BrianGilligan's Profile

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Two nights in Dublin

Hi. To me, that looks like a good list you've assembled. I haven't been to everywhere you mentioned, so can't give you a valid comparison of the food quality between them all.
Almost all of your choices are quite casual - I think Mulberry Garden would be the only one where you would get a tablecloth!
I presume Dun Laoghaire (the People's Park) is a day trip, so apart from there, Mulberry Garden is the only other one not really within walking distance of Stephens Green. It's a short bus / taxi distance.

Apr 08, 2015
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Dublin--first specific request(s)

Hi. Cleaver East at The Clarence hotel might fit the bill for your first night. The Early Bird would be under your budget, if the times suit you. While it's in Temple Bar, it is good quality modern Irish cooking, and not a tourist trap.
For picnic supplies in Sandycove, Cavistons in Glasthule (very close to the Joyce Tower) has a great deli. While it is expensive, it's certainly cheaper than a restaurant, and the quality is good.


Mar 21, 2015
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Bar or Restaurant Recommendations in Certaldo, Tuscany

I'm sorry, but I just can't recall the view from the Albergo's terrace. The view of the surrounding countryside from the terraces around the Palazzo Pretorio is really special though - you'll get some great photos.

Mar 08, 2015
BrianGilligan in Italy

Bar or Restaurant Recommendations in Certaldo, Tuscany

Hi and congratulations! There are two places called Bocaccio in Certaldo Alto - Bar Bocaccio and Enotecca Bocaccio. The bar is nothing special, while the Enotecca is small but charming and serves prosecco and great samlumi / antipasti. It is tiny, but there are some tables outside depending on the weather. It doesn't have a view of the surrounding hills.
The hotel Albergo di Castello has a nice garden that could be suitable.
The nicest place is the outdoor area at the Osteria del Vicario restaurant, however this is a serious restaurant rather than a snack place, so you would have to try to make a special arrangement with them.
My wife and I got married in Certaldo Alto in 2008, and we had our drinks in the Enotecca Bocaccio followed by a great meal at the Osteria del Vicario. We enjoyed both enormously.

Mar 07, 2015
BrianGilligan in Italy

Best value 3* or 2* lunch in Paris

Hi. I don't know all of the restaurants opening / closing days but most 2/3 star places don't serve a weekend lunch. Le Cinq and Epicure (Bristol) are the only ones I can think of that serve weekend lunches, but there may be others.

Feb 23, 2015
BrianGilligan in France

First Trip Ireland

Hi. Thorntons food is fantastic so if it is actually open on Good Friday then you're in luck. They probably won't be able to serve you wine - if that's an important element of a meal to you, then you'll have to eat in your own hotel. The Cellar at The Merrion (where you seem to be staying) is quite good, but not at the level of Thorntons or Guilbauds. Good Friday is unfortunately a serious challenge for visitors as so many places are closed.
On another note - the Wild Honey Inn is really great. It's very casual, but the food from a seriously skilled and passionate chef is really very impressive. It's great value too.

Feb 16, 2015
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Deep pockets and love to see southern Ireland?

For anyone interested, this is an excellent festival. 2015 is the third year, and we've attended both of the first two years. It's large enough to attract a fantastic lineup, and yet small enough that you could easily end up chatting with one of your heroes over some snacks.
The demonstrations in particular are very expensive, and we avoid those. On the other end of the scale, a €10 wine tasting with Leoville Barton is hard to argue with value wise. Last year we were lucky enough to have an absolutely fantastic multi-course lunch cooked by Rowley Leigh, accompanied with very interesting English wines - although it wasn't cheap, I thought it was a real bargain.
The other standout sessions we've attended range from a scholarly discourse on the food of Spain by Claudia Roden, to an informal session with Simon Hopkinson talking in his uniquely engaging way about his love for and recollections of food.
It's not a cheap weekend by any measure, but is a great one for anyone with a deep interest in food.

Jan 08, 2015
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Ligurian / Tuscan Coast in the December / January. Turn the GUM period into The Great 8 !

In Santa Margherita, I like Osteria No. 7 for a very simple meal and Oca Bianca for something more serious. Unusually for the area, Oca Bianca serves no seafood.
I can't help with a Genoa, I'm afraid.

Dec 09, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

Ligurian / Tuscan Coast in the December / January. Turn the GUM period into The Great 8 !

I'm not sure about its opening / closing dates but Romano in Viareggio is excellent for very fresh seafood and a great Tuscan wine list. It is "high end" though the dishes are not overly complex in composition or presentation.
Zefferino in Genoa is pleasant, though not a world beater.
There are a few enjoyable places in Santa Margherita, but none I am aware of matching your criteria.

Dec 08, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

4 days in Paris

If possible, swapping Guy Savoy to the "Internet Special" lunch on the Friday gets you (virtually) the same menu and saves enough money to cover one of your other meals with wine.

Dec 03, 2014
BrianGilligan in France

Ramatuelle Dec 10-14 - what's open?

That's a pity about La Verdoyante - it is quite good.
Auberge de la Mole is about 30 minutes drive from Ramatuelle. They serve a set menu only at lunch and dinner. Serve yourself from a selection of pates and terrines to start, order the next one (at lunch) or two (at dinner) courses from the short menu. Dishes include frogs legs, foie gras, steak, cepes omelette etc. Serve yourself again from a cheese tray placed on your table, and finish with a selection of traditional deserts again placed on your table (prunes, chocolate mousse, creme caramel). The dishes are in a very traditional style and are seriously heavy eating, so if it's for you go hungry.

Nov 30, 2014
BrianGilligan in France

Best chocolate shop in all of Ireland / Northern Ireland?

Cocoa Atelier on Drury Street in Dublin is a very good French style chocolatier. The various Irish brands (e.g. lily O'Briens, Butlers etc ) are much lower quality.

Nov 08, 2014
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Two nights in Venice - Al Covo over Alle Testiere or Antiche Carampane?

We tried Antico Pignolo a good few years ago when a gondolier told us it was the best restaurant in Venice! It was pleasant enough, but not enough to make us return on any subsequent trips.

Oct 20, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

Venice at Christmas

In my experience of Christmas in Venice, most places shut down on the afternoon of Christmas Eve and open up again on St Stephens Day. These closures are in addition to whatever each individual restaurant's weekly closing day is.
The baccaro / trattoria places in Cannaregio (Alla Vedova, Ai Promessi Sposi etc) are open a bit later on Christmas Eve, and have a great atmosphere with locals dropping in for a drink on their way home for Christmas. By 7pm only places in the busiest tourist sites are open so I'd suggest planning to eat in your house that night after a stroll and an ombra or two.
We've eaten lunch in Harrys Bar on Christmas Day rather than eat in an hotel. While I've seen some largish family groups there, nine would probably be at their limit to accommodate. It's an enjoyable experience, though it is quite expensive and not to everyone's taste.

Sep 29, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

Less expensive in Venice?

Ai Promessi Sposi in Cannaregio has cicchetti and a small number of trattoria tables. It's very good food at a reasonable price. While you won't get a three course meal for two for €50, it is the best price / quality ratio I've found in Venice. With house wine at around €1 per glass you could have a meal within your budget if you skip or share some courses. Book a table the day of or the day before you want to go.
La Cantina wine bar on Strada Nuova (Cannaregio again) would serve you each a good platter with a glass or two of interesting wine for your budget. Again, book a table even if only a few hours in advance.

Sep 16, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

Restaurant FortyOne and Saison (Dublin)

They are very different propositions, so you'll have to argue it out between you! If you are still planning on eating at Chapter One, then I would personally opt for The Winding Stair to get a broader mix of styles in your trip.

The Winding Stair is casual (no tablecloths etc.) and the atmosphere is buzzy though it can get a bit noisy when busy. The food is based on modern Irish artisan products. The dishes are simple and are very good due to the quality of the ingredients. E.g a starter could be some smoked salmon or charcuterie with some dresses leaves.

Restaurant 41 is a fine dining restaurant with formal service and complex dishes. It's a good bit more expensive than The Winding Stair and uses more luxury ingredients (lobster, turbot, foie gras etc).

Aug 24, 2014
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Restaurant FortyOne and Saison (Dublin)

Restaurant Forty One is very good, though not quite at the level of the places discussed in your other post. Note that there are two areas of the dining room - I think the front area with windows overlooking Stephens Green is much more pleasant than the back room.

Aug 22, 2014
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

First Paris trip for major LA food lovers

If you mean the Hemingway Bar at The Ritz Hotel for your first night drinks, I think it is closed for renovations.

Venice in April for 7 nights

While I have stayed at Ca'Sagredo, we didn't eat in the restaurant, but I would comment that it has quite a modern style of cooking, so may not be what you are looking for. It has a very small number of tables, is luxurious and the building itself is stunning.
While PBSF's post tells you all you need to know (as usual!), I suggest that you also consider Harrys Bar. It does match your criteria of well prepared classics, and has its own unique atmosphere. By any standards it is extraordinarily expensive for what it is, but you haven't mentioned budget restrictions, and are spending 7 days at The Gritti....

Aug 14, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

1 high end meal in Dublin. Where to go?

Not much has changed at this level in Dublin. The Greenhouse which opened in the last two years is highly rated by many and serves inventive dishes, whereas the starred places Harters has listed below have more classically based cuisines.
Bon Appetit is in a suburb north of the city, so may not be convenient if you are staying in central Dublin. My (very personal) opinion is that the food at Thorntons and Guilbauds is slightly better than that at l'Ecrivain and Chapter One. Chapter One can be a great experience though, as the hospitality is genuinely warm and the food is very good by any measure.
Thorntons dishes have great purity of flavour, but the dining room is not particularly special. Guilbauds cuisine is excellent in a French style and the service is theatrical and indulgent. Which you prefer for your night is a matter of what you look for in a special / no holds barred experience.
As a less known alternative, Restaurant 41 on Stephens Green aims at this sort of level but didn't quite equal the city's very best in the single meal I had there.

Castelnuovo Berardenga help requested

La Bottega del 30 was good when we visited. I haven't been to the others you mention, but had two absolutely outstanding meals at the restaurant at the Castell'in Villa wine estate: http://www.castellinvilla.com/ristora...
They make some of Chianti's best and most interesting wines, and a good range of vintages are available at reasonable prices at the restaurant. As with a lot of places in the area, it's located at the end of a narrow lane.

Jun 22, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

Cheap eats in Dublin?

If you really want to try boxty (the food) then I suppose going to Boxty (the restaurant) makes sense. Otherwise I think that the Temple Bar area and it's many restaurants are best avoided.
My favourites in the city centre where there are reasonably priced set menus are La Maison in Castlemarket, and Pichet. A lot of good restaurants will have a reasonable Early Bird menu served before 7pm.

May 10, 2014
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Gastronomic restaurant recommendation for lunch?

A desert in Le Meurice earlier this year using Ducasse's chocolate / cocoa was spectacular.

May 07, 2014
BrianGilligan in France

A week in a Greve Villa. restaurants and markets??

The Albergaccio is upscale and has a Michelin star. That said, it is very much more relaxed than most starred places in cities would be, and the cooking is refined versions of traditional dishes without any modernist elements. Lunch on the patio is a lovely treat.
I can't help with your Sienna choice I'm afraid.

May 07, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

A week in a Greve Villa. restaurants and markets??

Il Ristoro di Lamole is a short (but very twisty!) drive from Greve.
In Castellina, look at Albergaccio di Castellina which is excellent for a higher end version of a rustic Tuscan meal. The pizzeria il Fondaccio in the centre of Castellina is good and has an excellent selection of well priced Chiantis.
Near Gaiole, Osteria del Castello in Brolio is good for modernised dishes and Malborghetto serves excellent rustic cuisine.
Michelin starred but still fairly informal La Bottega del 30 is near to Castelnouvo Berardenga.
Note that driving will take a bit longer than you would expect when looking at a map - the roads are very bendy and progress is slow (but mostly spectacular).

May 06, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

Portofino Difficulties

Food in Portofino is overpriced. One of the restaurants there has a sister restaurant in Santa Margherita - same menu & dishes etc. but a dish costing €16 in Santa Margherita costs €26 in Portofino. The Splendido food is pleasant enough but very expensive (more so than the other restaurants in Portofino).
San Fruttuosa has two restaurants. da Giovanni serves simple but very tasty dishes (mostly seafood) in an absolutely amazing setting. It's best to reserve, and ask for a table with a view. Service can be very slow. Note that it's really a place for lunch unless you want to stay over night.
Portofino is pretty small, so if you're there for a few days some of the places suggested by Jen might be welcome excursions.

May 06, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

Tuscany area best dining recommendations

In Castellina, look at the Albergaccio di Castellina for very refined and flavoursome versions of traditional dishes. You can probably eat on the terrace at lunchtime in May.
For simpler fare, the pizzeria Il Fondaccio in the historic centre of Castellina is excellent, and has a really interesting list of Chiantis at modest prices.

For Gaiole, I suggest you drive (I'm presuming you're driving based on all of the places you're visiting!) a few miles to Brolio and have lunch at the Osteria at Castello di Brolio. There is a nice terrace depending on the weather, and the food is excellent.

Mar 25, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

Corned beef... for St. Patty's day!?!

The cuts usually sold as corned beef in Ireland are topside and silverside (from the hindquarters) and so are a bit leaner and more tender than the brisket used for corned beef in the a States.
I cook these cuts sous vide at 75C for about 24 hours for the texture I like, but for moister meat you can go lower temperature for a longer cooking time (or at a higher temperature for a more crumbly texture).
Interestingly, we don't really have a tradition of eating corned beef on St Patricks Day in Ireland. (Nourishment on that day usually comes in liquid form!)

Mar 13, 2014
BrianGilligan in Home Cooking

Dublin "ethinic" restaurants/food shops

Hi Vanderb
There are a number of Asian grocery shops in central Dublin where you can get a wide range of ethnic ingredients at reasonable prices.
There is an excellent Sichuan restaurant in the suburb of Sandyford (about 30 mins by tram from Central Dublin) called China Sichuan. The price / quality ratio of the set menus here is as good as you'll find in Dublin.

There are a few really good Indian options (I have never been to India, so can't speak about authenticity) throughout the city. The Bombay Pantry is a chain of take-aways offering really good quality.
Jaipur is a small chain of Indian restaurants offering a modernised Indian cuisine.
Ananda (co-owned with London's Atul Kochar) serves delicately spiced and refined dishes in suburban Dundrum (also 30 mins by tram from Central Dublin).
Rasam in Sandycove (30 minutes by commuter train from Central Dublin) serves excellent, more robustly spiced cuisine.
These are all easily accessible and worthy of a trip.

Every neighbourhood will have local Chinese and Indian restaurants and take-always, but many are very mediocre in quality and cannot be authentic.
There is now a reasonable Chinese community in Dublin, and as previously mentioned there is a cluster of interesting looking restaurants around Parnell Square.

There is a newish trendy Mexican & cocktails place called 777 in the city centre that is very popular, but I haven't eaten there so can't say what the food is like.

Mar 13, 2014
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Top End Non-Stick

I use these Matfer Bourgeat non-stick pans. The aluminium is pretty thick so they cook well. The non-stick coating wears away as quickly as any other, so they need to be replaced from time to time - buy a few if you have a budget to burn up!


Mar 07, 2014
BrianGilligan in Cookware