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Ireland's Best Restaurants

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Thanks for your suggestions. This is exactly what I am looking for.

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In Dublin, you might also find "The Winding Stair" interesting, A simple approach with good ingredients, well handled, and very Irish focused with excellent local cheese and charcuterie. Affordable too. Getting a bit more expensive, is Chapter One. The dinner theatre menu is a bargain and if you go for dinner, be sure to have the charcuterie or fish plate, whichever is on.

Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud (2*) does a very well priced lunch, so too does Thornton's but I think it has closed for a refurb (you could check). L'Ecrivain (!*) also has a special lunch menu, so too has Mint in Ranelagh, but it's a little bit out from the city (you can easily take a tram). Further out, but still in Dublin is a little fish restaurant called Caviston's in Glasthule, which is a nice coastal spot to visit, if you've got the time and are looking to get out of the city. On the north coast of Dublin is Howth, which is really lovely too, The King Sitric is good for fish and there's a very reasonable early-bird menu in Aqua. The food is good enough (not worth the ALC prices though) and the view is great.

Rather than spend time travelling south, it would probably make most sense to spend a bit of time in Dublin and then travel up to Armagh.

It's a good time to be up in Carlingford, plenty of oysters and scallops in the shell (scallops are removed from shell in RoI due to stupid over-zealous EU compliance). Let us know how you get on.


Corinna Hardgrave aka "Corinna Dunne"

CorinaHardgrave Twitter

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Hi all,

My wife and I are meeting friends in Ireland on a brief trip in early April.

We'll likely just be in Dublin and Galway.

We have tickets for a play at the Peacock Theatre on Saturday and plan to visit the Guinness factory on Easter Sunday.

Will anywhere be open for dinner on Easter Sunday?

Beyond those parameters any suggestions are welcome.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Easter sunday I think you should be ok.

Beware Good Friday though - it's the one day in Ireland when the sale of alcohol is not permitted. You might find that the night before is somewhat hectic in the pubs. This cycle has always amused/bemused/shocked my in-laws, and catches many visitors off guyard. Spent a delightful Good Friday lunchtime 3 years ago talking to some frenchies outside vaughan's in Roundstone (good crab sandwiches if you want to venture out that far from Galway... we'll be there over the weekend!) and explaining the whole thing to them. "But why can't we have a beer?" "because it's good friday". "But I'm not catholic" and so forth.

Ard Bia in Galway is apparently The Place To Go. I've never spent much time in Galway, seeing it more as a reluctant stop on the way out to connemara...

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Catriona,

Luckily, I believe we'll still be in England on Friday, so no worries on the alcohol front!

Thanks for the tip on Ard Bia, we'll definitely check it out. Our friends are going on to Connemara, I believe, so I will pass on the information about Roundstone.

Easter sunday I think you should be ok.

Beware Good Friday though - it's the one day in Ireland when the sale of alcohol is not permitted.  You might find that the night before is somewhat hectic in the pubs.  This cycle has always amused/bemused/shocked my in-laws, and catches many visitors off guyard.  Spent a delightful Good Friday lunchtime 3 years ago talking to some frenchies outside vaughan's in Roundstone (good crab sandwiches if you want to venture out that far from Galway... we'll be there over the weekend!) and explaining the whole thing to them.  "But why can't we have a beer?" "because it's good friday".  "But I'm not catholic" and so forth.

Ard Bia in Galway is apparently The Place To Go.  I've never spent much time in Galway, seeing it more as a reluctant stop on the way out to connemara...


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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if your going to Galway, at least go on to Clifden, and then to the coast....

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Hi eje,

A few ideas for Saturday in Dublin:

- Get an early booking at The Winding Stair restaurant, near the Ha'penny Bridge. You’ll need to book and it can be very difficult to get through. Don’t phone during lunch or dinner service. I really rate this place. The room is informal, but has a nice feel to it. The food is as Irish as you’ll get, very confident using well sourced produce. Well priced too and an interesting wine list

- 101 Talbot, this is very near the Peacock Theatre and there should be no trouble getting a booking. Unfussy, international food in an informal room. A very popular spot, although for some reason, I can’t take to it

- There is a little Lebanese kebab place called Fayruz on the other side of Abbey St which serves great lamb shawarma plates

- If you head back down O’Connell Street and turn right onto Parnell Street, you’ll find our mini-me Chinatown. Jack’s, a family run spot on the rhs is reliable. For the main part they use locally sourced meat and chicken. The menu is broad and ranges from accessible to more challenging. Beer isn’t listed, but if you ask for it, there’s no problem. Great value

- You might find some of the places on the Four days in Dublin thread interesting, click here

- Also the Dublin’s best restaurants thread click here

Easter Sunday dinner in Dublin:

- There are a few “top end” places open on Sunday: Shannahan’s steak house (very expensive NY style steakhouse), The Tea Room at the Clarence Hotel (classic cooking with Irish emphasis), still restaurant at dylan hotel (expensive, trendy and foamy), I’m not sure if they are all open on Easter Sunday. The Tea Room definitely is with a dinner menu for €75

- Roly’s Bistro in Ballsbridge is also open, a less expensive option at €42

- Balzac, a newly opened brasserie where La Stampa restaurant used to be is also an option. The room feels very French, there are plenty of brasserie staples on the menu, but an Irish angle is worked in quite nicely

- You may be able to get a booking at the Saddle Room, the new restaurant at the Shelbourne, but make sure you get through to the restaurant and not the front desk who will tell you that they are solidly booked until May! I haven't been yet, but there's an oyster bar and from what I understand, bistro-style food

- And if you want to keep it casual, the Chinese places on Parnell Street and Lebanese place on Middle Abbey Street will be open

Galway:

- Ard Bia has been suggested, above. It can be inconsistent, depending on whether the owner is around, but it’s got a very Galway feel to it and its heart is in the right place with mostly locally sourced produce. I think the food in The Winding Stair in Dublin is much better. The pub below Ard Bia is great craic with music sessions etc

- Oscars is a more eclectic choice, although not a quiet spot

- The Italian restaurant in the g hotel (designed by Philip Treacey, the hat designer) is another option, but not a very “Galway” experience

- Be sure to visit Sheridan’s cheesemongers. There’s a wine bar upstairs and you can have a limited selection of plates eg cheese and charcuterie. They also do a stew on Saturdays. Their new spot, Sheridan’s on the Docks, was only really getting off its feet when I was there a few months ago, but it does similar food. Some interesting beers and a good wine list, so a bit different from the other pubs around

- Moran's on the Weir, a bit outside Galway, is well worth a visit for native oysters. April is the last month with an "r" for a while, so you'll get there just before they're put to bed

The pub experience:

Click here for a thread on Dublin pubs, and click here for a thread on Irish beers. Have fun and be sure to let us know how you get on!


Corinna Hardgrave aka "Corinna Dunne"

CorinaHardgrave Twitter

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Wow!

Thanks for taking the time to write that up, Corinna. I really appreciate it.

Will certainly keep us busy!


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I have to (sadly) disagree about Moran's, Corinna, I've had some actively unpleasant experiences there over the past couple of years. Of course, I remember it as a small cottage-type place, nothing like the warehouse it is these days. (and I find it smalls rather pervasively of loo cleaner...)

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The Connemara correspondent returns from a foray:

eje, if you're going to Galway, be careful, as there's been a nasty outbreak of cryptosporidium in the water in the Galway area...

HOWEVER.

The Connemara area's water supply is dofferent to Galways, and is clean! So anyone who's reading this (I expect it's too late for eje) should go to connemara while the going's good. I hear the hotel industry's been hard hit by people who are scared and possibly uneducated about the different water supplies, and there have been reports of lots of cancellations.

Go to connemara. It's safe.

Re connemara, the crab we had at Vaughan's wasn't the best (I suspect they were running out as I was warned there wouldn't be enough for the next day), however we had two great meals at our two other favourites, Mitchells in Clifden (mussels and crab), and the bar at Ballynahinch Castle (smoked salmon and ... you guessed it.. crab).

The drive between Dublin and Connemara is severly lacking in good places to eat, since the Moran's option has been wiped off my culinary map. (although one of these days I will try Mother Hubbard's truck stop). We had filled baguettes from the N6 Service Station at Athlone as we drove. Ah, the culinary delight. And chocolate biscuits. Nothing can beat a good hit of cadbury's finest as you drive...

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The drive between Dublin and Connemara is severly lacking in good places to eat, since the Moran's option has been wiped off my culinary map.  (although one of these days I will try Mother Hubbard's truck stop). 

Oh Catriona... I don't recommend that... not a pleasant place at all, keep driving and stick with the cadbury's.

And its bypassed now by the motorway, no?

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The one at the turnoff to Clarinbridge at the Galway end of the road is still there.

Thanks for the advice. I had wondered whether, in fact, these were like french truckers' stops and were havens of culinary delight. (imagine!)

Love that new motorway, though. Roll on the dublin-galway motorway in 2010, we'll be at the cottage in Carna in less than 3 and a half hours!

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We're hoping they extend the Sligo one... But as it is you can do Dublin-Sligo in under three hours.

Had a disappointing meal in Cromleach Lodge near Castlebaldwin the other night.

Been there about five years ago, and the food was stellar, marred by the decor which was more reminiscent of an eighties suburban home, all apricot flounces and pine tables. But we forgave all that when the food hit the table.

But now it seems they've reversed matters. The decor has had a significant upgrade but all the passion had left the kitchen.

I had a 'cockles and mussels' risotto which was too large, underseasoned and in sore need of a good fish stock. It's not that it was particularly bad (though the dried out tired and tough mussels on the side were...) it's just that it was ordinary and dull and not the punch of flavour I like in a starter. Other starters were a good pate served on glass plate which just felt odd...

I had skate served with a butter and caper sauce. It was not good, the fish didn't feel fresh. Side vegetables were good if straightforward.

The sole winner was the fabulous creme brulee, perfectly done with an excellent rhubarb base... Really good, really...

To their credit, the vegetarians had a lot of choice, but none of them appeared particularly appealling to me.

Food, including not a lot of wine, came to about 80 a head including service.

Cetainly not a patch on what was there three years ago.

I can only echo the early post about McNeans at Blacklion, I'd recommend the tasting menus.


Edited by tomweir (log)

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Well, we survived the excitement in Galway.

Dublin was quite nice. We ate at Town Bar & Grill, Mermaid Cafe, and The Winding Stair.

Thanks so much for the recommendation of The Winding Stair. It was one of the best meals of our trip.

Town Bar & Grill was alright. The food was fine; but, a bit pricey for what you get, and the service was, well, bossy and a bit rude.

Quite a pleasant brunch at Mermaid Cafe. If I lived in Dublin I would probably be a regular.

One of our friends had gone to college at Trinity, so we let him pick the bars. It was a bit of a blur; but, among others, we had a nice time at The Stag's Head and Mulligan's. Also did the Guinness tour. While a bit disappointed with the "tour", as it's really more of a display or museum, the Guinness at the end was very, very good.

We didn't have as much luck with food in Galway. An OK meal at The Malt House (wish we had gone to Ard Bia!) Again, expensive for what it was, and service was amateurish. After cooking some fantastic pork purchased from The Ginger Pig (in London,) and more amazing pork at The Winding Stair, I was on a bit of a pork fiesta this trip. I again ordered pork at the Malt House, thinking all pork in the UK would be above average. I was wrong. It was as dry and tasteless as most pork in the US. We did have some better than average fish & chips at a place near the Malt House. We took Corinna's advice and stopped at Sheridan's on the Docks (twice). Their eclectic beer selection was a nice change from the usual Guinness and Smithwick's. Also had a nice time at the Crane Bar.

We went on a day trip to Connemara and Kylemore Abbey and, of course, bought the obligatory sweaters.

One odd thing, when you call for reservations in Dublin, many restaurants slot you in for a range of time. So for example, when you ask for a 6 O'Clock reservation, they tell you you have booked from 6-8. We were confused by this, and thought it a bit odd. First time I can recall being explicitly told the time a reservation ends.

Anyway, thanks for all the helpful advice! We had a very nice time and I do hope will be able to return again another time.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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One odd thing, when you call for reservations in Dublin, many restaurants slot you in for a range of time.  So for example, when you ask for a 6 O'Clock reservation, they tell you you have booked from 6-8.  We were confused by this, and thought it a bit odd.  First time I can recall being explicitly told the time a reservation ends.

Anyway, thanks for all the helpful advice!  We had a very nice time and I do hope will be able to return again another time.

Glad you survived your Irish Odyssey.

RE: reservations, Welcome to the Celtic Tiger. Most places now do multiple sittings on a Thursday through to Saturday. So, if you're going in at 6 or 7, you will be told that you need to be gone by 8 or 9, and so on.

Drives me mad. :angry:

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In a lot of places, the 6-8 slot is for "early bird" dining, which might have a limited menu at a cheaper price. Not always, of course, and as HannaBanana pointed out, many places are doing sittings as a matter of course. I try not to go to such places! I suppose the unwritten rule is that we're inclined to eat a little later over here, so if you want the table for the night you need to book a later table. When you ask for something like 6pm, most restaurants are going to try to turn that before the primetime 8pm - 9pm slot. It doesn't make it right, but it's understandable.

Reading between the lines of your post, I get the feeling that you didn't find much by way of great service. Is that fair to say? I don't want to put words into your mouth, of course, by I'm quite interested in this. I regularly find myself saying things like "they'd never put up with this in the US" while at restaurants here, and it makes me a little sad. Of course, I don't want to paint all restaurants this way, but I think as the standard of cooking is improving here, the standard of service is going the other way. I'd be interested in your thoughts on this.

Si

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If I may interject on the subject of reservation times, a situation which can often arise is that a restaurant will become fully booked on a first come-first served basis and give people a reservation for their preferred time.

After that, rather than turn away business and disappoint people, they may re-book the tables that were previously reserved for say 9pm and inform people that they need the table back.

If there is strong demand for reservations, it is very difficult to accommodate everyone so I think a system of accomodating those who reserve first and then offering early or late tables to diners who book nearer to the day, is about as fair as one can be.

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In soome ways I agree, and I see what you're saying. However, I think it depends on the restaurant in question. Some restaurants simply won't do 8pm reservations - you get a 7pm or 9pm option and that's it.

Irish, and more specifically, Dublin restaurant prices can be (with some exceptions :biggrin: ) extremely expensive, and I think it's unfair of the customer to feel rushed, or be constantly keeping an eye on the clock while having their costley and sometimes overpriced meal. I feel that it's less fair on the customer to experience this pressure, than on those customers who are turned away, or can't get a booking. As an example I refer to l'Gueleton - no reservations, but once you're in, you're in and have the table for the night.... and people are queueing from 5 pm for a Saturday table....and happy to do so.

I don't think that everyone should be accomodated. I think in many cases, it's greed on the part of the restaurant - cram 'em in, throw the food at 'em and then kick 'em out. And some Dublin establishments ARE like this.

Furthermore, to be quite honest, if I wan't a table for 8/8:30, that's when I want it. I (generally) won't go to a restaurant if all they'll offer me is a 7pm or 9pm reservation, and I'm told they need the table back. (I understand of course that with large groups/staggered sittings this may be different). I'm paying good money, and I wan't to relax over a good meal, not to see the next table glaring at me as I knock back my espresso as quick as possible.

Like I said though, it depends on the place in question...I clearly won't have this attitude...oh...say tonight...with a group of 12....in Alexis.... :biggrin:


Edited by HannaBanana (log)

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If I may interject on the subject of reservation times, a situation which can often arise is that a restaurant will become fully booked on a first come-first served basis and give people a reservation for their preferred time.

After that, rather than turn away business and disappoint people, they may re-book the tables that were previously reserved for say 9pm and inform people that they need the table back.

Patrick, that's a very good point, and is a common situation I imagine. That doesn't bother me at all really, and I've taken advantage of such last minute windows of opportunity on a few occasions.

I don't like to speak for HannaBanana, but I know it's the 7pm or 9pm thing that really gets her goat, and many restaurants have taken this approach of late. This isn't the same as having a table reserved for 8 that somebody else can have until that time. It's a little more cynical than that I think.

Of course, if I'm in the situation where I'm told the restaurant needs the table back by a certain time, I tell them straightaway that it's no problem as long as they're capable of that. The limiting factor in such circumstances is rarely the customer. We have a few horror stories of being left for half an hour before our orders were taken, then incredibly long delays between courses, and finally being kicked out before dessert or coffee. If you're going to impose a 2 hour limit, you're going to have to ensure that the kitchen can feed people within that timescale.

Si

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I agree that it's the restaurant's responsibility to get you in & out (and properly fed in between) if they impose a "slot" like that. I'm not a fan of this, but I think that, sadly, we will just have to get used to it. And treasure the places who don't do it.

I'm going out in Dublin tomorrow night (the traveller returns) with a group of about 15 people, we have a 7-9pm booking. The next slot, though, isn't until 9:30, so it looks as though they have built in some flexibility.

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I agree that it's the restaurant's responsibility to get you in & out (and properly fed in between) if they impose a "slot" like that.  I'm not a fan of this, but I think that, sadly, we will just have to get used to it.  And treasure the places who don't do it.

I'm going out in Dublin tomorrow night (the traveller returns) with a group of about 15 people, we have a 7-9pm booking.  The next slot, though, isn't until 9:30, so it looks as though they have built in some flexibility.

Like I said, I generally just won't go in situations like that....I am an eGulleter, not someone who'll fill a slot!

Fast forward 5 years into the future, and the only place I'll be able to go for my dinner is McDonalds! :laugh:

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I'm going out in Dublin tomorrow night (the traveller returns) with a group of about 15 people, we have a 7-9pm booking.

Where you off to?

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[...]

Reading between the lines of your post, I get the feeling that you didn't find much by way of great service. Is that fair to say? I don't want to put words into your mouth, of course, by I'm quite interested in this. I regularly find myself saying things like "they'd never put up with this in the US" while at restaurants here, and it makes me a little sad. Of course, I don't want to paint all restaurants this way, but I think as the standard of cooking is improving here, the standard of service is going the other way. I'd be interested in your thoughts on this.

Si

Hi Simon,

I don't want to make any generalizations, as our experience and time was so limited. We had great and friendly service at The Winding Stair, Mermaid Cafe, and most pubs in Dublin. Town Bar & Grill we regretted a bit, as it seems to take itself a bit too seriously as a dining destination, while not quite living up to its prices with the quality of food or service.

Maybe because it is more of a tourist town, or maybe everyone is just crabby because of the water problem; but, we didn't find Galway, in general, to be as friendly as Dublin. I do really wish we had taken Corinna's advice and gone to Ard Bia instead of the Malt House. The servers at the Malt House were fine, just really apparently young, part-time workers, not professionals.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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[...]

Reading between the lines of your post, I get the feeling that you didn't find much by way of great service. Is that fair to say? I don't want to put words into your mouth, of course, by I'm quite interested in this. I regularly find myself saying things like "they'd never put up with this in the US" while at restaurants here, and it makes me a little sad. Of course, I don't want to paint all restaurants this way, but I think as the standard of cooking is improving here, the standard of service is going the other way. I'd be interested in your thoughts on this.

Si

Town Bar & Grill we regretted a bit, as it seems to take itself a bit too seriously as a dining destination, while not quite living up to its prices with the quality of food or service.

eje, do you remember what you had to eat in Town Bar & Grill? I have found the food to be very good quality in the past (actually I'm going there next week), and the prices to be competitive relative to the market... but yes, I know what you mean by taking itself a bit too seriously.

So glad you enjoyed The Winding Stair. I think it's a great spot. I just wish they'd answer the telephone a bit more.


Corinna Hardgrave aka "Corinna Dunne"

CorinaHardgrave Twitter

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