In an ideal world, my every meal would be cooked by The Greenhouse’s Mickael Viljanen. Unfortunately, in reality, very few of us can set aside the funds to indulge in Michelin-star cuisine as regularly as our heart’s desire. The intricate edible art produced by the most prestigious names in Ireland, those with the coveted Michelin star, is necessarily a pricey commodity given the time and talent it takes to execute. But pleasure is a necessary part of life and the pursuit of it is worthy of investment.
In this case, the stars don’t just shine at night. The best way to experience the delights of the Michelin guide on a budget is to embrace the midday meal, with almost all of the starred venues offering a set lunchtime menu at a more accessible price-point. What’s more, luxuriating over lunch allows you to make your meal the centerpiece of your day and dedicating an entire afternoon to the art of eating is a true luxury in itself.
If anyone can think of a better way to spend an afternoon in Ireland, do let me know, as the following luscious lunches would be very hard to beat indeed.
Chef Garrett Byrne in Campagne specialises in French influenced cuisine in a relaxed setting, belying the stereotype of stuffy Michelin star establishments completely. A three course lunch in Campagne will cost you just €33, with a menu the same as the midweek early-bird dinner offering, available Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12.30 to 2.30. With four options for each course, you will get a good taste of what Chef Byrne can do and this is a perfect way of tasting the finest seasonal produce beautiful Kilkenny has to offer.
Dublin’s newest star was awarded to The Greenhouse for the stunning offerings of Mickael Viljanen in 2015 just three years after opening. While Viljanen’s five course surprise tasting menu is the stuff of legend, available during the day for €65 rather than €79 at dinner service, the incredible value of the set lunch menu is just unmissable. For just €38 you can sample three courses from the hands of the man who is considered by many to be the best in Ireland and this menu includes my personal favorite dish – Foie Gras Royale. Go now.
Ross Lewis’ set lunch menu reads like a dream, with an incredible range of 4-5 alluring options on offer in each bracket at €39.50 for three sumptuous courses. There is also a two course option for €32, but passing up one of pastry genius Darren Hogarty’s sweet masterpieces would be blasphemous. For a price close to that of a main course at dinner you can have it all at Chapter One. Lunch here is midweek only, from Tuesday to Friday so book in when you have a day off to make the most of the experience.
One of Dublin’s long standing stars, L’Ecrivain is celebrating 27 years of offering the finest food in the country, so you know that a meal here will be exceptional at any time of the day. L’Ecrivain is definitely one to tick off your restaurant bucket list and for €35 for 2 courses or €45 for 3, a Thursday or Friday would be exponentially improved by sampling Tom Doyle’s intriguing menu.
If you happen to be exploring the Northern Gem that is Belfast then you can get a taste of local ingredients expertly prepared by treating yourself to lunch in Michael Deane’s much lauded EIPIC . A new star in the Michelin sky, EIPIC opens for lunch on Fridays and you can sample four courses showcasing Danni Barry’s innovative and forward-thinking cuisine for £40.
Considering the phenomenal standard of dish you can expect to be presented with in Belfast’s OX, you may feel like you are robbing them when you spy the price on their 3 course lunch menu. For just £25, you can explore Stephen Toman’s gift for elevating vegetables to new heights alongside their meaty counterparts in a pared back and unpretentious riverside space.
Finally, a more hefty investment but one that pays dividends is lunch in Ireland’s only two Michelin star establishment, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud. From start to finish, a meal here is steeped in ceremony and at €60 for three courses, this is an experience which will pay for itself by creating a delicious memory. Two-star standard for this price is exceptional, particularly as you are offered three unique choices per course. Available from Tuesday through to Saturday, lunch at Patrick Guilbaud doesn’t have to be reserved for milestone celebrations.
Growing up with the name Darina, I was constantly asked if I could cook like my namesake. With that (and greed) as the ultimate motivators, I quickly realised that home-baked goods make excellent bribes and an obsession was born! With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law I undertook a PhD, but a preference for cookbooks to textbooks persisted. As a (self-confessed!) demon in the kitchen, I am the only person to have contested both Masterchef and the Great Irish Bake off, which fuelled my desire to set my focus on food in a serious way. Working with The Taste allows me to satiate this craving and marries my food fascination with my love of writing and ranting. Follow me as I share my food adventures and hopefully inspire others to indulge their passion for cooking and food in the process!