The menu: Slow food Ireland

As well as being a wonderful restaurateur, running two fine Dublin-based establishments, Cake Café and Slice, The Menu’s weekly colleague Michelle Darmody has always operated above and beyond the base requirements of the industry.

The menu: Slow food Ireland

Her latest project is a further example of same, a Pop-Up Café in conjunction with Slowfood Ireland, in Dublin’s Project Arts Centre (April 5&6), to highlight the awful situation vis-a-vis food in Ireland’s direct provision centres.

Residents, many of them there for years, are not allowed to cook for themselves, subsisting only on the fare provided and, in The Menu’s eyes, it is a surefire method for rapidly dehumanising a human being, removing control over one of mankind’s most fundamental needs and most especially the ability to seek comfort by cooking the food that reminds one of home.

The menu will be cooked each day by people in direct provision, supported by Michelle and her team, and the general public are asked to donate flowers from their gardens to decorated tables. ( )


Any new restaurant opening in Cork City is always guaranteed to set The Menu’s gastric antennae a-quivering but a BBQ restaurant helmed by young Kerryman John Relihan sounds especially promising. As former head chef and pitmaster at Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa BBQ restaurant in London, his experience is extensive and varied.

The new venture, Holy Smoke, is an 88-seater restaurant based in Cork’s Mardyke Centre with its own entrance on Little Hanover St and promises to serve up locally sourced meats, cooked low and slow over sustainable firewood, with Relihan using different combinations to complement the dishes, and all washed down with a menu of fine craft beers and cocktails ( ).

Change is also afoot in another more established Cork restaurant, Sage Midleton, an old favourite of The Menu, which will close from April 11-19 for renovations, including the addition of a new fully-licenced bar servicing the restaurant and Greenroom, Sage’s casual dining area. In addition, the Greenroom outdoor area will receive a makeover, adding a small outdoor kitchen for events and BBQs.

More importantly, chef/proprietor Kevin Aherne moves closer to his dream of serving a 12-mile only menu, adjusting his offering to ensure his ultimate aim of sourcing entirely within 12 miles of his Midleton restaurant.


Pickle Me Pink (April 9 & 10), in Dublin’s Fumbally Stables, sees Katie Sanderson lead a workshop, making ferments, homemade vinegars and pickled salted fruit, including lunch and plenty of goodies to bring home (, while Cork-based Annam Supper Club starts a new round of its Indian cooking classes (commencing April 6, contact 087 748 6995 or email


The Menu has loved pea shoots since first ever nibbling on the tender green leaves snaffled from a London urban allotment in his childhood.

A recent visit to Mahon market saw him encounter Ann, from Till & Bloom, a new business specialising in growing microgreens for the hospitality industry and public, including home-growing kits.

A nibble or two of those fresh, vibrant leaves and that indescribable taste of what can only be described as ‘pea-ness’ and The Menu was off to O’Driscoll’s fish stall for a prime piece of white fish to be simply seasoned and fried in butter, for the pairing remains a much favoured dish, pea shoots warmed in the hot lemony butter sauce.

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