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Epicurean Destination Guide to Dublin, Ireland: Restaurants, Markets, Hotels
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Dublin, Ireland Food, Restaurants, Dining, and Hotels

The discerning traveller's guide to a fantastic dining city.

Dublin Restaurants & Dining

Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud
21 Upper Merrion Street
Tel 01 676 4192

Ambiance/Service
***
Food
**
Overall
***

Price

***

Dining at Guilbaud restored our faith in Michelin's star rating system. The two that this restaurant within the Merrion Hotel has earned from that famous red guide are deserved. More than any one thing, it is the orchestration of the dining experience that puts Guilbaud way ahead of the crowd.
 
Portion size is extremely small, even by French haute restaurant standards; the extremely pretty and generally well-prepared food lacked the pizazz we craved. However, service, ambiance, presentation, the wine list, and the warm, attentive presence of both owner Patrick Guilbaud and chef Guillaume LeBrun themselves made for a near perfect meal. 
 
Signature dishes include Lobster Ravioli, Roast Challans Duck, and Assiette Gourmande au Chocolat. We enjoyed the cheese course, though it fell behind the standard set by te nearby Bentley's. A sort of croquette filled with pork, goat cheese ravioli, grilled sea bass atop saffron mashed potatoes, and rabbit wrapped in savoy cabbage all proved more than satisfactory.
 
There is an excellent, though not vast selection of wines by the glass, and for lunch we sampled an Italian Rosso Piceno and a Macon Lugny that greatluy complimented the meal.
 
The extremely elegant restaurant lies to one side of the Merrion, and has its own covered outside dining area with a fireplace. Stylish, carpeted, well lit, charmingly laid out, and with some of the hotel's renowned art collection on the walls, inside Guildbaud's you have succesfully escaped from the outside world. You may pause in the comfy bar before or after your meal.
 
Young, thin, and generally tall, black clad waiters & wine stewards (we saw just one female back waitress) provide exemplary service, describing each dish, answering all questions, and performing each table ritual with aplumb. 

Bentley's
22 St. Stephens Green
Tel 1 638 3939

Ambiance/Service
***
Food
***
Overall
**

Price

***

Chef Richard Corrigan's Irish venture, which includes a 10-room inn, provided one of the most pleasant and memorable of our Dublin dinners. We had perused the menu a couple of times while walking by St. Stephens Green, and inquired about reservations for that evening only to be told they were full.
 
By hazard, we passed again around supper time and they had a few places at the oyster bar available. Service at the bar was excellent since we essentially had the bar tender/waiter at our disposal the entire time. A charming conversationalist, skilled oyster barmen, and full of at-you-disposal waiterly skills, we could not have desired more superior accommodation.
 
The restaurant's ambience: charmingly upscale but without pretension, with lots of mirrors and soft lighting right out of an F. Scott Fitgerald novel.
 
The food: tempura of oysters; stuffed baby squid; cod with lentils; fish & chips; Irish cheeses; and a blood-orange pudding.
 
The oysters came perfectly cooked in a light batter, full of delcicate sea flavours; the stuffed squid--recommended by the barman--exploded with the rich combination of chorizo and feta. Of the main dishes, the fish & chips--made with fresh haddock--was a unique take on traditional fare and a huge portion. The coating on the fish could have been a bit lighter, but the fish itself was perfect. The cod served on a bed of lentils: scrumptous and elegant.
 
The cheese plate was the best, most well stored and served cheese course we tried in Dublin; and the pudding more than satisfying if not overwhelming.
 
We will return!
 

Recommended Dublin Hotels for the Epicurean

The Merrion Hotel

The Merrion has established itself as the epitome of relaxed elegance, welcoming Dubliners and visitors to the city with stunningly appointed rooms, crackling turf fires and a host of facilities, including a delightful indoor swimming pool and spa.

Service is impeccable, though a bit reserved, with concierge, front desk, and housekeeping staff always on their toes. Twice-daily room cleanings, elaborate turn down service, and charming staff in the public areas leave no room for complaint. A social gathering place for Dubliners, guests can ease into the elegance of the spacious rooms and extensive public areas with aplumb.

The Merrion offers its guests a choice of two restaurants for eating out in Dublin, The Cellar Restaurant and the renowned Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Ireland’s only Two-Star Michelin Restaurant. Bars include The Cellar Bar set in the original wine vaults and the intimate cocktail bar, No. 23.

For those truly seeking a characterful stay, rooms in one of three joined Georgin masions--the main house--are preferrable to those in the "Garden Wing"


Upon returning to Dublin for business, our choice is The Clarence.
 
A stylish boutique hotel located in the heart of the city on the famous River Liffey. Owned by Bono & The Edge of Irish rock group U2, The Clarence is very much a reflection of 21st century Ireland. Simple but elegant, timeless but yet of its time, contemporary but embodies the best of Irish hospitality.
 
The hotel re-opened in 1996 after an extensive facelift that transformed it from 2-star dreariness to 4-star restrained elegance. The hotel first opened in 1852, was bought by Bono and The Edge in 1992, and went through a complete re-design respecting Ireland's quintessential heritage, with an inventive interplay of elements contrasting the spartan with the sybaritic, the hip with the historical, and the old with the new. Inside, guests find sturdy, high quality finishes--white oak, limestone, leather and velvet using rich cardinal colors like crimson, royal blue, amethyst, gold, and chocolate.
 
The hotel's best-kept secret is Room 508--a large room done in royal blue and gold opening onto a huge terrace with panoramic views of Dublin. A wooden dining table invits al fresco meals while decks chairs provide for a chance at respite from the city's bustle.
 
We found the staff friendly and efficient, the rooms comfortable--if a bit small--the beds restful, and the overall stay quiet and relaxing.

Good Food Ireland: a great web site

Sun Shine House Chinese Restaurant
139 Parnell Street
Dublin 1
Tel. 01-8779666

Ambiance/Service
*
Food
***
Overall
**

Price

***

We happened upon this new Chinese restaurant in a tiny "Chinatown" area of Dublin not far off of O'Connell Street. We had eaten at restaurants here before without being too impressed--just the usual "Chinese food" found around the world outside of China.

Sun Shine proved to be different.

Seasons Restaurant, Four Seasons Hotel Dublin

Ambiance/Service
**
Food
***
Overall
**

Price

***

Seasons attracts a steady stream of locals to its elegant, though relatively unpretentious surroundings, and this says something about its quality and consistency, for Dubliners are not undiscerning diners. We encountered friendly and informed service from the moment they took our overcoats to the time we asked for the bill.

Seasons gives everything you would expect from the fine dining venue of a Four Seasons Hotel. Comfy chairs, big tables, lots of space, fresh flowers, plush carpet, etc. Service here is different from, say, Patrick Guilbaud's. Performance a la table is less orchestrated, though no less informed or informative. Extremely personable waiters and managers take the time to chat with and engage their guests.

The wine list is impressive, and we sampled a moderately priced bottle of Chablis, which at 35 euros was at the botton of the price scale.

Our appetizers--smoked salmon and foie gras--gave us a bit of hesitation. Good, but without bowling us over. The foie gras, for example, came perfectly cooked, but so unpretentious it left us wanting a little something extra on the plate.

However, with the arrival of the mains--veal cheek raviolis with shaved black truffle and slow-roasted pheasant--the gustatory experience shot skyward. Both dishes displayed subtlety and depth of complex flavors, with portion size perfectly executed.

For dessert we sampled a selection of Irish cheeses, served with honeycomb scented by black truffle, which was truly remarkable, as well as a delectable quince tart.

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill

51 Dawson Street
DUBLIN 2, Co. Dublin City, Ireland
01 677 1155

Ambiance/Service
*
Food
*
Overall
*

Price

*

Chef Marco Pierre White has lent his name, concept, and organizational skills to this welcoming restaurant in Dublin. One of 14 dining venues around the globe for this longtime celebrity chef, we have found it enticing more than once. It has a great location in the heart of Dublin, and you can dine outside when it's warm--for lunch or dinner. A charming and popular restaurant it provides a comfortable and lively atmosphere to enjoy locally-sourced ingredients prepared in an easily accessible style. If you are a beef lover, you will not be disappointed. It's mostly a steak house with traditional values, though the non-beef dishes compete very well. Oysters, tuna, and cod were all very good.Ingedients are always fresh and well prepared. It's essentially French-informed comfort food, and there's nothing wrong with that. A solid steak house, the service staff are generally well trained and accommodating, though on one visit they did not remove the stained heavy paper table cloth from the previous guests. The wine list is well selected and priced reasonably.

L'Ecrivain
109a Lower Baggot Street
Tel. 1 661 1919

Ambiance/Service
**
Food
**
Overall
**

Price

**

A longstanding Dublin eatery--pre-dating the city's boom--L'Ecrivain offers determinedly French style cuisine, smart service, and comfortable surroundings. Their 25 euro prix-fixe lunch menu is a great value.
 
Food rates very highly, though service falls slightly short of excellent marks. All the dishes we sampled demonstrated the kind of sophistication, prettiness, and complexity expected on a Michelin starred restaurant, though servers almost uniformly failed to introduce or explain the dishes and the house wines we ordered. The ambience tends towards the modern/post-modern divide, with classical touches like wood panelling and stained glass, but with a multi-level layout, recessed lighting, and curved booths.

Specialty Foods, Wine & Casual Dining: Fallon & Byrne
11 -17 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2, Ireland
Tel: (01) 472 1010

Fallon & Byrne takes the prize for specialty food shopping in central Dublin. The epicurean will find fresh fish, a specialty butcher, high-end coffees, baked goods, fine artisan foods of every kind, as well as the freshest of fruit and vegetables. The shop also offers a wide range of wines and an eatery.
 
The inviting cellar has shelves lined with a thoughtful selection of more than 600 wines, many served by the glass, all to take away. Knowledgeable staff can recommend every last one, with or without a sampling of the bar food. Staff will help to choose wines to match a food or party. There is a special offer of just eur 1 corkage on all wines consumed in the cellar.

La Stampa Hotel & Spa

This is an excellent choice for location and the wonerful bar on the ground level. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the world, La Stampa is a bit frumpy. With a chic air about it, the hotel doesn't live up to true luxury standards. Service was sparse.

Canticum Hotels Group
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