Dublin’s fine dining scene has been expanding rapidly over the past few years although the heavy-hitters that have dominated the culture are still stalwart favourites. New restaurants like San Lorenzo’s and The Greenhouse are muscling in on the famed Michelin-starred territory of Chapter One and Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud. Head to The Unicorn for old-school Italian finery whereas L’Ecrivain is a long-running Michelin starred French eatery with beautiful décor that caters for carnivores and vegetarians alike. If you’re looking for more than on place offering great vegetarian options then head to Kinara Kitchen in Ranelagh for exquisite Pakistani cuisine that offers more than just the prerequisite single option for veggie diners. For a more experiential dining option look to The Chef’s Counter at The Pig’s Ear or the Chef’s Table in Chapter One that give yout he option to enjoy a tasting menu with special insight into the kitchen. Fine dining options around the capital have expanded and while all of these restaurants have a dedication to local Irish producers, the nature of the dishes are becoming more experimental and exciting. These are the places to go if you’re looking for special menus and chef interaction, excellent cocktails and next-level culinary delights
L'Ecrivain has been serving up French-style, Michelin-starred fare for over 20 years and is still as popular as ever. Headed up by husband and wife team Derry and Sally-Anne Clarke, L'Ecrivain brings the classical French gastronomic experience to new heights with 6 and 10 course tasting menus and even a dedicated menu for vegetarians.
Their Sommeliére has also been awarded Best Sommeliére and L'Ecrivain works with a number of small, family-run producers that keep the wine menu consistent and exclusive. For those looking for private dining there are two rooms seating up to twenty people. Perfect for a business group or larger parties. (353-1-661-1919)
9 The Greenhouse
The Greenhouse is heralding a new wave of fine dining in Dublin having opened its doors just a year ago. under the management of massively successful chef/restaurateur Eamonn O'Reilly.
The goal of this place is to offer you a 'memorable dining experience' and the lavish menus and settings help to create a lasting impression. Both the tasting menus and the set menus also offer good value considering the level of expertise that accompanies these dishes. Head Chef Mickael Viljanen once brought those from far and wide down to his previous restaurant in the West of Ireland so benefit from the opportunity to enjoy his skill in the capital. ((01) 676 7015)
8 The Pig's Ear
The Pig's Ear is a combination of two restaurants. On the first floor you'll find the consistently good fare that put it on the best restaurants list, but upstairs is a different ballgame entirely. On the third floor is the Chef's Counter, an exercise in excellence and offers both a large sharing table with 8 seats or 6 seats at the counter with a view of the kitchen.
This is world influenced modern cuisine with an array of spectacular small dishes that make up the tasting menu. Expect smoked salmon roe, mead jelly, truffle butter and oat bread - albeit not in the same dish. Head chef Stephen McAllister has great attention to detail and this is a wonderful way to experience it. (01 670 3865)
7 The Unicorn
The Unicorn Restaurant dates as far back as 1938 and has been under the present management of the Casari family for over 16 years providing Italian Mediterranean cuisine in lovely surroundings just off Baggot Street in the city centre.
The Unicorn has long been a favourite of businesses due to its high quality, fresh and traditional fare and great atmosphere. There is currently live music six nights a week and the staff are attentive and courteous. Tuck into delicious homemade gnocchi, slow-cooked shoulder of suckling pig or pan-fried monkfish. You'll be hard-pressed to find a more enjoyable, authentic experience in the city centre. ((01) 676 2182)
6 Locks Brasserie
Locks Brasserie is a one Michelin-starred restaurant and yet it stills remains somewhat of a hidden gem. Situated in leafy Portobello and Harold's Cross, Locks specializes in traditional French cuisine with an Irish twist. In the spirit of Frenchness they also open later so you can enjoy your dinner at a more European hour.
The style of the main dining room is informal but if you're looking for a more intimate and special experience then there are private dining rooms at your disposal.These can be accompanied by a special chef's menu that will take you on a specially curated culinary journey of France. ((01) 420 0555)
5 Chapter One
If you want a Michelin-starred experience with less of an impact on your wallet then don't shy away from Dublin's other, much-coveted, fine dining experience. Situated just over the Liffey on Parnell Square, Chapter One features wide ranging menus from the Kitchen Table Tasting menu with matching wines to the decidedly more cost effective Pre-Theatre menu which offers 3 courses for �36.50. The restaurant itself offers some private dining rooms as well as the experience of dining at the 'Chef's table' -- a volcanic rock table that allows the diners to look into the kitchen and speak with the chefs as they enjoy their meal; a unique dining experience with the credentials to match. (353-1-873-2266)
4 Kinara Kitchen
Kinara Kitchen is a new addition to the great restaurants to be found in southside suburb Ranelagh. It has the unusual combination of having a fantastic dedicated cocktail bar with high-end Pakistani cuisine. The cocktail bar is headed up by Paul Lambert, proprietor of covert Dublin bar The Blind Pig and his attention to alcoholic perfection is evident in his mix of classic and inventive new tipples.
Kinara started off as a single restaurant in North Dublin seaside suburb Clontarf, the success of which has spawned two more establishments including Kinara Kitchen in Ranelagh. Upon tasting the food you'll see why, this is delicate but flavourful cuisine that doesn't play into the often overpowering nature of Indian and Pakistani food. The early bird menu of 3 courses for �19.95 is an absolute steal. ((01) 406 0066)
3 Fire Restaurant
Located in the opulent surroundings of Dublin's Mansion House on Dawson Street, Fire has been built in what was originally the Lord Mayor's supper room and is now a magnificent space with stained glass windows and vaulted ceilings.
The food is all locally sourced and cooked to a high standard with a good mix of meat, vegetarian options and seafood - the jumbo prawn starter is the house speciality. There is also a special steak menu with a variety of cuts of ages, marinated beef that are sure to make a meat-lover's mouth water. Tie this in with melt in the mouth desserts and you'll leave happy. ((01) 676 7200)
2 San Lorenzo's
San Lorenzo's in one of the city's premiere Italian spots that isn't relying on the homely, rustic style that is the usual hallmark of Italian restaurants. The aim is modern cuisine that fuses classic Italian ingredients with a New York style of cooking. The interior is dark with light wooden benches in booths. You can just about peek into the action of the kitchen while sitting but when you take a trip to the unisex bathrooms you can find yourself transfixed with an eagle eye view of the culinary action.
The cooking uses great ingredients to create upmarket versions of some classics like chicken cacciatore, bruschetta and pannacotta. Local producers supply the high-quality meat and fish and the wine list is also excellent. A different and more interesting take on your usual Italian. ((01) 478 9383)
1 Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud
Patrick Guilbaud's certainly has the credentials of a top Irish restaurant, sporting our country's only two star Michelin kitchen. If opulence and fine dining to the extreme is your bag then make sure to sample this mix of contemporary Irish, French and classical roots. Guilbaud's has been at the centre of Irish fine dining for thirty years and is somewhat of an institution. Expect the level of quality to be matched by the prices but you won't be disappointed, this is certainly a quintessential Dublin dining experience.
With courses like lobster ravioli, lacquered Challans duck and French and farmhouse Irish cheese you'll be stuffed with the best money can buy and no doubt keen to repeat the experience. (353-1-676-4192)
About Emily Carson
Emily grew up in Dublin, and studied French and English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. During her university years, she lived in both Scotland and France, but traveled around Europe and Southeast Asia.
She returned to Dublin after her studies to find it growing culturally (in spite of the economic downturn). While Dublin was once criticized for its expensive nature, a new wave of inventive and affordable restaurants have popped up as well as interesting and exciting cultural events that prove that Dublin is still progressing and rivals other major European capitals.
Read more about Emily Carson here.
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