• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

kerriar

Ireland's Best Restaurants

106 posts in this topic

Tom Doorley, the usually reliable food critic of the Irish Times, has put together a list of his 100 favourite places to eat in Ireland - it's available on-line at

http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/magazine/...__100INTRO.html

It's a well-informed effort with short intelligent comments and has a good geographic coverage. Price guidelines look accurate - in sterling for Northern Ireland, in euros elsewhere.

As with any list like this, there's always an issue of who is left out - no John Desmond? no Frere Jacques?

Any other suggestions for additions or even deletions? I have not eaten in the many of the places mentioned but can see no manifest errors.

This is welcome piece of work - as has been mentioned in this forum from time to time, there is a shortage of data on places to eat in Ireland. Tom's list goes a long way to rectify this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, this is very welcome indeed. And it is much more honest and frank than the usual guides tend to be. I am really only familiar with the Dublin recommendations, so will add my comments on a few of them:

* 101 Talbot: I am very surprised that he included this. I don't like the room and I find the food boring, or at best derivative. It completely lacks a sense of occasion and just feels like a tourist trap to me.

* Ely Wine Bar: I was so relieved to see that he described the food as 'basic but pleasant' although even this might have been generous. This is a very popular place to go for dinner, but I just don't get the food. I find the menu very limited and uninspiring and it tries to get too much mileage out of all of the free range and organic mentions without actually delivering anything particularly special (apart from the fact that the salmon they use in the fish cakes is farmed).

The wine list is very good though. The only problem is that most people don't go here for the wine and most of the staff haven't a clue about it. Last Friday, one of the waitresses incorrectly brought two glasses of Brown Brothers dessert wine to our table and when I said that we had ordered one Banyuls she insisted that what she had was Banyuls. I explained that Banyuls is red, but she still insisted and I just gave up as I wasn't in the mood for arguing.

The previous time I went there, our booking was for 9.45pm and we weren't seated until 10.45pm. The girl behind tha bar could barely speak English, so we got no wine recommendations and nothing on the house for our long wait. It's a golden rule, if you can't turn the tables on time, don't take the booking.

This is also an extremely noisy room (brick walls, wooden floors) and noisy beyond a chattering buzz. Very popular with girls on a night out with expensive handbags. But the cheese is good

* French Paradox: His main gripe is that it is too expensive and I agree on this. I too would go much more often if the prices weren't so high for simple cold plates.

* Bang: Good to see that he agonised over its inclusion. I have found it inconsistent and the room downstairs is oppresive (make sure your table is upstairs if you're booking).

And he included a few of my favourites:

* Chapter One: The best value for top end food in Dublin. Remarkably (and maybe thankfully) it doesn't have a Michelin star. There's a little more on this thread:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=46353&hl=

* Cavistons: The best fish restaurant in the country. More on it here:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=23131&hl=

*L'Ecrivain: This is a great restaurant too, but since it got its star, I think a lot of people (who are not on expense accounts) have defected to the more affordable Chapter One.

* Eden: Admittedly as he says, it has had its 'ups and downs' in the past, but is really performing at the moment. Here you'll find good ingredients, well cooked, without too much fuss and in a really nice space that is buzzy but not too noisy. He forgot to mention that Eden does a pre-theatre / early bird menu which is very good value, 25 euro I think.

The obvious ommission is:

* Thornton's which is extremely good. It is Michelin 2* and very expensive, but so too is Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud which he includes. If I was spending the money, I'd choose Thornton's and even if I preferred Guilbaud's, it would not lead me to exclude Thornton's. This smells like a publicity stunt to get people talking about the 'unbelievable exclusion'... but maybe I'm just cynical.

* Kerrier I agree, I too would have included Frere Jacques which is a wonderful old style French restaurant. I think the problem here is that a lot of people find it quite expensive and think 'I could have gone to Chapter One for that'. And yes, you can run up the bill, but the set price menu offfers extremely good value. See here for more details:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=46353&hl=

* The Mermaid gets a lot of mentions on this Forum. It gets a lot of tourists early in the evening and is not on the Dublin radar in quite the same way, although it does have its loyal following. But the food here is extremely good, probably best described as mid-Atlantic / modern European. They do an extremely good large ante pasta plate which is great if you need a quick but lightish bite and in general the ingredients are well sourced and 'treated with respect'. I have really enjoyed the food every time I've been here. I just don't like the room. It is too rustic and doesn't have a sense of occasion to match the quality of the food. But this really is my only gripe. Great service and really nice people. They also do a good fixed price lunch menu (I think it's 25 euro).

Other places worth mentioning (his list was the top 100 in Ireland and did not intend to be exhaustive) are The Elephant & Castle in Temple Bar for chicken wings and casual dining and Roly's Bistro in Ballsbridge for its great value set lunch on Sundays (a family favourite, great place to bring your parents).

I was so relieved to see that he did not include any Japanese restaurants (as they are shameful by international standards) and that the only Italian restaurants included were the more casual 'quick bite type' spots. Unfortunately Dublin (and I think Ireland) has no decent Italian restaurant, although he does mention one in Wexford town (La Dolce Vita) which I intend trying when I'm down that way later in the summer.

And as an aside there are 2 non-restaurant Dublin experiences which I think merit mentioning:

* The Farmers Market in Temple Bar on Saturdays: You can eat your way around the stalls and even sit down and have a half dozen oysters with a glass of chilled white wine.

* The Bombay Pantry: This is Indian takeaway food and is unbelievably good, better than any of the sit down restaurants. Nothing out of a jar here and no multi-coloured rice, just great Indian cooking with amazing complexity and layers of flavour.


Corinna Hardgrave aka "Corinna Dunne"

CorinaHardgrave Twitter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought it was quite a disappointing list actually, certainly the Dublin section covers very similar territory to the Dubliner's 100 Best Restaurants book and, like the Dubliner's book, the reviews are too short to be of any great use.

The exclusion of Thorntons is bound to be a talking point, and I agree with Corinna that this was likely done deliberately to get people talking. The Bridgestone Guide used to cause a stir every year by its omission of Patrick Guilbaud. Not including Thorntons in a list of this nature is quite preposterous and devalues the entire endeavour.

Doorley posted a very positive review of Thorntons just two months ago - http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/magazine/...5THORNTONS.html

You'll need to be a subscriber to read the review but suffice to say that it is very positive (even if it does focus a little too heavily on the cost) - "Thornton's tends to deliver a level of excellence that would cost you much the same in London, New York or even France. It's a place that needs to be approached with high expectations, a moderate appetite and a fat wallet. It was ever thus at this end of the scale."

The omission of the Mermaid, however, is possibly an even more glaring error. Here Doorley has no excuses re. cost or austerity. It and its sister restaurant Gruel provide a foodie mecca on Dame Street and they are consistently among my favourite places to eat in Dublin. A real understanding of food, cool atmosphere, no pretensions. What's not to like?

One Pico is another head scratching ommission. As are Brownes and the Elephant and Castle. All far superior to some of the places that have been included.

Doorley does get plus points however for omitting overpriced mediocrities whic often crop us on lists such as this. Examples incude La Stampa, Seasons, Locks, the Unicorn and Diep Le Shaker.

I've cut and pasted below a brief overview I wrote on another forum of Dublin's formal/middle range eateries . Just as a counter to Doorley's list:

Dublin is a pretty good city in which to eat these days, certainly compared to 10 years ago. Lots of good restaurants have sprung up and some talented young Irish chefs have emerged. The Celtic Tiger may have driven house prices through the roof and made it impossible to get a cappuccino for under €2.50 but hey, at least its improved the restaurants. And better a decent cappuccino for €2.50 than a lukewarm Nescafe for 50p.

Dublin- Formal and Middle Range Eating

Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud– Out on its own as my favourite restaurant in Ireland. RPG serves magnificent modern French cuisine with some Irish influences. Chef Guillaume Lebrun has two Michelin stars and is pushing hard for a third. Given the flair, skill and consistency in the food at RPG I would not be surprised if it arrives soon. RPG makes you feel incredibly special and important from the moment you arrive. You’ll be led to an exceptionally comfortable sitting room where drinks and hors d’oeuvres are taken while perusing the menu. Don’t forget to check out the art, RPG and the adjoining Merrion Hotel boast the finest private art collection in the country. Visitors to Ireland keen to see some of William Scott, Louis LeBrocquy and Jack B. Yeats’ finest works can skip a visit to the National Gallery and simply book a meal here. Steps down into the amazing light-filled dining room make a rather theatrical entrance. Menu choices include a very good value €35 lunch option, a la carte (mains are €50+), a tasting menu of dishes based on traditional Irish classics (€130) and a Menu Decouverte of the chef’s newest dishes (€70). My favourite dishes include the lobster ravioli served with coconut scented lobster cream, curry oil and almonds, the oysters with caviar and apple jelly and the tourte of chicken, foie gras, ceps and truffles (served for two). I still dream about their assiette of chocolate… On my last visit, coffees and petit fours (the best macaroons this side of Pierre Herme) were taken on the terrace and accompanied by an opera troupe rehearsing in the garden. Magical. RPG has achieved iconic status in Ireland and deservedly so. A

Thorntons – Kevin Thornton, Dublin’s other Michelin 2* chef, takes a slightly more playful approach to that of Guillaume Lebrun at Guilbaud’s. Stand out dishes on my visits here have included a very simple but absolutely terrific starter of white asparagus, hollandaise sauce and white truffles, a superb terrine of pig’s head and an amazing rabbit three ways dish made up of a roast breast, a confit of its leg and its tiny, succulent kidneys. I have a feeling ordering the tasting menu and allowing Thornton to really let rip in the kitchen would be an amazing experience. The excellence of the food is let down slightly by an uninspiring low-ceilinged room which still feels a bit like the hotel dining room it used to be. I preferred their old spot on the canal in Portobello. Lacks the sense of occasion and theatre of Guilbaud’s but comes very close on the food front. B+

The Mermaid – My favourite mid-range restaurant in Dublin. The Mermaid is hip, unpretentious and has a slightly boho edge. It’s a great bright room in the middle of Dublin, the cuisine is “Mid-Atlantic” - modern French meets East coast America, the music is jazz, the portions are big and the service is friendly. Expect to pay €25-€30 for mains such as its famous giant seafood casserole in a prawn bisque or lamb shanks falling off the bone. The pecan pie is as good as you’ll taste this side of the Atlantic. (PS It has a sister deli called Gruel next door, the best place to eat an informal lunch in Dublin. Try the roast in a roll, mmmmm). B+

Mint – Oliver Dunne is one of the most exciting young Irish chefs and his work in Mint promises Michelin stars in years to come. Get in now before the inspectors arrive, it’s the best value food in town. Worth visiting just for the standout starter - a boudin of veal sweetbreads with a truffle jus; rich, gamey and delicious. Mains are slightly less consistent but can hit great heights such as the wonderfully tender shin of beef with foie gras, and an excellent roast pigeon with buttered cabbage. An assiette of chocolate disappointed a little but the blood orange jelly with lavender ice cream was exquisite. The tea soaked prunes with rum and raisin ice cream are also recommended. Service is good in an admittedly poor room and freebies like an amuse of salt cod brandade and mini melting chocolate muffins with your coffee are an unusual treat at this price point (approx. €25 per main course). Watch out for this guy. B

L’Ecrivain – Derry Clarke’s hugely popular, Michelin starred, Baggot Street outpost serves a modern Irish cuisine with strong French influences. The superb waiting staff, (especially the female sommelier) and the jovial chef/patron contribute to a buzzy atmosphere, quite informal for a restaurant of this calibre. I can heartily recommend the tasting menu which started with a fantastic amuse of cauliflower soup with truffle oil and took in many of the restaurant’s greatest hits. The foie gras with vanilla sorbet remains the best foie I have ever tasted (sorry Heston) and the confit of belly pork, served with an uncredited slice of foie gras, is memorable. The Assiette of Dublin Bay Prawns done four ways was fantastic on one occasion but the prawns seemed less fresh on a later visit. Mains are about €45, not cheap, but there is good value to be found in the €70 set dinner menu. B

One Pico – Chef Eamonn O’Reilly seems to have reined in some of his more creative instincts recently as items such as savoury ice creams, crab crème brulee and foamed sauces have disappeared from his menu. Perhaps the repeated snubs by the Michelin inspectors have brought a change in approach. He remains an exceptional chef with a real flair for presentation, sorbets served as paints on a palette with a chocolate “brush” is one of the most visually pleasing desserts that I have ever seen. One Pico also serves the definitive version of that modern Irish classic - scallops with black pudding (more like a soft boudin noir here). Mains are about €30. B-

Eden – Eden has long been one of the coolest places to eat in Dublin. Great double height room with lots of glass and trailing greenery. Open kitchen runs the length of the dining room. The smoked haddock and cheddar “smokie” starter should not be missed, and their scallops are usually excellent. Mains are €20-25, think kassler or lamb shank with mash or roast belly pork with noodles. During the summer the tables outside in Meetinghouse Square are fantastic especially if the outdoor cinema is showing an old movie. Brunch on a Sunday is one of the best in Dublin. B-

Browne’s Brasserie – A luxuriously decorated, very comfortable spot right on St. Stephen’s Green. Specialises in meats, particularly game. I’ve eaten here a few times and always had good meals but have never been blown away. A well executed main of roast duck with cherries does stand out in my memory. C+

The Unicorn – Overpriced Italian that has been packing them in for years. Serves good, if standard, Italian food to a mostly corporate crowd. Spaghetti alla vongole was good, osso bucco was disappointing. Escalope of veal was very poor a couple of years ago. Their massive antipasti buffet makes for an enjoyable lunch. If this were a neighbourhood Italian place I’d give it a thumbs up but at these prices (€25+ for mains) I just don’t think it delivers. C-

Diep Le Shaker - Diep appears in this list more for its pricing than any pretensions its food may have. Diep serves standard neighbourhood Thai food at quite astronomical price levels. Ok it’s a good room, the cocktails are really nice and there’s usually a buzz at night but I can’t get past the prices. I’m not sure how they are still so poplar now that they’ve opened “Diep Noodle” in Ranelagh, just outside the city centre. Its serves a very similar menu to its big brother at less than half the price. Head to Ranelagh. C-

Ernie’s – What my granny would have considered fine dining to be all about. This was probably the best restaurant in Dublin in 1980, unfortunately neither the menu nor the staff seem to have changed since then. A formal atmosphere with ancient tuxedoed waiters and a ludicrously expensive menu. Prices hover around the Michelin star level, the food, sadly, does not. Molecular Gastronomy has yet to visit Donnybrook. The only Fat Duck Ernie’s has heard of is served a l’orange. I’ve had a couple of bad dishes here but on its day it can still deliver the goods as evidenced by a fantastic main course of simple, unmucked about Dover sole. C-

La Stampa – Undoubtedly one of the best rooms in Dublin but the food is mediocre and overpriced (though prices do seem to have dropped somewhat recently). It has had quite a high turnover of chefs in recent years and has never really hit a rhythm. Boring menu and a mecca for Dublin’s air kissing, socialite class. Service was quite astonishingly bad on one visit. One to avoid then. D

Locks – I visited Locks for dinner last year with some expectations. It has a lovely setting on the canal near Portobello, a reputation as an old Dublin gastronomic institution, a menu of simple dishes comprised of the finest Irish ingredients. What could go wrong? Answer: everything. An amuse of tempura of prawns and oysters was rather spoiled by the fact that the prawns were clearly off. This, fairly undeniable, fact was drawn to the attention of our waitress who, rather remarkably, professed them to be fine. She had, she explained, eaten a plate of these very prawns for dinner and the funny taste I was referring to was brought on by the deep frying of the prawns. Oh, ok, all clear now, sorry about that, obviously I had never tasted a prawn prepared using this remarkably innovative technique known as “deep frying”. Suitably unhappy we moved onto our really poor starters including a dreadfully dry tian of crab and very ordinary smoked haddock. My main course of lamb three ways was tasteless and dull as were the fish mains ordered by my companions. Desserts were quite good but by then I had stopped caring. Dreadful meal and pretty inexcusable at €200 for three people including one bottle of moderately priced wine. Avoid, avoid, avoid. F

Some notable Formal and Middle Dublin restaurants at which I have not yet eaten: Shanahans on the Green, Chapter One, The Tea Rooms, Halo, Bijou, Jacob’s Ladder, Seasons.


Edited by IanT (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And here is my take on some of my favourite casual spots in Dublin:

Gruel - Deli offshoot of the Mermaid Cafe on Dame Street. The roast in a roll is amazing, roast organic meat with a selection of home made accompaniments served in a great rolls that they bake themselves: Lamb with apricot chutney or mint pesto, beef with red pesto or horseradish, pork with crackling and apple sauce. Also very good soups and brownies. If the sun is out get a takeaway and go sit in the garden behind Dublin Castle (a secret gem, no-one knows about it) across the road.

- Elephant & Castle - Very popular, casual American-style spot in Temple Bar. The spicy chicken wings are incredible, burgers and chips are very good. Go for the Elephantburger - curried sour cream, melted cheddar, scallions or the stiton burger. Salads are great too - especially the crispy calamari or the pear, hazelnut and stilton. No bookings. Show up, put your name down and then go for a pint while you're waiting for your table.

- Food market in Meeting House Square, Temple Bar on a Saturday - It's a small but perfectly formed market. If the sun is out take your booty to Dublin Castle's garden as above.

-Maison des Gourmets - A great French bakery/patisserie with a small restaurant upstairs that serves lunch. Very good tartines, great french onion soup. Its very popular though so get there before 12.30 or after 2pm.

-L'Gueilletaume (sp?)- Great french bistro just off Georges Street. Duck hearts on toast mmmm.

-Cavistons, Glasthule - Out of town but you can get the Dart (commuter train) out along the coast. Spankingly fresh fish straight from the sea.

- Odessa, Dame Court - Best casual brunch spot in town. Huge portions of eggs benedict etc., good orange juice and comfy seats to encourage lingering all afternoon with your bottomless cup of coffee and the Sunday papers.

- Burdocks - Famous old Dublin fish and chip shop in Christchurch. Good chips (fried in dripping) but the batter on the fish is very heavy.

- Steps of Rome - just off Grafton Street, good, thin slices of Italian pizza. The potato, fontina and rosemary is my favourite.


Edited by IanT (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ian, these are two great lists. The only point I would disagree with you on (apart from the Thornton's v Guilbaud's issue), is Burdocks. I know it is a Dublin institution, but I just don't like the chips, I find they get soggy too quickly. I must get to One Pico again soon. Thanks for reminding me on this one. It had inadvertently slipped off my radar. And I must try Mint, I've been intending to go for ages. I read that Oliver Dunne (no relation) makes very interesting use of foam sauces and is pushing the boundaries a bit. Did you find this on your visits?

On the restaurants you have yet to visit, I would put Chapter One first, but there is a 4 week wait for weekend bookings, weekdays seem to be OK though. A simply must have here is the phenomenal charcuterie trolly starter. It is less formal than the Michelin starred restaurants and I love the genuine warmth and friendliness. It has a very loyal following.

I have not been to The Tea Room recently and have found it a bit inconsistent in the past. I suggest you give the lunch a try as it's great value and the room is beautiful. I did a short post on it on this thread:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=46353&hl=

I haven't been to Jacob's Ladder in quite some time. I liked it at first and then went off it. Their set menu used to be good value (I'm sure it still is), but I found that you could really run up the bill if you went a la carte, and the food didn't merit the prices (butter mounted sauces with cornflour being one of the worst offenders I remember).

Bijou in Rathgar (a suburb not far out of town) is very good on the early bird menu during the week but not such good value for dinner a la carte. The starters tend to be much better than the mains. It is very much a neighbourhood type place. Actually the proprietor has bought the premises beside Bijou and rumour has it that she intends to do a French Paradox type place, which would be welcome if the price point is right. Unfortunately, some of the walls on the acquired building collapsed during renovations and it is taking some time to get sorted. One of the better Indian restaurants, Poppadom is also in Rathgar and has a slightly modern take on its food. Unfortunately, the last time I was there they had taken some of the more interesting items off (which included a venison done in a 'dry' sauce), but it was about 6 months ago. This is much better than Vermillion in Terenure which a lot of people recommend, but I think messes too much with silly fusion ideas.

On Shanahan's, well, it depends how much you want to pay for your steak. It is really, really expensive, and I personally would prefer to spend this sort of money in Thornton's or Guilbaud's. My husband has been a few times for business dinners and reckons that the steak is no better than he does on the barbeque at home (although he is exceptionally good at it!). I haven't been to Seasons and hear that it's OK, nothing special.

Just one more restaurant I'd like to add to the list. I was at a wine tasting in a place called Cobalt Bistro on North Great Georges St last night and it has to be the coolest place in Dublin! Eddie Kelly and his wife, who live in this imposing Georgian house open the ground floor up for lunch only (not sure about the weekends) and it is a wonderfully boho, literatti, eclectic room. Plenty of paintings on the wall and a lovely back garden which I think is also open to the public. Apparently the food is simple, fresh and really good, although I can't personally vouch for it. Anything short of poison would make this place worth visiting. It is conveniently located near the Municipal Art Gallery and Writers Museum, so if you are that way inclined you will just love this 'salon' type atmosphere. Oh and in this vein, I just have to mention Le Cave on South Anne St which is a restaurant and wine bar which has been around for years. It drifts in and out of fashion and moves from being a cool, seedy place with an interesting arty crowd to just being seedy sometimes. But there's something great about it, and the food's not bad either. You can set up stall for a very long night here!

Edited to add:

I've just realised that most of the good restaurants have actually been around since before the 'Celtic Tiger' and in many ways, it has contributed to the increased number of really bad mid-priced places. It also took some noble establishments with it in its wake, notably Conrad Gallagher's Peacock Alley, The Commons on St Stephen's Green and Ayumiya, the only half decent Japanese restaurant the city had. On the positive side, the coffee has improved beyond belief! Dunne & Crescenzi on South Frederick St is my favourite and they do very good light Italian food too. Great for a light lunch. And after assessing the market from the sidelines for some time, Starbucks has finally taken the plunge and moved in. So that must mean that we are officially a cafe society!

Two restaurants to watch for are:

* La Stampa when Jean Christophe Novelli takes over as patron chef later in the summer

* And George's (previously of George's Bistro fame, nothing to do with it now) new venture over 3 floors which is to open on Baggott St soon (opposite Tesco, which I presume is the old Ayumiya premises). Apparently he is going for a Le Cirque type club with bistro, piano bar etc. Sounds like a bit of competition for The Unicorn!

And edited to copy Ian's clarity!


Edited by Corinna Dunne (log)

Corinna Hardgrave aka "Corinna Dunne"

CorinaHardgrave Twitter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm just back from a week in Roslare, Co Wexford with the family and had a chance to visit La Dolce Vita in Wexford Town.

Well... Doorley considers this to be possibly the best Italian restaraunt in Ireland and I couldn't agree more. Even before we went in the door, I was predisposed to like it. It has the advantage of a particularly good location, on a wide lane with mature trees and a church ruin at the end. The traditional green, white and red awning ensures that its an easy find, and the room itself is one of those spaces that always seems to work: a balanced rectangle with windows all down the long side. The tables are packed pretty tightly and the place is buzzing. There is nothing formal about this restaurant.

Indeed, its so informal, they don't even take reservations. Lunch is from 12 - 4pm. We arrived at 2 minutes past 12, and were lucky to get a table (after that, the queue starts). As we live on borrowed time with our 2 girls (aged 5 and 3), we didn't have a starter and tucked right into the main course. We ordered risotto of the day (wild mushroom), basil, ricotta and parmesan gnocchi in sage butter, Italian sausage with lentils and my mother (more conservatively) ordered pasta with sirloin strips. Now, never in a million years would I have ordered this dish, as I felt it was their concessionary nod to meat and 2 veg palates. But I was wrong. It was really, really good. and confidently so. The pasta was cooked perfectly and very lightly tossed in a piquant tomato sauce. The seared strips of beef were charred on the outside, medium on the inside and had that great steak-frites flavour that you only seem to get in France.

The Italian sausage with the lentils was meaty and wholesome and the gnocchi - served with a fairly good salad - showed a surprising lightness of hand and avoided the starchy, gluey pit they so frequently fall into in Dublin restaurants. The wild mushroom rissotto was made mostly with porcinni. It was quite wet and the stock was thicker than you'd expect and seemed to be thickend more from the rice grains than just butter and parmesan added at the end, but the redeeming qualities of the porcini carried the dish, and our 3 year old ploughed into it with a fervour.

For dessert we had icecream (cherry and vanilla), chocolate semi freddo, tiramissu and orange and lemon tart. So yes, the straight forward, classic Italian line-up, but all were obviously made on the premises and were the authentic tasting, real deal. We finished with great espressos, sporting the all important crema which seems to have gone missing in action in many nobler establishments.

Now, I haven't mentioned the price. This place is unbelievably good value (which is why I can forgive the rissotto so easily). The mains (which are extremely generous) are all around the 8 - 10 euro mark and a nicely chosen and reasonably priced wine list offers plenty of wines by the glass at 4 and 5 euro. This restaurant has to be the best value for money in Ireland and whilst it may not be 'worth a special journey' it is certainly worth a very affodrable detour if you are anywhere near Wexford town.

Be warned though, the 'Michelin' effect of Tom Doorley's reviews and its listing in the Bridgestone Guide has ensured that this restaurant is no secret. It is packed to the gills with wide-eyed, open-mouthed Dublin holiday makers who can't believe that such a place exists which contrasts so sharply with Dublin 'fleecings'.

It's open Monday - Saturday for lunch only (6/7 Trimmers Lane), and as I mentioned, doesn't take bookings. If you don't get there at noon, the tables start to turn around 1.15pm, so take your chances then. And if you like, you can stock up from their great selection of Italian comestibles and wine when you are leaving.

We also went to La Marine Bistro at Kelly's Resort Hotel in Roslare. To give a bit of background, Kelly's Hotel is somewhat of an Irish institution and is popular as an upmarket, family getaway, the emphasis being on quality, comfort and genuinely warm hospitality.

The room is relaxing (nearly casual) with bistro style banquettes and you get the sense that everyone is on holiday, but in a convivial rather than plastic way. As it happens, it looks out onto the road, rather than the sea, which is a bit of a missed opportunity (but I'm sure there are logical reasons for this).

The menu is disappointing. I expected to have a really good choice of seafood, but instead it seems to champion the meat led family pleasers. I am sure that this is what works for the hotel, but it makes 'La Marine' something of a misnomer in my book. Anyway, the menu was not without its seafood choices, so we decided to take what they had on offer. The seafood chowder for starters was exceptionally good, in fact the high point of the meal. It was light, flavoursome and had plenty of interesting chunks of fish (with not a bit of salmon to be seen, which I always consider to be a good thing, as it acts as cheap bulk in most cases). Our other starter was seared scallops with rocket on celeriac puree. A pretty straightforward dish, with perfectly cooked scallops but perhaps too much celeriac puree which - although its texture was very pleasing - would have benefitted from less potato, and of course, provided little contrast in the way of colour for the scallops.

So, on to the mains. There were only 3 fish choices: crab, scallop and salmon mousse in puff pastry (I kid you not); roast hake with potato cakes with crab and bacon; and cod with Thai butter. As I generally give fusion a wide berth, we steered away from the latter and ordered the mousse and the hake. To our surprise, the mousse was pretty good (it was sliced on, rather than in the puffed pastry), but I would have preferred more options. The hake presented me with quite a surprise. It was served with a soy and wasabi sauce (nope, no mention of this on the menu). Whilst the sauce was very good with the fish, it entered a severe battle of continents when it traversed the plate to greet the 'down home' potato cakes enriched with corn and bacon. Luckily, this provided a barier to the leeks in cream on the opposite side of the plate which managed to avoid the invasion. It was the most unsuccessful combination I have ever tasted. Terrified, I decided to follow with cheese alone and skip dessert. The cheese plate, padded out with salad leaves provided a morbid end to the meal with 3 uninspired and badly kept cheeses.

Now, this was the first time I have eaten at La Marine, and by all accounts, it was punching way below its weight the night we were there. Clearly, the chef can cook, but there is something of a disconnect here. The menu needs more tightening and focus and I think in some cases, simpler would be better. But the people here are really nice, the Maitre D' was so warm and charming, and the overall ambiance was so friendly, that we left feeling OK about the experience.

But we did find good fish on our holiday. Kilmore Quay is a fishing port not far from Roslare which has a number of restaurants, none of which we tried. Instead, we had wonderful deep fried hake and chips for 3.95 euro at a great fish and chip shop: The Quarter Deck. Sitting outside at the picnic tables, it tasted great as we breathed in the fresh sea air. And further down the road (just opposite the carpark) is Viewpoint Fish Shop which is truly wonderful. Good and traditional, it only opens from Tues - Fri (I'm not sure about Sat) and has an impressive selection of eye-wateringly, fresh fish at very reasonable prices. So, delighted with our find (which, surprisingly doesn't get a mention in the Bridgestone Irish Food Guide), we bagged a large turbot at 15 euro per kilo which sustained us handsomely for yet another day on our holidays.


Corinna Hardgrave aka "Corinna Dunne"

CorinaHardgrave Twitter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With Caroline Workman rightly sacked from the Irish News, the Irish Times is really the only one left worth reading when it comes to food reviews. Long may it continue


Edited by postcode (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ernie Whalley in Food & Wine magazine is worth reading too. He really knows his food.

Edited to add: Paulo Thullio has mentioned some interesting places too, but I haven't tried them yet:

1. A small Italian restaurant in Dun Laoghaire that only opens for lunch

2. A Chinese restaurant located 'upstairs' on Moore St.

Both apparently offer great food, great value.


Edited by Corinna Dunne (log)

Corinna Hardgrave aka "Corinna Dunne"

CorinaHardgrave Twitter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We also went to La Marine Bistro at Kelly's Resort Hotel in Roslare........

..... Now, this was the first time I have eaten at La Marine, and by all accounts, it was punching way below its weight the night we were there.  Clearly, the chef can cook, but there is something of a disconnect here.  The menu needs more tightening and focus and I think in some cases, simpler would be better.

I just read in an old Bridgestone Restaurant Guide (2003, can't find my current one), that Eugene Callaghan, the chef at La Marine, was the first winner of the Roux Brothers scholarship when it was set up back in the 1990's. This would explain the surprisingly good seafood mousse and the good texture in the celeriac puree. Apparently, the thing to eat here is the duck confit.


Corinna Hardgrave aka "Corinna Dunne"

CorinaHardgrave Twitter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We also went to La Marine Bistro at

I just read in an old Bridgestone Restaurant Guide (2003, can't find my current one), that  Eugene Callaghan, the chef at La Marine, was the first winner of the Roux Brothers scholarship when it was set up back in the 1990's. 

The first Roux Scholar in 1984 was Andrew Fairlie, now head chef of Gleneagles. Callaghan won it in 1991 when he was at Roscoff. Roux Scholarship website.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We also went to La Marine Bistro at

I just read in an old Bridgestone Restaurant Guide (2003, can't find my current one), that  Eugene Callaghan, the chef at La Marine, was the first winner of the Roux Brothers scholarship when it was set up back in the 1990's. 

The first Roux Scholar in 1984 was Andrew Fairlie, now head chef of Gleneagles. Callaghan won it in 1991 when he was at Roscoff. Roux Scholarship website.

I just checked to make sure I hadn't misquoted, but I didn't ("... it is easy to overlook that this was the man who won the first ever Roux brothers scholarship back in the 1990's"). I'm sure it isn't in the later editions. It certainly isn't in their current 'Irish Food Guide" which is by Bridgestone, but not purely on restaurants. Thanks Andy.


Corinna Hardgrave aka "Corinna Dunne"

CorinaHardgrave Twitter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Food & Wine magazine lists its top restaurants in this month’s issue. L’Ecrevain comes out top, scooping the Dublin and national restaurant of the year and proprietor/chef Derry Clarke also picked up top Dublin chef. I haven’t eaten here for some time, but it’s getting great press at the moment. It’s got one Michelin star and suits a corporate wallet better than a personal one.

The other national awards go to Monty’s of Kathmandu (Dublin), for best world cuisine. I’ve been here a few times, enjoyed it, but would not rate it as outstanding. Chapter One (Dublin), gets best service and has earned every single bit of this with their wonderful warmth and attention to detail. La Dolce Vita (Wexford city), not surprisingly gets best value, being a bit of an Irish phenomenon: wonderful Italian food and great prices to boot! L’Gueleton , a Dublin favourite, also gets a commendation in the good value category.

On the regional awards:

* The Leinster (east) winners are Wineport Lodge , Co Westmeath for best restaurant; Kevin Dundon of Bunrody House for best chef, Co Wexford and The Marriot Druids Glen , Co Wicklow for best country house/hotel restaurant.

* In Ulster (north) it’s The Olde Post for top restaurant and top chef with Gearoid Lynch. Castle Leslie bags the country house restaurant award.

* The Munster awards in the south go to Les Gourmandises , Cork city for top restaurant and Dennis Cotter of Café Paradiso Cork city, for top chef both regionally and nationally (interesting, because he does vegetarian food). The Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge wins the top country house restaurant in this region.

* Finally, across to Connacht in the west, Vina Mara in Galway city wins best restaurant and chef with Padraic Kielty and Ballinahinch Castle gets the country house/hotel restaurant vote.

Sorry I can’t comment on much outside of Dublin, maybe some others can chime in.


Corinna Hardgrave aka "Corinna Dunne"

CorinaHardgrave Twitter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We had dinner at Mustard Seed @ Echo Lodge last week and it was excellent. The kitchen gardens behind the inn are a sight to behold.

We've been based on the Dingle peninsula for the last week, and have had amazing meals at Out of the Blue, which from the outside looks like a fish & chips shack, but serves the freshest seafood imaginable prepared by a chef from Brittany. Another very good spot is The Chart House; the sheep we saw munching away on the side of the Connor Pass make some delicious chops!

We've been truly impressed by the quality of the food.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Unfortunately Dublin (and I think Ireland) has no decent Italian restaurant....

Corinna, have you by any chance tried "Il Baccaro", at Diceman's Corner (near Eden)? Granted, there are a million definitions of "decent" -- but in the sense of being very like places I've eaten in in northern Italy, it does pretty well. Definitely casual, but the times I've been there, the food has been better than merely OK.

Best -- Diane


Diane Duane | The Owl Springs Partnership | Co. Wicklow, Ireland

http://www.youngwizards.com | http://www.dianeduane.com

Weblog: Out of Ambit

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Diane, no I haven't tried "Il Baccaro". Thanks for the recommendation. Sorry about the colloquial use of the word "decent", it's probably a bit misleading! I see you're in Wicklow, if you're a fan of Italian food, you should head down to La Dolce Vita if you haven't tried it. It restored my faith. Very "decent" people and great food!


Edited by Corinna Dunne (log)

Corinna Hardgrave aka "Corinna Dunne"

CorinaHardgrave Twitter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi Diane, no I haven't tried "Il Baccaro".  Thanks for the recommendation.

You're most welcome! It's quite an informal place -- downstairs in what (from the looks of the old arched brick vaulting) was probably a bonded warehouse once. It's pretty rustic looking, especially around the bar area (and in the back by the toilets, where they keep the drink kegs... :rolleyes:). But it also seems to be eternally booked out.

I would be more specific about our meal except that it was a very crazed kind of day -- the day of that huge anti-war protest in Dublin: we couldn't get to the restaurant we were trying to reach (Gotham Café in South Anne St.) -- as well as our wedding anniversary: so I can no longer remember what we had, except that we liked it a lot. NB: Il Baccaro has no really noticeable sign or outside lighting, and the inside lighting is hard to see from outside -- so half the time, especially during the day, the place looks closed when it's not. It is immediately to the left (as you come down into the square) of that ramp from the street, and down a few steps, and then down some more steps into the restaurant proper.

I see you're in Wicklow, if you're a fan of Italian food, you should head down to La Dolce Vita if you haven't tried it.  It restored my faith.  Very "decent" people and great food!

Sounds good. Whereabouts is it? (We're over on the "unfashionable" side of Wicklow, near Baltinglass.)

Best! -- Diane


Diane Duane | The Owl Springs Partnership | Co. Wicklow, Ireland

http://www.youngwizards.com | http://www.dianeduane.com

Weblog: Out of Ambit

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

La Dolce Vita is right in Wexford town, so you're well on the road (because it makes more sense to avoid going through Gorey at the moment). They serve lunch only, Mon to Sat and it is not possible to make a reservation. I did a post on it upthread. I think I may have been unduly harsh on his risotto which everyone else I've spoken to seems to rate highly. I'll counter it by saying that my husband cooks the best risotto I've ever had anywhere, Italy included. And also, that I certainly intend trying it again the next time I go.

And while I'm on the subject, avoid - like the plague - the risotto in Romanza, Leeson St, Dublin. It's a noisy restaurant which is good for large parties but has mediocre - poor food. I don't think I have ever tasted anything in my life that was as disgusting - in taste and texture - as their slop which they called risotto with truffle oil.


Corinna Hardgrave aka "Corinna Dunne"

CorinaHardgrave Twitter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And while I'm on the subject, avoid - like the plague - the risotto in Romanza, Leeson St, Dublin.  It's a noisy restaurant which is good for large parties but has mediocre - poor food.  I don't think I have ever tasted anything in my life that was as disgusting - in taste and texture - as their slop which they called risotto with truffle oil.

(sound of woman racking brain) I truly can't remember when I last ate anything in Leeson Street. I'm too much a Grafton Street Area kind of girl. Not that I won't occasionally venture out of area. But I seem to keep winding up in Aya lately... as much for the designer sake as for the free WiFi. :biggrin: Meanwhile, noted about La Dolce, with thanks. We keep threatening each other that We Have To Get Down There. This is as good an excuse as any.

Best! -- Diane


Diane Duane | The Owl Springs Partnership | Co. Wicklow, Ireland

http://www.youngwizards.com | http://www.dianeduane.com

Weblog: Out of Ambit

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud– Out on its own as my favourite restaurant in Ireland. RPG serves magnificent modern French cuisine with some Irish influences. Chef Guillaume Lebrun has two Michelin stars and is pushing hard for a third. Given the flair, skill and consistency in the food at RPG I would not be surprised if it arrives soon. RPG makes you feel incredibly special and important from the moment you arrive.

IanT. I wish I had found this dialogue before I went to Ireland recently. If anyone's interested, they can find my review of my lunch at RPG on my blog.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gruel - Deli offshoot of the Mermaid Cafe on Dame Street. The roast in a roll is amazing, roast organic meat with a selection of home made accompaniments served in a great rolls that they bake themselves: Lamb with apricot chutney or mint pesto, beef with red pesto or horseradish, pork with crackling and apple sauce. Also very good soups and brownies. If the sun is out get a takeaway and go sit in the garden behind Dublin Castle (a secret gem, no-one knows about it) across the road.

I second IanT's recommendation. Everything at Gruel looked great - an really affordable. :biggrin: Especially of note to those who might have had a bit too much meat and are looking for vegetation, Gruel has amazing salads. I almost bit off my tongue eating a wonderful roasted pumpkin salad - fresh greens, rocket, rucola with hearty chunks of sea-salted pumpkin and toasted pumpkin seeds. It was gloreious(ly cheap).


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud– Out on its own as my favourite restaurant in Ireland. RPG serves magnificent modern French cuisine with some Irish influences. Chef Guillaume Lebrun has two Michelin stars and is pushing hard for a third. Given the flair, skill and consistency in the food at RPG I would not be surprised if it arrives soon. RPG makes you feel incredibly special and important from the moment you arrive.

IanT. I wish I had found this dialogue before I went to Ireland recently. If anyone's interested, they can find my review of my lunch at RPG on my blog.

U.E., it’s a shame you didn’t pick up on this, I posted this link on my reply to your initial request on the Help Ireland thread. There's a luke warm report from another eGer who went for the 165 euro surprise menu. See link below:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=42810

I hadn't heard any other reports of it going off the boil, but haven't been there myself for quite some time.


Edited by Corinna Dunne (log)

Corinna Hardgrave aka "Corinna Dunne"

CorinaHardgrave Twitter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Corinna.

Thanks for the link... at least I tried RPG! It was a good experience.

N.B. I go by "U.E." - short for Ulterior Epicure. :wink:


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And for a regional update… we were in Kilkenny for the weekend and I got a particularly good recommendation from a friend who lives locally and writes for the Bridgestone Guide (and yes, she’s promised to bring her expertise to eG). The restaurant is Hudson’s in Thomastown and it serves a very good three course lunch from 12 – 6pm on Sundays for €20. Not only is this brilliant value, it is good, honest cooking using excellent, local ingredients that are treated with respect. This is a rare thing. The farmhouse pate to start was rustic and full of flavour and served with extremely good homemade white soda bread. The chicken used in the ballotine was free range and cooked perfectly although the roast beef was on the overdone side. The desserts were fine, although not quite to the same standard, but who’s complaining at this price! Excellent service, lovely people and a lovely place. As far as I can gather, lunch is only served on Sunday, the rest of the week it opens for dinner from 6pm. If you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth checking out for tableware, serving dishes, etc.

Nearby in Bennettsbridge, the coffee shop at Nicholas Mosse has started serving lunch, but it’s still very much on the light fare front, with lasagne, quiche with salad etc. The pastries here are very good though, apparently made by a local French chef, and I had a lovely linzertorte. If you’re not familiar with Nicholas Mosse, they are famous for their Irish spongeware, handmade pottery and there is a “seconds” area upstairs beside the coffee shop which is well worth checking out.

Mount Juliet Hotel nearby is in a stunning location, but the food continues to be horribly overpriced for what it is. Give it a miss.


Corinna Hardgrave aka "Corinna Dunne"

CorinaHardgrave Twitter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.