NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR 2013
East Café Bar, The King Sitric, Howth, Co Dublin
This is always one of our most hotly-contested awards – by which I mean that the ‘short list’ is anything but – and how could it be otherwise when the establishments under consideration are all fresh and new and full of enthusiasm? It’s mainly the closures that have been hitting the news in recent times, of course, but there have also been a number of new openings – and we’re always looking out for the best ones, that will be here to stay.
Paradoxically our Newcomer is, in a sense, also an oldie of the hospitality world, as this contemporary smart-casual café-bar has taken over the ground floor of one of Ireland’s longest-established seafood restaurants – and, by doing so, not only transformed and revitalised the highly-respected fine dining parent business, but also re-positioned the culinary focal point of this popular seaside destination. Now, with attractive seating outside, jaunty striped awnings and its lovely Georgian doorway inviting you in, this is a place it would be hard to pass by – and, supplied by the main restaurant kitchen, it’s a class act with quality at its core. It’s run by the Aidan and Joan MacManus of the King Sitric and their son, Declan, who manages the new café-bar with his girlfriend Susan McKiernan. Unsurprisingly, this family enterprise is proving a real winner; offering a limited menu, fantastic food and great value, plus stylishly casual surroundings it’s just what people want today – and they can’t get enough of it.