One of the best things about snatching a quick city break is eating out. By surrounding yourself with a new selection of haute cuisine restaurants and cosy community cafés, not only will you get a taste of the latest culinary crazes but, if you pick your eateries wisely, you’ll also get a closer look at your chosen destination and some of its culture.
As one of the most popular city break destinations in northern Europe, Dublin has its fair share of fine dining opportunities, and to give you a head start on planning where to go, and when, here are a few well loved favourites to choose from…
The Winding Stair, found a short walk from O’Connell Street on Dublin’s northern Quays, is an excellent choice for traditional fare at affordable prices. Part restaurant, part second hand bookshop, The Winding Stair has proven a popular choice among writers, musicians and artists since the 70s and continues its reputation as a hub of bohemia, hosting regular book launches, readings and live performances. The food is wholesome and comforting with dishes like, Doran’s Hake with Celeriac Mash (€23.95) or Wild Irish Game Venison with Colcannon Bake (€23.95) earning the place a healthy troupe of regulars. There’s little that’s experimental about this down to earth diner but what it does, it does well with an impressive wine list to boot.
For more creative cuisine with great sea views, head out to Aqua. This is a local institution, famous for its seafood, situated a short way outside of Dublin proper in the north-bound town of Howth. From Roast Fillet of Monkfish (€27.95) through to Grilled Irish Lobster (small €40, large €60) fresh fish fanatics will be spoilt for choice. Aqua’s solid reputation has allowed it to push the prices somewhat higher than those of the Winding Stair but if you’re on a tight budget go during the day when you can take advantage of their lunchtime deals.
No trip to Dublin would be complete without a full Irish breakfast. Famous for its strong coffee, Tiesan Café is also the perfect choice for calorific breakfast fare. A full Irish (€10.90) arrives sizzling on a skillet and includes handmade sausages, cured bacon, black pudding, tomatoes, roast potatoes and eggs cooked to your specifications. Other somewhat lighter options – including the delectable Eggs Royale (€9.90) comprised of poached eggs, smoked salmon, lemon and dill – are also available. Find Tiesan café on Harrington Street in the hip Portobello area.
To end on a sweeter note and if you like to indulge in a sugary treat, you’ll find some of the finest continental comforts in the city at Il Valentino Bakery and Café (5 Gallery Quay, Grand Central Harbour). From croissants and cream puffs to French fruit tartlets and cinnamon Danishes, this is an excellent place to stop and refuel between culture shots. Be sure to wash down your sugar hit with a freshly brewed espresso.