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Where To Eat Irish Food

Next week sees the first St Patrick's Day since 2019 that we might actually get to celebrate, but while our national holiday tends to feature plenty of booze, it's never really had an associated dish. While "Irish food" has long been boxed off as stew, bacon and cabbage, and varying forms of potatoes, a rise in contemporary Irish cuisine is leading us into a Michelin star-studded revolution.

While we're die-hard fans of the potato (especially these pressed ones we had at Killruddery recently), there’s so much more to Irish food than Tayto and colcannon, so the next time a city centre tourist stops you and asks where to go to try our national cuisine, there's no excuse for sending them to a dodgy Temple Bar pub. This is your new Irish dish hit list...

Casteltownbere Lobster - Lock’s, Dublin 8

Swiftly make your way from Temple Bar to any and all of Dublin’s buzzing modern Irish restaurants. The price tag might be similar, but the experience will upgrade from frozen cook-chill food to local, flavoursome produce cooked with vigour. Lock’s along the Portobello canal is the perfect space for contemporary Irish cuisine, plating up dishes like Kelly oysters with kimchi, and this stunning Castletownbere lobster with sea urchin and Wexford root vegetables.

Irish Fish Plate - The Winding Stair, Dublin 1

Sally Barnes has garnered a reputation for being one of Ireland’s most renowned food producers, smoking fish in the wilds of West Cork. Similarly, Goatsbridge in Kilkenny prides itself on farming locally sourced, sustainable trout based on generations of fish farming dating back to 1180. The Winding Stair has assembled a fish plate showcasing some of the best Irish seafood from both, served with traditionally made Dillisk soda bread.

Seasonal Boxty - As One, Dublin 2

Ireland has had a clichéd connection with the potato since it eradicated our native diet and led us into famine, but we love to hate it, and we hate to love it. Boxty, a recipe that dates back to the 1700's, is made using floury potatoes (the best kind), mashed, grated and transformed into a griddled pancake. Gallagher’s in Temple Bar serve the original iteration of this dish, but we’re into the As One alternative made with seasonal veg and poached eggs.

Spice Bag - Saba, Various Locations

Maybe a better suggestion for a post-Paddy’s day pick-me-up, the spice bag gained stardom approximately ten years ago when the Spice Bag Appreciation Society on Facebook became a forum for debating the “best spice bag in Dublin”. Compared with places like Sunflower, Pen Towers, San Sab, and Lin Kee, Saba up the ante with a Thai iteration of the Chinese-Irish fusion dish, and pair it with their signature yellow curry sauce.

Chargrilled Dublin Bay Prawns - Octopussy's, Howth

Tourists travel to Howth in droves to take in the smell and the sounds of one of Dublin’s best-known fishing villages, making it a fantastic destination for seafood lovers. Octopussy's serves a simple seafood menu with everything from Carlingford Oysters to Dublin Bay Prawns, and much of their catch caught fresh from their trawler, The Celtic Fisher. If you can resist the smell of the chargrilled Dublin Bay Prawns as you pass the door, you're stronger than we are.

A Toastie And A Pint Of Guinness, Grogan's, Dublin 2

That same afternoon I was sitting on a barstool in an intoxicated condition in Grogan’s licensed premises. At Swim-Two-Birds - Flann O’Brien

Since its inception, Grogan’s has been synonymous with Irish history and culture, with Irish literati Flann O’Brien featuring it as his local hangout in At Swim-Two-Birds. On any given day, the place heaves with locals and tourists who flock there for a pint of the black stuff and one of the city’s best vantage points. No trip to Grogan’s is complete without their traditional toastie made with Irish cheddar and deli ham, and a good schmear of mustard.

Irish Seafood Platter - Michael’s, Mount Merrion

Michael’s has warranted a reputation as one of the best seafood restaurants in Dublin, and it feels like a real treat to make the journey out to Mount Merrion for the occasion. The wine menu includes Von Winning Riesling and Komokabras Albarino, and the seafood platter brims with whatever is just off the boat - wild halibut, Lambay crab, Clogherhead prawns, Irish lobster, Dublin Bays, scallops, mussels, drowned in garlic butter with plenty of their hand cut chips.

Roaring Water Bay Mussels - Matt The Thresher, Dublin 2

The iconic seafood restaurant Matt The Thresher is situated on the periphery of Stephen’s Green and a stone’s throw from the Oscar Wilde memorial sculpture. The menu combines a selection of native favourites inducing Dublin Bay prawns and Galway oysters, but the Roaring Water Bay mussels are the real showstoppers.

Wicklow Venison - Spitalfields, Dublin 8

For a city that's peppered with pubs, Dublin has a significantly low count of places to get good pub grub - enter Spitalfields, a gastropub and restaurant located in the heart of the Liberties that specialises in Irish cuisine with a contemporary twist. Pick a cold day to indulge in the haunch of Wicklow venison with butternut squash, barley and chestnut mushrooms

Chocolate & Guinness Cake - The Cake Café, Dublin 2

Guinness is so good for you that we Irish decided to immortalise it in stew and cake. The sweeter iteration comprises a dense, silky cake prized by Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver, and The Cake Café, hidden away off Camden Street, is the perfect spot to escape the madness of town with one of the best versions in Dublin.

Salt-Aged Feighcullen Duck - Woodruff, Stepaside

As the Guinness tagline says, good things come to those who wait, and in this case good things come to those who wait for Dublin’s precarious transportation system to take them all the way to Stepaside. Woodruff serve their salt-aged Feighcullen duck from Kildare with foie gras, leg boudin, red kale, parsnip, duck fat potato terrine and blood orange jus, and you can head up the mountains afterwards for some foraging - it's wild garlic season. Read our Woodruff once over here.

Carlingford Oysters - Lobstar, Monkstown

The South Dublin coastline features a couple of notable seafood spots from George’s Fish Shop to Fish Shack, but we love Lobstar. The casual Monkstown spot (of course) prizes lobster, but if it's not the season we love their personalised Carlingford oysters. Try to fit in a visit to the James Joyce Museum at the Forty Foot while you're out that way.

Beef & Guinness Pie - Margadh, Howth

Margadh is catering for at home St. Patrick’s Day celebrations with a beef and Guinness pie for four. We suggest pairing it with a bottle of the Saint Cosme Côtes du Rhône with fine tannins and a peppery finish, for a very happy Thursday off work. The special will be available for collection on March 16th with orders being taken from the 13th.

Teeling New (Market) Fashioned - Teeling Distillery, Dublin 8

Okay not food (unless you count honey), but the New (Market) Fashioned, aptly named after the location of the Teeling’s Distillery, takes a modern twist on an old classic by mixing Teeling small-batch whiskey with spiced rum, two dashes of bitters and honey syrup. Teeling keep it local by using honey from the Dublin Honey Bee Project made in the Liberties, and we'd much rather toast St Patrick with one of these than a commercial beer around town.


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