Ah yet another ATF anomaly - our glad rags are on, we're in the mood to celebrate (do we even need an excuse anymore?) and our never-ending urge to eat out is palpable, BUT inflation's going up faster than mms of rainfall in June, and we're still trying to find that money tree in the garden centre.
We're spoilt for choice at either end of the spend-spectrum in Dublin, from cheap eats to spendy splurges (getting spendier by the week), but the middle ground sometimes feels like a vast, lonely no man's land awash with stale restaurants, average service, mediocre wine lists and, let's face it, boring food. We've been busy researching the best restaurants where there is value to be had whilst still feeling like you're dining high on the hog. From newcomers to mainstays, here are some of the best places worthy of a special occasion that won't give you heart palpitations when the bill lands...
Early Birds & Set Menus
Needless to say, the rarely spotted (these days) early-bird/pre-theatre menu seems like an obvious solution to our predicament, but there are some brilliant value set menus around town too, for those evenings when you don't want to be constrained by the limits of time.
Margadh RHA, Ely Place
There's a definite sense of quiet confidence about Margadh RHA, the newish city centre wine bar from the same team as Mamó, with their recently expanded kitchen. The tasting menu here is €38 per person for 8 plates (you can add cheese as an extra) which change seasonally, and at the moment includes things like a market cheese and onion croquette with tarragon aioli; fresh burrata, asparagus, garden peas, hazelnuts and summer truffles; and a fennel sausage ragu with tagliolini and pecorino. With lots of wine choices under €35 we can see this becoming a go-to celebration spot in the city centre. Read our once over here.
Charlotte Quay, Grand Canal
Is there any better view on a summer's evening than the one from Charlotte Quay overlooking Grand Canal Dock? Yes, the view of your healthy bank statement after a pre-theatre menu in Charlotte Quay overlooking Grand Canal Dock. Treat yourself to two courses for €32 or three courses for €38 between 17:00 - 19:00, Tuesday - Saturday, and expect locally sourced, fresh Irish produce, and for every stool in their bar to be filled before sundown.
777, George's Street
The mere mention of those two little words 'Margarita Mondays' conjures up debaucherous images of late night dancing and candle wax shape-shifting over the course of too many cocktails in the alluring cave that is 777. Go there on a Sunday and you may not have the same intensity of merrymaking as on a Monday, but you will have a budget friendly feast with selected dishes and cocktails costing, you guessed it... €7.77.