On Tripadvisor Dublin and Edinburgh both have nearly 2,000 restaurants listed.  There are so many restaurants from which to choose, and The Michelin Guide rarely leads foodies astray.  However Number 1 at the Balmoral, Tom Kitchin’s Kitchin in Leith or Martin Wishart’s just down the road all require deep pockets.  In Dublin Patrick Guilbauds at the Merrion, Derry Clarke’s L’ecrivain and Kevin Thornton’s at the Fitzwilliam are all amazing for a special occassion.

Here we will try and keep you abreast of the latest,  the quirkiest and the nicest but fairly unknown places for food.

Bowes Cafe, Durrow, Laois  For great coffee and really delicious café food,  with lots of locally sourced salads and hip threatening cakes Bowes on the Square in Durrow next to Sheppherds Antique auction house  is a deservedly  popular spot with locals  and international art dealers coming to pick up a bargain Qing period seal for $1 million or so; Just around the corner  Sorrel’s Collectibles & Curios might be more affordable.   www.bowescafe.ie.

The very next village, Abbeyleix, also has a remarkable cafe – The Gallic Kitchen at Bramleys.  Historically the restaurant is on the site of the factory where the carpets for the Titanic were woven.   The chef proprietor, Sarah Webb,  trained under the roux bothers, amongst other great chefs, and now produces delicious tarts and pies as well as salads, and creamy confections.  www.gallickitchen.com.  When there cross over a road for a drink in the atmospheric Morrisseys Bar, whose interior has not changed since the 19th Century.

9 Market Street, Kinsale         John and Sally McKennas’ Guides write eloquently –  Leona and Dee offer cooking that appears simple – sausage rolls, sandwiches; pasta dishes; seafood chowder; Wagyu burger – but here’s their secret in 9 Market Street: this cooking is technically super-charged. The consideration and finesse that bring these dishes together is quite masterful, so that bowl of French onion soup will stop you in your tracks, as you revel in its luxuriousness, its perfect balance, the crispness of the croute and the slinky sexiness of the long-simmered onion. A great addition to Kinsale.  ninemarketstreet.ie

Bastion  Junction of Market St & Main St, Kinsale, Cork (021) 470 9696   A perfectly chilled glass of Prosecco — on tap at Bastion, a novelty even in foodie heaven Kinsale. Helen Noonan and chef Paul McDonald offer an outstanding food experience here in the heart of Kinsale.  The Michelin Guide writes  “Simple little wine-bar-cum-bistro run by a keen young couple. Cooking has Mediterranean influences; go for the small plates – three plus dessert should suffice. Dishes are tasty, carefully prepared and often have a playful element.

Randaddy’s, Lahinch   McKennas Guides write ;– A big room that is part of the big beach front in Lahinch is home to Randy Lewis’ eclectic and well-judged cookery. Their own house breads make something like a chicken and ham sandwich special and, if you have been out on the waves, this is cooking that will put the fire back into your battered body.  randaddys.ie

Luna, Drury St,  Dublin 2    Luna did something simple but special in 2015: it gave Dublin back its “The party is on!” vibe that vanished down the drain in 2008. John Farrell and his team have always striven to capture the mood of a cuisine, but with Luna they captured nothing less than the mood of the city, then they put it on a plate and gave it back to lucky old Dublin, clad in Louis Copeland finery.  Upstairs at Super Miss Sue is a but no less delicious different vibe – lots of little dishes and a special fish and chipper at the end. If you can’t get in try The Fade Street Social just down the street www.fadestreetsocial.com;   52-55 Drury St, Dublin 2 drurybuildings.com,  a post indusrial restaurant too cool to have a name, or L’Gueuleton

 Pilgrims South Square Roscrberry  +353 (023) 88 31796   From Georgina Campbell’s Ireland guide:-  Pilgrims is the most significant new West Cork restaurant to have opened in years, and Mark Jennings and Sarah Jane Pearce demonstrated masterly control of their concept right from the day they opened in Roscarbery. There isn’t a clichéd dish on the menu, and Mr Jenning’s signature style, where he pulls international styles into his own culinary orbit, is going to be mightily influential in years to come. His puddings, in particular, like the salted caramel with elderflower ice cream or the cacao cremeaux, are like no one else’s: barely sweet, intricately arranged, they show a chef who has rethought the whole game. Pilgrim’s

Inside the style is simple and rustic – slate floor, a whitewashed stone wall, sturdy country kitchen furniture – but, as with the menus, a lot of thought has gone into the details. Bold artwork includes some with food connections – a magnificent black-faced sheep, a sleek golden apple – while gentler contributions come from bunches of drying flowers, herbs and even seaweed strung across a wall, and carafes of wild and garden flowers on tables. A lovely setting for some very good food.   The welcome is warm, prompt and efficient, with arriving guests settled in nicely with details of specials and everything that’s needed to start an evening off well. Menus are changed daily according to what’s freshest and best in the area, and the long list of suppliers at the back of the menu will leave you in no doubt about the Pilgrim’s food philosophy.   And, on reading the short menu, where intriguing dishes are given as simple listings of ingredients, it will come as no surprise to many guests to hear that Mark has worked with Denis Cotter of Cork’s famed Cafe Paradiso. While not a vegetarian restaurant, there’s a focus on vegetables and foraged foods and – with at least one of the three dishes offered on each course based on vegetables, grains, nuts and local cheeses –  vegetarians will be very happy here.

Others of note:-

The Vintage Kitchen 7 Poolbeg Street, Dublin,   +353 1 6798705

The Hot Stove Restaurant  38 Parnell Square West  Dublin 1, +353 1 874 777

Brother Hubbard 153 Capel Street Dublin 1,  +353 1 4411112

The Fumbally  Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8, +353 1 529 8732  Different, inventive, healthy and delicious.   A Hipster café.

Latitude 51  latitude51.ie  Union Quay  Cork

Ali’s Kitchen  http://www.aliskitchencork.com Rory Gallagher Place Cork city

For really local character in Dublin

Dekes Diner (The Weigh In) where Tony McDonald  serves fry-ups, burgers and more to truckers from a 40 ft shipping container in on the roundabout on Sean Moore Road in Ringsend, on the way to the toll bridge.

Farmer Browns   25A Bath Ave, Dublin 4  086 394 8255   Irish soul food made with carefully sourced local produce prepared with a nod to Deep South cooking.

The Farmhouse Cafe. Long Mile Road   It’s a little place that shares it’s premises with a work-safety gear shop beside the Aldi Carpark.  From their own sausages and eggs, the food is all locally sourced or from their farm.

In Edinburgh some of the hot new hobs are:-

Seasons Restaurant & Bar   36 Broughton Street, Edinburgh EH1 3SB   Matthew Urry’s  team fuse Scottish ingredients with Nordic influences to create tasting menus based on the best produce they can get their hands on. Expect to see an eclectic list of ingredients, have a short wait in lovely surroundings, then be amazed by what the kitchen team manage to do with said ingredients.

Norn, 50-54 Henderson St, Edinburgh EH6 6DE  Chef Scott Smith, a protégé of Michelin-starred Geoffrey Smeddle, owner of The Peat Inn, is taking over the site of The Plumed Horse on Henderson Street in Edinburgh’s culinary neighbourhood of Leith, with an exciting new restaurant venture

Aizle  107-109 St Leonard’s Street, Edinburgh EH8 9QY (around since 2014 so hardly new any more) There is no traditional menu here. They offer a 5-course dinner for £45 which is based around their monthly “Harvest”, the collection of a foraging globetrotter.


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