Sheen Falls Lodge

Kenmare
Co. Kerry
Phone: 064 41600

Sheen Falls is an exceptionally luxurious hotel with an international following. The falls are right outside (and sometimes guests who are not used to being so close to nature, have been known to ask for them to be “turned off” at night) and the environs are glorious. La Cascade restaurant has seen Michelin stars come and go (I don’t care) but the cooking, internationally informed but very local in terms of produce, is consistently good.

 

Packie’s

Henry Street
Kenmare
Co. Kerry
Phone: 064 41508

For almost thirty years they have been showcasing the wonders of the locally landed seafood using both local and international culinary approaches. Straightforward, wholesome, very friendly.

 

Out of the Blue

Waterside
Dingle
Co. Kerry
Phone: 066 915 0811

“Meat eaters need not apply” is the motto in this small, rambling restaurant where seafood is given free rein and not messed about. It’s about the freshness and the quality and the ever changing menu. Plus an exciting wine selection. The owners brother is Ben Mason of Wine Masons.

 

Park Hotel

Kenmare
Co. Kerry

This is one of my favourite places on earth and it has a glorious Victorian dining room (with a view), thanks to its origins as one of the great railway hotels. Great attention to detail, considerable luxury and food that is rooted in the classical tradition but championing local produce. A real treat.

 

The Chart House

The Mall
Dingle
Co. Kerry
Phone: 066 915 2255

Jim McCarthy is one of the country’s best hosts (he worked originally at The Park Hotel, Kenmare) and his Dingle restaurant is a delight. The menu is eclectic without being silly, there’s lots of local produce and there’s a complete absence of pretension. The Annascaul black pudding starter has evolved over the years and is a must. Sound value in a town where indifferent food is often charged at Michelin prices.

 

The Point Bar

Reenard Point
Cahersiveen
Co. Kerry
Phone: 066 947 2165

Last time I lunched here, rather out of season, the only other customers were Spanish trawlerman. In fact, the local barman seemed to speak fluent Spanish. And so it seemed very natural to have hake cooked in olive oil with garlic – with a bottle of Guinness. Not fancy, family-friendly, and good simple seafood.

 

QC’s Seafood Bar & Restaurant

3 Main Street
Cahersiveen
Co. Kerry
Phone: 066 947 2244

This little place is a gem. Don’t expect elaborate cooking, just incredibly fresh seafood treated with considerable respect. When I last ate there I had manzanilla sherry by the glass and a darn good time. They do bed and breakfast too, and their smoked salmon is sublime.

 

Fennel Restaurant

Swords Road
Drumcondra
Dublin 9
Phone: 01 704 4005

I’ve always followed Peter Clifford’s career with interest (and not just because he’s the son of the late, great Michael Clifford). I’ve seen his cooking develop from the all bells and whistles stage in which he (understandably) wanted to show us what he could do but didn’t quite know when to stop, to now where he combines great skill and creativity with a kind of controlled exuberance. Very creative cuisine in an unlikely setting and well worth a detour.

 

Sichuan Chilli King

100 Parnell Street
Dublin 1
Phone: 01 878 3400

Not much to look at and a restaurant that has pictures of the food (like we have always been warned against) but one of my regular pit stops for Sichuanese simmered beef with chilli oil and pepper which they always remind me is “very hot”. I’m often the only European in the place.

 

Zakura

7 Upper Baggot Street
Dublin 2
Phone: 01 563 8000

Zakura is a no frills Japanese joint with delightful service. It’s always busy. I go for dumplings and for the splendid agedashi tofu. Simple, straightforward, friendly and fun. There’s another branch on Wexford Street.

 

Urchin

22 St Stephen’s Green
Dublin 2
Phone: 01 638 3939

Dishes for sharing strike again but this time in a marine-themed basement where you can almost hear the tide on the shingle. Sean Smith and Martijn Kajuiter create wildly exciting dishes based simply on what tastes good. There are some lovely surprises. A scallop dish put a very broad smile on my face. That kind of thing.

 

Dooks Fine Foods

Kerry Street
Fethard
Co. Tipperary
Phone: 052 613 0828

Richard Gleeson has come home to Fethard having worked with Yotam Ottolenghi, with Skye Gyngell when she was at Michelin-starred Petersham Nurseries and latterly with what I think of as the Avoca of Camden and Hampstead, Melrose & Morgan. This bright, modern restaurant not far off the M8 shows considerable promise.

 

The Sussex

8/9 Sussex Terrace
Upper Leeson Street
Dublin 4
Phone: 01 538 8100

The Sussex lies above one of Dublin’s best loved pubs, O’Brien’s of Leeson Street. Low-ceilinged and quite cosy, it feels like a very urban, cool gastropub. Cooking is simple, eclectic and well executed (they do good smokies, that smoked haddock dish popularised by Le Coq Hardi).

 

Osteria Lucio

Underneath the arches, by Grand Canal Dock station is the source of the some of the best pizza in Dublin – and a range of other Italian-inspired cooking. Earthy but refined, impeccably executed but affordable. And it involves two Michelin-starred chefs.

Source: osterialucio.com

 

Iberian Way

Douglas Street
Cork
Phone: 087 954 6451

Located in a deeply unattractive part of the city but only five minute’s walk from the centre, this is a Spanish food shop by day, becoming a makeshift restaurant at night serving some of the best and most authentic tapas in Ireland. The croquetas are amongst the best I’ve had anywhere, ethereally gossamer light. Very charming, very busy so book well ahead.

 

Wildeside Café

1 St Gabriel’s Court
Cabinteely
Dublin 18
Phone: 01 275 0128

In a city where most chefs are young, Alan O’Reilly is reassuringly mature. He gave Conrad Gallagher his first job when he came back to Ireland, ran the restaurant at Brown Thomas for many years and even had a fling with serious pizza, ahead of its time. In Wildeside he has found his true niche, cooking serious food at keen prices for an appreciative audience deep in south Dublin. It’s small and cosy, functions as a café during the day and has a proper buzz at night.

 

Piglet Wine Bar

Cow’s Lane
Dublin 2
Phone: 01 707 9786

Can this be the restaurant that Dublin has been waiting for? This is, in its own description of itself, a wine bar; and it is a wine bar that should be taken very seriously indeed, with a selection that kicks off at €24 per bottle and doesn’t feature a single wine that isn’t very fairly priced or meticulously chosen by Enrico Fantasia, wine merchant, former opera singer and ray of Italian sunshine in our Augustan capital of a Gaelic nation.

 

Mr Fox

38 Parnell Square West
Dublin 1
Phone: 01 874 7778

This was, until its sad demise, The Hot Stove and while its style is rather different, Mr Fox continues the standard set by Joy Beattie. Now under Stephen McAllister of The Pig’s Ear and chef Andrew Smith, it cooks serious food but with a sense of fun (witness the “walnut whips”). Any place that does lardo on sourdough toast is well on the way to being loved by me; Mr Fox goes further; it’s excellent cooking with no tablecloths or bullshit.