Dublin suffered a lot of things with the post dot-com crash of the early 2000s. With lots of investment from the EU, inflation rose rapidly, and just like the San Francisco area, Dublin became a mecca for all sorts of places where people could spend it – all the way from bars, clubs and restaurants. Fortunately prices seem to have stabilised a bit, and with more competition for the same Euros, Dublin offers many good quality places to dine for pretty good value.
I’ve been lucky enough to sample quite a few of Dublin’s offerings and, I have to admit, haven’t really had a very bad meal at all. There are plenty of options to choose from including your ubiquitous burrito joints, to sushi, malaysian and everything in between. Rather than list all the details for each restaurant (which would take much longer than time I have available), I will list some of the highlights over the past couple of weeks.
Restaurant at Donnybrook Fair (European restaurant)
You’ll often see a lot of locals carrying the white, D|F-labelled bags that belong to this up-scale market place. They also happen to have a restaurant upstairs to one of their (flagship?) stores. I read about their BBQ nights where they offer a decent value platter to share between two. Four of us popped in after work and it wasn’t hard to get a table at about 7pm although it filled up quickly after that. The dining room is bright, airy and the meal deal very great value. Appetiser samplers were a great appetite kickstarter with my favourite being the wholesome grilled mushroom and the prosciutto-wrapped fig. The BBQ meat platter soon arrived with grilled chicken, salmon, quail and a steak. I’ll admit the chicken probably had a bit too much time on the grill, but all the other bits were divine. A clever, light strawberry and coconut-lime mousse was served as dessert.
BBQ meal cost €25 for the 3 courses.
+353 1 668 3556, 89 Morehampton Road, Donnybrook, Dublin 4, https://www.donnybrookfair.ie/restaurant/home
Bloom Brasserie (European Restaurant)
Located in the basement, my colleague recommended this nice brasserie serving fresh continental foods that was also pretty decent value. Not many vegetarian options on the set menu. Creamy, beautify mushroom soup to start followed by a perfectly cooked sea bream, carrot and butternut squash puree and lightly wilted baby spinach. A light chocolate mousse, raspberry coulis, topped with chopped hazelnuts for me to follow.
3 course set menu for €25
11 Baggot Street Upper Dublin 4, Co. Dublin, Ireland, http://www.bloombrasserie.ie/
Cornucopia (Vegetarian Cafe/Restaurant)
A popular restaurant located on busy Wicklow Street, this place is slightly more cafe than restaurant (you order at the counter, collect your food and then hunt for a table because it’s so popular). A fresh water dispenser is located by the door and you have options that all looked pretty tempting. I was tempted by the Cashew baked aubergine with smoked paprika mash and pea sauce but then succumbed to the sounds of a daily special of smoked tofu parcels with two side salads that was really great value at €12.95.
19-20 Wicklow St Dublin 2, Ireland, http://www.cornucopia.ie/
The Exchequer (Gastropub)
Voted one of Ireland’s best gastropubs I have to agree that the food here was so good, I came back on one of the weekends to sample a few of the other dishes. They do an amazing selection of cocktails as well (all recorded in the “Ledger of Liquor”) and I can highly recommend the Smoky Old Fashioned. Beautifully prepared, balanced and accompanied by an ice-cube ball that is guaranteed to outlast your drink. All of the food is fabulously presented, tasty and the only down-side I have to admit is the side of potato skins/fries that failed to be as crisp as they could be. Desserts (at least the gingerbread tea cake) is totally worth trying and massive enough to share between two. Definitely come here if you want some good food and drink. I’ll be back again if I can make it.
2 courses for €19.95 or 3 for €23.95 (choose any starter, main or dessert) only Sunday-Wednesday
3-5 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2, http://www.theexchequer.ie/
The Green Hen (French)
A popular French brasserie that fills up quickly, I was able to nab a seat at the bar as I was early enough and dining alone. Had I arrived only half an hour later, it would have been impossible and I saw them turn away quite a few people. Cocktails are expertly made, with lots of care and perfected and they have an early bird menu at 3 courses for €22 from 5:30-7pm Sunday to Thursday.
33 Exchequer St Dublin 2, Co. Dublin, Ireland, http://www.greenhen.ie
Michie Sushi (Japanese)
Located a bit in the ‘burbs, this tiny little sushi place is apparently more popular with take-away. Partly because there are only something like six or seven tables for two or four and located in a tiny little alleyway, hardly any parking. Unagi nigiri (my favourite type) was a generous portion of fish, lightly slathered in the traditional BBQ sauce and perfectly delicious. A couple of good rolls and you could roll me out of there. Good decent sushi that I haven’t had for a long time although not sure if I would make a trip out of the city specifically for that (if I was visiting Dublin). I think they do delivery and I’d probably opt for that if I lived in Dublin.
11 Chelmsford Lane, Ranelagh, Dublin 6, http://www.michiesushi.com/