We feel like we're suspended in some kind of dream state at the moment, not sure what's real and what's our socially starved brains playing tricks on us. Is it really over? Are we really going back to the old normal this fast? The speedy swing from "back in lockdown" to "all restrictions are gone" has understandably got a lot of heads spinning, but something we're all thinking about is long overdue catch ups with friends, family and workmates.
Our number one question from you guys over the past few weeks is "where should I book for a group?", with many of you getting ahead now on planning spring and summer gettogethers, so we've pulled together our favourites for private dining, set menus and big splurges, for serious celebrations.
Library Street's downstairs PDR seating 6 - 10 people is group dining goals. There's a minimum spend of €100 a head for food and drinks, and chef Kevin Burke will design a menu just for you (which you can make adjustments to if needed). There's a full sound system and record player and it's completely private. Where do we sign.
The team at Locks have pretty much written the book on how to keep a restaurant open during a global pandemic. Over the past two years, they’ve done take-away from their hatch and at-home dinner kits, but now it's operating as normal. They have two private dining options, The Gold Room and The Bewick Room, and can seat groups of 8 - 26.
Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen
For the ultimate, no expenses spared group night out, Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen, has a few choices for private, or just more secluded dining. The Chef’s Table, in the kitchen, seats up to six, the (semi-private) Demi-Salle seats four - six, and The Middleton Room seats up to 10. As far as experiences with family or friends go, this is one you'll never forget.
The semi-private space at the back of Mister S is once again open for bookings of up to 18 people. The long wood-carved table is the perfect canvas for plate upon plate of fire-cooked food, like their burnt end rendang spring rolls, smoked pork chop, and monkfish on the bone with a bisque sauce.
Big Fan can cater for groups of up to 15 in their outside space at the front, and up to 75 indoors. They'll work with you on a menu and service style to suit your group, but don't miss the bao, cheeseburger jiaozi and the enoki fan. Read our once over here.
Mr Fox can cater for groups up to 65, the full capacity of the restaurant! Groups are usually seated in the back room with a set menu planned in advance. Prices are the same as the usual menu. Check them out here.
Clanbrassil House will let you take over their room at the back for groups of 12-18, so you and your pals can feast on fermented potato bread, roasted leeks with chervil and chicken skin, and choux buns stuffed with plum, sheep’s yoghurt and rosehip. Check them out here.
The Woollen Mills
The Woollen Mills is tailor made for private dining, with a whopping four options seating up to 80 people. The Riverrun room overlooks the Liffey, as does the smaller Joyce room, and the fully heated and covered room terrace can take up to 80 people - ideal for that work Christmas party that never happened. Upstairs Yarn Pizza is currently operating as The Woollen Mills but will be relaunching in the next month, and is a fourth, more casual option for group dining.
The Old Spot
The Old Spot have two spaces upstairs for groups of up to 20 or 50, with their largest single table seating 12-14. They provide a set menu which is €39 for lunch or €49 for dinner, with a choice of three starters, three mains and three desserts.
The Pig's Ear
The Pig’s Ear have three rooms overlooking Trinity College's playing grounds, seating up to 48 on the first floor, up to 55 in their Mirror Room, or up to 10 guests in their third floor private dining room. The menu is of the "something for everyone" variety, and the nostalgic desserts shouldn't be missed.
The upstairs Polo Room in One Pico seats 12 - 43, with your own special menu and private entrance around the side. The evening set menu is €85, so one for the bigger spenders.
The Bank Bar And Restaurant
The Bank Bar and Restaurant on Dame Street has a dedicated space for small groups with The Bank Manager’s room seating 5-8 people, but we reckon that booking out the mezzanine level for a larger group would work really well too.
The club room is located on the top floor of Brookwood on Baggot Street. Catering for groups of up to 14, they focus mainly on steak with some seafood options. Also gets our votes for one of the prettiest chandeliers in Dublin.
One of our go to places for Sichuan food, upstairs in M&L Chinese off O'Connell Street there’s a private room that seats 10-12. You can BYO for €5 a bottle so it's a great value option, and if you've yet to try the handmade dumplings, Szechuan green beans and deep-fried fish, your next group outing is the perfect excuse.
The Saddle Room At The Shelbourne
For groups of up to 20, The Saddle Room offers privacy and elegance if you and your friends feel like splashing out after months of solitude.
Hugo's on Merrion Row has always been one of those places that covered everything - lunch, dinner, pre-theatre, corporate gatherings and celebrations. Their private dining room accommodates 30, but we think it’s the perfect spot for a smaller group too.