Ireland is known for it’s consumption, although not usually for it’s food, unless you are discussing the statistically flabbergasting rate of potato ingestion prior to the great potato famine.
But I ate amazingly well when I went to Dublin. Here are my favorite five places that I found while I was there.
OPENING HOURS: Lunch: from 12.30pm (until 4pm Friday) | Dinner: from 5.30pm | Pre Theatre: – 5.30 – 6.45pm (6.30 on Saturday) | Closed Sundays
This restaurant has a name reminiscent of a horrifying sweat and axe smelling nightclub, but it is on the far end of the appetizing/unappetizing spectrum from the usual places whose names have heavy sexual innuendo. It’s a classy, clean, modern, stylish restaurant that walks that line of being fantastic, creative, and detail-obsessed without being even a little pretentious.
We walked in and were immediately shown a table by a very friendly hostess. We got some fantastic gooey-on-the-inside and crunchy-on-the-outside brown bread as soon as we sat down.
The awesome thing about Bang is that they manage to nail all the steps of service and atmosphere requirements that make you feel like you are in a really nice place, but avoid all the silly frivolities that make normal people (like me) feel uncomfortable and intimidated by how nice the restaurant is. I felt pampered, but relaxed. The service was incredibly attentive, and the whole staff worked together seamlessly. Everyone of them seemed to know exactly what we had told their colleagues. If they saw us look up, there was someone there to bring us a drink or get us something. It was pretty ninja. (Yes, I am using ninja as an adjective to describe a restaurant.)
Of course, being the place that it was, every course came with a completely new silverware and plate set up. First up, some cheese moose. Gorgeous.
This chicken was perfectly cooked. There was some great gravy at the bottom, and you can see it sat on a bed of polenta, which tasted like the creamiest mashed potatoes you’ve ever had. That’s a tough thing to pull off, and they nailed it.
For desert we had Christmas pudding. How good does that look? Good, right? We’ll you’re wrong. It was great. It had some sort of amazing berries and homemade cream. Whoa.
Best Reason to Eat at Bang: The service makes you feel like a king, but the kind of kind with happy subjects who love him. Not that kind of King that has to worry about a peasant uprising.
2) The Church
Junction of Mary St & Jervis St, Dublin 1, Ireland
|Mon – Thu:||11:00 am||–||11:45 pm|
|Fri – Sat:||11:00 am||–||3:00 am|
|Sun:||12:30 am||–||11:45 am|
Next up on the awesome restaurants with confusing names tour is The Church. The Church is an old church that’s been turned into a restaurant, bar, and nightclub. (Don’t worry, the seats are far more comfortable than a regular church.) It’s known as the The former St. Mary’s Church of Ireland that local hero, Arthur Guiness, was married in 1761.
Here’s a view from the outside.
I had Guinness beef stew (it really does taste better in Ireland). Really good, just crazy amounts of flavor for a stew.
Best Reason to Eat at The Church: The environment and the character of the place. Also, the host will take your confession. (Kidding.)
7 Anglesea Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
Opens for 12 and closes very, very late
When in Dublin there is one restaurant perfect health, budget, and value consicous people. The concept of this restaurant is adapted from nomadic Mongol tribes that invaded and conquered Northern Asia and Eastern Europe under the leadership of Genghis Khan. The nomads would camp each night and place their upturned shields over their camp fires to cook their meat with wooden sticks. There are no Mongols here, nor shields. But wooden sticks are certainly used.
The way it works is to fill up a bowl with up to 4 different meats and up to 14 different vegetables. Add your own seasoning and sauce. With your bowl packed full of food the griller then cooks it with wooden sticks as shown below.
Finally, a hyper-literal restaurant name. The Mongolian BBQ is exactly what it sounds like. You get to pick out all of the ingredients you want, including meat, seafood, vegetables, sauces, and spices. You put them in a bowl. Then they throw them on the grill.
If you promise not to hurt yourself, or poke anyone’s eyes out, they will let you use the poker/grabber things. Right after this I got them taken away when I hurt myself and poked someone’s eye out.
This is how a professional does it.
Here’s the end result.
Best Reason to Eat at the Mongolian BBQ: You get EXACTLY what you want. Just be careful if you happen to know that one of the people wielding the grill equipment is a travel blogger. Give those fools a wide radius.
The Pub is located in Rockbrook, Rathfarnham, just under seven miles from Dublin’s City Centre.
Dinner starts at 7:30PM and the traditional Irish music and dancing show starts at 8:30PM
Unlike the other restaurants on this list, the Merry Ploughboy is outside of the Dublin city center. I rode about twenty minutes outside of the city with a friend, and you could definitely tell the difference in attitude. I didn’t conduct any polls or anything, but I got the feeling this was a much more local crowd. At the bar, everyone seemed to know everybody. As soon as we got there, the staff led us to the dining room where it was foreigners like myself wanting to experience Ireland the right way. Live music, great food, traditional dancing, Irish whiskey, and Guinness.
The food came almost immediately after we gave our order. First came a seafood chowder served with Irish brown soda bread, which was really rich. The seafood tasted like it had just stopped swimming, it was so fresh.
I was on a serious Guinness stew kick, so I had to get it again. You just can’t find bad Guinness stew around Dublin. This particular stew was quality using tender Irish Angus beef braised in Guinness and served with root veggies and rosemary jus. Portions were huge which I thought was only done in America.
This was super filling, and that filo bread was perfect for dipping.
For dessert I was given homemade apple and wild berry crumble accompanied with fresh cream and raspberry coulis. I finished this off with a Bewleys coffee, a popular coffee brand from Ireland.
The best part about the Merry Ploughboy was the performances that were going on as we were eating. There were many traditional Irish singers and performers during the time were were there, and all of them had those perfect Irish singing voices that make you pine for some green eyed lass.
In fact, The Merry Ploughboys are a traditional Irish music band who have been performing to audiences in Dublin since 1989.
I expected old men with grey beards but these guys were mostly middle aged. That’s important because what they do best is get the small audience involved through sing-alongs, clapping, and even some tap dancing.
There were folk dancers who got there stomping in while the bands played, and they all got the audience involved till it was a big drinking and dancing party. I loved it.
This place just nailed everything it tried. As a finale the entire room stood up and joined hands with the adjoining tables. By the time we walked to the buses we felt like we had made a dozen new lifelong friends. Good music, drinks, and company can do that.
Best Reason to Eat at the Merry Ploughboy: You get to be wined, dined and entertained in a traditional and stereotypical Irish setting.
5) The People’s Choice
I ate at a few other restaurants, but these were head and shoulders above everything else I tried. I open it up to you readers. What other Dublin restaurant should be on this list?