In Dublin, there are three main meals of the day – at least for late risers on holiday, like me: lunch, afternoon Guinness and dinner. On our annual visit to the UK last year, my wife and I left our kids with my in-laws in the mountains of Wales and grabbed a quick weekend away in Ireland’s capital city. For three days we dined and sipped our way around the city, enjoying its trademark Georgian architecture and taking advantage of its eminent walkability. We were greatly helped by the Good Food Ireland website, which lists the establishments of their members, who (like Good Food Fighters) are committed to local, sustainably produced and extremely delicious foods. Here are our favourite spots for each victual…
The Winding Stair
40 Lower Dublin Quay
The Winding stair is a second story restaurant perched on top of a book store over looking the Liffey River in the heart of Dublin. In naturally lit room of high ceilings and lots of wooden things, hipster servers cater to 40ish media types – I was pretty much at home the minute we walked in the door. The food is locally sourced, with amazing sea food. And the wine list is manageably small, moderately priced and dominated by lesser known regions. If Jamie Kennedy had a restaurant in Dublin, it would be a lot like The Winding Stair.
8 Poolbeg Street, Dublin
If we were going to do one thing in the Irish capital, Dublin lover Donna Dooher advised us, then thing ought to be a pint of Guinness at Mulligan’s on Poolbeg Street. Who were we to argue? And, while all of the many pints of Guinness I enjoyed in Dublin were delicious, the one at Mulligan’s certainly came with the most fun atmosphere. Although it’s well over 200 year old its furnishings are as simple as its tables are crowded on a weekday afternoon. It’s around the corner from the Irish Times and by all appearances the Hibernian practitioners of the wordsmith trade are keeping up its great tradition of thirst. The pints, as far as I can tell, were perfectly poured, as promised, and the famously restorative properties of the stout makes it a perfect late afternoon pick me up to keep the feet moving around the city before retiring to dress for dinner.
Restaurant Forty One
41 St. Stephen’s
GFR Readers will be sad to learn that I, too, suffer from First World Problems. One of them is a kind of boredom with Michelin-starred restaurants. This is no knock on the tire company’s system of awarding stars: if anything it works altogether too well, since between the langoustines and foie gras it can be hard to tell exactly where one might be. Graham Neville worked at a few of these sorts of restaurants before becoming chef at Restaurant Forty One, but the young chef clearly keeps the beat of a different drummer, as was apparent when my dish of Dublin Bay prawns came out with his take on avocado mayonnaise and cocktail sauce. His food is fancy but its also fun, as is the entire restaurant, which is housed in a St. Stephen’s Square Georgian row-mansion that’s been turned into a private member’s club, the Residence. Dinner begins with cocktails in the club bar, after which one is led upstairs to one of a few dining rooms. Sommelier Jean-Baptiste Letinois explained that on any given night Restaurant Forty One’s clientele is split between members and non, while he poured a great value Austrian red from his (also fun) varied list. By the time dinner was over, the bar was packed and the dancing had begun. There was, I believe they say, good craic and little reason to leave.
Malcolm Jolley is the Executive Director of Good Food Media, the not-for-profit created to promote awareness of artisan foods in Canada and publisher of Good Food Revolution. Follow him at on Twitter at@malcolmjolley.