Pearl Brasserie is run by head chef Sebastien Masi – former chef de partie at Dublin’s two-star Michelin Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud – and his partner Kirsten Batt. Not far from the beautiful Merrion Square, the brasserie sits below street level on Upper Merrion Street, where snug nooks, perfect for an intimate dinner, line its dining room. The food here features an expertly judged blend of Irish and French ingredients, melding in dishes such as an Irish fillet of beef with potato ‘mille-feuille’ and mushroom duxelles.
Opened in 2015, Delahunt is nestled inside a lovingly restored Victorian building on Camden Street, on the south side of the city. Its owners have kept the original name of the grocery store that once operated there – a shop referred to in James Joyce’s famous Dublin-based novel Ulysses. Inside, Delahunt is at once cosy and contemporary, classic and sleek, with wooden floors and hanging pendant lamps. The food is equally tempting – they were awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2016 for their take on contemporary Irish cuisine.
Michelin star awarded since 2007, Chapter One is one of the finest restaurants in the city and an ideal place to celebrate a special occasion. The food is insanely good – so much so that Chef Ross Lewis was invited to oversee the banquet held in Queen Elizabeth II’s honour during her 2011 state visit. Housed in the basement of the Dublin Writers Museum, the room is minimal but elegant. In terms of cuisine – described as ‘envelope-pushing’ – the tasting menu features courses like Japanese pearl tapioca and pig’s tail stuffed with lobster.
The younger sister of the cherished Winding Stair restaurant and bookshop next door, The Woollen Mills Eating House has quickly become a go-to for diners looking to graze on Irish dishes given an up-to-date twist. Downstairs, it’s nearly always pleasantly buzzy, with Dubliners grabbing a satisfying bite before fulfilling the rest of their evening plans. Upstairs is more romantic, its outdoor seating area offering views across the iconic Ha’penny Bridge. The obliging staff here even helped facilitate a sweet vow renewal for an American couple recently, in one of their private upstairs rooms.
The Greenhouse restaurant pairs an opulent interior with Michelin-starred food and an excellent wine list – it was recently named one of the top 10 Irish restaurants for wine in The Sunday Business Post‘s 101 Great Irish Restaurants round-up. Having received rave reviews far and wide for their cuisine, this chic Dawson Street establishment prepares meals that you won’t soon forget. The €75 set dinner menu features such accomplished creations as scallop ceviche and seabass with Luberon asparagus.
The word romantic might not immediately spring to mind when you think of the pub-heavy Temple Bar, but The Port House Pintxo seeks to change all of that. One of several Port House tapas bars throughout Dublin, Pintxo boasts ‘a romantic underground vibe with booth style seating’, as well as a pleasant outdoor courtyard area upstairs. With an extensive menu of exotic small plates, this is a setting suited to lingering over a bottle of wine.
Chez Max on Palace Street is kind of like a portal to Paris – there are Parisian bistro chairs on the heated patio, the chefs can be heard speaking French in the kitchen, and the dishes taste just as good as they would on the Champs-Elysées. What’s more, the atmosphere is distinctly French, with low lighting, charming music and traditional décor. Chez Max has three locations throughout the city, but this one outside Dublin Castle is the original. Bonus tip: try the excellent value early bird menu, Sunday to Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.