Irish cuisine doesn’t have quite the same standing as, say, world famous French or Italian cuisines. The Irish even struggle at times to define their own cuisine. Is it the coddle and boxty of the tourist guidebooks, or are we defined by the heirloom vegetable and pigs’ cheeks that feature so heavily in our modern cuisine? One thing is for sure, Irish producers are producing world class ingredients and food provenance is more important than ever in Irish restaurants. If you’re in search of a taste of Irish cuisine don’t settle for watery Irish stew in a city centre pub. Try one of these 10 restaurants that are serving up modern versions of Irish classics using the finest Irish ingredients.
The Pig’s Ear, Nassau Street
One of the city’s finest examples of contemporary Irish cuisine. Chef Stephen McAllister was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2009 and has retained it since. The star of TV show ‘The Restaurant’ is taking traditional Irish food and giving it a modern twist. Think “Dingle Gin and beetroot cured salmon” or “Slow cooked pig belly with maple, toasted oats, turnip and tea soaked prunes”. The Pig’s Ear is the perfect example of what we want people to think of when they think of Irish food.
The Winding Stair, Lower Ormond Quay
The Winding Stair Bookshop & Café is named after a poem by WB Yeats. It became a famous Dublin landmark in the 1970s and 1980s. Nowadays the restaurant above the bookshop aims to serve good, old-fashioned home cooking, with produce sourced from artisans within the island. Food provenance is taken so seriously that almost every item on the menu is attributed to an actual supplier, like “John Stone’s Connemara Hill lamb rump with pea mash, cherry tomato, caper and mint gravy”.
The Woollen Mills, Lower Ormond Quay
The sister restaurant of the Winding Stair, the Woollen Mills offers a more casual take on contemporary Irish cuisine. Expect classics like coddle mixed in with modern dishes like “chargrilled squid, watermelon, peanuts, lime, chilli and rocket”. There are some nice twists on the classics, like a beef cheek burger. If you’re on a budget there’s great value to be had.
L Mulligan Grocer is probably Dublin’s finest gastropub. The menu starts with an impressive list of providers that reads like the who’s who of the finest Irish food producers right now, such as Arun bakery and 3FE coffee. The menu is a smorgasboard of mouth watering options, like “Pan-fried mackerel fillet, gubben chorizo, pistachio pesto and samphire salad”. There are craft beer recommendations for each dish.
The Exchequer, Exchequer Street (funnily enough)
The Exchequer is another one of Dublin’s finest Gastropubs and they’re pretty serious about supporting Irish producers too. As a result the menu is a shining example of the best of Irish food. For a real taste of Dublin try the steamed cockles and mussels. And try not to sing when you order it.
The Farm, Dawson Steet
The emphasis is on locally sourced, organic food and food provenance is given due consideration. Classics like homemade soup, Irish salmon and rhubarb crumble sit alongside less traditional options of couscous and quinoa. Irish food and ingredients are obviously of great importance, so it’s a good option if you want to get a real taste of the homeland.
Fallon and Byrne, Exchequer Street
The menu is quite traditional, it features the kind of choices you’ll see on menus all over the country. Choices like smoked salmon, soup, burgers and steak, but with the emphasis on quality seasonal produce whatever you pick rest assured it’ll be top notch.
Delahunt, Camden Street
Contemporary Irish food is the offering from this new addition to the Dublin dining scene. Classics like beef and Guinness pie and crispy pig’s ear are given the star treatment by chef Dermot Staunton. His CV features stints at Locks and Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud. The restaurant is located in a beautifully restored grocer’s shop. If you’re a visitor to the capital it’s worth a visit just to see that alone.
Chapter One, Parnell Square
We’re saving the best for last because Michelin starred Chapter One is one of the country’s best restaurants. The publication of the restaurant’s cookbook in 2013 showed just how deep their commitment is to quality Irish produce. In between recipes it featured glossy photos of the restaurant’s suppliers and their produce. This is the crème de la crème of the new Irish cuisine.