Four Days in Dublin (researched!)
Taking advantage of a sale from Aer Lingus, I'll be flying from Chicago to Dublin for 4 days/nights in the first week of November. I have a tentative eating itinerary below and would appreciate any comments/suggestions. I am traveling on my own and enjoy eating at a bar. I also don't plan on packing heavy and will be in jeans the whole time -- but I saw that recent thread and it seems that dining in Dublin won't require anything else.
I'm typically a fan of local, seasonal cooking, craft beer -- especially bars/restaurants that serve craft beer while cooking seasonally and locally.
I'm staying at Kellys Hotel - I read the numerous comments about the noise stemming from the attached bars, but the price was right and I'm a heavy sleeper (the location seems pretty central, too). Breakfast was included so I'm really just focusing on lunch and dinner. My plan is to plan my sightseeing around meals (priorities!).
flight lands @9am and between customs, traveling to Dublin and jet lag, I probably will aim for something on the lighter side -- 3FE seems like it would be a good choice
dinner @W.J. Kavanagh
lunch @Pig's Ear
dinner @J.W. Sweetman
I think I'm taking a guided day trip this day to the areas just outside of the city (Hill of Tara, Newgrange, etc.) and I have no idea where I'll be around lunch time.
dinner @L. Mulligan Grocer
Does anyone have experience with the Dublin Tasting Trail (http://www.fabfoodtrails.ie/dublin-ta...)? I like eating and the reviews I have seen are positive. Not sure how long this runs or how hungry I'll be afterwards but maybe I'll check out Against the Grain/Black Sheep/Brew Dock (whichever is closer)
dinner @Vintage Kitchen
I have a 1pm flight back to Chicago, so I don't think I'll have time for anything more than a hotel breakfast
They're all good suggestions - although LMulligan and WJ Kavanagh are a wee bit out of your way from your southside location but its a short taxi ride.
Vintage Kitchen is a great spot and Mulligans next door a classic.
Try Cup Cafe on Nassau st as a convenient alternative to 3fe on Wed. 3fe supplies their coffee.
What about the gastrobar in Fade Street Social next to your hotel? Mad place (as in busy), plenty of irish craft beers there and interesting modern tapas. And you'll leave convinced that the recession is an illusion!
For anyone following along, here's a short trip report:
Overall, it was fantastic. The weather was perfect the entire time and I was able to see all the sights I planned on seeing. And, perhaps most importantly, I ate and drank really, really well.
Cup Cafe was a perfect first stop, even if I did make the mistake of ordering an Americano (honestly, we have better coffee over here!). The serrano ciabatta was very good, too.
Dinner was at Fade Street Social in their "gastrobar". I had three plates - Patanegra Iberico Pork, Crispy Free-range Chicken cooked in tapioca ﬂour, rolled in sumac with trufﬂe popcorn & Jerusalem Artichokes with mushroom cream, chilled leek jelly and charred sour dough. I enjoyed the plates but found them needlessly complicated and overly fussy. The pork was my favorite, in large part because it was the simplest preparation. The popcorn with the chicken was a mistake and the mushroom cream was very thick for a cream (closer to a mousse). But it was steps from my hotel and considering my jet lag, I appreciated the location.
Lunch at the Pig's Ear was very good but not necessarily exciting. I started with the Dillisk Cured Salmon and then had the Belly of Pork for a main. Again, perfectly prepared in the case of both dishes with bright, clean flavors but, for me, I felt something felt very safe about it all. I would probably go back, especially since the lunch prix fixe is such a great value.
After the Jameson distillery tour (and a very nice glass of Yellow Spot), I made it to L. Mulligan's for dinner. Now, for me, that was a great dinner. A killer Scotch egg to start things off and then the Smoked Pork Boxty Burger. Bold, fun flavors that really enhanced, rather than overpower, the ingredients. I loved every bite. The beer and whiskey selections were top-notch, too. I loved the Brown Bag Project's Dr. Rudi and I enjoyed seeing a local favorite of mine (Founders' All Day IPA) on draft. My last drink was a glass of 21yr. Redbreast, a real treat.
My only scheduled meal was dinner at Vintage Kitchen and it was easily the best food I ate during my entire trip, and certainly ranks pretty high on my list of all-time favorite meals. 2 courses for €25 was a great value - I picked the mushroom, spinach & cashel blue cheese tart as well as the slow roasted slaney river lamb shank. I didn't bring any wine for myself but was offered a great white for €4.50. But back to the food... probably the best blue cheese I've ever had and the biggest hunk of lamb, too. Perfectly cooked and paced nicely (sometimes an issue for a solo diner, I've found).
I booked myself on a musical pub crawl that started at 7:30 so I opted for a very early dinner at WJ Kavanagh's (and wound up skipping lunch... oops!). I had such a great meal at L. Mulligan's, I wanted to try out their "sister pub" and I'm glad I did. The House-made Chicken Liver Pate was a great way to start the meal and the Bangers & Mash did not disappoint, either. Again, hearty, strong flavors with great ingredients -- precisely the style of food I live for. And as with L. Mulligan's, they had killer beer and whiskey selections. I was sorry to leave as early as I did, but I had a pub crawl to attend. I did manage to squeeze in a glass of Tyrconnell's "Whiskey Live" 11yr sherry-cask finish before I left -- another great spirit and something I can't get at home.
Many people warned me about the food before I left but, clearly, they didn't do any research in advance. I'm glad I did, and again appreciate the comments following my initial post -- great food across the board (for the most part) that kept me going strong during my trip.
Also just back from Dublin (and Cork and Killarney), and here's what we found:
Like others from here and elsewhere who have been to Dublin recently, I recommend highly both The Winding Stair and The Pig's Nose for quality and value. At the former, standouts were the smoked fish platter (easily shared by two as an opener), haddock on cheddar potatoes, venison on root vegetables, and cockles and mussels; at the latter salmon (accompanied by a puree of smoked haddock) and the above-mentioned pork belly. For simple and slightly less expensive fare (lunches and pre-theater dinners) Le Bon Crubeen fit the bill for us (liked the chowder, pork belly, and hake), where service was -- as it was in most Irish restaurants we visited -- very friendly, young, and, occasionally, not very knowledgeable. Of course, the reputed best (and I'm not one to rebut this claim) fish and chips can be found at the Leo Burdock's near Christ Church; it's takeout only, but they provide plenty of napkins.
But the best meal we had in Ireland was actually in Cork, at the Michelin-mentioned Oysters. The meal didn't have much of an Irish accent, but it was just plain fine cuisine, with intense, complex flavors in most of the dishes (particularly in the smoky chowder and the hake over saffron/fennel barley), and the 24-27 euro weekday prix-fixe made it a considerable bargain as well. On the other hand, the equally Michelin-mentioned Jacques, just a couple of blocks away, seems to be transforming itself into a popular tapas bar; unfortunately we were in the restaurant instead, where the interesting menu far surpassed the kitchen's capabilities.
And, if you wander over to Killarney, I recommend the very traditional (but not especially cheap) seafood house Gaby's, where we had exemplary sea bass and scallops.
Oh yes, I sampled several Irish breakfasts (including at the popular Farmgate Cafe in Cork's English Market), but the best I've had so far this year remains the one at The Gage in Chicago's Loop.