The Irish public’s appetite for dining out is insatiable.
While it’s a pastime that’s increasingly indulged in, customers expect more bang for their buck; a venue that serves up not just a delicious menu but a tempting design too.
Even for those who don’t rate a restaurant on how ‘Instagrammable’ it is, when a well thought out design concept is delivered from the moment you step through the front door right up until to dessert it all culminates in an enhanced dining experience – and yes, one that might garner a few extra likes on social media, if you’re into that kind of thing.
With this in mind, we have put together a list of high-design restaurants and bars in Ireland that will quell both your hunger and your visual appetite.
One of Dublin’s most highly anticipated new openings in recent times, Glovers Alley is housed in the former home of the once Michelin-starred Thornton’s Restaurant, in the five-star The Fitzwilliam Hotel.
Following an extensive €1.3m revamp, led by London design studio Project Orange, the restaurant has blossomed into an opulent space with a swoon-worthy pink colour scheme.
The impeccably designed venue has an 1920’s Art Deco vibe, and is dotted with golden fixtures, drop lighting, atomic style chandeliers and marble table tops.
Flanking the English Market, the Oyster Bar and Restaurant reopened as part of the €50 million The Capitol redevelopment in 2017.
Regarded as Cork’s oldest pub, new ownership, publican and restaurateur Alan Clancy who also owns 37 Dawson Street, House and The Oak in Dublin, invested €1.5m in a makeover that has both honoured the bar’s heritage and in two distinct spaces.
Downstairs hosts a speakeasy-style bar, with glossy bottle green tiled walls, mosaic floors, and quilted leather booths, while upstairs floral wallpaper boldly flourishes in a sophisticated space that houses a fairy light strewn indoor garden.
Located just inside the front gates of Burtown House, The Green Barn Restaurant is set in lush parkland overlooking the walled kitchen garden of the main house.
As striking as its setting is, the restaurant itself holds its own. Housed in a large Scandinavian-style barn, that opens out onto an exterior terrace, and again into a series of courtyard spaces, it boasts high ceilings and exposed beams, rustic wooden topped tables and a rustic New England feel vibe.
Specially designed pottery, linen and cutlery as well as potted plants on each table make the big space feel homely.
CASK hasn’t caught the attention of Cork City and beyond for its innovative food and cocktail menu alone. No detail was spared in the restoration of this former antique shop in Cork’s Victorian quarter.
The result is a dazzling, modern Art Deco style space with eye-catching design features everywhere you look, from the refurbished original coloured tiles and graffitied bathroom walls, to the court-yard that boasts with a floodlit waterfall cascading at its rear – a natural, dramatic feature no architect could have conceived.
Bang smack in the middle of the city, Bullitt Hotel the ultimate base for a night in Belfast.
In fact, you might not want to leave the surrounds of the hotel at all given the cool factor of the hotel’s restaurant Taylor & Clay and distinct design of each of its three bars, Bullitt Bar, Baltic and Babel, Belfast’s biggest rooftop bar.
The latter features the city’s first “living wall”, created with over 300 plants including edible herbs which will be used in the cocktails both fresh and as part of artisan infusions.
Over two years, significant investment was poured into transforming a former building merchants store into Tribeton restaurant and destination bar, a slick, modern and vacuous addition to the Galway’s nightlife scene.
Striking features include a bronze two tiered cartwheel chandelier, hand-crafted table tops made beautiful, reclaimed hand hewn oak beams salvaged from old Amish barns in the rural countryside of Pennsylvania and Belfast pewter topped bar that runs almost the length of the venue.
Sink below ground level and submerge yourself in the sultry, swanky surrounds of 9 Below.
Located across from St Stephens Green, in the basement of the Hibernian Club, the four roomed bar is work of interior designers O’Donnell O’Neill, who created a seductive sanctuary complete with low-key lighting, brass detailing, wood panelled walls, and velvet furniture.
Don your finest outfit, settle into one of the many dark corners, and let the high-end whiskey flow to your walnut topped table – you can worry about the bill in the morning.
An uber cool Chinese eatery devoted to duck and disco, Hang Dai opened in late 2016 and the party (a.k.a demand for tables) hasn’t quietened down ever since.
Unlike any other Chinese you will have ever visited, the narrow restaurant on Dublin’s Camden Street is designed like a cross being a Hong Kong subway carriage and the coolest bar in Beijing.
The recently opened Gold Bar, located on the first floor just above the dining area, is no less eye-catching with the modern dining booths, colour changing panels on the ceiling, and neon signs.
A dynamic restaurateur with a talent for interior design, concept ideation, and two warehouses in the city stocked full of furniture and fittings, any of John Farrell’s Dublin venues (777; Dillinger; The Butcher Grill) could have made this list, but the sexy, subterranean Luna is the leader of the pack.
Inspired by the Italian restaurants of 1950’s America, sink below ground level, slip through the red velvet entrance hall, and allow yourself to transported back to a time signified by sophisticated elegance and excess.
No element escaped John’s exacting eye for detail, from vintage style leather boots and waiters clad in velvet tuxes, to the swanky bathrooms and old school dessert trolley.
Brave the cobbles of Temple Bar to venture to Roberta’s, a recent addition to the Press Up Group portfolio.
Joining a family of chic eateries including Angelina’s and Sophie’s, Roberta’s has the same NYC meets Italy vibe but ramped up a gear – sibling rivalry in this group must be intense.
After you ascend the stairs past gold-rimmed mirrors and embossed tiles, enter an expansive (it’s now the largest restaurant in the group) space decked out with black leather Italian half-moon booths, a marble top free-standing bar perched under a glass roof, and large windows overlooking the oldest street in Dublin on one side and the Liffey on the other. Superbly swanky.
The original Clontarf baths opened in 1886 featuring a large, tidal, seawater swimming pool that jutted out from the promenade wall into the bay – a striking feat of engineering and design at its time no doubt.
2018 has seen the reopening and reimagining of the baths to include not only a renovated swim and polo club but a swanky, seafront facing, 250 seater restaurant and bar too, The Baths.
Stylish interiors featuring a ceiling flooded with giant glass lanterns, bathtub sofas, and a row of olive trees might just be enough to divert your attention from the awesome views.
Located in the bustling market town of Ballynahinch, deep in County Down’s farming country, Bull & Ram is worth a thirty minutes trip south of Belfast.
Housed in a beautiful Grade 1 listed Edwardian butcher’s shop, Bull & Ram has buckets of character. Many of the original features have been restored including the monochromatic chequerboard floor tiles, emerald and white tiled walls and up above is the metal frame from which carcasses would once have hung.
The result is in a dining room quite unlike any other that sets the scene for some cracking, meat heavy, comfort food.
Erica grew up with a baker and confectioner for a father and a mother with an instinct and love for good food. It is little wonder then that, after completing a law degree, she went on to do a Masters in Food Business at UCC. With a consuming passion for all things food, nutrition and wellness, working with TheTaste is a perfect fit for Erica; allowing her to learn and experience every aspect of the food world meeting its characters and influencers along the way.