Zozimus

Centenary House
Anne’s Lane
South Anne Street
Dublin 2
Phone: 01 536 9640

A huge and very cool bar hidden down a laneway smack in the centre of the south inner city. They do a vast range of cocktails but the real draw here is the Chinese menu by Jules Mak. The dumplings are outstanding and the salt and chilli squid was the best I’ve had when I last ate there.

 

The Dalkey Duck

61 Castle Street
Dalkey
Co. Dublin
Phone: 01 552 8605

A proper gastropub (if you insist on that awful word) in what used to be the rather louche McDonagh’s in the heart of Ireland’s most upmarket village. Excellent cooking with confidence but no showing off, a great wine selection and very attractive pricing depending on the day. And it’s on the Dart.

 

The Grayson

41 St Stephen’s Green
Dublin 2
Phone: 01 683 3680

This used to be Residence where Graham Neville cooked before he went to Dax. Now owned by the Press Up Group, it has been opened up, has very cool bars on every level, and while the food is now a lot less formal and more all-things-to-all-people it’s pretty good. A fine place for steak.

 

Pi Pizza

73-83 South Great Georges Street
Dublin 2

A very busy, very cool establishment doing exceptionally good Neapolitan pizzas. Good value, friendly, and the pizza al funghi is worth travelling for. Have the house Sangiovese while you’re at it. Oddly, they don’t serve coffee.

 

The Woodfire Café

3 Blessington Street
Dublin 7
Phone: 01 860 3529

At first glance it looks like just another “Italian” tratt, but this is genuine. The Italian team cook to please themselves and make what could well be the best Neapolitan pizza in Dublin. They also make an ethereally lovely tiramisu and offer a short, keenly priced selection of very decent wines. It’s lovely.

 

Mad Egg

2-3 Charlotte Way
Camden Street
Dublin 2

Mad Egg is noisy, busy and the fried chicken is consumed at communal tables. It’s not for those who want a quiet, reflective meal, a confidential tête-á-tête or clean hands after the meal. But it’s good. Darn good. The chicken is tea-brined, something that’s common in the southern states of the USA; the combination of tea, salt and sugar means that the meat retains moisture when fully cooked and, of course, it’s flavour is enhanced.

 

Tartare Café & Wine Bar

56 Lower Dominick Street
Galway
Phone: 091 567 803

This is the informal café and wine bar owned by JP McMahon who also owns nearby Michelin-starred Aniar (which I’ve yet to visit). By day it does small plates featuring the likes of local charcuteries and by night it becomes a wine bar, many of the offerings being “natural” or made with minimal intervention. Great coffee too.

 

Ichigo Ichie

5 Sheare’s Street
Cork
Phone: 021 427 9997

I’m unbearably proud of having been the first to review Takashi Miyazaki’s takeaway on Evergreen Street in Cork but I waited a while to have a look at his new and very different restaurant in what used to be Fenn’s Quay. It has a kappou table at which the man himself prepares dishes as six diners look on. But there are other tables, too, and that’s where we experienced a remarkable menu. And to cut to the chase, it was delightful: complex, meticulous, fascinating.

 

Whelehan’s Wines

The Silver Tassie
Loughlinstown
Co. Dublin
Phone: 01 901 1144

David Whelehan, son of the late TP Whelehan who was, for many years, the wine man in The Irish Times, has created an astonishingly good wine shop in what was once the Silver Tassie pub. It also has a bistro with good if somewhat dated cooking. Add to that one of the best wine selections in the country and you have a lovely recipe.

facebook.com/WhelehansWines

 

3 Leaves

Unit 30
Blackrock Market
19A, Main Street
Blackrock
Co. Dublin
Phone: 087 769 1361

Santosh Thomas and his wife Millie have been wowing south Dublin at their very small, simply presented restaurant in Blackrock, just around the corner from the stellar Heron & Grey of eventual Michelin fame. The fact that we had an outstanding lunch, with pretty, multi-coloured basmati pilaf rice, that I managed to finish everything (almost a record) and that the bill came to €20 for two of us, all in the heart of Blackrock is pretty stupefying. Somewhat more elaborate in the evenings.

instagram.com/3leavesblackrock

 

Everett's

22 High Street
Waterford
Phone: 051 325 174

Peter Everett’s return to his native Urbs Intacta is the best thing to happen to Waterford in a very long time. After Cathal Brugha Street he worked with Michael Quinn at Waterford Castle, then at Chapter One with Ross Lewis and latterly with Graham Neville at Restaurant Forty One on Stephen’s Green. In the world of Irish food, pedigrees don’t come any better than that. Brilliant cooking but nothing flashy, a destination restaurant for the discerning.

Instagram.com/Everetts_Restaurant

 

Klaw, The Seafood Café

Unit 11, Spranger’s Yard
Fownes Street Upper
Dublin 2

Described by a friend of mine as being “about the size of a minibus”, Niall Sabongi’s small but brilliant restaurant is exceptionally choosy about produce, does very little to it and is staffed by young, wildly enthusiastic people. There’s a short, neatly tailored wine selection and the guarantee of pleasure (and plenty of messy eating).

Facebook.com/KlawCafe

 

Drury Buildings

52-55 Drury Street
Dublin 2
Phone: 01 960 2095

This is a big old rag trade building, dating from the 1940s and both the downstairs bar and upstairs restaurant now feature a lot of New York period architectural salvage in a surprisingly seamless kind of way. The restaurant has enough well-founded confidence to serve food simply and in a broadly Italian style that is as far removed from the usual trattoria tat as you can get. It’s elegant and understated, with a big, airy dining room and lovely staff.

DruryBuildings.com

 

Glover’s Alley by Andy McFadden

128 St Stephen’s Green
Dublin 2
Phone: 01 244 0733

The most anticipated opening in 2018 and a very strong candidate for a Michelin star (not that I care about such things, but chefs, and some diners, do). Andy McFadden’s cooking is outstanding. To put it crudely, a key characteristic seems to be having small explosions of startlingly pure and assertive flavours forming a kind of minefield of delight with all of the other elements on the plate. He used to head the kitchen at L’Autre Pied and Pied á Terre in London.

GloversAlley.ie

 

Host

13 Ranelagh
Dublin 6
Phone: 01 561 2617

The chef here, like Barry FitzGerald of Bastible, was at the Michelin-starred Draper’s Arms in Islington, and also the brilliant and ground-breaking Bocca di Lupo near Piccadilly Circus. So, quite a London vibe. This is a bright space and, as is becoming more common, filled with tables both high and low.. The menu is concise, not unlike a telegram, not much bigger than a post card, indeed. It’s about small plates. Some very good cooking.

 

Bun Cha

11 Moore St
Dublin 1
Phone: 01 535 8881

Bun Cha is not big but it’s bright and airy, the staff are exceptionally friendly and there are plenty of Vietnamese customers which is always a good sign. Two of us ate as much as we could (just kept ordering) and the bill was €40 in 2018.

buncha.ie

 

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.