Thursday, July 23, 2015

Safe Travels in Ireland - McGann's Pub and Bobo's Gourmet Irish Burgers

McGann's Pub

Kayleigh here. On our third night of pub hopping around Doolin, we headed to this busy and bustling pub in search of good music and, hopefully, good gluten free chowder. Like O'Connors pub, we had to put in our food and drink orders with the bartenders, and they relayed our menu questions to the chef. He assured us that the chowder itself was gluten free, but they did not have gluten free bread to serve it with.

Our meals were served not minutes after we had ordered, and Jason was given a small basket of regular brown bread with his soup- It was in a separate plate, so it was not a danger, but it seemed like the kitchen went too fast to make special orders happen.

The chowder was delicious, and the drink selection was extensive, but we did not check to find out if any other menu items were gluten free- I would recommend making sure the whole dish is safe, and avoid making substitutions. The pub gets very busy from 5:00 onwards, partly due to being one of the few pubs that accepts reservations, and the kitchen works like a well oiled machine, pumping out food orders like nobody's business. Even if you only come for drinks and the evening's live music, McGann's is worth dropping by. They have speakers throughout the building, so you can still hear the band play if you're not seated in the right room.

Jason here. I was excited to go out this night and enjoy some live music, after my previous night of drowsiness. By this point I had learned seafood chowder was my favorite Irish meal. I was secretly getting my hopes up that McGann’s would have some gluten free chowder available, so I was ecstatic to discover they did. Naturally, I ordered two bowls before last meal call. Since it may be a bit of wait for music depending on when you arrive, be sure to spread out your meal order and take your time to enjoy the food and atmoshpere.

As Kayleigh mentioned, the chowder was delicious. Just behind Wilton’s this was my second favorite chowder in Ireland. Like everywhere else it was filled with large chunks of seafood.

Bobo's Gourmet Irish Burgers

Kayleigh here. We found this place after leaving the Guinness Storehouse at closing and getting very, very lost on the way back to Kilmainham. The sign out front promised that they could work with any allergens or restrictions, and the menu itself stated 'Ask server for gluten-free options'. As we found out, the chips were fried in the same fried as the battered foods, so they were out, but most of the beef burger were safe as-is if served on lettuce instead of a bun (I'm sure you could bring your own gluten free bun in with you). And since the kitchen was right out in the open, we could see that the bread and breaded items had their own sections on the grilltop, so cross contamination was minimized.

Bobo's is a great option for fast, convenient food, although you may need to order a couple of burgers to get a full dinner. The burger menu is huge, though, and they were very open to customizing and building your own if none of them catch your fancy. Beware, though, that they get quite busy during mealtimes and there are not that many tables, so there may be a wait until one clears up.

Jason here. We wandered around for quite a while before finding a place that mentioned gluten free food. As Kayleigh mentioned the burger menu was quite extensive. However, that’s just about all your find here. It was delicious, although a bit messy as all lettuce wrapped burgers tend to be. I ordered my usual bacon cheeseburger, and enjoyed every bite. It was properly cooked, and had plenty of toppings and sauce which I enjoyed.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Safe Travels in Ireland - Gus O'Connor's Pub and Fitz's Pub and Eatery

Gus O'Connor's Pub

Kayleigh here. This pub was recommended to us as our number one spot by our B&B hostess, as it had lively music every night and gluten free labels right on the menu. We were also advised that the place fills up quickly in the evenings, so plan on arriving at least two hours before the music if you want to get a good seat.

There were signs all around telling us how ordering worked- find a seat, then tell your order and table number to the bartender, who rings you out right there. It can get pretty crazy during the busy hours, so make sure to leave something in your seat as you stand in line at the bar. We walked in at 7:30 and the only available table was in a corner room, so we had to move to standing at the bar later in the evening to hear the music.

The menu had a few options for the gluten free diner, although we did notice the Guinness beef stew was labeled gluten free...we opted not to question that. As a nice surprise, the specials board had gluten free labels as well. The food looked safe when it arrived at our table, so I would say to just double check things with the bartender when you decide on your order.

Jason here. Definitely remember to check the special’s menu, as I got both the crab claws and some gluten free chocolate and peanut butter pie. The crab claws, while delicious, were a bit messy and still left me hungry so I ordered a salad special as well. The chocolate and peanut butter pie made for a nice final bite to eat as we settled in for our first live music experience of the night. As Kayleigh mentioned, be sure to get there very early if you want a seat anywhere close to the live music. This was true for all the bars and pubs we went to.

Fitz's Pub and Eatery

Kayleigh here. Fitz's Pub (also known as Fitzpatrick's Traditional Bar) was the second stop on our pub tour across Doolin, by virtue of being the second closest to our B&B. We arrived at 7:00, and despite a fair crowd we were still able to get seats next to the live music area. Not only that, but we found out that there was a guitarist playing at 7:30, on top of the scheduled act at 9:00. And the musicians here were fantastic- I am kicking myself for having only one of their names written down (Tara Howley on the Uilleann Pipes).

Sorry, that did not have much to do with being gluten free, did it? The menu had no labels here, but the waitress went back and asked the chef what entrees were safe so she could tell Jason what his options were. The menu was mostly up scaled versions of bar and comfort food, but even so the majority of the entrees were gluten free without any alterations. The atmosphere was slightly more upscale than the average pub, too, but still managed to be friendly and comfortable to spend a few hours in.

Jason here. I was suffering some drowsy side effects of the sea sickness medication I took earlier that day before going on the ferry. The music was my favorite out of all the nights, but I still remember very little of it. As Kayleigh mentioned we managed a booth right next to the musicians, but also still secluded somewhat from the crowd. My meal was a fairly standard affair of beef with potatoes, some squash and greens.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Safe Travels in Ireland - The River Restaurant and Doolin Chocolatier

The River Restaurant at the Limerick Strand Hotel

Kayleigh here. This was definitely a situation where planning ahead is wise for a gluten free traveler. We knew when we booked our stay in the Strand hotel that the restaurant downstairs would be a backup option for food, although we wanted to try wandering around and finding a restaurant downtown first. We ended up starting too late and taking too long being lost tourists, so we headed back to the hotel for a late but assuredly safe meal.

The restaurant had recently completed renovations combining two smaller restaurants into one dinner service, so I would not be surprised if the menus change significantly in the future. At the time we went there, the evening menu had clear gluten free labels on each section, but the waiter was also very attentive and willing to ask the kitchen questions and double check things for us. It was quite a nice experience overall, with a pleasant view of the city from our table.

Jason here. It was really strange having all the restaurants close so early forcing us to go back to the hotel. It was nice having so clearly labeled gluten free options, but the options are a bit limited and it felt strange not dining out at a local pub. In Ireland we did have some trouble finding dessert places to try, but the River Restaurant served some delicious gluten free brownies with ice cream. It was with this dish that I learned what redcurrants were. They were used a sort of garnish on the plate due to their bright color. I really wish I could find these in the states. They are some of the juiciest sweet and sour fruits I have ever had. Like a combination of kumquats and blackberries.

Doolin Chocolatier
Kayleigh here. After getting our bearings in Doolin and wandering around the pier for a few hours, we headed back towards the main street and bravely ventured into the chocolate shop with a glimmer of hope for gluten free chocolate. With little hope for an independent shop being safe, we were delighted to discover that nearly all of their goods were gluten free, with the exception of bars, slices, and fudges that contained biscuits or certain candies. If you are like us and not very familiar with Irish or British cookies and candies, just ask the clerk which ones to avoid.

Jason here. Woo hoo for some delicious chocolate! I picked up 3 types of fudge and the rocky road bars. Rocky road was definitely my favorite, but the triple chocolate fudge gave it a run for the money. The rocky road candy bars in particular make for a wonderful snack to enjoy while sitting cliff side and watching the waves rolls in. Just be sure to put on some sunscreen.