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 seen the future of the Irish pub. Everyone seems to be in Monk’s Lane, having a good time. They might be 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. This is a pub that manages to be utterly unpretentious but which also ticks every conceivable box for even the most demanding food-obsessed visitor.

 

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.

 

Bujo

6A Sandymount Green
Dublin 4

Outstanding burgers in a bright counter-service restaurant that has a good claim to being the most sustainable food outlet in Ireland. Consultant chef is Gráinne O’Keeffe of Clanbrassil House, the sister restaurant to Bastible. Bizarrely, even the vegan burger is… quite palatable.

 

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
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

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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The Green Barn

Burtown House
Athy
Co. Kildare
Phone: 059 862 3865

A beautiful, airy dining room set beside the luxuriant gardens of the Fennell family’s Georgian house, serving lots of garden produce and carefully sourced meats. There’s even a clever short wine list, botanical prints, books for sale and sense of well-being. Worth a big detour.

 

Han Yang Asian Market Restaurant

22 Great Strand Street
Dublin 1
Phone: 01 887 4405

Self-service and extremely basic restaurant at the back of an Asian supermarket. Serves enormous portions of mainly Korean food for tiny prices. A bit lacking in finesse, maybe, but what a feed!

 

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.