GG and I are regulars at the quaint little restaurant and wine bar Chez Sara on Old Street in Malahide. It is important to book, particularly at the weekends, but sometimes we pop in around 6 o’clock on the off-chance that we might get a seat at the counter, where we can watch the chefs cook the food and admire the speed and dexterity of their actions.

A few weeks ago, on suddenly discovering that we had no food in the house, we dropped in quite early one evening and were lucky to grab two seats in prime position to observe both the chefs and everyone who came in the door. I love people watching; doesn’t everybody?

The restaurant is owned by the charming Sardinian Max (above), who greets everybody with a smile, but all of the staff are friendly and helpful. GG had a starter of Lambay Crab Claws, which were absolutely delicious: succulent and beautifully garlicky (He did give me two; generous is his middle name).

I think we have probably tried most of the starters at this stage and all are very tasty; the mussels are another one of Graham’s favourites, whereas I usually opt for the scallops or baked goat’s cheese. Starters range in price from €7 to €13.

My main course (above) did not disappoint: Pan Fried Fillet of Hake with Pea and Mint Veloute, Spring Vegetable, Gambas and Baby Potatoes! There was no need for any side orders with this.

GG chose the Braised Beef on Spring Onion Mash with Honey-glazed Carrots and jus (above). He too was very happy! Though the menu is not extensive, there is plenty to tantalise the taste buds; steak, lamb and duck nearly always feature in some form and there are always a few fish dishes too. Mains range in price between €18 and €24.

Many locals pop in for a glass or two of wine later on in the evening when the tables free up, as there is an extensive wine menu. We are not wine connoisseurs by any matter of means but the French Chardonnay – Baron Philippe de Rothschild- recommended by our waitress was excellent…and reasonably priced too.

I love the ambience, the intimate setting, the cosiness in winter and the open door in high summer. You can be sure of good value food and an Irish welcome from an Italian chef/owner in this little French-style restaurant in the heart of Malahide.

More details on their website here.