I have recently spent some time in the land of negative equity, that is where your property value is less than your outstanding mortgage. This country is Ireland where vast swathes of newbuild unsold apartments persist in the Dublin suburbs, especially to the west around Tallaght. House prices have dropped by over 50% over the last 2-3 years. So much for the Euro which provided cheap credit from 2002-2008 and then went boom ! Praise the Lord that the UK didn't join this mess.... any property price collapse would have been far worse in Britain.
Anyhow, I've never had a bad meal in Ireland which is the main thing. Restaurants visited in November/December have been :
Hartleys in Dun Laoghaire http://www.hartleys.ie
( pronounced as in Dun Leary )..... the main Dublin port which seems to have undergone a makeover in the last few years. Less shabby than it used to be. This place is right opposite the ferry terminal and does a mean smoked haddock soup for starters, followed by a pan-fried hake with champ ( potato and spring onion mash ), all for an evening meal price of 23 Euro. Friendly and attentive service, tomato bread is good as well.
Further down the road is Dalkey and Killiney where Bono and Enya have a house each. This is the smart side of Dublin. Along Main Street Dalkey is the Guinea Pig restaurant, established for some 50 years. I had the deep fried whitebait followed by a medium dover sole with saute potatoes. Delicious although I thought the potatoes were a bit overcooked. Expensive, with service I left 50 Euros, but a nice bit of sole. http://www.guineapig.dalkey.info/
On to the Leixlip ( as in leaks lip ) House Hotel in Leixlip to the west of the city just inside County Kildare. I ate in the bar. Pan-fried cod with champ was good but I thought that the starter of Thai fish cakes was insipid and dull. The only bad part. http://www.leixliphouse.com/
Next up is Alvitos just down the hill from the Leixlip House, a pizzeria. I didn't fancy the pasta sauces that were on their menu so I asked if they could do a plain tomato sauce. Obligingly enough the Lithuanian chef did just that and it came out just right, all tomatoey on top of the spaghetti with the right blend of shallots and garlic. Very comforting and filling on a blustery night in Ireland. Alvitos is on Main Street by the traffic lights in the centre of town. I went back there a week later and had the same thing.
Finnstown Country House Hotel ( in receivership as are most hotels in Ireland ) has a snug bar and lounge. Soup of the day ( or week ) and either salmon with mash or breaded lemon sole ( freshly fried, not microwaved up ) with mash comes to about 20 Euro with a soft drink. http://www.finnstown-hotel.ie/
. Good place to stay as well. Comfortable rooms. If you're lucky they'll give you a suite for the same price with bedroom, shower and a lounge with kitchenette.
I went to these places on different nights, not one after the other on the same night.
When I'm next there I'll try the K Club ( Ryder Cup 2006 venue ) over at Straffan, Co Kildare.