Historically, Ireland has not been well known for its wide ranging cuisine, but Irish produce has always been able to hold its head high internationally. More recently, a new found appreciation of Irish produce has seen the culinary standards across the country reach dizzying new heights. It’s an exciting time for Irish diners and St. Patricks Day is the perfect opportunity to enjoy some local, seasonal specialities that would give your Mum’s Irish Stew a run for its money. Here are ten of the best.
Wild Honey Inn
Irelands only Michelin starred Inn, the Wild Honey Inn is serious about food. Located on the edge of the Burren in Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare, chef/proprietor Aidan uses the very best of local produce to showcase Irish cuisine to world class standards. With locally sourced fish from Doonbeg and game from Scariff, Aidan creates dishes that are second to none with very little sourced outside the Burren area. And the best part? After your meal you can stay over in one of their beautifully decorated guest rooms and spend the following day exploring the Burren and all that the local landscape has to offer.
Located in the heart of Dublin’s Liberties, Spitalfields is a cosy pub and restaurant serving some excellent Irish food. There are Flaggy Shore Oysters with Apple & Sorrel or Connemara Clams, Cockles & Mussels, ‘Nduja & Parsley. Pork is most definitely having a moment and the Smoked Great White Pork Chop with Cabbage, Apple & Truffle takes the lowly pork chop to a whole new level. The location couldn’t be more ‘old’ Dublin but the cooking takes Spitalfields into the modern day realm of Irish cookery.
Moran’s Oyster Cottage
Located in Kilcolgan, Co. Galway, Moran’s Oyster Cottage could well be Galway’s most well-known restaurant, specialising in, you guessed it, Oysters. Established in 1760, Moran’s is now run by 7th generation William Moran and the oysters are as good as ever. Don’t despair if you are not an oyster lover, there are mussels and clams galore along with lobster from Co. Clare should you be feeling flush.
The Winding Stair
If Irish produce ever had a champion, it is Elaine Murphy, dedicated proprietor of The Winding Stair, The Legal Eagle and The Woollen Mills in Dublin city. The menu, and indeed the building are quintessentially Dublin albeit with a modern twist. There is a stunning smoked fish plate with Dillisk Bread, Crème Fraîche, Pickled Cucumbers and Caper berries to start or Blackstairs Mountain Lamb Breast, with Crispy Pressed Potatoes, Lamb Tongue Fritter, Sheep’s Yogurt and Mint & Caper dressing. Grab a window seat on St. Patricks Day and you could soak up the atmosphere without ever having to leave your seat.
Co. Cork’s Ballymaloe House is without a doubt Ireland’s most famous restaurant, brought to you by the first family of Irish food. The fish is sourced locally in Ballycotton, while the fruit and veg come mostly from the walled garden. The bread is baked in house and all of the poultry and meat is reared locally by neighbouring farmers. The Sunday lunch is legendary and as for the dessert trolley, well there is a reason it has won awards.
The Commons at MoLI
Tucked away on St. Stephens Green, the Museum of Literature is also home to the latest venture from dynamic duo Domini and Peaches Kemp, and a welcome one it is. The restaurant prioritises local and artisan Irish produce for the menu including rare breed pork from The Whole Hoggs, Sheridan’s Cheese and Glenilen Farm dairy produce. Fancy a St. Patricks Day breakfast? The Commons serve a breakfast roll on a traditional Waterford Blaa or for lunch there is Roaring Water Bay Mussels with Bacon, Seaweed and Cremé Fraiche served with Toasted Sourdough. You won’t get much more Irish than that.
Located in what could possibly be Ireland most picturesque town, 1826 has earned quite the reputation since setting up shop in 2013. The rustic cottage setting and chic country vibe do little to detract from the outstanding food which includes plates such as the Head to Tail Free Range Pork Tasting Plate or Treacle Braised Beef Shortrib with Roscoff Onion, Boulangere Potato and Braising Juices. There are so many reasons to visit Adare, dinner at 1826 is just one.
L. Mulligan Grocer
Stoneybatter is like the kid sister that grew up and became cool without you really noticing, but L. Mulligan Grocer has played an integral part in that journey. Long before the pop up’s arrived, they were feeding the locals with quality Irish food and serving them quality Irish drinks. The Irish Kir Royale is a combination of Cockagee Keeved Cider & Móiniér Blackberry Wine which goes to show how serious these guys are about their Irish provenance. There is Venison Pie, Scotch eggs and Black Pudding to beat the band and every dish comes with a recommended drinks pairing. Gastropubs are a rarity in Ireland but this one pulls it off with aplomb.
The Pigs Ear
The Pigs Ear refers to itself as an ‘Irish Restaurant serving good, honest, Irish fare with a modern touch’ and we couldn’t agree more. There is Venison Tartare, Pressed Ham Terrine and Slow Cooked Irish Beef Cheek, with Parsnip, Ox Tongue & Bone Marrow. Long before Irish food had become cool, The Pigs Ear was its greatest advocate.
The Fatted Calf
The Fatted Calf started its journey in Glasson in 2010 before owners Feargal and Fiona O’Donnell made the decision to up sticks and relocate to Athlone town in 2015. With a menu focused on using the best seasonal and locally sourced ingredients that the midlands has to offer, pre-dinner include Lisduff Black Pudding Bon Bons and Crispy Pigs Ears while mains include Seared Skeaghanore Duck Breast, with Anise Poached Pear, Cavolo Nero and Parsnip Cream. It is safe to say that our ancestors never had it this good.
Feature By: Ciara McQuillan