic experience that definitely make you appreciate the connection from farm to fork. A cosy vintage horse truck has been creatively transformed into a unique five-star farm accommodation.
Located on a free-range farm means a quality food offering and their breakfast is one of best I’ve enjoyed, with their own grass-fed free range pork products and eggs, fresh bread and preserves. In summer, a BBQ grill is available for lunch or dinner, and at night you get an uninterrupted view of the stars with no lights around for miles.
Dee likes to describe herself as a professional eater! Taught to cook by her father and sisters at a young age, starting a life-long passion for cooking and the enjoyment of food. Soon after qualifying as a journalist, she began a career writing about food and travel.
Her passion for Irish food and the people behind it – those who grow, produce and cook – has only been amplified over the years and led her to many roles in the industry including; member of Irish Food Writers’ Guild, chair of Slow Food Dublin, organiser of Slow in the City food festival, curator of Food on Board at Body&Soul Festival, and a judge of Blas na hEireann and Food&Wine Magazine Restaurant Awards.