Tables fit for Kings
'Then hurrah for an Irish Stew
That will stick to your belly like glue'.
The Irish are famous for enjoying a good night out, and excellent dining is usually part of the equation. Despite the Irish Potato Famine making the Irish diet´s reliance on potatoes known all over the world, and the fact that the potato continues to be a staple in Irish cooking, Ireland's dining options are now many and varied making sampling Irish cuisine is a highlight of any visit.
Traditional Irish cuisine today includes filling stews and soups, great farmhouse cheese, grains (especially oat), potatoes, seafood (especially fresh salmon, traditionally poached in fish stock or smoked), and a variety of meats. Potato scones are common in the North and a traditional Irish dinner usually involves potatoes, meat, and two veg. Last but not least, you should definitely experience an Ulster Fry, the local 'not-suitable-for-weaker-stomachs' breakfast, consisting of everything against the doctor´s orders (sausages galore, eggs, potato, fried bread, jam, etc.).
The marriage of Irish tradition with international cooking provides some excellent dining options, which can satisfy the most demanding palate.
Dublin is at the centre of Irish gourmet dining, and it offers an astounding variety of cooking styles and international foods in its restaurants. Here are some of the city´s Michelin starred restaurants, singled out by the world-famous gourmet guide:
Praised for its excellent cooking and staff, L´écrivain has a cosy atmosphere, containing different levels and hideaways and a relaxing piano room. The menu is filled with delicious French delicacies and there is a fantastic wine list. Portions are small and on the pricey side, but the restaurant offers some affordable lunch menu options. The dishes are famous for looking just as fabulous as they taste. The ahi tuna sushi and the steak are highly recommended. L´écrivain has been recently chosen as the Restaurant of the Year for 2011.
Only 20 minutes away from the city centre, Bon Appétit occupies an elegant Georgian Townhouse in Malahide. The locale has been praised for its excellent décor, food, and service. If you have a healthy appétit, however, prepare to splurge on more than one main course, as portion sizes tend to be on the tiny side. Recommended dishes include their Citrus marinated salmon and, in the dessert department, the Chocolate Fondant.
Patrick Guilbaud's restaurant motto - "combining contemporary elegance with an intimate ambiance and unparalleled service" - is brought to life in this exquisite establishment; the only two-Michelin-star restaurant in Ireland. The quality of the food is beyond excellent, according to all reviewers, but it is advised not to go on busy weekends, as the service tends to get a bit chaotic. Top dishes include their foie gras starter with an apple egg-white foam.
From the Michelin´s Good Food at moderate prices section, we have selected La Maison - a Gallic style haven of French cuisine offering delights such as a fabulous paté tasting cart and simply cooked fresh seafood.
What about that Irish Stew?
To return to traditional Irish food, a trip to Kinsale during its famous Food Festival (autumn), is the perfect way to taste the foods the Irish heart truly desires. Kinsale has, after all, been named Ireland´s culinary capital for a reason. The medieval fishing port, located in Cork, is also home to an International Museum of wine.
The twelve restaurants included in Kinsale´s Good Food Circle have menus that largely focus on fresh fish and shellfish from the region and traditional Irish meats. Our recommendation from the list: the Crab au Gratin at the unpretentious yet fabulous Man Friday restaurant.
If you really want is to have some good old-fashioned Irish Stew and Irish-style fun, an evening at The Merry Ploughboy Irish Music Pub (Dublin) will satisfy all your wishes. Great Irish dancing, entertainment and service will accompany the best traditional Irish lamb stew you´ve ever had, or, if you´ve never had it before, this is the place to start.
Good natural things
If you enjoy natural foods, you should visit the award-winning Good Things Café, which is located in West Cork, in the beautiful village of Durrus. The breathtaking natural surroundings and delicious culinary concoctions are a perfect combination. The Café is famous for creating memorable dishes using fresh local ingredients and drawing from local traditions. Menus vary, but they may include a fabulous West Cork fish soup, a potato omelette grilled with alioli or grilled lamb kidneys with coriander and lime. If that list doesn´t make your mouth water, I don´t know what will. Plus, the Good Things Café also offers cooking courses, in case you want to try your own hand at traditional Irish cooking.
Fast food, Irish style
From fish and chips to surprise sandwiches and the full traditional Irish breakfast, Ireland offers many options for fast or on-the-go lunching, brunching, and dining. For local fast food outlets and home deliveries try Just-Eat, who organise your delivery for the price of the taxi.
Ireland has so many memorable culinary experiences . The natural environment of the country allows for the growing of excellent livestock and the production of top quality meats and cheese; the coast provides an endless supply of fresh seafood; and potatoes and other vegetables are in abundance, with no prospects of a renewed shortage on the horizon. Thus, one thing I can assure you about your visit to Ireland is that you will never go hungry. Should the occasion arise, all you have to do is down a minimal amount of one of those filling stews, and all your problems will be solved.
Fog in a Wicklow forest
Bunratty Folk Park
Bunratty Folk Park
Horses on Donabate Beach, Co D...
Burren Co. Clare
Peaceful path in Wicklow
"People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home" - Dagobert D. Runes