As food writer Élodie Noël discovers, we can barely keep up with the number of places burgeoning around Dublin city - and there are a few further afield too.
It is just a few weeks since we published a story about restaurant openings in Ireland, but our food scene is thriving so much at the moment, particularly in Dublin, with new restaurants and cafés opening their doors pretty much every week, that we already need to bring you an update.
The city centre is leading the way with a new wine bar, a vegetarian eatery and a tapas place, but Dublin 8 follows closely behind with several new additions to its already exciting and ever-growing portfolio. When it comes to trends, casual vibes, small plates and chargrilled food are still going strong. Using local, seasonal Irish produce seems to also be a focal point for most newcomers - a mindset that, hopefully, is here to last.
With Niall Davidson and Hugh Higgins at the helm, Allta has to be one of the most highly anticipated restaurant openings of the year in Dublin City. The place is defined as “a casual wine bar with food”, and offers the ever-so-popular sharing plates, alongside charcuterie and pasta.
The talented duo of chefs plans on using sustainable Irish ingredients and cooking everything from scratch when possible, with pasta made with heritage Irish grains, homemade butter, charcuterie, miso, vinegar or even ice-cream. “We’ve tried to create a fun environment where people can come and enjoy good food, good music and have a good time”, Hugh explained to us.
“We have spent the last few months travelling around the country meeting suppliers and building relationships with them, like Paddy T. O’Sullivan down in Cromane Bay who supplies the crabs and oysters, and James Kelly who produces organic wheat in Ballymore.” The spider crab bigoli, which combines Paddy’s crabs and pasta handmade using the Ballymore wheat, is one of many exciting dishes on the menu, which also includes Cromane oysters with rhubarb vinegar, or Grilled cuttlefish, gooseberry beurre blanc and hazelnut.
Address: on the corner of South Frederick Street and Setanta Place, Dublin 2
Following on from their South William St, Temple Bar and Dundrum outlets, The Port House is getting a fourth location in the city on the buzzing Camden Street. The Port House Cava offers an extensive tapas and pintxo menu, which will be accompanied by some exciting tipples from its wine and port list. As the name implies, the team wants to bring a focus on cava, which “does not receive the attention it deserves”, so expect a large selection of Catalonian sparkling wine.
Address: 21 Camden Street, Dublin 2
Sustainably-sourced gourmet food, made using seasonal vegetables and local produce: this is what Glas, Irish for green, is all about. Behind this new vegetarian and vegan eatery are Paul Rooney (formerly of The Green Hen) and Dualta Woods (of Woods Wines), who believe that there was a real demand to be met in the capital city. “I've been working on the floor in restaurants for the last ten years and noticed the uptake in vegetarian and vegan options on the menu from non-vegetarians”, Paul explained to us. “We also noticed that in other countries there were more and more vegetarian restaurants opening up, but there didn't seem to be too many options in Dublin that really felt like a proper restaurant.”
The duo worked with Head Chef Sam Moore to design a menu, which includes White truffle and forest mushroom pate; a ricotta and citrus salad; spiced cauliflower ribs; homemade agnolotti, and a tropical Eton mess. Everything on the menu is vegetarian, and about half of the offering is entirely vegan. “The hope is that people will view it as a restaurant more than anything else - we want to attract everyone”, Paul adds, noticing that the customers so far have been “a real mix of vegetarians and carnivores”.
Address: 15/16 Chatham Street, Dublin 2
The 47th Dublin venue in Press Up's portfolio, Mackenzie’s now serves American-inspired classics for lunch, dinner and brunch on the Grand Canal Dock. Apart from catering to a traditional customer base, the 5,000 square feet restaurant also offers an in-house delivery service to the residents of the apartments above it, in the Opus building.
The eclectic menu features sharing plates for starters, a selection of sushi and sashimi plates, with mains including a range of woodfired pizzas, burgers, steaks, and a daily market fish. A few hundred metres away, on the northside of the Liffey, Press Up is also set to open The Mayson this December, a new hotel that will host a rooftop restaurant overlooking the river.
Address: Mackenzie’s, 6 Hanover Quay, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2 - The Mayson, 82 N Wall Quay, North Dock, Dublin 1
It’s been a long time coming, but the new Fallon & Byrne-owned eatery on Rathgar road has finally opened. In place of the former Lenehan’s hardware store, Lenehan’s Bar + Grill defines itself as a “friendly, local spot”, for pints, cocktails and simple tasty food. Think small plates (ham hock & comté croquettes, Kilmore Quay cod ceviche, and Achill Island lamb meatballs), cheese and charcuterie sharing boards, aged Irish beef from Co. Westmeath cooked on the grill, seared yellowfin tuna or hand-cut pappardelle for mains - and an actually tempting vegan menu.
Address: 7-9 Rathgar Road, Dublin 6
The place is only open a short while but FOOD AND WINE’s Aoife Carrigy has already given her verdict on Sprezzatura. Offering keenly priced pasta dishes, the Italian restaurant led by Head Chef Conor Roban pleased our critic, who said that both of the dishes she tried “hit the spot”. You can read Aoife's full review here.
Address: 5/6 Camden Market, Grantham St, Saint Kevin's, Dublin 8
Head Chef Barry Sun Jian, formerly of Etto, just opened a cosy neighbourhood restaurant in Blackrock. Called Volpe Nera, which means 'black fox' (a nod to its location, halfway between Blackrock and Foxrock), the new eatery offers Mediterranean-influenced snacks, small plates, sharing platters in an informal 50-cover setting spread over two floors. "Since my first day being a chef, I had the dream to open my own place. I arrived in Ireland 17 years ago, and I started as a kitchen porter. Working at Etto was an amazing experience for me, and when we got the Restaurant of the Year in 2018, I realised, maybe I can do this!" Barry told us.
The opening menu features some mouthwatering dishes, including Galway Bay oysters with compressed cucumber and red chilli oil, Ricotta malfatti with onion squash and slow-cooked egg yolk, and a deer carpaccio with artichokes, pickled pear and juniper. "I wanted to bring Mediterranean comfort food, nothing fancy about it, just food that everybody can enjoy. I live in Dundrum, my daughter goes to school in Stillorgan, this is my home!". With the front of house team led by Darren Darcy, formerly of L'Écrivain, and Barry's talent in the kitchen, we can expect the tables to fill up quickly!
Address: 22 Newtown Park, Blackrock, Co Dublin
A new neighbourhood restaurant serving modern Irish food, Woodruff is open for lunch, dinner and brunch at the weekend with the idea of using the best locally-available produce, preparing it with care and serving it in a relaxed environment. With a focus on seasonality and sourcing directly from farms when possible, the daily-changing menu features beef cheek croquettes with foraged mushroom ketchup and mustard cress or a selection of charcuterie to start with. As for the main dishes, a chargrilled 28-day dry-aged striploin from Higgins Butchers, an Irish wood pigeon with toasted barley, wild mushrooms and cavolo nero, or Mooncoin beetroot with fig, almonds, Rockfield sheep’s cheese and pomegranate dressing make for some tempting options.
Address: Unit 7, The Village, Stepaside, Dublin 18
MORE TO COME...
Opening the first week of December
The team behind Lucky’s on Meath Street has decided to bring a cool new venue to the other side of Dublin 8. Named The Circular, the exciting new bar and cafe has taken over a large, landmark building in Rialto and will include a number of spaces: a main bar, which will offer a number of reservable spaces and function rooms as well as tasty pizza from Coke Lane’s wood-fired oven (already a success amongst Lucky’s clientèle), a smaller, cosier pub with a craft beer focus, and a café, called Daddy’s, at the front of the building. “Daddy's will be a daytime cafe with a neighbourhood focus. Serving breakfast, lunch, early dinner options and brunch on weekends, we want to have something for everyone who lives and works in the area”, explained to us manager Colm Keane.
To source its produce, the team will be working with local suppliers: “We will be getting some of our meat from the illustrious Ennis Butcher's across the street, and our coffee supplier is TwoFiftySquare - Adam and the crew there have given great guidance and have worked hard with us to select a smooth, delicious coffee as our house blend.”
As for the style of the place, expect a vintage, old Dublin feel. “When we were getting stuck into the renovation, we pulled up the floor and found some beautiful old tiles which have become a guide for the look and feel of Daddy's.” With Daphne’s which opened a few weeks ago around the corner (and The Bakery by The Cupcake Bloke across the street), it’s great to see Rialto finally becoming a hotspot on the Dublin food and drink scene.
Address: 538 South Circular Road, Rialto, Dublin 8
Opening the first week in December
Husband and wife Canice and Mags McKee have been passionate with pairing wine and food for many years, and the lack of a proper wine bar in their living area has inspired them to create their own space. “We live in Dublin 8 and have always felt there was a need for a neighbourhood wine bar”, Canice told us. While the city centre is not deprived of cool spots, with the likes of Ely, Piglet, Loose Canon or Frank's, the couple noticed that their friends and neighbours wanted “somewhere local to go for a glass of wine, maybe some cheese and charcuterie in a relaxed and friendly environment.”
The duo will be serving mostly organic and biodynamic European wines, paired with cheese and charcuterie with a strong emphasis on Irish and local produce. “By sticking to European wines and offering wines on tap (in-house and to take home in reusable bottles) we are doing our bit to reduce our carbon footprint in terms of transport and waste”, Canice added. They also plan to use the space for wine and food pairing events.
Address: 79-80 Clanbrassil Street Lower, Dublin 8
Originally set to open in September, the new wine bar from John Farrell is taking longer than expected and we haven’t been able to get a definitive date for opening. When it does, we should expect wine on tap and a contemporary menu, made of small dishes with a focus on simplicity and Irish provenance. The kitchen will be led by Essa Fakhry, currently at the helm of 777.
Address: Drury Street, Dublin 2
ELSEWHERE IN IRELAND
With a focus on “fish and ale”, Goldie just opened in the heart of Cork city. The new restaurant by the Elbow Lane group, which already owns Market Lane, The Castle Café, ORSO and Elbow Lane in the Rebel City, offers a menu changing daily, relying on locally produced foods and artisan products. Among the exciting dishes are a mackerel teriyaki, sesame and seaweed salad; steamed halibut with sea vegetables and chicken butter sauce, or carrot dumplings with dukkah, pumpkin pesto and Toonsbridge ricotta.
Address: 128 Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork city
Opening Spring 2020
The owners of Dublin’s Fish Shop have decided to close their Queen Street restaurant (thankfully keeping the Benburb casual eatery open) and relocate to Waterford. Held in a Victorian townhouse in Tramore, the new seaside restaurant will also offer rooms.
Address: Tramore, Co Waterford.
Author: Élodie Nöel
Élodie is a French journalist who relocated to Dublin about three years ago. She immediately fell in love with the island and its amazing food and has been writing about it on her blog Lemon Lipstick. You can follow Élodie's food adventures on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr.