51 Elmwood Ave., Ranelagh, Dublin 6, 01 497 9163, ¤¤ There’s intimate restaurants, and then there’s Brioche, where you’ll not only know what your neighbours are having for dinner, you’ll know the intimate details of their lives and can score them on their table manners. But if you put your blinkers on, it’s a lovely spot. It serves French tasting plates (they recommend two to three per person) such as seared Thornhill duck breast, celeriac purée, and cherries or bacalhau style fillet of hake, red pepper ragu. Wines by the glass are good value and you can’t beat the warm, buttery brioche you get on arrival.
EDEN BAR & GRILL
7 South William Street, Dublin 2, Ireland, tel: (01) 6706887, edenbarandgrill.ie ¤ A good brunch spot, Eden Bar & Grill (the offshoot of the original Eden on Meeting House Square) has all the brunch bases covered: a good window seat for people watching on South William Street, comfy banquettes for those who are incapable of sitting upright, and a very bright, high-ceilinged atrium out the back for the perky post-pilates and yummy mummy brigade. On the plate, things are more consistent. Dishes all hover around the tenner mark and include salt-baked beetroot with goats cheese, poached eggs and wild mushrooms and wild asparagus omelette with almonds and Cashel Blue.
18 Merrion Row, Dublin 2, 01 678 8872 firstname.lastname@example.org ¤¤ Barely a year old, Etto has already earned enough accolades to snap at Michael Phelps’ heels - most recently a Michelin Bib Gourmand. When they opened up last year, the trio of friends behind this little eatery lured us in with their pork belly and smoked eel croquettes and prosecco on tap. They’ve been wowing diners ever since with an every changing Italian-inspired menu of small (from ¤10) and large plates (from about ¤19), ranging from the sweetest chargrilled baby leeks to nduja - this year’s chorizo - served with mussels and samphire. Larger dishes include featherblade steak, and pumpkin and ricotta ravioli. They’re big fans of polenta and lardo, and that’s just fine by us. The lengthy wine list offers a chance to break away from the usuals, including a rich ruby Austrian Blaufränkisch.
60-61 Parnell Street, Dublin1, 01 872 8318, hophouse.ie ¤ Korean food is all the rage these days, but the Hop House was serving it before your granny could say Kimchi. It’s all a bit crazy, with noise from the bar next door spilling through to the restaurant, but it’s the only place to go for authentic Bibimbap (a hot stone bowl filled with rice, assorted vegetables, Gochujang chilli pepper paste, slices of marinated beef and a raw egg yolk). Their flashing disco pitchers of Korean beer are worth the trip alone.
IFI CAFÉ BAR
6 Eustace Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2. 01 679 5744 € A good spot to feed your body before feeding your mind at the Irish Film Institute in Temple Bar. Serving lunch and dinner daily from 12.30 (and brunch on Sundays from 12-4) the IFI café offers a good range of sandwiches, burgers, salads and stews - most coming in under a tenner. It also has loads of desserts, a small wine list and a growing number of craft beers. They also run events to coincide with the films being shown on the three screens, so on Wednesday October 22nd you can watch Geron Wetzel’s documentary El Bulli: Cooking in Progress, and follow it up with a meal in the café afterwards (tickets €20)O.r the Horrorthon menu, which runs from Oct 23rd - 27th has zombie cocktails, and food specials for people coming to the Hallowe’en themed horror flicks.
28-29 Nassau Street, Dublin 2, 01 633 6872, kcpeaches.com ¤ What’s that? You’d like a plate of lasagne with some curried beef, tabbouleh salad, roast potatoes, creamed spinach and rice? And you’d like to follow it with a cookie the size of your head? Well you’ve come to the right place. KC Peaches’ buffet-style cafes do decent food, fast. You pay according to your plate (or take-away box) size, and you’re free to load it with anything from the dozen or so hot dishes, plus a varied, healthy salad bar. With small hot plates starting at ¤4.80 your lunchtime entertainment is provided by Trinity students from across the road who enter into a Jenga-style plate filling competitions (and the bewildered tourists watching them). You can also get tasty made-to-order sandwiches and salads and excellent baked goods. There are four KC Peaches outlets in Dublin now, but the Nassau Street branch remains the best for lunch.
15 Capel Street, Dublin 1 01-532 80 68, musashidublin.com Unit 2, Burton Hall, Custom house Square, Mayor St Dublin 1 01-55573 73, ¤ Dublin’s best sushi restaurant broke our hearts when it opened in far too small a room on Capel Street a few years ago. No bookings, scant space, you had to elbow your way in to try their delicious Ebi Tempura Masago rolls, slivers of spicy tuna or sashimi selection named after Japanese flowers. Thankfully its newer, larger sister restaurant in the IFSC makes it easier to access this taste of Japan. And the quality of their delivery menu is excellent, recreating the restaurant experience, even if you don’t have the cute Japanese furniture at home.
13/14 Cathedral St, Dublin 1, (01) 874 8038, mlchineserestaurant.com ¤ Claiming the spot as Dublin’s “most authentic Szechuan restaurant”, M&L has garnered a cult following thanks to its seemingly endless list of tasty, MSG-free dishes. Fans speak in hushed tones of the “Chi- nese-language menu” that (most likely doesn’t) have extra specialties on it. No matter, the English language one offers delights such as braised seabass in hot and spicy sauce and steamed razor clams with rice noodles. The spicy beef is about 50 per cent chilli – only for the brave of constitution.
17 Camden St Lower, Dublin 2, 01-405 2222, neon17.ie ¤ It’s a real bone of contention, the optimum technique with which to pull the biggest ice cream cone. Hours of rowdy research have gone into it (and an old Saturday job pulling endless cones for tourists may have gone unmentioned). Neon brought this all on themselves of course, with their clever idea of giving you a free, empty cone with every meal and letting you loose on their ice cream machine. Gimmicky, yes. But free ice creams do not a Thai restaurant make, so just as well their food is as much fun. Fast, spicy Asian favourites of noodles, curries, soups and wok-fried dishes, plus an excellent, explosive duck larb salad for just ¤6.50 (the ice cream comes in handy afterwards)
SCIENCENCE GAGALLERY FLUX CAFÉ
Institute, Pearse Street, Trinity College, Dublin 2, 01 896 4091, sciencegallery.com ¤ An excellent pick for lunch or early dinner, the ground floor of the ever-evolving Science Gallery is a buzzy, vibrant spot. Many of the exhibitions spill over into the café, which you reach by passing through the gift shop – avert your eyes or prepare to spend. Instead, you can opt for a variety of sambos, platters, salads and soups. Best option is the stewp (no we’re not stewp-id, that’s how they spell it), a hearty hybrid of stew and soup – and only ¤6.
TERRA MADRE CAFE
13, Bachelor’s Walk, Dublin 1, (01) 873 5300 terramadre.ie, ¤ Food – and machismo – flown direct from Italy, Terre Madre calls itself a café, but it’s a lot more than that. In a blink-and-you-miss-it tiny basement room on the quays, it serves authentic Italian dishes made with Lardo di Colonnata, Campofilone egg pasta, Porchetta carpaccio and Terena Ascolana olive oil. We may once have ordered the Sicilian caper sprout bruschetta for starters and then again for dessert…
7 Poolbeg Street, Dublin 2, 01-6798705, thevintagekitchen.ie ¤ Yet another tiny restaurant that it’s nigh-on impossible to get a table in, but when you do see what the fuss is about. Some of the best value cooking around, the lunchtime small and large plates cost just ¤5 and ¤10 but many of the “small” plates are full meals in themselves. There’ll be no afternoon slump with the spiced seafood chowder or the risotto of pancetta, pea, chili & parsley. At night, the menu comes at ¤25 for two courses, again great value. They have house wine by the glass or you can BYOB, and you can bring your own vinyl to play on their record player. Groovy
THE WOOLLEN MILLS
42 Ormond Quay Lower, Dublin 1, Ireland 01 828 0835, thewoollenmills.com ¤ Calling itself an “eating house” was right on the money, because you’ll over-order here and still lick the plates clean. In a well-restored old mill building with great views of the Ha’apenny Bridge, we hope the outdoor terrace remains as hospitable in winter. The curried crab claws with samphire (¤16) are delicious and the ham hock, baby potato, black pudding and poached egg is a steal for ¤14. Make sure you try the house pickles (¤3).
7 Castle House, South Great Georges Street, Dublin 2, 777.ie ¤¤ We’ve known this place to be called 666, so devilishly strong are its margaritas, but if you focus on the food, and stick to the specials (Taco Tuesday: two taquitos for ¤4; on Sundays, dishes cost ¤7.77), this is one of Dublin’s better Mexican restaurants. Try the soft shell crab taquitos, yellowfin tuna ceviche and Mexican-style sweetcorn, served with cheese, pasilla chillies, salt and lime. And go on, maybe one of those margaritas… just one mind.