The Menu: Soul food

The Menu has often wondered if it would be possible to hitch up his old mucker, chef Gary O’Hanlon (VM Restaurant at Viewmount House, Co Longford), to some class of generator for the man’s indefatigable energy could power half the planet. 

In addition to juggling one of the country’s top restaurants, regular TV duties and public demos with the demands of new fatherhood, he has found time to produce the wonderful Food For The Soul in association with Bluebird Care, a donation from each book going to the Active Retirement Ireland charity.

Though the bould O’Hanlon may be one of the most renowned chefs in the country, cooking to an exceptionally high standard, Food For The Soul is a delightfully un-‘cheffy’ production with ego parked outside.

Rather, it is a strong ‘teaching’ book, entirely focused on giving domestic cooks of all ages the confidence to turn out fine home-cooked meals with a picture-driven ‘how-to’ guide for certain dishes. Mark this one down as an early stocking filler for all ages. 

Brilliant bazaar

The Menu is fixing up a diplomatic licence plate for his faithful Neidín in preparation for a jaunt up to Fairly Large Smoke for the International Charity Bazaar (November 16) at the RDS, established by Ireland’s Diplomatic Corps and organised by Jane Chilcott, the wife of the British Ambassador.

The Menu shall pass on any Ferrero Rocher, naturellement, but with food from over 40 countries available for tasting, he should do just fine.

In addition, there will be plenty of family-friendly music, dancing, costumes and craft and the €5 entry fee also includes a raffle ticket for jewellery, return flights to Dubai and Abu Dhabi and much more. 

Fine food

While his ailing confreres persist in popping the paracetamol and lamping into the Lemsip ere before the first of the winter sniffles arrive, The Menu is self-medicating with fine Irish fare, a goodly amount of that in its raw and natural state, just as Mother Nature intended. So, the newly-opened Alchemy Juice Bar in BT2, Dublin, offering natural, unprocessed juices, salad boxes and healthy treats, sounds like his ideal apothecary (

The seemingly endless appetite for Asian-style street food continues apace with the opening of Pho, on Douglas St, another restaurant from the fine folk who brought you Café Fresco, in the Glucksmann Gallery.

Kelly’s Resort Hotel & Sea Spa continue to offer activity-driven breaks, next up Culinary Creations with Neven Maguire (November 23-28) ( while Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa offer another reprise of their Taste of West Cork Tasting Menu (November 14). It is hard to surpass the pleasure of nursing a post-prandial tincture in the comfort of the hotel library while looking out at winter seas doing the wild thing. ( )


The Menu has always been partial to a bit of properly smoked haddock, no dyed muck for him, thank you very much. Paul O’Connell procures fresh haddock, hardly out of the boat before he subjects it to a delicate smoking over oak.

The Menu, in turn, warms it on the pan, nothing more, before flaking succulent little salty-smokey chunks into his kale, butter and cream mash potato and pouring himself a glass of nicely chilled white burgundy whereupon he subsequently ascends into heaven. 


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