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Dublin: 5 °C Friday 15 November, 2019
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'People have trouble finding us': 4 Irish foodie destinations in distinctly unlikely places

From the food truck up the side of a fjord, to the kitchens of an old Georgian house.

IN THE WINTER of 2016, Reinaldo Sico and Kim Young purchased a trailer and drove it to Connemara. Over the next few months, they set about transforming it into a food truck that would eventually become known as Misunderstood Heron.

“When we were brainstorming the name of the business we both wanted something that was going to stand out and be memorable,” explains Sico. “I always thought that herons have quite a funny look about them so that is where our story began.”

“It was developed around a heron who was misunderstood because he didn’t like the rain or water but lives in Connemara, so this was a problem. But one day he receives three gifts –  a hat, some wellies and an umbrella which transforms his life. Hence the logo.”

It’s certainly a memorable name, but they could have likely called themselves The Food Truck and it would still be among the most unforgettable spots for a bite to eat in the country.

That’s because Misunderstood Heron is a food truck that happens to overlook Killary Fjord and boasts some of the most breathtaking views in the country.

As Sico puts it, “We chose to put our food truck here as for both of us it is the most spectacular area in Ireland, both in culture and scenery.”

Last April, Misunderstood Heron opened for business. The truck is parked on a flat piece of land owned by Young’s family and there are a number of benches for customers to sit and admire the stunning landscape. A far cry from food trucks doling out fast food in an empty car park, so.

Over the next few months, the couple served up food they described as “simple, honest and tasty”.  Think locally sourced mussels, lamb samosas and bacon and chorizo pies.

“With neither of us having any formal training we just cook with the flavors that we like and what we think others will like also.”

“We are getting our produce from local providers where possible and only serve handmade food and drinks. This definitely has required us to become more organised and learn lots of new cooking techniques but the rush that you get when people enjoy something you have cooked is just fantastic.”

The pair are also conscious about being environmentally friendly and sustainable. They compost all their food, use compostable packaging and run off an environmentally friendly gas generator.

“It’s our belief that if you live and work somewhere as spectacular as Connemara, you must do all that you can to keep it pristine.”

Being off the beaten track has been both a blessing and a curse. The fact they are on the Wild Atlantic Way and situated close to Killary Adventure Centre guarantees some footfall. However, they also have to contend with tricky local planning restrictions and unpredictable weather.

“We are very reliant on the weather,” says Seco. “We have a rain cover but getting people to stop when it’s rainy and windy can be difficult.”

After a few months traveling abroad, the couple are set to open for business again in April. Fortunately for us, they’re more hungry and energised than ever.

“We have lots of energy, ideas and new dishes that we want to bring to the food truck,” Seco says.

Another business operating in a decidedly unusual location is Glebe Gardens, a café and restaurant in Baltimore, Co Cork.

The eatery is run by the four Perry sisters – Tessa, Keziah, Mia and JoJo – and was originally a Georgian house.

“My folks Jean and Peter Perry bought the Glebe Gardens in late 1989,” explains Tessa.  “At the time it was just a Georgian house sat on about five acres of pasture land. Over the past 25 years, they slowly developed the grounds into kitchen gardens, orchards and even an amphitheatre at the bottom of that garden overlooking the strand.”

Twelve years ago, the family decided to start selling tea and cakes from the house in an effort to entice locals to come view the gardens. It soon became a popular spot. After a period of operating out of their own kitchen, the fire inspector paid a visit and advised the family that if they wanted to run a café, they could no longer do it from their house.

“It forced us to make the decision to renovate one of the milking sheds into a purpose-built restaurant,” says Tessa. “Myself and two of my sisters came home from various parts of the globe and decided to run the café while our parents ran the gardens.”

A true family business.

The café now operates year-round in the stunning surrounds of the gardens. Most of the food is grown on the land and other ingredients are sourced from producers in West Cork.

“Our parents are trained horticulturalists and only ever wanted to feed us kids well and live off of the land. Everything that has come after that is basically an extension of the lifestyle that they imparted.”

The menu is comprised of seasonal garden plates. In the springtime, they use foraged herbs for dishes like nettle risotto and Babington leek soup. In summer, customers can expect meals like crab-stuffed courgettes or elderflower-infused panna cotta.

“In the autumn we have an amazing variety of tomatoes, so there is a crazy coloured tomato on most plates and in the winter we would use a lot of roots and winter salads.”

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Last night we went to @glebegardens to experience the tasting menu from @krawczykrob who is doing an eight week residency there. Some food you taste is beyond description, you can read what words I can muster to explain the experience we had last night in a blog post which will be up later today. For now though, ogle the pictures! First starter... "Sea Tomato" - looks like a tomato, smells like a tomato, definitely isn't a tomato. This was possibly my favourite dish of the night for its creativity and fun, but mostly because there was lovage - a herb that I've noticed is getting a touch of the "trendy" this year, but transported me back to being a kid! We grew lovage in our garden at home and it was used sparingly enough, but to me the flavour was evocative which I loved! Inside the "tomato" was fresh Irish albacore tuna tartare, the tomato skin in a gel made from red tomatoes. Hidden underneath is the lovage sauce, all sat on a sprinkle of dehydrated black olive. Using the tomato top meant that what you smelled as the plate was placed in front of you was that fresh vine tomato aroma! Magnificent! . . . #flavour #westcork #food #foodie #foodadventures #irishfoodblogger #foodblogger #f52grams #foodstagram #foodiegram #instafood #scrumptiouskitchen #eeeeeats #summer #localfood #instadaily #ireland #inspireland_ #huffposttaste #foodgawker #foodwriter #westcorkfood #chefinresidence #feedfeed #robkrawczyk #baltimore #glebe

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It’s this freshness that sets Glebe Gardens apart from other cafés, says Tessa.

“I think what makes our cafe unique is that you can sit out on the terrace and literally see the food you are eating being hand picked 100 yards away. It really doesn’t get any fresher.”

“We are also very fortunate to be based in Baltimore where the quality of fish is second to none and we are surrounded by fantastic cheese makers, dairy farmers, farmers markets, cured meats… You name it and it is probably being produced somewhere in West Cork at a very high standard.”

There is talk of possibly opening another establishment in West Cork, but details are under wraps for now. In the meantime, Glebe Gardens will continue to be open for casual dining, weddings and other events with a view to starting cookery and gardening courses.

Away from impossibly scenic restaurants, there are a few restaurants in Dublin situated in decidedly under-the-radar locations.

Take Brothers Dosirak, for instance. This Korean eatery is nestled at the back of the Asia Super Foods market on Capel Street. It opened in April 2016 and has quickly become a cult favourite among those craving authentic bibimbap and more. But if you didn’t know it was there, you’d likely never come across it.

“Most people face difficulty finding our place, but once they find us and taste the food they never forget where we are,” say SangHyung Cho and Taegi Lim, the chefs behind the restaurant.

Their recommendations? Try the bulgogi (grilled beef), special chicken wings or chopped noodle dish.

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Enjoy your meal! ;)

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In Dublin 8, meanwhile, is Assassination Custard, a teeny-tiny café situated in a nondescript building on Kevin Street. Open since December 2015, it has also become a favourite among foodies.

It’s open just four days a week for lunches and you never know what you might come across on the menu. One day it might be roasted pumpkin and the next it might be chicken liver. Either way, it’s worth the adventure.

More: The deadly Where’s Me Jumper? tribute outside Bishop Lucey Park in Cork>

More: 16 of the cosiest photos of pub snugs around Ireland>

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Amy O'Connor

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