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Top Irish Chefs Reveal Their Best Meal of 2016

Top Irish Chefs Reveal Their Best Meal of 2016

It is the question on the tip of my tongue every time I am lucky enough to sit down and chat with amazing Irish chefs – where do you love to eat? As 2016 draws to a close, we can look back on an exciting year in the global food scene, at home with the rise of innovative new eateries and cutting edge venues abroad.

There is nothing better than enjoying a meal so good that you know immediately it has earned a fond place in your memory. While they are usually the ones producing the memorable meals, some of Ireland’s top chefs found the time in their hectic schedules to eat in some incredible places this year. We asked them a tough question – where was their best meal of 2016?

From San Sebastian to Sandyford, London to Leeson Street Upper, the picks below from the people who live and breathe good food are basically a ready made checklist of must-visit eateries for 2017.

Domini Kemp

Domini Kemp Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Chef at Feast Catering and Owner of Alchemy Juice Co., Hatch and Sons, Joe’s and Itsa Cafés.

“That’s like asking me to pick a favourite child! I enjoyed gorgeous lunches in both Forest Avenue and Chapter One, plus dinners in Etto and Forest & Marcy….but a really special day was a birthday Sunday lunch with just my husband and two daughters in Bastible. I love Barry’s food, but more than that, I loved the family style of eating. It was a really special day for all of us. I love seeing my daughters enjoy and respect great food, and to be appreciative of it.”

Gareth Mullins

Gareth Mullins1

Executive Chef at The Brasserie at The Marker

“My best meal of 2016 was in L’Ecrivain for a Henriot Champagne Tasting dinner. Derry perfectly matched very well executed dishes that were both seasonal and full of flavour with the champagnes served. I don’t get a chance to go to these type of events very often so it was certainly very nice to be sitting on the other side for a change. He served Carlingford oysters to start and a marinated scallop dish with seaweed, followed by cod and lemon tart. We don’t tend to serve food and champagne together here in Ireland, it’s mostly used an aperitif but it is an excellent pairing with a soft savoury dish.”

“The private dining room of L’Ecrivain is a space I would love in our own Brasserie, a fun atmosphere is easily created, just what people want when they are going out in a group and pair that with the type of food Derry and his team create and it’s guaranteed to be a good evening. It is a credit to Derry and Sally Anne how they added the private dining room, their brand is always innovating and evolving, not many restaurants can say that after 27 years in business.”

Shane Smith

Dine in Dublin

Executive Pastry Chef at Airfield Estate

“I was once told, never make a decision when hungry, so when I was asked to pick my most memorable meal for 2016, I needed time and food! It was yet again another phenomenal culinary year and I can safely say that one of the most unforgettable experiences would have to be the chefs tasting menu I had in Bastible this October.”

“Food cooked with skill, great wine, equally great service and ambience, all was top drawer. Barry Fitzgerald and his team are doing an outstanding job. It is safe to say, I shall not be making any important decisions in 2017 unless I am perched at the counter in Bastible!”

Rob Krawzyck

Robbie Krawzyck

Executive Chef at Brabazon Restaurant at Tankardstown House

“In Ireland my memorable meals were in a small restaurant called Pilgrims in Rosscarbery and Forest and Marcy, which is always excellent. Globally, my most memorable meals this year were both in Tulum in Mexico – one was a small local restaurant called El Camello, you sit on plastic chairs and eat ceviche with the locals. The other was called Hartwood, everything cooked on charcoal and wood – amazing, I would go back tomorrow!”

Oliver Dunne


Chef & Proprietor of Bon Appetit, Cleaver East and Beef & Lobster

“My best meal of the year, in fact my two best meals this year, were in Bastible. Barry’s food is just stunning, his flavours are incredible. Price point wise, it’s not expensive, there’s no pretentiousness and it’s just really laid back. I’ve eaten in Michelin starred restaurants all over Ireland and this was just as good, the best food I’ve had in this country in years.”

Barry Fitzgerald

Barry Feature

Executive Chef/Proprietor at Bastible

“I’ve been fortunate enough to eat out alot this year in Ireland and enjoyed some fantastic meals. If i had to choose one…my favourite meal in an Irish restaurant for 2016 would be at Mews in West Cork. The quality of the produce they source at Mews is second to none and the simple but precise approach to serving it really allows the natural flavours of the ingredients to shine through. A side dish of locally grown beef tomatoes seasoned with just sea salt and tarragon mustard was so bloody good, I’d drive the 5 hours down there for that alone.”

taste of wc mews

Enda McEvoy


Executive Chef/Proprietor at Loam, Galway

Kadeau in Copenhagen would be my pick. I went there in February with my 8 year old son and they were so nice to him, it was such a relaxed environment and the food was fantastic. We had 15 plus courses but they were paced really well and super tasty.”

Wade Murphy

Elaine and Wade Murphy

Executive Chef/Proprietor at 1826 Adare

“I’m torn between two…One is Outlaw’s at the Capital in London and I recently ate in Arzak in San Sebastián which was out of this world. In Nathan’s it was the simplicity and freshness of everything. Whilst I say simple, a lot of care and technique is used there but the standard and flavours of every dish blew me away. My stand out dish there was Brill, Seaweed Butter, Potato Terrine, Leeks & Broad Beans.”

“With Arzak, I can’t just pick one dish. Elena is a good friend of mine so we got so spoiled. We had our canapés at the kitchen table and then Elena took away the menus and just cooked for us. It was a meal of a lifetime and one I don’t think I’ll ever forget.”

Aoife Noonan

Aoife Noonan

Executive Pastry Chef at Luna, Butcher Grill, 777, Super Miss Sue and Dillingers

“My best meal this year was dinner at Forest & Marcy. This tiny and unassuming gem completely surpassed my expectations. Chef Ciaran Sweeney has cultivated exciting and innovative menus and plates, presented in a small but social atmosphere. Each dish was an inventive mix of flavour and texture. The whole experience, from the service to the restaurant design, to the theatre of the cold plating section to the wine list, made it a most memorable evening.”

“For me, the absolute highlight was the House Cured Charcuterie with pots of varied pickles, I never wanted it to end. Ciaran is an outstanding chef; he has such panache and ingenuity, which comes across on each plate, along with a little something special.”

Ciaran Sweeney

Ciaran Sweeney

Executive Chef at Forest & Marcy

“My favorite meal of 2016 has to be in the The Greenhouse on Dawson Street. It was by far the most exciting cooking I’d seen all year and actually the first time my partner Mary Gallagher and I had been out eating without our seven month old daughter since her birth, which I suppose made it extra special.”

“One dish that stood out on this particular trip was our dessert. The dish was a chocolate, caramel, coffee and salted milk sorbet and looked just as sharp as it tasted…it had to be as close to a perfect meal that I’d experienced all year.”

Neven Maguire


Executive Chef at MacNean House

“My best meal of 2016 was so hard to choose as I had so many amazing ones throughout the year and so many stand out. That said, I took ten of the team to The Greenhouse for sort of an ‘inspiration’ day. We had lunch together, the five course surprise tasting menu and enjoyed exceptional Beef Tartare, Turbot, Venison and Partridge, with excellent Sommelier paired wines.”

“Probably four out of the ten chefs in the group had never eaten in a Michelin starred restaurant and Mickael came out to meet and chat to them all, we were so very well looked after. It was as close to perfection as it gets and The Greenhouse is like a well-oiled machine. Mickael is one of the most exciting and talented chefs we have here in Ireland and I just love his cooking.”

Mickael Viljanen

Mickael Aspect Photography

Executive Chef at The Greenhouse

“I had my best meal of 2016 while in Hong Kong doing a pop up with Mark (Moriarty). Without a doubt the best value meal of my life, it was dim sum in a restaurant called Tim Ho Wan. This place has a Michelin Star, yet six of us ate until we couldn’t move over 2 and a half hours and the bill for six of us came to €49. Incredible.”

“Also in Hong Kong, Arcane by Shane Osborn formerly of Pied á Terre, was exceptional. We had chef’s tasting menu and a Kombu Broth with Jerusalem Artichoke and Black Truffle was the standout dish, this was my best food ‘experience’ of 2016.”

Derry Clarke


Chef/Patron at L’Ecrivain

“My standout best meal of 2016 was at China Sichuan in Sandyford. It has a great menu, wonderful atmosphere, well chosen wine list and always very attentive service. I loved the Dumplings and the XO Turnip signature dish, oh and a brilliant cocktail list – my favourite is the Smiling Tiger!”


Darina CoffeyGrowing up with the name Darina, I was constantly asked if I could cook like my namesake. With that(and greed) as the ultimate motivator, I realised that 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, fuelling my desire to focus on food in a serious way. Working with TheTaste allows me to satisfy this craving and marries my food fascination with my love of writing and ranting.

Darina Coffey Darina Coffey
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