Best food in Dublin, Ireland
There’s a story in Dublin about a local chef who wanted to lose the Michelin star that his restaurant had been awarded, the honour that he had spent so many years slaving towards. And lose it, he did. When the latest Michelin guide came out in September this year, chef Oliver Dunne’s restaurant, Bon Appetit, was not included for the first time since 2008.
Now, the story is slightly complicated if you look at the details. Oliver Dunne knew he would lose his Michelin star because he changed his restaurant so much in 2014 that it would not be able to keep the star in its new form. And, because he’s a chef, he would certainly have preferred to keep the star – but he knew he couldn’t keep the restaurant the way it was.
You see, what happened to Bon Appetit is a perfect example of what’s been happening to the Dublin food scene more generally over the past yew years. And you can trace much of the reason for the changes back to the Global Financial Crisis that hit Ireland particularly hard towards the end of the last decade.
Prior to the economic crisis, Ireland had been in the grips of what is referred to as the ‘Celtic Tiger’, a huge and rapid period of boom when business was soaring, money was rolling in, and prices were going up. During this period of time, there was plenty of interest in fine dining and a restaurant with a Michelin star was something to be proud of. Especially seeing as the general food scene in Dublin was not particularly good – it was either high end or fast food, basically.
But the Global Financial Crisis changed this. Suddenly the residents of Dublin were looking for more affordable dining options. They didn’t want ‘cheap’, as such – they wanted affordable food that offered good value. This is what Oliver Dunne eventually turned his restaurant into because he found the Michelin star put people off who thought the place would be too expensive.
And there were lots of other chefs who saw an opportunity and new or refurbished restaurants started to pop up all across the city. It’s transformed the perception of food in Dublin – and in just a few short years.
To learn a bit more about the Dublin food scene, I meet up with food blogger Ketty Elisabeth who has a site called French Foodie in Dublin. (As the name suggests, she is French but has lived in Dublin for about eleven years now.)
She has seen this change in the city’s culinary habits firsthand.
“I think people are more educated now about food,” she tells me.
“It was more a pub culture before but people want to socialise differently now. For instance, in London or New York you have ‘brunch’ and you’ve had brunch for years. In Ireland now, brunch is the hot thing. So we’re a bit behind but catching up.”
Ketty also runs fantastic food tours of the city and she’s offered to give me a mini version of one of them. (For more info on her tours, check out Delicious Dublin Tours.) She promises me that one of the big focuses will be on local Irish ingredients, because that’s become really important for both chefs and diners.
“Irish people in general are down to earth so there’s no pretension on the food,” she says.
“So now it’s becoming really good but it still has this Irish side, it’s not pretentious – like the French can be pretentious. So they’re proud of their ingredients and they are becoming confident.”
For all the best tips on where to eat in Dublin, I would recommend reading through Ketty’s blog or taking one of her tours. But I thought I would share a few places that she recommended (and a couple I found myself), to give you an idea of what is on offer in the city these days.
I didn’t get a chance to check out any brunch places myself – too busy running around seeing things like Joyce Tower and the Dublin coastline. But Ketty has a couple of suggestions.
Now, lunch I did get to try and if you like seafood then you’re going to love Super Miss Sue (2-3 Drury St, Dublin 2). It has two sections. One is a more traditional fish and chip shop and the other is a proper restaurant. The seafood is so fresh and prepared with a bit of an Italian influence. Try the oysters or the seafood chowder and you have to go for the fish and chips – delicious!
I’m a big fan of pub meals and although Dublin has always had pub meals on offer, there’s now the rise of the gastro pub. One of the best one you can try in the city is called L. Mulligan Grocer (18 Stoneybatter, Dublin 7). Excellent food and a huge selection of craft beers to try too. It might be wise to make a booking for dinner here.
Out of town:
If you want somewhere to stop for a bite while you’re exploring the countryside around Dublin, it would be worth considering The Merry Ploughboy (Rockbrook, Edmondstown Rd, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16).
The country pub does traditional Irish meals and has a good range of beers on tap. It is also well known for its musical performances in the evening – either some casual entertainment on the ground floor or a proper show upstairs in the function room.
Ketty showed me a great little shop you could pop into for something sweet. Cocoa Atelier (30 Drury St, Dublin 2) specialises in different flavoured chocolates and you can choose the amount you would like. They’ve also got some great macaroons that you should not pass up!
And after all that food, who doesn’t feel like a cheese plate? Unfortunately there is no eat in option at Sheridan’s Cheesemongers (11 South Anne St, Dublin 2) but it does have one of the best selections of cheese and meats in the city. So feel free to stop by and grab some little treats for a picnic in the nearby park.
And there you have it. There are lots more suggestions on Ketty’s blog. If you have some favourite restaurants or cafes in Dublin yourself, please feel free to drop me a note in the comments below and share them.