Let 2023 be the year that you finally tick off those spots from your 'notes app'
While there's not much else to do this time of the year, booking a couple tables at some nice restaurants seems like a finer idea than most. Get ahead of the crest of perennially rammed restaurants and get booking some of these while you can. Your future self will thank you for this action a hell of a lot more than it will for the quashed gym membership or crunching of celery sticks:
Portobello's 1 Windsor Terrace
Recently listed in the coveted Michelin guide, as with any place ushered into that hallowed guide you'd be advised to make a booking well in advance. This canal-side restaurant has been running for quite some time and has been described by some with the most whimsical of terminology, as a neighbourhood bistro. But with a relatively new head chef Andy Roche landing on the canal bank, the menu has finessed in that short time, with clean natural flavours playing out over a modern Irish menu.
6. Big Mike's
Rock Hill, Blackrock
Newly opened by the sadly non-eponymous Gaz Smith, who has a fondness for the name of the Archangel and all its derivatives. Those who are familiar with Michaels will expect a warmth of service and a quality of produce that is pretty unsurpassed, and from all accounts of this larger-than-life restaurant, this is entirely the case.
5. Orwell Road
8 Orwell Rd, Rathgar
Describing itself as a "Modern Irish neighbourhood restaurant" this spot in the centre of Rathgar made quite the splash when it opened last year and already found itself profiled in the Michelin guide. With a semi-open kitchen led by Dan Hannigan and a small bar to the side, it's a relaxed take on fine dining. It's a place you can come for some snacks and cocktails or for a cosy dinner where all the world's wrongs are put to right.
4. Library Street
Dublin 2's 101 Setanta Place
Set in the hallowed walls of Allta's former home, the restaurant has some echoes of the place including Kevin Burke (former Allta head chef). As with a lot of Allta-twinged spots, there is a clear concept, and the aim of the game here is sharing, to create an inclusive dining experience whereby diners can try multiple dishes at once. The menu is led by the guiding light of contemporary Irish food, with most dishes taking on a sleekness and originality that are no doubt the envy of the Dublin hospitality scene.
3. Volpe Nera
Blackrock's 22 Newtown Park
Opened during an unfortunate time for fine dining in Dublin (the pandemic) it's a testament to the work of Barry Sun and his team that Volpe Nera not only survived but thrived once it had come out the other end. A master of detail and classical process Sun serves up incredibly modern and thoughtful dishes, from a menu that always casts an eye on seasonality.
2. The Park Café
Ballsbridge's Shelbourne Road
The prodigal tv chef beloved of Mam's and Dad's around the country recently made his return to Dublin. Settling into the prestigious site that once held Dylan McGrath's Shelbourne Social, Richard Corrigan has started an all-day restaurant stuffed with fresh produce from his own Virginia Park Lodge. Reviews of the seasonal menu have been raving alongside the diverse wine list, while the team make an unpretentious promise that you can "eat like a pig" and "drink like a fish" inside the four walls.
26 Fenian Street
This space on Fenian Street is as hard-working as they come, hosting pop-ups, talks, and wine tastings alongside the standard lunch and dinner sittings. This wine bar-come-brasserie is a culinary diamond that has it all, exceptional food, thoughtful drinks and ineffably cool service.