Whatever our taste buds, be it fine dining, or traditional bacon and cabbage, there is no doubting, but that we all love to eat. Throw a bargain in to the mix, and these same taste buds go in to overdrive. For a food lover like myself, I love nothing more than a restaurant that exudes ambiance. Coupled with crisp white table cloths, and top notch service, not to mention state of the art food, and I am not just early, but knocking down the door!
Regardless of our likes and dislikes, there are oodles of great restaurants offering amazing Early Bird Menus to wet our appetite. Good food at an affordable price is inevitably the ‘people pleaser’. It is with this in mind, that we tested out several of the Early Bird/Pre Theatre Menus in Dublin, with a view to accommodating both the conservative and adventurous palate.
Situated on Merrion Row, one of Dublin’s most affluent streets, sits the well acclaimed Bang Restaurant. Bang have numerous awards until their belt, and offer a well-priced Pre Theatre Menu which is available until 6.30pm. Although menus do change, their chocolate passion fruit dessert sounds amazing: Passion fruit custard, chocolate aero and passion fruit jelly. Definitely worth a try. If you book through their website, they also give you an opportunity to purchase a bottle of their house wine (€25.95) at a reduced cost. To avail of this added promotion, enter the code ‘#2course’ in the notes section when making the booking.
2 Courses €24.95 / 3 Courses €29.95
Unique in their delivery, Rustic Stone provide a personal touch to their menu, with nutritional information provided for by award-winning Head Chef, Dylan McGrath. He tailors his menu to emphasise optimum nutrition, enabling diners to structure their diet. Conveniently based on Georges Street, they do a mouth-watering Early Flavour Menu between 5pm – 7pm Sunday to Wednesday. The chicken wings in sticky soya, crushed roasted sesame seeds with fresh grated lime zest make for a pleasant alternative to the generic Frank’s RedHot sauce phenomenon.
3 courses €30
This little gem of Irish tradition is a sister restaurant to the award winning ‘The Winding Stair’. It overlooks the Ha’penny Bridge and River Liffey. Once one of Ireland’s quintessential knitting and sewing emporiums, it was here that James Joyce, one of Ireland’s most iconic figures worked as a salesman. In keeping with tradition, its Early Bird Menu includes traditional Irish dishes such as coddle, ham hock, mussels, Irish beef, and of course, the traditional bread and butter pudding. To really soak up its stunning views over Dublin, they have incorporated a rooftop terrace, which is hugely popular during the summer months.
2 Courses €24.00 / 3 Courses €29.00
For those who enjoy the hustle and bustle of busy restaurants, Coppinger Row is the place for you. This busy restaurant successfully creates an energetic atmosphere, which in turn, makes for an overall exciting experience. Signature cocktails are a must. Be sure to book well in advance as it is a very busy place. From garlic and chilli prawns to rump steak with bordelaise sauce and french fries, there is something to cater for all taste buds on the Early Bird Menu.
2 Courses €22.50 with a glass of wine €26.95 / 3 Courses €25.50 with a glass of wine €29.95
Another one of Dylan McGrath’s highly rated ventures is Fade Street Social, sister to the Rustic Stone and Taste at Rustic. The more casual option of all three, Fade Street is highly popular amongst the Millennials. Situated at the epicentre of Dublin’s nightlife scene, this choice of venue would appeal to both the trendy and hip. Sporting a restaurant, tapas bar, cocktail bar and rooftop terrace, one needn’t leave the venue, as they simply have it all here. Their Early Bird Menu boasts of seasonal ingredients, carefully combined to create vibrant dishes, which would appeal mostly to those with a slightly adventurous palette.
3 Courses €35.00
Located on Georges Street, here one can enjoy great food in funky, stylish surroundings. For those seeking a more fulfilling meal, their famous free range rotisserie chicken, 100% Irish beef burger or sirloin of beef with béarnaise sauce, will without question, leave you feeling well satisfied. Their Pre Theatre Menu is available ALL evening Sunday to Wednesday, and until 6.30pm Thursday to Saturday. A must for a nice family meal on a Sunday.
3 Courses €27.95
Situated on the corner of both Harcourt and Hatch Street, lies 1900 restaurant . A familiar corner to those who frequent The Black Door nightclub. Most would see The Black Door as purely a haven for night-time revellers, but unbeknownst to them, this somewhat unassuming nightclub, turns into a restaurant by day, which come lunchtime, acts as a magnet for all those working within the area and beyond. Their Early Bird Menu consists of large portions which are both simple and filling. 1900 pride themselves on using only 100% Irish Hereford Beef.
2 Courses €22.00 / 3 Courses €26.00
Having only opened its doors in August 2016, Charlotte Quay is relatively new to the restaurant scene. However, it has already proven itself to be a hit with food lovers. It is a sister restaurant to Coppinger Row. Sitting elegantly on the picturesque waterfront overlooking Grand Canal Dock, it is the perfect choice for those seeking to reignite that spark. The most striking aspect to their Pre Theatre Menu is the accompaniments to each dish, carefully constructed to add flavour. The thought of braised beef short rib with pressed potato, Jerusalem artichoke and chanterelles would make anyone hungry!
2 Courses €22.00 / 3 Courses €26.00
‘Asador’ is a Spanish word meaning ‘grill’ or ‘spit’. Delivering exquisite barbecued food prepared by chefs in an open kitchen environment, customers can observe their food being cooked in front of them. For wine lovers like myself, their front of house staff are on hand to recommend the perfect wine, beer or cocktail for your meal. Their Early Bird Menu consists of seafood, corn fed chicken, beef and lamb – and everything is cooked over fires of oak, apple and lump wood charcoal. Mmm smokaay!
2 Courses €21.95 / 3 Courses €24.95
I was sold when I saw ‘smoked beef cheek’ on the sample Early Bird Menu. An all-time favourite dish of mine, and very rare to find. Considering Marco Pierre White is the youngest British chef to win 3 Michelin stars, you’d expect this gem on Dawson Street to be very expensive, when in actual fact, it is reasonably priced at €23.95 for two courses. I consider this to be great value.
2 Courses €23.95 / 3 Courses €28.95
One of my favourite restaurants in Dublin City, whether it be for a light lunch, evening meal, or a quick pick-me-up after an afternoon of retail therapy on Grafton Street, Balfes would be my number one restaurant of choice. Located on the doorstep of the Westbury Hotel, their heated outdoor terrace makes for a perfect ‘people gazing’ location. They have carefully structured their Early Bird Menu to cater for both over-indulgers and fitness gurus.
2 Courses €24.00 / 3 Courses €28.00
Occupying a quaint townhouse on the main street in the seaside village of Malahide, lies Sale e Pepe. Decorated to emanate both a homely and warm environment, this dotey little restaurant resembles one’s front living room. Although the name suggests Italian cuisine, they are in fact European. All meats and seasonal vegetables are locally sourced and are of the highest quality, whilst all desserts are homemade. Renowned for both their seafood and steaks (accompanied by the best pepper sauce I have tasted to date), their Early Bird Menu caters for all palettes.
2 Courses €21.00 / 3 Courses €25.00
San Lorenzo’s is a modern Italian restaurant on Georges Street. Most renowned for producing one of the most highly rated brunches in Dublin, this place is absolutely buzzing 24/7, so be sure to book in advance. Sporting a smart New York inspired interior, Head Chef Temple Garner has managed to turn the traditional Italian cuisine into something more unique, and seriously cool. Their Early Bird Menu features their most famous dessert – New York nutella baked cheesecake with chocolate brownie ice cream and salted caramel sauce. It would be a criminal offence not to try it.
2 Courses €21.95 / 3 Courses €26.95
John Healy, a familiar face as the Maitre d’ on TV3’s ‘The Restaurant’, now commands the stylish Suesey Street Supper Club Restaurant. Located on the corner of Fitzwilliam Place, it consists of a bar, a restaurant and a stunning heated terrace that exudes comfort. Venturing from the basics, the French inspired Early Bird Menu includes dishes such as Chicken Liver & Foie Gras Parfait, Roast Jerusalem Artichoke Risotto, and Kaffir Lime Parfait.
2 Courses €25 / 3 Courses €29.50
An acclaimed award winning restaurant serving wonderful food in luxurious surroundings, One Pico can be easily missed by passers-by, sitting modestly on a hidden laneway, adjacent to Molesworth Street. Considering One Pico is deemed to be one of the most upmarket restaurants in Dublin, €29 for a two course meal on their Pre Theatre Menu is excellent value. If one is tempted to pay an additional €8 supplement charge, their Beef Tartare, Lobster Aioli, Radish and Black Olive starter sounds incredibly appeasing.
2 Courses €29
Zoë is a qualified chef, and self-acclaimed ‘Pastry Geek.’ She worked as a Stagiaire in both ‘Chapter One’ and ‘The Merrion Hotel’. It was while in the Merrion (under the watchful eye of Chef Paul Kelly) that Zoë learnt to perfect her pastry skills. Since then, she has assisted celebrity chefs Rachel Allen, and Kevin Dundon, both at the Taste of Dublin, and various other culinary events. Apart from baking, she loves nothing more than to write about her experiences with food. From pots and pans, to pen and paper – she is in her element.