Archive for the ‘food and drink’ Category

Starbucks stuck in some costly Irish leases

November 24, 2009

Starbucks signed 20 year leases for premises in Ranelagh, Dalkey and Tallaght but it is now having second thoughts about running coffee outlets in these locations.  Oh dear, even Starbucks got sucked into the dizzy Irish property market and is now licking its wounds.

In Dalkey the rent per year is euro 110,000.  That’s euro 300 per day for 365 days, ie a heck of a lot of coffees just to pay the lease.  Ranelagh is euro 131,622 and Tallagh Cross East is euro 155,000 per year.   That’s not including rates which vary between euro 15,300 per year in Dalkey to euro 23,905 in Tallaght.   As they say ‘wrong trousers, grommit’!!  Somebody didn’t run the numbers!

Of course Starbucks hastens to assure us that it is committed to the Irish market.  Good luck Starbucks!  As the marketing experts say, you need a mix of office workers, students and shoppers to make these outlets work and somehow I don’t think they’ll find these en masse in Dalkey whatever about the other locations.

Irish Hotel Tax Incentive Schemes and their downfall

August 14, 2009

Irish hotels have benefitted from a myriad of tax incentive schemes which are now seriously affecting the tourism industry as a whole.  The tax breaks were exploited to such an extent that not only were too many rooms added creating massive over-capacity but many hotels were built in ridiculous locations.  Tax break hotels were often built by developers rather than hoteliers and all they cared about was a 7 year tax freebie.  They couldn’t have given a jot about the guest.

The sting in the tail of the tax break is that if a hotel that has benefitted from these tax breaks does not stay open for seven years after the development, the investor will have to repay the tax breaks against their personal tax bills.  What we have now is a situation where unprofitable hotels remain open, reducing rates to ridiculous levels thus seriously damaging those operations that are viable.  The Irish Hotels Federation has calculated that there are 21,000 hotel rooms that fall short of the 7 year requirement (out of a total number of about 60,000 hotel beds in the country).  Another scary figure is that the average occupancy rate over all hotels in Ireland is just 53pct and overseas visitors to Ireland this year have declined by nearly 19pct.

Bramley Lodge Food Store and Cafe

June 28, 2009

I passed Bramley Lodge on my way to Fota Arboretum so stopped for a quick cup of hot chocolate and carrot cake.  What a disappointment.  The chocolate was just about undrinkable and the carrot cake was rock solid – a really hopeless recipe and the bill …. euro 6.45  Next time I will carry on to the Ballymaloe cafe which has consistently high standards.

Perhaps I might have had better luck with the lunch but I am not heading back any time soon to find out.

The Church Restaurant in Skibbereen

June 28, 2009

We really missed the Church Restaurant after it was burnt down by an arsonist a few years ago so it’s really great that the owners have been able to bring it back to life and wow, what a fantastic work of art.  The carpentry is fantastic so well done to the Linehans who even made my kitchen here at Kilbrogan House.

The menu is decently priced.  We had a delicious pepperoni pizza with a generous topping, a bowl of butternut squash soup, a coke and a sparkling water for just euro 18.95 which I thought was great.   The place was buzzing and the staff were extremely attentive so well done to all!!!   We’ll be back and anybody who is travelling through Skibbereen, don’t forget to stop at The Church even if only for a coffee or soup.  There is a huge car park right behind the restaurant so no excuses to miss this gem.

Marmatiece – Bandon

June 21, 2009

Marmatiece in Bandon has now opened for lunches during the week.  Last week I paid it a visit with some friends.  I had a ham open sandwich on white spelt bread which was garnished with salad leaves.  The price was euro 6.50. The sandwich was tastey and the price was reasonable.

I like the airy atmosphere in this bistro at lunch time and think that the menu is overall well priced as well as interesting.

Jacobs on the Mall – Cork Restaurant review

June 21, 2009

The service in Jacobs on the Mall is dreadfully slow.  Unless you have a minimum of two hours to spare for dinner, give this place a miss.

I love the food.  I had delicious tomato and sweetcorn bread made on the premises followed by mixed leaves, a Thai green chicken curry and their delicious chocolate fondant.  My brother had crab claws, a tastey chicken dish and the chocolate fondant.  The dessert takes 15 minutes but believe me, if you have the patience to wait for the great food, you won’t mind waiting the extra 15 minutes for the dessert.

The head waiter during my visit was a chap who likes to put  his arm around people and call them ‘folks’ – Far too touchy/feely/flippant for my liking.  He was in such a rush that he was all over the place.  It’s a shame that the service is so bad given the standard of the food.

Aga saga!

May 16, 2009

Does anbody know a reliable Aga repair man who can fix an AGA in Bandon, County Cork?  Our oil fired aga is about 10 years old and up to now has worked like a dream.  We have always serviced it ourselves.

All started to go wrong in February when the AGA went out for no apparent reason and a service and clean didn’t do the job.  Aga recommend a chap in Limerick who seems to have every AGA in the country to deal with so might show up in West Cork in the next century.

We had to resort to Murrays Cleaning and Maintenance.  Well, euro 365 later after several visits from him, new wicks and a new adapter,  we have an aga that is turned as far down to zero as it can go without being turned out and it is raging hot, burning everything.  This maintenace chap even managed to remove the oil gauge from my oil tank so not only am I left with an aga that doesn’t work properly but I have no oil gauge and have to get a ladder and put a stick into the tank to know how much oil is left.  I refuse to call him again as he will insist on further payments for zero result!  Rip off Ireland is alive and well despite the downturn..

So if there is anybody out there who can fix an oil burning aga at a reasonable price or can tell us how to fix it ourselves, please get in touch with us at Kilbrogan House.  We are reasonably au fait with how this cooker works given that we have been servicing it without a problem for the past 10 years.

Baking Soda? What is it? Bread Soda!

May 5, 2009

For anybody who uses American recipes and is puzzled as to whether baking soda is baking powder or bread soda.  It is bread soda.  Mystery solved!

Marigold Swiss Bouillon Stock Cube

May 4, 2009

The Irish Times tested five vegetable stocks and voted the Marigold Swiss Bouillon the best.  I tried it in a soup.  It’s great so check it out.  It’s available in Bandon from An Tobairin.

Starbucks and its instant coffee – VIA

February 23, 2009

Starbucks has started marketing its own brand of coffee – VIA which I find somewhat puzzling.   However, perhaps it is not so surprising that Starbucks wants a bit of the instant coffee action when you consider that about 80% of coffee consumed in this part of the world is instant and that the total instant coffee market generates about $17bn in sales.

The chain hasn’t been faring well over the past year and in January 2009 announced the loss of nearly 7000 jobs plus the closure of 300  more outlets.  According to a great article by Christopher Caldwell in the Financial Times lately, Starbucks is supposed to be a chain of expresso shops but in reality turns out a poor expresso and instead concentrates on producing an array of steamed milky concotions at superior prices.

A sachet of the instant coffee retails for about $1 which is far from cheap.  Christopher Caldwell rightly points out that Starbucks positioned itself in areas with high income, high population and high education but feels that the chain may be challenged in our current economic climate.

On a positive note for Starbucks,  as people find themselves out of work, they need to be cheered up and often end up at the coffee house.  Instant coffee or otherwise, this should be a ray of sunshine for Starbucks in what has been a rather bleak time for this company.  I am still happy that my town still has an array of private coffee shops rather than endless chains.