On the road once again in Ireland I have 3 more restaurants worthy or not worthy of mention :
First up is the Oar House on West Pier, Howth. Howth ( as in Hoath ) is that bit of Ireland that sticks out into the sea just north of Dublin..... a summer resort. I went there in the cold snap at the beginning of February on a windy evening and ordered the plaice and chips with a tomato and caper relish. However they don't do beer, only wine, the first Irish restaurant I've been to that doesn't serve beer. I had a coke and the fillets of plaice, freshly caught that day, very tasty but the portion a tad on the small side. The chips, as always in Ireland, were great with the tomato and caper sauce. A nice place to go, better on a summer's evening, relatively expensive at EUR 22 for the fish, but Ireland is expensive despite the collapse in its economy.
Then last week on to the Portmarnock Hotel at Portmarnock a few miles up the coast, after the weather had improved. Portmarnock has a famous golf course, venue for the Irish Open and the 1991 Walker Cup. However it suffers from being right under the approach path to Dublin airport. I stopped at the Osborne brasserie and had the Early Bird menu at EUR 19. The first course was grilled mackerel in aioli........ I'm not sure if it was grilled mackerel .... it left a nasty prickly sensation in my mouth. The main course was a grilled salmon that might have seen better days, with creamed potatoes. As always the potatoes were brilliant but the fish smelt and tasted vaguely of curry powder. It may have been the 'flavoured oil' featured on the menu, a not unpleasant taste, but it didn't go with the salmon. Washed down with a pint of Smithwicks bitter which was the best part. I won't be rushing back to this place.
And then a day visit to Portadown in Northern Ireland, just over an hour's drive from Dublin. This was my first trip to the North, no indication that you're in the UK apart from a change in the road signs on the motorway from metric to imperial measurements. On the way back I stopped in Newry for dinner, firstly at the Canal Court Hotel which has an impressive drinking bar....... a massive room with high ceilings, mirrors and polished wood but with nothing to eat unless you go up to the restaurant which was mostly empty. I was asked by a waiter to wait outside in the lounge while someone would come to take my order. I couldn't be bothered to wait outside until someone came along to take the order, they could have sat me at a table and I would have waited there, evidently hard times haven't yet come to Newry. So I left, crossed over the canal and found Sapori Italiani opposite at 16 The Mall. A nondescript penne alla puttanesca, no beer except Peroni, but this place hasn't heard of portion control size....... heaped high on a plate, just eat as much as you want. La Grande Bouffe. You won't leave hungry.
I left to drive back to Dublin but the road was blocked at the top of Newry hill due to overnight works. I found a back road heading out into remote countryside through the Armagh hills in the dark. Fantastic views of the town below on a clear night. I didn't have a map but just followed my nose south. Eventually the road signs suddenly changed back to metric. Lights of a small town appeared below so I drove towards that and found the fast road back.