There are many signs of slowing up of the economy in Ireland as it is now officially in recession.
I have noticed on my visits this year that that there not so many 09 registrations on cars and in fact when I was in Dublin in early March took four days to see nine new vehicles with 09 number. A year earlier and three months into the new year there would have been hundreds of 08s on the roads.
House prices have fallen dramatically and it is now fairly easier to get hold of a basic plumber or builder with flyers being put through front doors once again advertising their businesses.
The media is full of stories about unemployment rising, however you wouldn’t notice a difference in some of the restaurants in one of the main approaches from Dublin Airport to the centre via Drumcondra.
As part of a walk I give my dog when staying with relatives a walk down part of Upper Drumcondra Road and whether it is early evening or later the restaurants look busy. Last night was no exception. The 22nd June, a Monday evening. We booked a table at an Italian Restaurant for 6.45. The restaurant has been there for a few years and when we went in there were several diners in there. They might have been a mixture of the left over customers from the “early bird” specials 5-7 eating a two course meal for EUR22.95 or starting out for the evening.
Other establishments along the road also run their early bird specials. What is surprising me is the prices these establishments are still charging. I appreciate they are in a suburb of North Dublin, however the advertised prices look no different to a year ago, but if people are prepared to pay and they clearly look like they are then the restaurant owners can continue to charge high prices.
Dublin has a reputation of being one of the more expensive European cities to visit and if the quality is there, I might not mind it so much.
The Italian restaurant was expensive. Three people EUR120 including a tip. A few years back when the euro was weak against sterling that would have been around £70, today that is nearly £115 coming from my pocket.
My son had a pizza EUR17 for a basic one, when he asked for oil to go on top he was presented with a small eggcup size container with a small drop in. They should have in fact had a bottle that they would have left on the table when delivering the pizza. They made a great song and dance of offering black pepper from a large mill that was not working well, but other basics were missing. Back in North London, my son eats regularly at an excellent Italian establishment, getting larger better wood oven pizzas for lot money and more flavour.
I had Lasagna served with a side salad, lettuce and tomato covered in mayonnaise. What is the problem making a fine green salad with tomatoes, olives etc? What they are serving up is probably easier.
What about some bread sticks, Italian bread, small chocolate or biscuit with the coffee for example, or better quality napkins and not those cheap paper ones?
We left before 9.00 and the place was filling up well, maybe the restaurant need some real competition. A few weeks ago in Italy five of us had a great meal in Italy near the French border. EUR150 including a couple of bottles of wine plus bottled water. That place was also full, however you were getting value for money and quality.
I hope restaurants in the Dublin area wake up to the fact that the tourist market is going through a very bad patch this year. Many UK visitors are not coming because of the euro-sterling exchange rate. Although there are cheap flights, car hire is fairly expensive and bringing your own car is very costly compared with taking it over to France. The Irish Tourist board is trying to encourage more Scandinavians, Dutch and German tourists this year.
However they won’t return id prices are too high. Last weekend I was charged EUR4.90 for a pint of Kilkenny, this was in a hotel in Malahide near Dublin that I had been going to for some 30 years
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