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Softguide Dublin

Restaurants of Ireland

Our restaurant listings are divided up according to location. To see what's available around the country, choose the region or town of interest from the drop down menu below.

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All listings come with a map button to indicate location and a price grading where available - the green euro symbols represent the price range from inexpensive (one euro symbol - a main course for up to £9, E11.5), moderate (main course £9-£15), expensive (main course £15-£20) to very expensive (four euro symbols - a main course over £20, E25).

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If you wish to add comments on any restaurant you have visited, email us at ireland@softguides.com. Don't forget to make use of our currency converter and check our info on pubs too for less formal dining. For Dublin, a comprehensive eating guide is available at Softguide Dublin, which can also be downloaded onto PalmOS and Windows CE devices to accompany your journey. The service is soon to extend throughout Ireland!


Irish Eating Habits
Irish Cuisine
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Brunch

Irish Cuisine
Irish people have not traditionally made a habit of eating out. Only in the last decade or so has this become more commonplace, with the pace of life increasing and the standard of living rising, but it is still largely confined to the younger generation. Eating out in Ireland is quite varied, but standards vary considerably around the country. Dublin is not cheap, and with real estate in the city running at close to the most expensive in Europe, city centre restaurants need to make a good return on investment, resulting in very expensive restaurants being the norm. Nevertheless, there has been an explosion in the number of restaurants in Ireland in recent years and the industry is in a boom with the affluent consumer reaping the rewards.

Just what constitutes traditional Irish cuisine is a subject of much debate - with a colonial past and an impoverished population largely confined to the land until the early part of this century, there is no wealth of cuisine to draw on. But what is considered traditional is steeped in pure natural flavors and simple preparation and, when prepared properly, is a joy to consume. Simple meat dishes and boiled root vegetables such as potato, carrot, turnip and parsnip form the principle constitutents of traditional Irish cuisine. Shredded bolied cabbage served with salted bacon (breast or collar joint) boiled in the cabbage water, together with simple boiled potatoes is an excellent example of Irish traditional cooking, pure and natural and free from sauces or fussiness. Likewise, corned beef with cabbage is well worth sampling. Sadly, the desire of many a chef to tamper with tradition and add spices, herbs or sauces to these dishes makes traditional fare difficult to track down unless prepared at home.

Mutton stewed with onion, potatoes and carrots in a light stock makes a perfect Irish stew. Beef stewed similarly in a stock comprised of stout is an Irish variation on east european goulash. Seafood is not as prevalent in traditional dishes as one might expect, given that Ireland is an island nation. But traditional smoked salmon is a firm favorite, as are oysters and mussels.

Tripe, meat and blood puddings and sausages are also popular traditional dishes. Tripe in Cork is boiled in peppered milk until tender (a LONG time) and served with a local pudding called 'drisheen'. Tripe and drisheen is not everyone's cup of tea to say the least....

There is also much to be sampled in baking with traditional Irish soda breads and brown breads forming an excellent counterpoint to the foods mentioned above. Griddle breads and pancakes, cooked over an open fire, were a stable until recently.

Of late, a new movement in cuisine known as modern Irish has come to dominate. Its influences are varied but can largely be considered French coupled with the natural flavours and products of the Irish countryside and coastal waters. Modern Irish cuisine is truly excellent and much is available around Ireland for you to sample, particularly in Dublin and places like Kinsale, known as the gourmet capital of Ireland. It does far more justice to seafood than traditional cooking, taking full advantage of the products of rich and varied waters both coastal and inland.

Breakfast
Breakfast is widely available, but you may be frustrated to learn that 8.00am is considered an early start for such activities. Getting a breakfast at 6.30am or so is pretty much an impossibility. The working day starts predominantly at 9.00am, often later for the more flexible civil service. But on the other hand, breakfast is usually available until noon, and all day in many places. A full Irish breakfast, after which the English breakfast was more recently modeled, consists of a fry (or grill for the more healthy minded) of eggs, pork sausages, bacon (rashers), pudding (black and white blood sausage), tomato, possibly potato cake of some description (hash browns, potato waffles depending on where you're from) and a substantial helping of toasted bread and lashings of hot coffee or breakfast tea. Beans, mushrooms, fried onions, fried bread and even liver can often be added. This is a serious meal, and may be preceded by cereal and orange juice. Hotels, guest houses and most cafes will offer a variation on this and it is usually quite good value. Anything from £2 to £10 pounds depending on how many elements are present, with £4 a good average.

Lunch is typically served between 12.00 and 2.00 and is a light meal. More often than not people opt for rolls, sandwiches, salads and the like these days with cafes again being the most popular destination. Expect to pay anything from £2 to £5 for made to order rolls or sandwiches. With Dublin city centre being so small, you will find everywhere pretty packed at this time. Many restaurants offer excellent lunch specials and are usually less crowded than cafes. Expect to pay from £6 to £10 pounds for a lunch special in a restaurant.

Dinner, as the main meal of the day, is typically no later than 9.00pm. Restaurants around Dublin would rarely accept a booking after 10.00pm, since most close around 11.00pm. (Natives would eat dinner at home pretty soon after the working day is over, about 6.00pm or so, and unlike many of our continental neighbours, dinner is usually a rushed affair, a pit-stop rather than a social occassion - socialising in the evening is predominantly based on the bar and pub scene.) The restaurant scene in Ireland is bustling at the moment, with so many excellent restaurants doubling as the place to be seen. While the quality is excellent and continues to climb, the cost is high and if you are dining out often it pays to shop around. In Dublin, early evening specials are a great way to sample the restaurants, with early-bird or pre-theatre menus offering substantial reductions on the prime time costs. Around the country, Cork and Kinsale in particular offer fantastic choice and quality.

At weekends, a sunday brunch is quite common, served in many pubs and cafes. This provides a substantial meal based on the full Irish breakfast at the later time of 12.00 to 2.00pm, allowing for a good sleep-in on sunday morning after saturday night's socialising. It's good value, and a very popular way to spend early sunday afternoon.


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