Ireland is known by chefs and foodies worldwide for the superior quality of its homegrown ingredients, from farmed produce such as grass-fed Irish beef and rich butter to fresh seafood landed along its rugged coastline. Below are a few of the finest restaurants in the country at which to try dishes made from predominantly Irish ingredients.
In early May 2017, Dublin’s Chapter One once again took the gong for Best Restaurant in Ireland at the industry’s most important awards ceremony, being named the finest in the country by The Restaurants Association of Ireland for the ninth time in its history. Michelin-star awarded since 2007, this elegant eatery has won an array of other prizes and been named 25th in Europe’s Top 100 Restaurants byThe Daily Meal. Housed in the former home of whiskey maker George Jameson, the intimate space provides a backdrop for culinary greatness, with Chef Ross Lewis naming ‘the landscape, the seasons and most especially the new Irish artisans’ as his inspiration.
Forest & Marcy, opened in 2016, is a relatively new Leeson Street neighbourhood wine room and kitchen and another restaurant to score big at this year’s Irish Restaurant Awards, winning Best Newcomer for both All-Ireland and Dublin. It’s a sister restaurant to Dublin 4’s celebrated Forest Avenue, owned by the husband and wife team of John and Sandy Wyer. Forest & Marcy focuses on contemporary small plates, and one highly recommended aspect of their menu is the ‘farm to forest’ Sunday dinner, inspired by McNally Family Farm in north Dublin.
A customer favourite, Mulberry Garden was crowned Ireland’s best restaurant in the TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards for 2016. This hidden gem lies in Dublin’s Donnybrook area, on the grounds of a stone cottage built in 1911. Here, they offer a seasonal menu that changes weekly, with the producers of everything from the Dexter beef short rib to the organic Irish honey and the cheeses on the cheese board listed for your perusal.
Diners are drawn to The House Restaurant at the luxury 39-room Cliff House Hotel in County Waterford at least in part for the panoramic views of Ardmore Bay, but they stay for the food. Dutch chef Martijn Kajuiter’s vision has earned this ocean-side restaurant a Michelin star and a stellar reputation. Tasting menu and à la carte options are available, with the majority of ingredients sourced from within the country. If you can’t get to Waterford, try The Cliff Townhouse on Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green instead.
Although it deals in fine dining, the Yeats Room has a more relaxed, welcoming feel than many of its contemporaries, perhaps owing to the fact that it was originally part of a family home. Myrtle Allen and her husband opened Ballymaloe House as a restaurant during the 1960s, and it has since become synonymous with modern Irish cooking. With an emphasis on the freshest produce, they grow their own fruit, vegetables and herbs in their walled gardens and have a 100-acre organic farm nearby.
Often referred to as the gourmet capital of Ireland, the harbour town of Kinsale in County Cork has plenty of incredible places to eat, but when it comes to superb seafood, Fishy Fishy reigns supreme. Husband and wife Martin and Marie Shanahan’s inviting restaurant was named Best Seafood Experience in Ireland in 2013, and it has won both Best Restaurant of the Year and Best Seafood Restaurant of the Year at various points. It has also featured in the highly respected Bridgestone Guide’s Top 100 Restaurants in Ireland for the last eight years running.
Located on the County Kerry stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way, Idás states its food philosophy as being ‘to celebrate the Dingle Peninsula on a plate’. Featuring inventive combinations of seasonal ingredients sourced from the area, Chef Kevin Murphy’s West Kerry tasting menu champions the seafood Kerry is famous for, through dishes such as pickled mussels, Glenbeigh oysters, and a ‘foraged broth of land and sea’. If you’re not a fan of seafood, their meat is all Irish, and there’s also a vegetarian tasting menu available.
Another establishment firmly rooted in its surroundings, Aniar calls itself a terroir-based restaurant – meaning that its food ‘comes from the specific place that is Galway and the west of Ireland’. Owned and run by JP McMahon and Drigín Gaffey, Aniar opened in 2011 and has been Michelin-star awarded since 2013. Their tempting tasting menu changes daily but always consists of five, eight or 10 courses.
As well as taking the award for Best Restaurant in Connaught at the 2017 Irish Restaurant Awards, Galway’s Kai Café + Restaurant was recently listed among Ireland’s 101 best dining experiences by the Sunday Business Post newspaper. Chef Jessica Murphy and her husband David keep things refreshingly simple at Kai, using organic produce and plating up dishes that look almost as good as they taste.
Overlooking Belfast’s River Lagan, OX has one Michelin star, and it was named UK Restaurant of the Year 2016 by the editors of the Good Food Guide. Food menus are tailored to the best produce of the season, and their website provides a list of what’s in the larder each month – for May, this includes Jersey Royal new potatoes, sprouting broccoli and summer truffle. Wine is a big part of the offering at OX, with a well-stocked cave presided over by co-founder and sommelier Alain Kerloc’h.