My number one vote for best of, Dublin! We almost didn’t make it to this reservation. It was a Friday night and we had made an excursion to Howth, a sweet seafood-oriented short train trip away (see scenic photos here). Upon returning to Dublin, we unknowingly encountered an encumbrance. It was the night of the Spice Girls reunion concert and thousands of people were coming in to indulge—and there were no taxis to be had outside of the Heuston train station—plus the restaurant was a 25-minute walk away. OY! What to do…. Frantic, we were on the verge of canceling the reservation—a 6:30 to 8:30 only—when a taxi appeared. Yesss… Not only did he get us there on time, but he honed in on my friend Bob’s renovation contractor woes, after eavesdropping on his phone conversation.
Happy that we made it only a few minutes late. Upon viewing the tight space, we asked to be seated at the high top bar, and were accommodated after a consult. Sweet. This is a kind of boutique experience where you allow yourself to be treated by a talented chef and team with a set menu. I always feel so lucky when I come across this type of venue, as it usually becomes a unique and special evening celebrating the local environs. Not to mention, the 4-courses were priced at 55 euros!
(photo at the top of this post) The space was minimally outfitted, with solid deep-green walls, and raw wood. All the more better to have less distractions for the food, which were the absolute stars. Chef Barry FitzGerald, was a master of sensuous textures. Every single item that appeared had a remarkable and delightful mouth appeal. The set menu consisted of 4 courses of which there was a choice of entree: fish or meat. All was delectable, see details below. bastible.com
I love oysters, and my first taste experience in Ireland was of the utmost. In addition to the set menu, these appeared as an amuse bouche to great aplomb. Right, it was easy to photograph the chef, Barry FitzGerald, who performed in the open kitchen, with associates in a genuinely humble way.
Not the most photogenic, but nonetheless, extraordinary. Smoked beets arrived with the oysters, unexpectedly. Right, a repeat of a wonderful bottle of wine from the day before at Wilde. (Did we get another?… lol)
Ireland loves their pickled vegetables. Here is a one-bite sensation with deep-fried chicken. Right, feeling content.
First Course: The sea bream crudo featured candied beet and grapefruit and a beautiful presentation with a flurry of flora. Right, along the windows that lined the front of the space was a table that could seat a party of at least 10.
The back bar. Right, Second Course: Knockalara cheese dumpling. Again, textures ruled. When you bite into this everything stops as you savor its lightness and richness combined.
Main Course: This pretty dish housed cod with Lissadell dockles, bay leaf sabayon and the most stunning young asparagus. Bob agrees.
The open kitchen at work. Right, alternate Main Course, Spring Lamb neck and chop with baked kohlrabi and nettles. Need I say the neck, buried under greens, was melt-in-your-mouth heaven. Not to mention, I am not usually a lamb aficianado. Local lamb did not have a game-y taste in the least.
Dessert: Woodruff cream with blackcurrants and shortbread, a perfect blend of freshness and a little cookie. Right, saying good night to Chef…
This restaurant was north of the Liffey River, about a 10-minute walk from there (thankfully we did not have to worry about a finding a taxi). Located in the lower level of a brownstone, this Michelin spot was graced with friendly servers and humorous depictions of foxes throughout. As in other Dublin hotspots, there were quite a few tables of 6 or more, it seems the Irish like to go around in groups! The menu offered quite an assortment of goodies, and it was hard to decide, but in the end I think we picked some exceptional dishes. mrfox.ie
Love the simple logo of the fox head. Right, Buffalo mozzarella, smoked beetroot, Jerusalem artichoke and hazelnut. Hazelnut was definitely the nut of choice in Ireland, which delighted me, as it is my absolute favorite nut. This dish was quite delectable.
Watch out for the fox with vintage arm. I guess he is retaliating! Right, the other starter we chose: Crab, kohlrabi, avocado and smoked eel. Another winner.
What? No brown bread? OK, this was perfectly soft and tasty, nonetheless. Right, this wine choice turned out to be excellent. Nice pick, Bob!
The small bar area in front had a little lounge seating. Right, the bread came with two spreads: a mushroom butter and a parmesan cream. It was tough to decide which was the favorite.
If there’s peas on the menu, Bob will order it. Cod with peas, Alsace bacon, lettuce, mussels, and bisque. Right, the room had a subdued style, very simple.
My entree: Guinea hen, parmesan ravioli, tenderstem broccoli, brown beech and almond. I’d like to know how they got that fowl in the shape of a perfect log. Hit the spot. Right, the front entry with a view of the bar lounge area. We ate at the first table at the top of the stairs.
The finale dinner in Dublin, and as they say, last but not least! Our server said it was perfect that we saved the best for last, because otherwise we would have been disappointed wherever else we went. As per the norm now, we really enjoyed all our wait staff. They could not be friendlier or more attentive. The menu had a fantastic selection of healthy choices. isabelles.ie
Here was another case of entering what appeared to be a small restaurant, but it, in fact, was quite expansive. We were seated in a generous booth and there were only a handful of people in the place (Sunday night). However, there was one table that caught our attention all the way in the back. Seems there was a birthday celebration going on.
The cool neon sign outside. Right, the halibut came with tapenade, and asparagus. Was a perfectly light and healthy choice.
The bar area in front. Right, a starter: Yellow Tail, Crispy Rice Cake, Avocado , Ponzu. Excellent.
The other starter: Chargrilled Courgette (zucchini), Tzatziki, Feta, Hazelnuts, Cucumber. Nice. Right, the back of the restaurant and birthday revelers.
Bob went with the pasta: Penne Primaverde, Rocket Pesto, Pine Nuts. Right, another lovely French number.
The middle area of the restaurant housed a bar. Right, since we ate so healthily, we decided to splurge on dessert. I like cake-y things, not overly sweet and this fit the bill. Chocolate Brownie, Peanut Ganache, Peanut Butter Ice Cream, Chocolate Crunch.
On our way out, we had to stop and check in with the celebrators, and they kindly welcomed us in and ordered a round of shots! This was called a Baby Guiness, because of its resemblance to the real thing, but was a dessert drink—a mix of Irish cream and Kahlua coffee liqueur.
Here’s an action shot…next thing you know a hand was thrown up in the air with a request for two bottles of of Prosecco, as another couple on their honeymoon joined the table. Only in Ireland!!
Union Square Cafe
Upon returning to NYC from a trip, I like to honor the destination as a way of extending the vacation vibe. We returned on Memorial Day and snagged an early seat at the bar at Union Square Cafe.
What better way to honor the Irish cuisine than to order the potato ravioli with cream, lox, and caviar. This was a wonderfully unique and tasty combination. Right, to wash it all down, we chose the restaurant’s signature bubbly, which is as complex and nuanced as a fine wine.
More brown bread with creamy, room temp butter, please!
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