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Love eating outside? Take a few notes from our Head Chef in residence Johnnie Cooke at The Restaurant of our Dublin store as he guides us through the do’s and don’ts of picnicking, barbequing and entertaining outdoors with some summery recipes and top spots to visit thrown in for good measure.

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Johnnie Cooke in his kitchen in The Restaurant, on Level 3, Brown Thomas Dublin.


Think refreshing, fruity and something to please a crowd like our Strawberry Basil Bourbon Lemonade.

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  • 8 oz. bourbon
  • 2 c. strawberries
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
  • 12 basil leaves
  • 8 basil sprigs
  • bitters

Place strawberries into blender and add 2 tbsp of sugar. Add about 1/4 of a cup of water and pulse until pureed. In a medium saucepan over a medium-high heat, add the puree and 1 3/4 cup of water. Heat until mixture begins to boil. Allow to cool and then strain through a sieve. In a large pitcher, combine the strawberry syrup, bourbon, 1 cup of water, lemon juice, basil leaves, and a splash of bitters. Stir and then pour into eight glasses with ice. Garnish each with a basil sprig. Serves 8.


ON picnicking...

Pick your spot:

At Home: A great place to picnic is Dun na Ri Forest Park, Cavan along the bank of the cabra river runs through this tranquil park. The Phoenix Park, Dublin to escape hustle and bustle or Lough Boora, Offaly where The highest observed air temperature in Ireland was recorded at 32.5C, you never know, it could happen again!

Away: Pick Bunkers del Carmel, Barcelona where the Spaniards bring their picnics to soak up the sunset with panoramic views over the city. For me, no list of prime picnic spots would be complete without mentioning Griffith Park, Los Angeles or La Jolla Cove Beach, San Diego.

What to pack:
For me a really good authentic anti pasta with cold meats and cheeses ripe summer tomatoes, basil, olives, olive oil, and crusty bread is always a winner and easy to prepare. For your traditional sandwich, try coronation chicken. Most importantly you need a cooler or an ice box to pack your food in and keep it safe and chilled, bring some ice too if you can manage it as its nice to keep your drinks cool or you can always use a river if there is one close by.

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La Jolla Cove, San Diego.


Get organised:
Have your meats marinating the day before. On the day give yourself enough work surface and lay out your ingredients en place. Regularly rotate your grill-loads and use a sea salt brine to season. I use a paint brush to apply the salt water as opposed to throwing salt which bounces off.

What to make:
For meats, Striploin, rib-eye or fillet steaks, chicken breasts, lamb racks or butterfly a leg of lamb, you can ask your butcher to prepare this. For vegetable options that work well on the grill try aubergines, courgettes, peppers, potatoes, whole garlic bulbs, spring onions and corn on the cob.

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Veuve Clicquot Rosé Afternoon Tea starting this May.


Eating outside in the summer is one of my favorite things to do. It’s relaxing, the fresh air feels wonderful and the food tastes better. Al fresco dining at Home can seem like extra work but there are ways to simplify the process, set your table for everything including ice for beer and wine. Combine new and vintage linens. Add texture with fresh flowers and natural wicker. If your seats are missing cushions, add comfy pillows and throws. Check your lighting for when it gets darker and don’t forget a little music. When it comes to your menu keep it simple and within your capability so as not to stress yourself out. All that’s left to do is grab your tray, fire up the grill and make some memories of your own!


At Home: My favourite is Amore, Monkstown for terrace dining with the most entertaining hosts and great food too, make sure to book well in advance.

Away: El Copo, Cádiz is a great spot for seriously good seafood brought to shore on their own boats.

Enjoy the culinary delights and bright surroundings of The Restaurant by Johnnie Cooke on Level 3 of our Dublin store. Check out our seasonal menus by following the link below. To book please ring 01 617 1163 or find us on Open Table.



In need of more foodie inspiration? Check out A TASTE OF VIETNAM AND MEXICO WITH LE CREUSET