Bao Boi

128 Barrack Street
The Lough
Cork
021 431 1715

Bryan MacCarthy is a highly talented chef who produces a superb – deep breath! – fine dining experience in Greenes. This is his alter ego, a celebration of the steamed yeast bun beloved of the Chinese and known, in various forms, throughout most of south-east Asia.
The menu is short, it’s a no frills kind of place and I love it. classic version.

 

Hatch & Sons

Dublin City Hugh Lane Gallery
Parnell Square North
Dublin 1
Phone: 01 222 5550

The food here stands well outside the vagaries of fashion. What I ate at Hatch & Sons transported me back to my own experience of growing up in the 1970s with the huge advantage of having a mother who was a skilled, confident and generous cook. Not that it’s all old-fashioned. The design is very clean and modern but the flavours amount to glorious nostalgia.

 

Bang Café

11 Merrion Row
Dublin 2
Phone: 01 400 4229

Bang is very central but curiously overlooked. The chef is Niall O’Sullivan who cooked in Isabel’s and East Side Tavern in the past but what he is turning out now is seriously impressive. Very carefully judged dishes, disciplined cooking and fair prices, especially at lunch. Features meat from the great Peter Hannan.

 

Bresson

4 The Crescent
Monkstown
Co Dublin
Phone: 01 284 4286

Monkstown gets a proper restaurant! The cooking is by Temple Garner (of San Lorenzo’s, formerly of Dillinger’s and, way back, Town Bar & Grill), the management us under the baton of Conor Kavanagh (late of The Old Spot) and the décor is great. A touch of the grand nineteenth century bistros of Paris, a hint of art deco cocktail bar, a sense of space. The menu has a strong French accent, but it’s not doctrinaire.

 

Hang Dai

20 Lower Camden Street
Dublin 2
Phone: 01 545 8888

The entrance looks like a takeaway, the main seating area which is designed to look vaguely like a subway carriage if you had taken certain illegal substances, and there’s a big emphasis on duck (from Skeaghanore). Hang Dai has a lot of style, plenty of substance and the prices are not silly. Sure, if you’re seeking authentic Chinese cooking, this may not be right for you. But if you like Chinese flavours and want to be well fed on a fun night out, this is the place.

 

Clanbrassil House

6 Upper Clanbrassil Street
Dublin 8
Phone: 01 453 9786

A sister restaurant to the estimable Bastible, this is a small, informal place with outstanding modern Irish food from chef Gráinne O’Keeffe. It’s thoughtful, eclectic, modern, carefully tasted, sometimes deceptively simple but always cleverly and sensitively conceived. I could eat here every day.

 

Klaw Poke

159 Capel Street
Dublin 1

Small, buzzy seafood bar where every member of staff is wildly enthusiastic about what they do. Big, fresh, zesty poke bowls, fabulous crab on toast (white and brown meat), a range of impeccably served oysters, a small selection of just the right wines and… well, isn’t that enough? (Klaw Seafood Café is now open in Temple Bar, near the original Klaw).

 

Monk's Lane

15 Mill Street
Timoleague
Co. Cork
Phone: 023 884 6348

I have seen the future and it’s in Timoleague, where the county of Cork begins to merge with West Cork. To be specific, I have been the future of the Irish pub. Everyone seems to be in Monk’s Lane, having a good time: having a scone and a pot of tea, or fish and chips, or a glass of wine with some cheese, or a pint and a serious sandwich. Unpretentious and what a proper pub should be.

 

Admiral Restaurant

1 Q-Park Ground Floor
Marlborough Street
Dublin 1
Phone: 01 873 5472

I’m no expert on Russian and Eastern European food but I do like a dumpling. The dumplings in this big, blingy, nautically themed place are very good and the beers are great too. Be warned: the menu is illustrated but fear not. Fun rather than fine dining.

 

Green Man Wines and Wine Bar

3 Terenure Road North
Dublin 6
Phone: 01 559 4234

A little piece of heaven for wine lovers in Dublin 6. The 500+ range of brilliantly chosen wines is perfectly complimented by excellent, simple, punchy cooking and vastly knowledgeable service. This place is a beacon.

 

Tomahawk Steakhouse

2-5 East Essex Street
Dublin 2
Phone: 01616 9564

Tomahawk’s is all dark wood and tightly buttoned plump leather banquettes in reassuring red. Lighting is low, details  are exceptional, right down to the glass rail on the bar which is straight out of New York in the 1930s. In fact, it’s very New York but with grass-fed beef not the seriously inferior grain-fed stuff that Americans love). Full of happy carnivores. (The wine list is adequate).

 

Bujo

6A Sandymount Green
Dublin 4

The huge effort that has gone into creating BuJo is largely below the water line, invisible but definitely present. 95% of the restaurant’s waste is recycled and even the “plastic” cutlery and drinks cups are biodegradable. Most importantly, the burgers are brilliant.

 

Hey Donna

173 Lower Rathmines Road
Dublin 6
01 491 3731

Joe Macken has created a kind of Middle Eastern restaurant in what was once Jo’Burger Rathmines. The name, he says, was chosen to avoid pigeon-holing. A good smoky grill, excellent salads and an all-day menu that kicks off with porridge. Communal tables and plenty of fun.

 

Da Mimmo

148 North Strand Road
Dublin 3
Phone: 01 856 1714

This modishly grey-painted trattoria in one of the inner city’s less fashionable spots got lots of attention because of where it is. In fact it does decent pasta and better pizza but nothing absolutely outstanding. Having said that, it has a great buzz, the wines are reasonably priced and the staff are friendly.

 

The Legal Eagle

1 – 2 Chancery Place
Dublin 7
Phone: 01 555 2971

This is the new, indeed revolutionary gastropub from Elaine Murphy (of The Winding Stair, The Woollen Mills and other great places). The aim is not subtlety but for the satiation of appetite or the appeasement of greed. Portions are generous, flavours are bold, you will never see quinoa or anything that the Hemsley sisters or the Happy Pear twins have ever even contemplated. Pies, pork scratchings (with smoked oyster mayo), pickled eggs, platters of very special meats. You get the picture.

 

Lavanda

61 North Brunswick Street
Dublin 7
Phone: 01 671 9420

A small, very informal restaurant of great charm doing its best to keep as many people happy as possible. Comforting, sometimes quirky cooking from Kitty Zhao and some Croatian wines. A risotto I had there lingers in memory – for all the right reasons.

 

Nightmarket

120 Ranelagh Village
Dublin 6
Phone: 01 538 5200

Conor Sexton, formerly of KOH, has joined forces with his chef partner 'R' (Jutarat Suwankeeree) who is from Thailand, and an all Thai kitchen, to bring the flavours of her native Chang Mai and Hua Hin to Dublin 6. Very authentic cooking, large but engaging menu and serious cocktails (I’m told).

 

Ember

Milltown Shopping Centre
Milltown Road
Dublin 6
Phone: 01 444 3783

Ember is a neighbourhood restaurant serving the needs of those who love in this part of Dublin 6 but it’s rather more than that. There’s Chapter One, L’Ecrivain and Pichet – to mention just a few names to conjure with – in the kitchen’s DNA and it shows.

 

Pilgrim's

6 South Square
Rosscarbery
Co. Cork
Phone: 023 883 1796

A temple to the most local of local produce, a delightful dining room in the remains of an old shop, lovely staff, a retiring chef who used to be at the Ethicurean in Bristol. Some serious cooking and a cracking wine list that changes frequently.

 

Kernel Bar & Kitchen

15 – 16 Vicar Street
Kilkenny
Co. Kilkenny
Phone: 056 776 6326

Maria Rafferty, late of Zuni, has struck out on her own in the slightly unlikely surrounds of a modest hotel in the shadow of Kilkenny cathedral. Excellent cooking, as you would expect, a modest selection of wines, somewhat bizarre décor and a sense of being looked after. Watch out for the riff on Scotch eggs.

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