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All Reviews by davecorcra

6 Review(s).

47 Georges St Upper, Dun Laoghaire, Ireland

Wholefoods and lunches with a nod to the East

Art of Eating is both a health food shop and a place to pick up nutritious a take-out lunch (though, if space permits, you can sit in the window and watch the world go by).

Wenmi, the bubbly owner, hails from China and the dishes offered reflect her origins, meaning rice, noodles and soy products are to the fore, along with lots of veggies. Under pressure from the lunchtime trade, she does 2 out of 8 options with chicken, but the rest are vegan. For a substantial meal, you can get a box made up mixing these salad, noodle and rice dishes to your choosing - all very tasty. Payment is by weight, which does make things hard to guage. Miso soup, fresh sushi, cakes, teas and coffees are also available.

While the amount of shelving space for the wholefoods area is limited, it's used to the maximum to offer a decent overall range. The selection of pre-packed wholefoods is mostly organic and there is also a unit of Chinese and Eastern specialities. As with the food she prepares herself, Wenmi is a real enthusiast for what she stocks and can offer good recommendations and suggestions. She's also very keen to get feedback on products from returning customers. Happily, there's not a supplement in site - the focus here is on proper food!

Check out the Art of Eating website for a sense of her philosophy and passion about the health benefits of good food - and for details of any upcoming cookery classes she has on.

12 Moore Street, Dublin, Ireland

Very affordable but limited

A fiver for a big plate of food will suit those who like it hot and no-frills (just help yourself from the curries, dhals and rice on offer; a notice asks that you stick to five servings, i.e. five spoonfuls overall with the 'Daily Fiver'). There's no faulting the value, but if you're looking for food with flavour moreso than heat this may not be your ideal choice - if you can afford a couple of extra quid, heading for Govinda's on Middle Abbey Street might suit better. That said, it's good to see a new veggie restaurant on this bustling street and it's sure to get good support.

19 Wicklow Street, Dublin, Ireland

Dublin's best veggie eatery and now twice the size

Though it's open for breakfasts and lunches, too, I can speak best of dinners at Cornucopia, which are always really flavourful and served up in generous portions. It's a simple and relaxed place - a cafe moreso than a restaurant where you step up to the counter and will have a choice of five or six main courses, with at least a couple of vegan options, plus ten salads - five regulars and five daily specials - again with vegans well-catered for (check the blackboards for details of exactly what's in each dish and what diets they're suited to). For 12.50 or 12.95, depending on your chosen main option, you'll get hearty portion served up onto your plate with the chance to choose two salads as accompaniment - many of them very substantial in their own right. Even if you arrive raging hungry, don't imagine you need anything else! Those with smaller appetites might prefer to stick with the salads alone.

Cornucopia is so popular that it can be busy at the counter and hard to see all the choices at times, but the staff are always very helpful and there's never any sense of pressure. Happily, a short while ago, the owners were able to take on the adjacent building to expand and it can now offer a lot more seating. This is still not always enough to avoid the need for customers to share tables at the very busiest points, but I've experienced this just once since the expansion and I'd consider myself a regular. Also new are later opening hours - extending to 22.30 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays - often with a harpist playing gently in the background.

Cornucopia has a good commitment to using organic produce (again there's a blackboard setting out just what ingredients used are organic, including all their soy-based products, thereby ensuring they're GM-free).

2 Windy Arbour, Dundrum Road, Dublin 14, Dublin, Ireland

Real enthusiasm for organic produce

This is a smallish shop that makes much of it's available space, extending out onto the pavement with a display of organic fresh fruit and vegetables and through to its back yard with bulk refills for household products (as well as more stocks of fruit and vegetables).

Inside, you'll find more fresh supplies, plus a fairly good selection of pre-packed wholefoods, freshly delivered organic bread (if you pick your day) and a smattering of personal care products. With the emphasis on organic, rather than veg*n produce specifically, expect to see a few tins of fish on the shelves and a little meat in the bottom of the fridge.

Overall, though, for veg*ns in the area this is a great little resource. Rather than being a town centre outlet, it's sited on the road from Dundrum into Dublin, making it more akin to a local corner shop with an alternative twist.

John, the owner, is chatty and enthusiastic about what he sells and clearly proud of the vision he realised in 2006 by opening Ireland's first shop whose food lines were 100% organic. That said, he'll just as happily sell you an environmentally-friendly light-bulb and, within the space constraints, he does try to cover other eco-bases too, like recycled stationery.

Like most smaller shops, you will find a more extensive range at cheaper prices elsewhere, though a full basket of shopping still seems to come out at a reasonable cost.

Lately it's had to surrender the tag of being Ireland's only shop selling all-organic food, but in other ways EcoLogic still feels like something of a one-off.

1 Killincarrig Road, Greystones, Ireland

Wholefood pioneer that's still going strong

Located a short skip from the Greystones DART station, Nature's Gold has impressed me on recent visits to the town for the sheer range of produce they carry. Kudos, too, for being one of Ireland's wholefood pioneers - this shop has been operating since 1977.

Don't be deceived as to what's on offer when you first step inside - there's a further back room area not immediately apparent that makes for a lot of shelf space overall. The stock is very comprehensive and I found several items available that I hadn't seen elsewhere. Organic wholefoods are bountiful, of course, and the range of personal care products is also impressive. Happily, while supplements are offered, they don't dominate, as with some health 'food' shops where actual food appears secondary.

The premises are well presented and the stock is well-maintained, giving a strong impression that the owners and staff take a lot of pride in the shop. I found the pricing very good and the service friendly and helpful.

Were I local, I'd be a regular. Instead, the prospect of taking in Nature's Gold, picking up fresh veg at the Happy Pear, then heading upstairs there for a relaxed meal seem like ample reason venture over from Dublin as frequently as life allows.

2c Main Street, Blackrock, Blackrock, Ireland

Bus and train friendly - but weak on labelling

The Organic Supermarket is located in the heart of Blackrock, in a prime position for public transport users - there is a bus stop directly outside and it is one of the closest shops to the town's DART (train) station. A large car-park is also situated nearby.

This modest-sized store is fairly thorough in the organic product range it offers; the range of vegetarian and vegan wholefoods is good and the presence of meat quite low key. The number of lines has recently been expanded. The side effect has been to create a more confused layout in what is already a somewhat oddly shaped shop - small front area, a central section of a narrow corridor with shelves on both sides and then a wider back area with chilled goods. With much of the stock remote from the checkout, any enquiry can become a tiresome trek from the rear of the shop and the overall feel of the space is impersonal.

What mainly differentiates the Organic Supermarket from a conventional health food shop is the wide range of fresh produce, most especially fruit and vegetables which are displayed in the street and continue on for a large area inside, plus the wide selection of organic wines available (though no beers or spirits are carried). It would be easy for a small shop to play safe on the amount of fresh produce offered for fear of spoilage, whereas the Organic Supermarket seems committed to keeping a wide choice available. Inevitably, since fresh produce sales are very hard to predict, this does lead to a lot of what's on offer being a little past its best at any given time. Despite the legal requirements around a store properly labelling its produce with country of origin information, the Organic Supermarket falls down badly in this area. No information is provided on the price labels for individual items and I have regularly experienced the list on the wall being a month or more out of date and not reflecting correct country information. As someone looking to make ethical and ecological choices based on country of origin information, this matters. I have raised it in an email (acknowledged) and discussed it directly with the store manager yet have experienced negligible improvement in recent months.

On balance, the Organic Supermarket does have many good points - not least location and range (plus a cute website if you like Flash animation) - and I shop there regularly. Were it not for the labelling issue, I'd give it a four, but until they have that properly sorted three cows it is

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