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Sep 2, 2009 07:46 AM

Need experienced advice Dublin restaurant 40th birthday, coming from Chicago

I've posted to a few places, checked all my guidebooks, etc, but I'm hoping THIS posting will yield the experienced advice I seek!
My husband & I are coming to Dublin (It will be our first time in Ireland) mid-September to celebrate his 40th birthday. We like food. We love a great restaurant. We're not much for the trendy-gourmet-fusion-look how cool or fancy this small food looks on the giant plate...etc. We live in Chicago-- many, many great restaurants, and we've been to most all of them. Charlie Trotters--I loved it (LOVED the attention/service we got!!!!), great food...husband also enjoyed the service and atmosphere, but he wasn't much for the fancy-pants presentation. Same for Tru. On the other hand, we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Table 52...wonderful, delish food--great service, etc. we leave there feeling full, and each time we wish we hadn't eaten so much! ....oh yeah, we also appreciate a great, imaginative/varied wine list....doesn't have to have hundreds of options, just thoughtful/well chosen other thing, French food...not our thing.
OK-- so now for Dublin. Where to eat? It's his 40th birthday, so something special is in order. This dinner will be on a Wednesday evening.
Ideally, I'd like to go somewhere that we can really enjoy the food, wine, as well as each-other's company. Someplace not stark and spare, but an atmosphere where we'd feel comfortable chatting with the staff, lingering over our food (if it's good!), etc. We'll be staying at the Shelbourne...thinking it over, I'd love to go someplace that we can walk to(?) and maybe walk to a pub,etc. afterwards, for an after-dinner, pre-bed drinks. This isn't essential--if you have a great, great recommendation that we need to take a cab to, fine...I'll take it! Listed below are things others have said, or I've read about, etc. Again, I welcome ANY and ALL suggestions.

I've clicked on "special occasion dining Dublin" on many sites. Shanahan's comes up A LOT...but, seems to be a stuffy, steak place. Hey, we love a good cut of beef, but, typically, we're not steak-place people. Am i right--is it stuffy?

Chapter One & L'Ecrivan-- checked it out....looks to be food-fancy

Fallon & Byrne came recommended---will it be just too casual for what I have in mind? I would like to put on a smart-casual dress for the occasion!

Winding Stair- seems to get good reviews...looks interesting. Again, will this fit the bill?

Town Bar & Grill and also Peploes-- any opinions?

Unicorn-- we do love our Italian food (3x to Italy), and one previous person gave this place as recommendation

Just last night someone posted about "Louie's Bistro"/Mountjoy Square. Seems to be a new restaurant? Person said they've been a couple times and love it. I have no clue where it is, how the food is/what people are saying, etc., I hope what I've put in this post will be enough info for everyone out there (or just a few someones out there!) to assist/guide/help me to make a decision.

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  1. All those places are very good.
    I would say that the new bistro scene (Louie's and Pichet amongst others) although great is not special enough for you.
    I suggest my favourite Pearl Brasserie around the corner from the Shelbourne as the place. The decor is lovely, the food is excellent, the atmosphere friendly. Cocktail at the bar before dinner and pint of Guiness after in Doheny&Nesbitt up the road. You have to ask for a booth for your dinner - they are probably the most romantic tables in Ireland.
    check out the gallery on their website

    2 Replies
    1. re: DublinChow

      I wholeheartedly second the Pearl Brasserie recommendation. In fact it was DublinChow's recommendation on this board that got me interested in it. We spent 4 days in Dublin last year and although overall we liked Chapter One's food best, it is awfully expensive and not as warm a feeling as Pearl. It was our first trip to Ireland also, so I am not an expert by any means, but I did a lot of research, we ate quite well, and I think Pearl is just what you are looking for. I posted a report which you may find if you do a search on this board for my id and dublin.

      1. re: rrems

        Pearl is one of my favourites, but I think for the mix of atmosphere and food you are looking for Unicorn would be the best option.