48 hours in Dublin is a treat. So close to London, just over an hour on a flight, and for me an opportunity to reconnect and plug in to my culture.
Ireland is very different to the UK, and people often don’t understand that. Sure, there is a common language, but the cultures diverge. Everything you have heard about us being oh-so-very-friendly is true, even in a major city like Dublin you will find that most will chat to you for no reason other than being curious about who you are and what you do. Ireland is also a haven for creatives. Many artists, musicians and writers call Ireland home, as do many tech geeks (Dublin is home to the European headquarters of Google, Twitter & Facebook). For food lovers, the café and restaurant scene is bubbling, as is the craft drinks scene.
I had 40,000 Avios to fly to Dublin and to stay there. Via the Avios website, I could book a return flight from London City to Dublin with British Airways and also to book a stay in The Gibson Hotel, a modern 4* hotel about 15 minutes from the airport by bus and 10 minutes from the city centre on the Luas (a tram, with a stop conveniently directly outside The Gibson). The Gibson was comfortable and very friendly, with a good buffet breakfast included in the price.
So, that was my base. Where to eat?
SÖDER + KO
UPDATE: the chef has left since my visit and I have not been back since to see if the standard is the same.
Scandinavian and Asian fusion might sound strange, but when you consider that chef Kwanghi Chan was born in Hong Kong and raised in Donegal, it makes sense. Well, the Asian bit anyway. The Scandinavian influence is mainly in the drinks list and not on the plate. I had housemade har gau dumplings, crispy chicken potstickers, battered soft shell crab with thai basil and lemongrass and steamed kimchi buns. SÖDER + KO is a fun spot and the food is good.
When I ate at The Greenhouse, I felt for sure that Michelin didn’t understand Dublin. How could they have overlooked chef Mikael Viljanen’s cooking in their Dublin guide? (He received a star in the most recent one a few weeks after, but still!). I went for lunch and had the set menu, a bargain at €34 for 3 courses. The raviolo of Iberico ham and veal, creamed cabbage with shaved truffle on top was a terrific Irish dish, a fond reflection of our favoured bacon and cabbage. Roast guinea fowl followed with root vegetables, cep cream, blackberries (topped with criossant velouté) and divine roast celeriac wrapped in lardo, topped with crispy onions. Layers of flavour and texture, very bright. One of the most exciting mains that I have had in a while. I finished with passion fruit soufflé with white chocolate sauce. Yes, just imagine it. Just like that. I had a couple of lovely wines by the glass on the side. The Greenhouse will be one of my first stops on my next trip for the tasting menu.
I have been to Super Miss Sue the last two times I have been to Dublin. A smart seafood restaurant and takeaway, I have had good fish and chips here, oysters and sea urchin on toast. Recently, they have opened an Italian restaurant in the basement. I had dinner with a friend who loves to dine out but doesn’t get to as much as he likes. A perfect dining companion, we ordered a lot and shared everything.
The room feels very much like a space in New York serving Italian food. The kitchen had a whole tuna delivered that day which featured in several dishes on the menu, there was also some terrific pasta dishes, including a spaghetti with black truffle and parmesan ravioli with wild boar ragu. The raw mushroom and artichoke salad was a bright fresh contrast. The wine list is interesting, featuring some natural wines. They will happily match wines for you too. Note: SMS Luna is open only from Wednesday to Saturday from 5pm.
L Mulligan Grocer
A terrific craft beer, cider and spirit house and restaurant too, L Mulligan Grocer has to be on your list when in town. Serving the best of Irish produce, creatively and with great care, L Mulligan Grocer is a vibrant Dublin pub set just outside the centre of Dublin in Stoneybatter. Try the pork belly, if it is on.
Grogan’s is a must. It is one of my favourite old school Dublin pubs and is an essential stop for a pin of plain (Guinness) and the toasted sandwich. You just can’t go to Ireland without indulging in this combination (we are obsessed with toasties!). Get a toasted special!
I will be back in Dublin at the start of December, so if you have any recommendations I would love to hear them. Please leave them in the comments below.