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A Challenging Year For Our Food Industry

A Challenging Year For Our Food Industry

Thursday 31 December 2020

Traditionally, on the Sunday before Christmas, I take a look back on the good, the bad and the ugly of my dining year. Then came 2020, a year that we won't soon forget. A year where the status quo was thrown out the window. So how do I look back on all that?

Well, there was the usual nonsense for the first couple of months, but the rest of the year was dominated by the extraordinary foodies slaving away behind ranges and stoves.

They went from boasting about and tweezer-tweaking their foraged ferns to becoming superheroes without capes, pirouetting and pivoting as they dealt with the tragic lockdowns of their businesses and livelihoods. Overflowing with innovation, they came out with the most incredible at-home dining experiences, hopping on any inch of space they could find to augment their restaurants, with, at times, only outdoor dining for a mere 15 being allowed. Still, they kept on smiling as they served their customers.

There's no doubt that 2020 has been a long year, but here we are at Christmas. Restaurants are open, for the moment, and we can only do our best to keep these guys in business until we see the back of Covid-19, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.


The year started serenely as I wrote about a wonderful stay at the fabulous Aghadoe Heights Hotel overlooking the lakes of Killarney. The hugely talented Barry Sun Jian had also opened his jewel of a restaurant, Volpe Nera, on Newtown Park, adding to the coterie of superb chefs opening in the suburbs as they escape the outrageous city-centre rents brought about by the 'Big Boys' of the restaurant scene who grabbed every property in sight. There is now a small outdoor dining area here too, and it remains one of Dublin's best restaurants. Later in January, I wrote about Niall Davidson's new allta on South Frederick Street, where the food was good but I couldn't get bottled water or a non-alcoholic drink apart from kombucha.

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First Published In The Sunday Independent