Saturday, January 16, 2010

Restaurant: Town Bar & Grill

Say what you will about them, but our political class know how to dine well, and eating at Kildare Street's Town Bar & Grill is always a pleasant experience. The food is good, the service is friendly, the location is central and the prices are... well, slightly high actually, but not unreasonable.

The restaurant seems to have styled itself as Italian, but the menu certainly isn't the standard pizza-and-pasta - so much so that I wouldn't have realised the Italian influence if I hadn't read about it on their website. Careful checking of the menu would indeed hint at that connection, but in practice I wouldn't consider it Italian so much as simply high-quality.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Music - coming soon

Starting on Tuesday 12th the Irish Baroque Orchestra begins a series of six concerts based on a selection of pieces from Bach, Vivaldi and Handel. Location: the National Gallery of Ireland. (Yes, not the National Concert Hall.)

And later in the month, from 27th to 31st January 2010, the Templebar TradFest is on. I'm not a Trad person myself but it does look like it could be fun, so I'm hoping to have a listen.

And don't forget that next month, the stunningly talented and ever stylish Lady GaGa will be in town. (Good luck getting tickets at late notice though...)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Restaurant: Byblos

In my unending quest for tasty, good value lunch menus, I went to Byblos on St Andrews Street a few days ago. Friendly service, tasty and varied food, decent decor, good price (€10 lunch special) - no problems, just excellent Lebanese food. Mmmm!

I've been there before with medium sized groups and also enjoyed it. I'm surprised it's not busier - it deserves to be.

Monday, January 4, 2010


If you haven't seen Avatar yet, go see it - and see it in 3D.

OK, it mightn't be everyone's ideal film. The plot is entirely unoriginal, and of course not everyone likes sci-fi. Against that, the visuals are genuinely impressive and the setting is wonderful - of the 3D films I've seen, this is the best.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Restaurant: Manna

One of the best things to happen to Dublin in recent years was the influx of Chinese immigrants and the corresponding increase in Chinese restaurants. Many of these have clustered in Capel Street and, most of all, Parnell Street. (We don't quite have a proper Chinatown yet but with a bit of luck we'll get there.)

'Manna' is one of the Parnell Street restaurants, and I went there for the first time recently. It's very much in the style of the newer Chineses - compact floor area, very wide variety of main courses, and menus written in Chinese and English.

Food: Average
Price: Excellent - for example, I paid €9.99 for starter and main in the evening.
Service: Poor. Not warm, not attentive, missed some basics.
Decor: Simple but alright.

If you're in the area and want cheap Chinese food, Manna is fine - but if you're happy to spend a little more there's plenty of competition on the same street.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Turner collection in the National Gallery

Each January the National Gallery of Ireland exhibits a collection of watercolours by Turner, so on New Year's Day I walked through the beautifully ice-covered streets to see if I'd like it.

And... I did. The descriptive text on the walls is helpful and puts a good context on the artwork. As someone with the artistic talents of a dead fish, I need all the help I can get with that - I usually find that without knowing about the artist / historical context, I get very little from a painting.

There are lectures available on Tuesdays and Sundays throughout January:

One caveat: unless you're a real connoisseur - I'm not - you'll get through this exhibition quickly, so if you go to see it plan to see other exhibits as well. I'd suggest having a look at 'Silhouettes and Miniatures' right next to the Turner section: it'll only take a few minutes but it's interesting. There's one silhouette of an unnamed girl, maybe 20, very pretty, with a strange soft edge to the image around her hair, which must have been quite frizzy. It's disconcerting to think a girl is pretty and realise at the same time that she's probably been dead for the best part of two centuries.

It's easy to live in a city for years and never really get to know it. I've been in Dublin for over a decade, but it's only in the last year I've realised just how much goes on - a constant stream of festivals, exhibitions, events, seasonal markets etc. - many of them free or very cheap.

This blog will mostly be a mix of short reviews and previews, with an occasional editiorial-style rant. If you ever have any comments or want something mentioned, please mail me: dublin.culture at