Irish culinary renaissance |

Irish culinary renaissance

Robert Smith
Submitted to The Union

While everyone was gushing over André Ferrar in Spain and Peter White in England, a quiet culinary renaissance was taking place in Dublin. In a city more famous for pubs than grub, fine dining establishments are now as common as the iconic Guinness glass.

Lucky Dubliners can now enjoy world class French, Italian and Indian cuisine conjured by globe-trotting chefs of fame. But if you're not pulled to paddle across the pond for a foie gras crawl, take heart. There's also an abundance of terroir-suffused meals showing up on fine linen decked tables and in dark, rustic ale houses in this friendly, bustling town.

The kitchen at the crisply appointed Tea Room in the Clarence Hotel, which is owned by Bono and Edge from U2, produces some fine example of Irish classics imbued with a reverence for excellent local seafood and the canny creativity of chef Antony Ely.

A less starchy dining room at Commons Restaurant is worthwhile for the more humble approach of chef Aiden Byrne. His magic with caramelized root vegetables, his perfectly seared scallops and his generosity in overstuffing the handmade crab ravioli routinely merit a long queue at the door.

Survival in the tough restaurant business is often claimed to hang on one's ability to renew and re-invent. Another approach is to make it real, do it right and stick with it.

This seems to be the strategy employed at O'Neill's Pub for the last 300 years. The only foam served here arrives atop your pint. They never thought twice about taking the easy road down processed food lane. A creamy bowl of Bantry Bay mussels, a warming portion of Guinness and beef stew or a classic carvery lunch, are all you need to know about why they are not returning to basics. They never left.

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The Old 5Mile House is proud to present our own renditions of honest Irish classics this March.

Wild caught Halibut fish and chips, with a light, crispy coated filet and our housemade tartar sauce will improve your Irish accent in time for St. Patty's Day.

Our steak and Guinness pie will put an impish smile on your face. The warming roasted root veggie salad and our Guinness stout chocolate cake covered in a glossy Jameson's Irish whiskey ganache with Bailey's whipped cream will seal the deal with your fair colleen.

We will celebrate St. Patty's Day starting at 6 p.m. Sunday with music by The O'Miley House Family Ceilidh Band featuring Dave Riddles on Irish bag pipes. Try this fish and chips recipe at home to get in the spirit for the holiday.

Robert Smith is the chef owner of the Old 5Mile House where they serve roadhouse food from around the world.

Fish and Chips

Yield: 4 servings

3 quarts vegetable oil, for frying

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon Fine Kosher salt

1 bottle cold beer

Lemon wedges

Malt vinegar (optional)

2 pounds haddock or cod fillets, skinned and cut into 1 1/2-inch wide strips

Heat the oil in a large deep pot to 375 degrees. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and gently stir in the cold beer.

Mix until just combined. When the oil is preheated to the correct temperature, dip the fish fillets in the batter mixture. Coat the fish generously.

Fry the fish until they are golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes, turning the fish over during the cooking time. When the fish are done, remove from the oil and put immediately on paper towels to blot the excess oil. Arrange the fish on a baking sheet lined with a cooling rack.

Hold the fish in the preheated oven until serving. Work in batches and be sure not to crowd the oil. Serve with French fries, lemon wedges and malt vinegar.

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