Foodie finds in Dublin

A city of canals, castles and cream tea, Dublin is full of stony charm and literary allure. Yet in recent years it’s an array of rather spectacular foodie haunts that have been drawing crowds to the capital of the Emerald Isle. Here is our pick of Dublin’s best (or should that be most characterful) restaurants.

Fallon and Byrne

Fallon and Byrne is an old-world infused delight. Found above an artisan grocer, this inviting restaurant boasts worn wooden floors, huge columns, a patterned ceiling and smoky mirrors that feel a tad Parisian and have undoubtedly seen it all. Both intimate and retro, there is a converted-dance hall feel in the air. Sitting by an impressively well-stocked bar, stacked with wine bottles that mirror the formidable collection found in the downstairs wine bar, I felt very much at home.

Fallon and Byrne

Specials (of the dessert, cheese and cocktail variety) are scrolled elegantly on the blackboards surrounding the bar and all appear impossibly enticing. Evenings here tend to kick off with a cocktail – vibrant, seasonal creations that arrive in huge glasses. This is where you head for the best amaretto sour in town.

Dishes are beautifully presented with Fallon and Byrne serving local fare with an artistic twist. Meals are hearty yet delicate and carry with them the most enticing aromas. Their ability to play with flavours and work out intricate combinations shines through with dessert; a Knickerbocker Glory has never looked so spectacular, your inner five year old will be delighted. Be sure to book ahead and arrive hungry. This is an effortlessly sophisticated, story-filled venue that is quintessentially Dublin.

Sseduced

First emerging in Switzerland in the 1980s, raw food is now less of a dietary choice and more of a philosophy. When it comes to practicality, the nutrient-rich diet involves dining on uncooked and unprocessed substances that aren’t heated about 46 degrees, with the live enzymes in food beginning to degrade at about 41 degrees. Ssceduced, new to the Dublin scene, makes the raw food philosophy accessible in a rather flavoursome way.

Sseduced is filled with soft music, white interiors and furnishing (which make the paintings of local artists really jump off the walls). It has huge glass windows overlooking the activity of Temple Bar and a vegetable-filled open kitchen.

But things are a little different here. Dishes are created off site (yet constructed in the restaurant) with the soups – a staple entree according to return visitors – stored in huge glass jars. Light and refreshing, the pure mushroom soup encourages you to savor each individual ingredient. However, it’s the layered pizza (made with a cashew nut base and almond cheese) that has people coming back for more. When they bring out the cherry covered cheesecake, the ultimate in sin-free indulgence, the entire restaurant turns. It appears that raw vegan food really can be a work of art.

Westin

Dublin’s iconic Westin Hotel, less than a hop and a skip from Trinity College, proves that afternoon tea truly excels when it comes with a bit of a twist.

Walking up to the atrium, a room that looks exactly like it sounds, you’re immediately transported to a world of refinement and indulgence. Sinking into a couch, near a roaring fire, vintage bar and impossibly tall palm tree, the entire experience feels utterly decadent – and that’s before the ‘Most Peculiar Afternoon Tea’ has even arrived.

First comes the gin cocktail. Arriving in a teapot for two, it is poured through a silver strainer into bone china teacups. Then there’s the food, presented on tiered slate. Each morsel proves to be rich and inventive, the perfect combination of sweet and savory. Bold and vibrant, this is afternoon tea with attention to flavor and quirk. Somehow everything you eat seems better than the last bite, yet you catch yourself pining for more (what I wouldn’t do for another prawn cocktail filled charcoal cone or slice of buttery banana cake). You’re left sinking into your couch and just soaking it all in.

Thornton’s Restaurant

No truly decadent visit to Ireland’s culinary capital would be complete without a visit to Thornton’s. A Dublin institution, this restaurant is ideal for lovers (of food, art and ambiance).

Thorntons Restaurant

Dimly lit and naturally refined, food here is a show and flavour reigns supreme. However, the art deco meets modernist décor is also rather memorable. Glancing towards the heavens I spy a leaf-covered skylight that could pass as a work of art before the smell of freshly baked tomato and basil bread drawn me back to the candle-lit table.

Flavour combinations here are ingenious and thoughtful. The cured salmon arrives looking like a flower while the sika deer with potato gnocchi and valrhona sauce is remarkably comforting in its ability to be both daring and rustic. All this is matched with a rich and varied wine menu, perfectly selected to add pizzazz to already unique dishes.

There is a definite sense of old world romance and artistry here. The attention to detail is astounding, with dishes appearing like artwork, the last flourishes applied with captivating grace at your table. It doesn’t take long to understand Thornton’s enduring popularity and admire the culinary skill of Head Chef and Proprietor Kevin Thornton. Absolutely worth its Michelin star.

Other foodie attractions

You’ll fall in love with Queen of Tarts – the ultimate feminine hideaway. This eclectic café serves up an inventive array of teas and tarts, both of the savory and sweet variety. The baileys cheesecake is a true stand out.

Stock up at Avalon, which sells the best fruit-filled soda bead and savory scones in town. They can also do a mean Irish fry up.

New to the scene, and ideal for those who may be a tad indecisive, is Fade Street Social. The creation of Irish Master Chef Dylan McGrath (the man behind the ever popular Rustic Stone), this ultra cool tapas style restaurant is all about spice, experimentation and sharing. Serving traditional creations (the soft shell crab is delightful) and well as more exotic morsels, this is the perfect place to take friends on a rainy Dublin afternoon. Just don’t expect to share desserts; they’re too good to pass around!

Fade Street Social

Comments (1)

  1. Agnes says:

    Fade Social is v good but service was appaling when i went … We waited for our food for ever ..

    Pichet is missing on the list ..
    @gnes

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