The Greenhouse is another one of Dublin's tasting menu gems, opening its doors back in 2011 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.
Tucked away off Leeson St and covering two floors, Dax restaurant and tapas bar is an interesting mix of more casual menus paired with fine dining in the basement. The rustic basement restaurant offers a great mix of Irish produce and haute-cuisine in a cosy atmosphere along with an excellent pre-theatre menu. They concentrate on having excellent seasonal produce and it shows. If you're after something less formal then head up to the café bar to enjoy some delicious tapas, charcuterie and cheese paired with their extensive wine list. You'll find yourself happily stuffed but desperately trying to fit more cheese into your mouth...and that's just fine.
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.
Overlooking Trinity's playing grounds on Nassau Street and offering rich and comforting Irish fare with a contemporary twist, The Pig's Ear is a quaint dinner venue. The bread comes in a little sack, the soup in it's own little saucepan and the cheesecake in a glass pot you would think better suited to storing your spices. Don't be fooled though; the food is exquisite and things like the truffle mash potato are both luxurious and hearty. If you have a sweet tooth then the miniature sweet shop on offer (think chocolate mice and flying saucers) is sure to satisfy. The Pig's Ear garnered the Michelin Bib Gourmand in the 100th anniversary guide, and it's easy to see why.
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 Sommelier has also been awarded Best Sommelier 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.
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.
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. High-end dishes like blue lobster, mountain hare and Carlingford oysters come as standard. 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.
Forest Avenue is another new entrant to this list, having popped up on Sussex Terrace beside the Grand Canal in November 2013. John and Sandy Wyer, who had previously spent time in the kitchens of L'Ecrivain, are the couple behind one of Dublin's most exciting fine dining venues of the past few years. Forest Avenue is pitched as a 'neighbourhood dining room' with an emphasis on modern tasting menus that are more affordable than many of their city centre counterparts. The 5 course tasting menu comes in at 49, with smaller menu options available as the 'Residents Menu' on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. The menu changes week to week, but some typical courses include braised pork neck with whole roasted savoy cabbage, carrots and prunes or celeriac baked in pine salt with homemade ricotta and pata negra.
Etto may appear to be somewhat of a casual dining experience, the room is quite small and the atmosphere is warm and convivial. However, this Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant and wine bar has something special on offer and at very reasonable prices, hiding just off Stephen's Green on Merrion Row. The menu is cleverly comprised of both regular main courses and starters and smaller plates and nibbles so that you can choose between a more casual graze or a full-on cote de boeuf with ease. Some surprise ingredients like a smoked egg yolk or a kohlrabi, chervil and caper salad take this from a typical wine bar to something more upmarket and exciting.
Drury Buildings is one of the newest additions to this list, popping up on the ever-changing Drury Street at the end of 2013 and now representing one of its strongest offerings. The colourful outdoor facade contains a nicely crafted interior, with an outdoor courtyard and ground level bar. The real magic happens on the first floor though, with more understated but modern d�cor and an excellent menu that riffs on Italian cooking. Some highlights include Wicklow venison with salted ricotta or scialatelli pasta with Dublin Bay Prawns. There are also pre-theatre menus available if you're planning on popping around to the Gaiety or the Olympia for after-dinner entertainment.