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Jul 24, 2013 07:54 AM

Anyone willing to help with basic questions about food and drink in Dublin for a September trip?


I've already bookmarked recent and old Chowhound threads for Dublin restaurants, but since I really know nothing about food in Ireland, I would love to learn more about what is seasonal for September, and what is truly local, and some other very basic questions about eating and drinking in Dublin.

If you can give me a link to a good online resource, or recommend a book available in the UK, that would be great.

Of if you have a moment to answer some of these questions, I'd be grateful:

Do you recommend any particular fruits and vegetables for September?

Any seasonal seafoods?

Scenery aside, is it worth going to the seashore to eat seafood?

We don't eat much meat, but in September, is beef preferable to lamb? Duck rather than chicken (is September a good time for duck?)

Is smoking allowed in eateries in Dublin?

What do locals drink with meals if they don't drink wine?

I think I can dig up on my own information about Irish cheeses, breads and sweets, but if you have favorite links, or unique to Dublin recommendations, I'd love to have them.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. There is no smoking in any indoor workplaces in Ireland so pubs and restaurants are smoke free.
    Here is a link to the vegetable seasons, but it's pretty broad. You will definitely see a lot of beetroot / goats cheese dishes in restaurants in September.
    Lamb is good in September - it's a little larger and less delicate in flavour than earlier spring lamb. Beef and farmed duck seems to me to be the same all year. The season for most wild game birds starts in September, but not everywhere will serve this.
    Most locals will drink wine in a restaurant, but many will drink beer.
    There are not many places specialising in seafood even at the coast, but Howth (a short train ride from the city centre) is a now developed fishing village that does have a range of seafood focused places.
    Hope this helps a bit!

    10 Replies
    1. re: BrianGilligan

      It helps a lot! Thank you very much. I am much relieved to know i don't need to track down non-smoking spots. I may decide to spend my last night in Howth before going to the airport, because I am afraid it will break my ancestral Irish heart if I do not get to eat seafoods on what may be my one trip to Ireland. I've been reading that John Dory is plentiful in September.

      I've actually been doing a lot of reading since I posted and was surprised to see that strawberries are still in season in September, and also that seaweeds of various sorts turn up in dishes. (I love seaweed.) And I've also now learned what a "sarnie" is (I think.)

      Are there any food blogs for Dublin worth reading?

      We don't want a cornball experience of Irish eating, but we would like to taste best local ingredients and traditions rather than internationalized food, no matter how well done.

      1. re: barberinibee

        Sorry if it was a bit unclear from my post, but when I say there aren't many restaurants that specialise in seafood, it doesn't mean that seafood isn't broadly available - it is. Most restaurants will have fairly even emphasis on meat and seafood dishes.
        I think I understand what you are looking for, but am struggling to come up with recommendations for Dublin. There are probably some country houses / guest houses well outside the city that would fit the bill.

        We're not really proud of our poor people's culinary heritage the way the French, Italians or Spanish are. That manifests itself in restaurants that while they may use local and seasonal ingredients these are served in dishes that do have strong international influences. These are two good examples of that type of place:
        There are others like The Pigs Ear and The Winding Stair that are usually mentioned on this board, but you're not really likely to get coddle or Irish stew in quality restaurants.

        Alternatively, you have somewhere like Hunters Hotel (about 45 minutes drive South of Dublin) that serves traditional cooking with seasonal vegetables. This is the sort of traditional Sunday roast that more comfortable Irish families would have had, served with vegetables from their kitchen garden.

        1. re: BrianGilligan

          Thanks all, very much!

          Mulberry Garden looks very good to me. I don't think I would have found it without your help. We're really not huge meat eaters, so we won't be on a pilgrimage for Irish stew or coddle. Our greatest hopes have been for seafood, and I hope locally sourced and in season. Is it just an old song that talks about mussels and cockles (oysters, lobsters) from immediate area of Dublin? (We only want to visit Dublin, no car rental.)

          I live in Italy, and I have something of an aversion to drinking wine when I go to countries that don't produce it themselves. We had a great time in Scotland drinking local brews and whiskies, but I noticed most restaurant menus in Dublin were emphasizing wine.

          One big question I forgot to ask: What time do people ordinarily eat dinner in Dublin in September?

          And one more: Is it a revelation to drink Guinness in Dublin or does it taste like the Guinness one gets anywhere in the world?

          When I firm up my travel dates and know whether we will be in Dublin during the week or an a weekend, and exactly where we'll be staying, I'll be soliciting advice about specific places for lunches and dinners. I'm pretty sure we will want to browse the Winding Stair bookshop, so eating there as well is probably on the agenda, unless somebody tells us don't bother.

          Thanks again for taking time to answer. We are coming to Dublin with really no knowledge about eating and drinking there, so we are starting from scratch.

          1. re: barberinibee

            I'm not totally sure about Dublin, but Ireland produces its own mussels - personally I wouldn't specifically want to eat them from Dublin bay, but they are generally from the east coast/Irish sea.

            Generally in Ireland, people go out for dinner relatively early (maybe 6.30pm at the earliest, and 9pm would be a fairly late dinner sitting).

            In my experience, the rest of the world aren't too particular about cleaning their Guinness lines, and so it tastes much better in Ireland - though that might be familiarity and personal preference.

            1. re: dollycat

              The cleaning and prep of Guinness lines used to be left to the pub, and some used to be better about it than others. Apparently, a few years ago, Guinness took it over, and now that they do their own maintenance, the Guinness quality no longer varies wildly. (This is what I've heard, I don't know that it's true.)

              My friends and colleagues in Ireland do still insist that it tastes better in certain places than others. I myself did not drink it enough to tell the difference.

              1. re: Palladium

                Sorry for the very long delay in replying. Thank you very much for this information. I have enjoyed the taste of Guinness in the US, but seldom drink it, and I am pretty sure all the Guinness was bottled. I was just wondering if it was incredibly different in Dublin. (There are some tastes in Italy -- like cheese in Parma, or hazelnuts in Piemonte, anchovies along the Riviera-- that are stunningly so much more flavorful in their own locale that they are very much worth sampling when visiting. I was trying to figure out if the same is true for Guinness in its home town.)

                1. re: barberinibee

                  You can get a free pint of Guinness if you take the factory tour in Dublin. I don't drink Guinness at all but really enjoyed the tour and found it very worthwhile. The view from the top of the building is amazing for taking photos while sipping that brew.

                  1. re: zuriga1

                    Thanks for that info, although I will share with you that seven years in Italy, I've yet to take a winery tour. Didn't go for a distillery tour in Scotland either. Missed the breweries in Belgium. Skipped the warehouse tours in Porto. And I don't own a camera (not even on my phone!).

                    I guess I was expecting my hotel would be offering it at breakfast. :)

                    1. re: barberinibee

                      At least you aren't too out of step if you have a computer. :-) I usually do wine tours just for the views - Napa Valley is superb for that.

              2. re: dollycat


                I'm assuming it is because of pollution that you wouldn't want to eat mussels from the bay. We get exquisite mussels where I live, but not oysters. Do you have any place to recommend for them in September?

                In restaurants and bars, is it normal to identify for customers on the menu or board where oysters (or other seafoods) have come from? Any prize areas to be on the lookout for?

      2. September will be a good time for duck, assuming it is wild duck, and other game. However, most restaurant duck will be farmed. September should also be a good time for fruit and veg as it is throughout northern Europe - it'll be the start of the local apple season, plums should be around and there shuld still be berries around. For veg, cabbage should be good, as will courgettes.

        As for drinks, I assume that the Irish drink whatever folk elsewhere if they don't drink wine - that'll include the full range from beer, though soft drinks, to water (bottled or tap)

        1. You might enjoy trolling through Fallon & Bryne, a very nice gourmet food shop in the centre of Dublin. I found some interesting things there that I brought back to England with me.

          18 Replies
          1. re: zuriga1


            Did you eat there as well? I notice that their restaurant and wine bar serves oysters and some other interesting dishes, and local cheeses.

            1. re: barberinibee

              We didn't eat there, but I have a very good friend who lives in Dublin, and he likes the restaurant very much. I needed to give him a gift, so we bought a gift certificate for the restaurant, and he seemed very pleased. I have a feeling it's probably a good choice for a meal.

              I can highly recommend going to Bewley's Cafe on Grafton St. for a good breakfast in a lovely atmosphere. And the Avoca Cafe nearby is also great for breakfast or lunch.

              1. re: zuriga1

                Thanks. I'm imagining we'll get breakfast at our hotel (we scarcely eat it), but what we will definitely need is espresso, and lots of it. Is it easily found in Dublin?

                1. re: barberinibee

                  Breakfasts in hotels are way overpriced. If you don't eat much, it's silly to pay their prices, I think, when you can get a good muffin or something else at lower prices, but that's up to you and what you feel like doing.

              2. re: barberinibee

                My info might be out of date, as I haven't been back to Dublin since we moved away five years ago, but I remember their wine bar serving very good cheeses. I've never actually been in the F&B restaurant upstairs, but did go to the wine bar several times- always enjoyable, and I remember some very lovely stinky cheeses. (Although, uselessly, don't remember what they were!)

                1. re: Palladium

                  Thank you for that report. I keep coming across references to Sheridan's for cheese, and the food market at Temple Bar (also for oysters), but then everybody else says Temple Bar is the one place to avoid in Dublin because it is so touristy.

                  (And I seem to have tracked down a whole lot of good recs for espresso, but would love to hear opinions if anyone has them. No Starbucks for us.)

                  1. re: barberinibee

                    My Dublin friend swears by a place called The Bald Barista. He travels the world for his job so I figure he must know a bit about good coffee. We did meet him there, but I didn't have a coffee that lunchtime, so I can't judge. It's not a long walk from the centre of Dublin.

                    I can't tell you much more as I've only been to Dublin twice in my life. :-) I'm an American with no Irish ancestry!

                    1. re: zuriga1

                      thanks again. If the hotel breakfast isn't included, we'll definitely heed your advice and to elsewhere. I had already made a note of Bald Barista, and found an online magazine about Dublin (Le Cool) that very recently did an entire issue on espresso in Dublin with lots of recommendations, so I am reassured. (I also like tea and look forward to it).

                      Irish or not, you know more about Dublin than I do.

                      1. re: barberinibee

                        Hi I only discovered this site this week, I live in Dublin and would be happy to answer any other questions you might have?
                        In terms of Coffee I would highly rate 3fe, coffee angel & roasted brown... All stand alone joints.

                        definitely go to Lockes, it's on the bank's of the canal, and was awarded its first star this year. Excellent food, not pretentious.

                        seafood in the dublin area;
                        Cavistons in Glasthule (Dun Laoighre) little gem of a village, locals love it.
                        Howth has a good few places
                        Purty kitchen in Dun Laoighre
                        the brook lodge hotel in Wicklow has an organic seasonal menu
                        Anything else let me know.
                        I'm heading to Italy in 2 weeks myself, if you have any tips?

                        1. re: conormc

                          Sorry I just saw your post! Thank you for all this information. I had gotten the impression from my research that 3fe was closed, but is that wrong?

                          Can you be more specific about which places in Howth you recommend? (I will look at all the other places you have mentioned).

                          Where are you going in Italy? Have you been researching the Italy forum on Chow? If you are leaving shortly, the weather is generally beautiful right now all over Italy.

                          My standard advice to everybody going to Italy is that it really helps to be hungry when you eat. The food and its aromas is much more glorious on an empty stomach A lot of people dive into eating a lot of pasta, plus gelato, cappucini and cheeses, and within 2 days, they hate the sight of food! So pace yourself!

                          1. re: barberinibee

                            I'm just back from Tuscany (had a great time, ate in a place called Gaoile in chianti, Malborghetto was the name of where we ate, best meal in a long, long time!

                            1) 3fe most def open, 2 locations one nth side on abbey st in the twisted pepper, the second is sth side near Pearce st.

                            2) Howth I recomend King Sitric, I'm a south-sider and would tend to dine this side of the Liffey, for me the Dalkey/Dun Laoighre/ Monkstown area's

                            3) also coffee angel is a really good coffee shop, quality, there is one on Sth Anne street (next door to Sheridans cheese mongers!) the 2nd is on Merrion Square, around the corner from the Shelbourne hotel.

                            4) I really recommend spending a day using the DART to see Dalkey and its environs, and a walk up Killiney hill for the a great view of Dublin bay, new places have opened recently in Dalkey and are meant to be very nice.

                            any other q's let me know

                            1. re: conormc

                              Hi, conormc,

                              Once again, sorry for the delay in replying. It is great to hear you enjoyed Tuscany and found a restaurant you loved. I'm sure people on the Italy board, not just me, would like to know all the details.

                              I finally settled on a hotel on Northumberland Road in Dublin 4, which puts us in easy reach of 3fe. Great to know it is open. I am now looking at dinner possibilities within walking distance (if the weather favors it, or else we will taxi). I am pretty sure we will go for Mulberry Garden for at least one meal. (Hat tip to BrianGilligan.) The DAX wine bar looks simple for our first night (a Monday). Any reason not to go? Still researching our 3 remaining dinners, and will put up a new post when I have narrowed the list.

                              We of course will be spending our days inside museums and other sights (I am fairly certain one lunch will be the Silk Road Cafe in the Chester Beatty Library), and my husband talked me into a car excursion through Wicklow, and I am thinking to either include a lunch or dinner in Howth as part of that day.

                              So I'll be back with more questions for sure, if not here than in a new post.

                          2. re: conormc

                            conormc, are there any seafood dishes you'd especially recommend at the seafood restaurants you've mentioned?

                            1. re: prima

                              Hi, no not really, as the menu moves with the seas, and is varied. a stand out was the monkfish in cavistons,

                                  1. re: barberinibee

                                    no problem, you must be travelling soon!
                                    Based on where you are staying I would definitely go to "Juniors" its on Bath Ave, around the corner from where you are staying, its a gem of a place, does a great weekend brunch, opens at 11am Sunday, first come first served,
                                    is open for lunch and dinner.

                                    1. re: conormc

                                      Actually, my trip turned into a total bust!!!

                                      Heading to the airport with my husband by train, I became concerned that a small rash I had noticed on his chin a day or two earlier seemed to have worsened and spread. He has a beard, so I think if it wasn't for the longish train ride sitting opposite him, I might not have noticed! But one side of his lip looked swollen, and even though he said it wasn't painful, I suggested that we make a stop in the pharmacy in the main train station of Milan to have a pharmacist take a look. Well, the pharmacist feared it might be an infection and recommended it be looked at by a doctor, and since we had a flight to catch, we figured there was probably an emergency room of some sort at Malpensa airport and we might as well go there

                                      That doctor immediately diagnosed my husband as suffering "varicella" -- which is Italian for shingles! He wrote up a prescription for a monster dose of anti-virals, warned us to watch out for facial paralysis and possible eye involvement that could lead to blindness -- then told us it was ok to fly and enjoy our vacation!

                                      We took the next train back home, and my husband is recovering nicely. While I regret not making the trip (which we will do in the future), I have since read on the internet that eating shellfish exacerbates a shingles outbreak and eating parmigiano-reggiano cheese aids in recovery (seriously!), so I am glad we found that out before downing a lot of oysters and prawns in Dublin, which was high on our list to do. I am feeding my husband mountains of risotto instead.

                                      All the advice we received will not go to waste and we look forward to eating in Dublin next year! Many many thanks to all who posted.