- Jillian Ellis
Clare is a county in the mid-west region of Ireland in the province of Munster. Clare contains The Burren National Park, which is a karst region and is a great place to visit for anybody interested in geology or botany. Clare also hosts a wonderful variety of restaurants, from seafood restaurants close to the coast using local produce, to restaurants serving food inspired elsewhere like Italy or India. With some of the most spectacular views in Ireland from the sweeping cliffs of Moher to the winding river Shannon (Ireland’s longest river), you’re guaranteed dinner with a show, courtesy of Mother Nature.
The Old Bakehouse Restaurant
Open from 12pm until 10pm with live music from 7pm on Fridays, The Old Bakehouse Restaurant serves fresh seafood dishes caught locally. Eddie, the chef, specialises in cooking traditional seafood and has international experience in this area. Irene, who works at the front of house, ensures that service is professional, informal and unobtrusive yet always friendly. The restaurant’s walls are well decorated with lots of interesting pictures and the décor is in light browns, creams and reds with a low ceiling, creating a really comfortable and homely atmosphere.
Main St, Milltown Malbay, Co. Clare +353 657084350
An authentic Italian trattoria situated in the middle of the Burren region, L’Arco is a modern restaurant calling on renaissance and art deco designs in their décor, creating a really elegant yet comfortable atmosphere. The service is warm and family-friendly, with dishes including various pizzas, pastas and salads, using locally sourced ingredients where possible so that the food is always fresh. L’Arco has received multiple awards, it has received “Best Casual Dinning” Regional Award from the Restaurant Association of Ireland four years running, among others.
Main Street, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare +353 657083900
Barrtrá Seafood Restaurant
Run by the O’Brien family since 1988, the cosy Barrtrá Seafood Restaurant overlooks Liscannor bay, which is beautiful any time of day but is especially impressive at sunset. Barrtrá has a mysterious ‘surprise seafood menu’ which is a five course meal of unexpected dishes at €35 for meat or seafood dishes (and only €25 for vegetarian dishes). All three choices are delightful and the seafood served at Barrtrá is incredibly fresh and served with fantastic presentation.
Lahinch, Co. Clare +353 657081280
Situated within the Ennis Friary Cloistral buildings which date back to medieval times, the Cloister Restaurant is a building with much historical and religious significance. The modern restaurant building shares its courtyard and various other features with the friary, and part of the original cobbled stone floor can be viewed in the restaurant, having been restored and protected by a sheet of glass. The restaurant serves perfectly balanced starters such as beetroot and liquorice cured salmon, confit radish and beets with apple and thyme crème fraiche (€9.50) and uplifting mains like seared 8 oz. Hereford fillet steak with braised ox tail, button mushrooms, baby onions, fondant potato and red wine jus (€30).
Abbey St, Ennis, Co. Clare +353 656868198
A family-run restaurant open every day from 10am, Byrnes Restaurant provides a really wonderful retreat with seating next to a fire, ‘river rooms’ and a waterfall terrace. Byrnes serves starters such as Carrigaholt crab cake, capers and tartare sauce or organic Burren smoked salmon and brown bread capers and lemon, which can be followed by a main like chicken breast stuffed with bacon, carrot and tarragon. Byrnes is slightly more expensive than most restaurants in the area, but the food and atmosphere make the extra cost worth it.
Main St, Ennistimon, Co. Clare +353 657071080
The Creamery Bar
For a more rustic, traditional Irish experience, The Creamery Bar lies on Bunratty Fair Green right next to the imposing Bunratty Castle. The castle is a 15th century tower house which, along with the adjoining folk park, is open for tourists to explore. The building that The Creamery Bar now occupies was used from the early 19th century as a stagecoach station; then in 1927 it was converted into the village creamery, until over eighty years later it was converted into a bar and restaurant. The bare stone walls and unpainted wooden beams form a really warm, comfortable atmosphere.
Bunratty, Co. Clare +353 61364114
Combining authentic Chinese cuisine with modern European dishes, Coco Restaurant describes their style as ‘a fusion of food’. The menu is designed to meet every different taste, and they aim to provide fantastic dishes at the lowest price possible for their customers. Their early bird menu is available from 4pm until 7pm on Monday though to Saturday, on which a three course meal is €17.50 with a choice of any starter or main from the huge à la carte menu.
Barrack St, Ennis, Co. Clare +353 656868188
Rowan Tree Café Bar
Offering food with a Mediterranean influence, Rowan Tree Café Bar is a spacious and comfortable restaurant with wooden floors, modern art and a lovely view over River Fergus. The Café Bar aims for an atmosphere which is light, fun and informal. It is open from 10.30 until 11pm seven days a week and the service is always very efficient and helpful. Starters include calamari and prawns pil pil. For mains there is a choice of salads and boards such as Greek salad and Italian pizzas and pastas, as well as more traditional Irish foods from the grill.
Harmony Row, Ennis, Co. Clare +353 656868669
Gallagher’s of Bunratty
With a thatched roof and a building full of old-world charm, Gallaghers of Bunratty serves award-winning seafood dishes in a wonderfully rustic yet modern, chic and clean restaurant. The attention to detail shown in the dishes and the fantastic service shown by the staff makes Gallagher’s Restaurant one of the best in County Clare. Gallagher’s of Bunratty won a Restaurant Association of Ireland Best Restaurant in Clare award in 2014. Here you can get whole fish on the bone, proving just how fresh the seafood is.
Bunratty, Co. Clare +353 61363363
Established in 1620 as a spot for castle guards to relax and drink, Durty Nelly’s is a bar with two restaurants in the same building; The Oyster Restaurant adjacent to the downstairs bar, where a lively, vibrant atmosphere and local banter can be enjoyed; and The Loft Restaurant upstairs for comfortable and peaceful fine dining. The Loft is perfect for a relaxed family meal or a romantic dinner for two.
Bunratty, Co. Clare +353 61364861
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