‘The countdown is on for our annual FOOD&WINE Awards, so we are highlighting the amazing nominees in some of our most exciting categories ahead of the awards ceremony. 

Restaurants can hold so many treasured memories for couples, and creating the right ambiance and setting can be as important as getting the food spot on. Our Best for Romance category, sponsored by Weir & Sons, has the go-to places for getting down on one knee, so they’re just about as romantic as you can get...

These are the top 10 nominees (listed in alphabetical order) - the overall winner will be announced at our FOOD&WINE Awards on Sunday, September 9, which you can buy tickets for here.

Ashford Castle, Cong, Co. Mayo 

Tinkling piano music, Waterford Crystal chandeliers and an excuse to dress up - dining in the George V dining room at Ashford Castle is a very special experience.

Old-school service and top-notch fine dining combine for a hotel restaurant that you’ll always remember. Executive Chef Philippe Farineau’s menu of “French heart with Irish produce” includes Dooncastle oysters and Ashford Castle’s very own caviar.

Belmond Grand Hibernian, Luxury Train 

No mode of transport can evoke romance quite like an old-fashioned train, and the Belmond Grand Hibernian is a Wes Anderson-ish way to explore Ireland while dining in style.

Artisan cheeses, local smoked fish and a dainty afternoon tea are all served on board to passengers on the Belmond’s Irish routes in classically decorated dining carriages. Packages don’t come cheap, but love is priceless, after all...

Afternoon tea is served in car Wexford between Dublin and Cork

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Deane's EIPIC, Howard Street, Belfast 

Elegant and intimate, EIPIC is a sophisticated spot for a special occasion. Alex Greene pulls out all the stops with a grown up menu of lobster and Guanaja chocolate desserts, while the restaurant’s darkly cosy decor does the rest.

Plus, its adjoining Champagne bar provides the essential toast to any romantic surprises. 

Gregans Castle, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare 

Cosy and welcoming dining in this 18th-century Manor House hotel ticks all the romantic boxes, including a roaring fire in the Corkscrew Bar.

Serving creative and modern Irish cuisine using fresh, local ingredients like organic Burren lamb and game, and fresh Atlantic fish and shellfish, Gregan’s is the fine-dining equivalent of a hug.

Inis Meain Restaurant & Suites, Inis Meain, Co. Galway 

Panoramic views, Instagrammable sunsets and the opportunity to truly get away from the stresses of mainland life make Inis Meain restaurant worth the boat trip.

Guests dine on a four course dinner that changes nightly, based around the best ingredients that the island has to offer, be it sea urchins or island lobster, and the restaurant uses only its own homegrown fruit, vegetables and herbs. Sipping on a glass of organic bubbly looking out at the ocean? Yes, please.

Moy House, Lahinch, Co. Clare 

Honest and seasonal cooking in the beautiful surroundings of the Clare countryside are found at Moy House, with its daily changing menus, flowers picked from the gardens outside and nostalgically sweet strawberries ripened from the sun.

Ocean views from the conservatory restaurant are picture perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Entrance to our hotel 😊🍀#moyhouse #lahinch #ireland

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Rosa Madre, Temple Bar, Dublin 2  

Fresh seafood, silky pastas and traditional Italian hospitality make Rosa Madre a popular choice for weekend date night, special anniversaries, and food lovers in general.

A retreat that feels miles away from the hectic cobblestones of Temple Bar, Rosa Madre is a truly authentic Italian restaurant that will transport you to the trattoria’s of Rome.

#rosamadre #seafood #dublin #oysters #lobsters#fishrestaurant#bestseafoodindublin

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The Lodge at Ashford Castle, Cong, Co. Mayo 

“Local food with imagination” is the mission statement of Wilde’s restaurant at Ashford Castle’s sister hotel, and a menu of foie gras trifle, dressed Connemara crab and Kilmore scallops with dashi gel deliver exactly that.

Splendid views from the first floor dining room look out over Lough Corrib, adding to the charming atmosphere.

The Mustard Seed, Ballingarry, Co. Limerick  

A cosy-yet-stylish country house restaurant that will wrap you up in its effortless charm, The Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge is made for a romantic getaway.

Organic produce comes straight from the kitchen gardens, Irish and artisan ingredients shine and a stroll through the pleasure garden after a memorable meal is a must.

Wineport Lodge, Athlone, Co. Westmeath 

With its crackling fires, lakeside views and exceptional dining, Wineport Lodge is a true lover’s retreat.

Snug banquettes allow you to relax and enjoy the view while you dine, and a menu of vegetables from Beechlawn Organic Farm, St. Tola’s Goats Cheese, Glasson Mushrooms, and Steamed Lissadell Mussels showcases all that is great about Irish food.

Want to join your favourite restaurants and chefs at our awards? Tickets are still available here, and include a Champagne reception with five-course menu and matching wines.

Best for Romance is kindly sponsored by Weir & Sons.