It is St Patrick’s Day tomorrow, and I am declaring this Irish week on the blog. A national holiday in Ireland and a day of celebration of Irish culture worldwide, if you would like to hit a city where you can have a superb day and where they don’t dye the rivers or beer green, well, go to Dublin. I never did understand why people would want to drink something green (and that kind of applies to green juice too, although I have succumbed on occasion).
There are many reasons to go to Dublin. I return as often as I can, which is nowhere near enough. I am a native, but not of Dublin, I was born and raised on the south coast in Waterford and studied in Cork (more on both of those later this week). However, I love Dublin and have friends there too, so I go when I can. Like London, the food scene has really taken shape there in the last few years and is thriving. So too is the craft beer, cider and spirit scene. Dublin is a terrific location for a gourmand and a bon vivant. But where do you go when you get there? This list is based on a recent trip with and to The Westbury Hotel in Dublin, so lets start there.
The Westbury Hotel is terrifically located, bang in the centre, just off Grafton St. A five star hotel and part of The Leading Hotels of the World, the standards are very high here in all areas, particularly in service. The staff at The Westbury seem to know and anticipate the needs of all of their guests (not just me, I know I was hosted there), and they have many who return year after year. It is an Irish cliché but they are so friendly, and I relished it. This familiarity and care for complete strangers is something I really miss now that I don’t live at home. Beyond this, The Westbury is a Dublin institution, many Dubliners have family traditions of meeting here before Christmas for afternoon tea or drinks in the marble bar. Did I mention that they have a champagne trolley?
The rooms are contemporary and spacious with views from some rooms out over Dublin. I enjoyed watching the sunset over the roof tops of mine with a glass of wine. The porter whisks you to your room, and truly can’t do enough to ensure you are comfortable. The beds are gorgeous, as you would expect. I requested details in the tiny hope that maybe I could get one for home (I need to sell quite a few more books to achieve that!).
Dinner at Balfe’s was good. An all day dining restaurant, with a focus on Irish seasonal produce, the menu is broad, and some of it is based around the Josper, the Spanish charcoal oven favoured by many restaurants now. Irish beef is superb, so I chose a steak (a 10 oz aged rib eye with caramelised onions, grilled flat cap mushroom, home cut chips and béarnaise sauce). A malbec was a perfect partner, I enjoyed every bite.
Breakfast! So important and with a la carte and a buffet, The Westbury caters for all from the clean eaters (green juice, anyone?) to those looking for a more robust start with a full Irish breakfast. I loved my stay at The Westbury, it is a fine and very friendly hotel, and a great base to explore the city from.
Where else do you go when in town?
Fab Food & Fashion Trails
Hit Dublin with a walking tour, and let Eveleen or one of her guides whisk you around Dublin and introduce you to Dublin’s vibrant and exciting food, drink and fashion scene. These guys know all the hidden gems, and know all of the local stories too. We went from a wonderful artisanal perfume shop to some of the best Irish oysters I have had to a wonderful bespoke jeweller, and that was only one half of the tour. Finishing with superb cocktails in a gorgeous Georgian Dublin house on St Stephen’s Green, the tour was fantastic and comes highly recommended.
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.
Il Primo is a small and very cosy Italian restaurant about a 10 minute walk from The Westbury Hotel. It has been on my radar for some time, so I did that thing, where I am so jeen to try somewhere, that I squeeze in a first dinner early before the later dinner, and hope it all works out. (I walk vigorously in between and then take it easy when I get home). There is a nice and very affordable pre theatre menu, but I went off piste as I fancied exploring the pasta. A lasagne (with homemade pasta) and San Marzano tomatoes (the devil is in the detail, as you know) was terrific. Try and sit downstairs by the bar, and book it in advance, as there are only 4 tables there.
Super Miss Sue
Tucked a couple of streets behind the Westbury is Super Miss Sue, a fish restaurant serving both in their restaurant and from a takeaway counter. Conventional well executed dishes like fish and chips are on offer, but I have also had sea urchin there. Very enjoyable, with plenty of wines by the glass too.
The Little Museum of Dublin
Quirky and well curated, the Little Museum of Dublin tells Dublin’s story through the eyes of the people, much of the items on display were donated by Dubliners too. Covering Independence to U2, it makes for a very entertaining visit. The café below, Hatch & Sons, is a lovely space, with a lovely Irish food menu and decent coffee.
Picado Mexican is a wonderful Mexican pantry and cooking school. Lily is from Mexico but moved to Dublin after meeting her Irish husband Alan in Japan. They have created something really special, a treat for Dubliners and visitors alike. Book in advance, classes are only for 6 people and fill up early.
Just to give you a taste of it – here is a video that I did with Foodie Hub on Youtube for St Patrick’s Day – featuring L Mulligan Grocer, above! Now, that is Dublin.
I was invited to Dublin by The Westbury Hotel, who hosted my stay there.