It seems reasons to visit Ireland is centred around history, ancestry, Paddy's Day and Guinness but not food. There's obviously more to Irish food than the potato. I've had the lucky opportunity to eat and drink at more than just usual tourist spots. I know there is no comparison to Irish pork sausages, bacon, ham and Irish butter (except New Zealand butter but it's hotly contested). All that rain equals lots of amazing produce.
Here's a round up of my Christmas visit and I've listed some Cork and Dublin favourites.
Warning - this is longest foodlee post ever.
Cork - the People's republic
Cork, the true capital, is located at the south. Any trip to Cork requires a visit to the English Market (which show how forgiving the Irish are!). I always make a stop at O'Flynns gourmet sausage stand, the Real Olive Co and last year I discovered On the Pig's Back - a delicatessen with an impressive selection of local and European cheese. They give you generous samples and cheese is so cheap in Europe. You don't have to go to the deli for good cheese, even supermarket cheese in Ireland is amazing.
O'Flynn's Sausage Grill
The O'Flynn's sausage stand in the English markets has a cafe on Winthrop Street! Of course we have to go in to check if it's as good as the market stand. It is.
Market Lane is jammed when we arrive for lunch but we manage to get a table without a booking. The 10 euro half a gourmet sandwich, half soup and coffee/tea deal is a revelation! What a brilliant concept. Perfect for the indecisive (me). The gourmet chicken sandwich is loaded with lots of vege, relish and reminds me of the doorstoppers sambos at South Dowling Sandwiches in Surry Hills.
Sorry you won't be able to get into this restaurant. Sad face for you! There's never a better spread than Christmas at the Robinson's - artichoke dip, salmon blinis, ham, venison, roast vege, roast potatoes, calcannon, stuffing, homemade Christmas mince pies, Christmas cake, trifle, poached pears and lots of French wine. A diet usually precedes our trip to Ireland.
We booked a stay at the Clarion in preparation for a big Christmas gathering. The Asian dinner menu in the bar is edible but meh. The buffet breakfast however is a winner. I will never tire of black and white pudding for brekky.
- Star Anise Restaurant - 4 Bridge St. Lunch & DinnerFranciscan Well Brewery - North Mall. Pub
- Tom Barry's - Barrack St. Pub with beer garden
- Cork Jazz Festival during October - the whole city is taken over with jazz performances.
- Fishy Fishy, Kinsale. I've still not been yet but it's highly recommended.
- Lennox's - Bandon Rd. Perfect for supper after hitting Tom Barry's. I love efficiency and Lennox's is efficiency at it's best. You queue and shout your order to the counter. By the time your reach the counter your order is ready. Mind-blowing. Get the cheese and onion pie.
Centra isn't a cafe or a restaurant or pub. It's a convenience store located everywhere. Creators of the most beautiful breakfast roll. This was the one thing I HAD to eat on our trip. You can get a b-roll and a can of drink for 3.50 euro. Perfect for a hangover. If you're confused when asked "red or brown sauce?" - just get both! Red is obvs tomato sauce and brown is HP sauce.
Cinnamon - Ranelagh
A bit out of the city but easily accessibly via the Luas tram, Ranelagh is like Paddington on one street. Cinnamon is a lovely cafe/wine bar/food hall/restaurant with eclectic and hipster decor. It's the home of the breakfast salad. This may not be true, but I've never seen a breakfast salad before. I'm slightly allergic to lettuce (unproven) so I'm not usually down with the green stuff. But this salad was calling my name. It was freaking awesome! Somebody do a brekky salad in Sydney please. Check out the chunky carved ham on the eggs benedict. Thick.
This cafe kept appearing in my research so I had to visit. Hatch & Son is all about Irish produce and is beautifully decorated - so instagrammable. As it's known to be cold in Dublin so you can queue inside, in the hall way. Be prepared to queue.
Owned by Irish Number 8 Jamie Heaslip and popular Jo'Burger, Bear means dude food. Dark, woody and with the most Edison light-bulbs I've seen in one place, Bear is best with a few mates so you can taste all the different cuts of meat. As good as the meat is, I'm here for the million dollar fries. Devilish potato dauphinoise is cut into cubes and deep-fried. Jaysus! It's sinful and calorific, but I'm on holidays.
The Sussex, above M O'Briens
Our IRL now SF disco-loving friend Barry, kindly invites us to join his parents for dinner at The Sussex above M O'Briens, a much loved Irish pub located a 20 min walk from the city centre near Charlemont Luas stop. Such a standout dinner and even more amazing, cost 24.95 euros for the 3 course early-bird menu. I have the the house cured salmons with crab, tomato & avocado salsa to start and fish of the day for my main. The boy's Shephard's pie also received thumbs up. The bread and butter pudding, devine!
You'd want to put on something sparkly when dining at Chapter One. It's a Michelin star restaurant that is consistently ranked as one of the top restaurants in Dublin and Tripadvisor's Travellers Choice winner in 2013. This was my first visit and I couldn't fault anything. The maître d was charming and hilarious. Our waiter - knowledgeable, friendly and attentive but not overbearing. The food was stunning. You can't order wrong and you should go with staff recommendations.The suppliers are listed on the menu so you know that your free-range pork is from TJ Crowe in Tipperary and smoked bacon from Fingal Ferguson.
The smoked haddock (mid-far right) was a standout. The suckling pig with a oatmeal, turnip and pork dumpling (mid-right) was like whoa, dat dumpling! It was like a squishy deep-fried oatmeal crusted amazingness. For dessert go the Manjari chocolate (bottom right).
- Green 19 - Camden St. Tasty, great value, generous servings and they have a small outdoor balcony upstairs. The house wine is good.
- Peploe's - St Stephen's Green. We first met Peploe's when we couldn't get in another restaurant. It was fate. Peploe's is my favourite restaurant in Dublin for special occasions. Big recommends! Go for the milk fed veal or venison if they have it.
- Fallon & Bryne - a deli, grocer, wine cellar and a wonderful display of baked goods.
- Elephant & Castle - Temple Bar. I would normally advise to stay away from Temple Bar but E&C has the best buffalo wings with ranch dressing.
- Google. If you know someone living in Dublin then they probably know someone who works at Google. Get an invite to lunch.
- Pieminister inside Georges St Arcade. My first Pieminister was at my first festival, Electric Picnic. Now you don't have to wait once a year for award-winning pies with mash and gravy.