A Delicious Taste of Ireland – Best Restaurants for Contemporary Irish Cuisine
Irish food often gets a bad rap, with many visitors expecting to find stodgy, unrefined dishes when seeking out authentic Irish cuisine. Now more than ever, the landscape of Irish cuisine is evolving, with many ground-breaking chefs embracing the stunning produce the island has to offer and presenting it in innovative and inventive ways.
Classics are increasingly being given contemporary twists and contributing to this Irish food revolution, making our national cuisine more tempting than ever before. A meal in any of the restaurants below is guaranteed to get you excited about Irish food and the direction in which it is moving. While everyone thinks of marking St. Patrick’s Day with a pint of the black stuff, why not mark our national holiday with a plate of the good stuff?
After travelling the world and experiencing all that international cuisine has to offer, Anthony Smith arrived home to open sister restaurant to The Pig’s Ear, Mr. Fox in November of 2016. Located in the heart of Dublin on Parnell Square, Smith’s menu puts a playful modern spin on the use of local and seasonal ingredients. Mr. Fox’s desserts in particular evoke Irish memories of childhood summers with deliciously whimsical dishes like Chicory Coffee Iceberger and Orange Super Split.
A Michelin Bib Gourmand holder since 2009, The Pig’s Ear on Nassau Street is known for serving elegant, honest Irish fare with a modern touch. Damien Derwin’s take on a traditional Shepherd’s Pie using slow cooked Lough Erne Lamb is an update on a comfort food favourite. For familiar flavours showcased with sophisticated flair,Pork Belly with Burnt Apple, Onion and Jerusalem Artichoke takes a traditional Sunday Roast up several delicious notches.
The entire philosophy of Michelin starred Chapter One is rooted in the landscape of Irish food; not just on the plate, with dishes like Pig’s Tail stuffed with Fingal Ferguson’s Bacon and Lobster, but also with work from Irish crafts people and artists carrying through every aspect of the restaurant. These considered touches make Chapter One a truly immersive Irish dining experience.
The cherry, or indeed strawberry on top? Chapter One’s encyclopedic wine list includes Móinéir, a truly unique strawberry wine from Wicklow which pairs fantastically with the unrivaled cheese selection on offer.
At Forest & Marcy, sister project of John and Sandy Wyer’s Forest Avenue, Chef Ciaran Sweeney cleverly imparts a modern edge to traditional Irish dishes. His Fermented Potato Bread, Bacon and Cabbage dish pays homage to ‘fadge’, a staple bread in his native Donegal. Ciaran’s fermentation of the humble spud elevates the bacon and cabbage dinners we all grew up on to unprecedented heights. Ciaran’s ever-changing menu is littered with in-house charcuterie and many more ferments. Dishes like Hogget, Allium, Wild Garlic and Anchovy Cream make Ciaran’s menu one of the most exciting things to happen to Irish cuisine in recent years.
Overlooking the River Liffey, The Winding Stair offers a picturesque view of the Ha’penny Bridge. So rooted in Irish culture, the building itself is named after the famous Yeats poem. Tempting Irish dishes like Steamed Cockles and Roaring Bay Mussels with Clogherhead Crab and Brown Shrimp Mayo Toast almost sing Alive, Alive Oh from the plate – Molly Malone would be proud. Interestingly, the Winding Stair wine list features Lusca, David Llewellyn’s Chardonnay produced in Lusk, Co Dublin, meaning you can truly drink in the flavours of Ireland here.
Sister restaurant to The Winding Stair and sharing the same building, The Woollen Mills is housed in a former haberdashery where James Joyce used to work. The menu reads like a dream, with a delicious mix of dishes that scream traditional Irish food with a twist as well as seamlessly executed classics.
Stout-braised Irish beef Short Rib, Beer-battered Rock Oyster incorporates three of most iconic flavours and a true Dublin delicacy gets a modern makeover with Pigs on the Green Stout Battered Sausage. Need a bowl of comforting tradition? Ha’Penny Bridge Coddle with brown bread and award winning Cuinneog butter is a must try.
Pádraic Óg Gallagher, the owner of Gallagher’s Boxty House in Temple Bar, is recognised as a potato expert having co-written “The History of the Potato in Irish Cuisine and Culture”. While Gallagher’s allegiance is to the traditional potato pancake, classically constructed and true to its roots, in three forms – boiled, baked and pancake. However a unique feature adds a contemporary element to this traditional taste of our heritage – the potatoes used in Gallagher’s dishes are grown in their own rooftop urban farm!
Fade Street Social offers an extensive menu dotted with revised renditions of Irish classics in uber stylish surroundings. If anyone can make Irish Stew exciting, it is Dylan McGrath – his version is inventively crafted with spiced cream, drops of potato mousse and crispy balsamic lamb fillet, with lovage and celery leaves. Dishes like White Pudding & Cabbage Soup, Braised Rabbit Leg and native Oysters with Chilled Salmon Cream and Seaweed offer creative takes on classic Irish cuisine.
A champion of Irish cuisine, JP McMahon writes Michelin starred Aniar’s tasting menu, Inis Oirr, daily. A terroir based approach ensures that each dish served in Aniar is a true taste of the West of Ireland, the rich bounty of this rugged region, plated. McMahon’s dishes are based around the many culinary techniques which were staple practices of Irish cooks before conventional refrigeration. Salting, curing, pickling and fermentation feature heavily, bringing JP’s vision of pursing “innovation through the prism of traditional techniques of preservation” to life.
The word Loam translates as ‘rich, fertile soil’ and in essence this Michelin starred restaurant is a showcase of the exceptional produce of this land. Loam is known for cutting edge cuisine, with a locavore philosophy exclusively utilising produce which can be found in the West of Ireland. RAI Best Chef in Ireland 2016 Enda McEvoy eschews the use of staples such as lemons and olive oil, with the diverse flavour profiles of his innovative dishes built exclusively around locally foraged ingredients such as wild garlic seeds, pickled roses and sea vegetables.
Bull & Ram is situated in a Grade 1 Listed butcher shop and shines a spotlight on the best of produce from County Down. In this vein, meats are sourced exclusively from multi-award winning Hannan’s Butchers in Moira, all of which are dry aged in Himalayan salt chambers. You can be assured that a 44 Day Aged Sirloin at Bull & Ram will leave meat and two veg Irish food stereotypes dead in the water. True to our roots, Bull & Ram even serves Tripe, deep fried and more enticing than it ever was!
Growing up with the name Darina, I was constantly asked if I could cook like my namesake. I am the only person to have contested both Masterchef and the Great Irish Bake Off and am passionate about creating and discovering delicious things. Working with TheTaste allows me to satisfy this craving and marries my food fascination with my love of writing and ranting.