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Hot 100 Places To Eat - Part Four

Hot 100 Places To Eat - Part Four

Wednesday 02 August 2017

Pub grub has changed dramatically in Ireland from the bad old days when you were lucky enough to get even a cheese toastie, Says Lucinda O'Sullivan. Now, there are amazing gastropubs up and down the country, serving everything from oysters and the finest lobster to whiskey sausages, Irish stout brown bread and bacon and cabbage mash – and of course, all the pubs in question are staunch champions of the very best local, seasonal produce their area has to offer. From Donegal to Cork and everywhere in between, here are my Top 20 Gastropubs for you to try.

Davy Byrne’s
Every city has a definitive pub, and for me it’s the art deco style Davy’s Byrne’s on Dublin’s Duke Street. Famous for it’s Joycean literary associations, it’s long been a meeting place for Dubliners while shopping on Grafton Street. Seafood is a speciality and it’s the only gastrobar I know serving pheasant in season.

The Chop House
Anthony Bourdain said of Kevin Arundel’s brilliant Chop House, “I came to the Chop House and it was the best f***ing meal I've ever eaten in Dublin.” Never mind the lingo, think foie gras, Limousin beef, or, to share, 1kg portions of cote de boeuf and Porterhouse steaks. 

The Ballymore Inn
Barry & Georgina O’Sullivan’s fab food in Kildare’s Ballymore Eustace was never anything but true to their ethos of good local and seasonal food before it became an overused mantra like Theresa May’s “strong and stable”, but it is a “certainty” that you will love everything about the Ballymore Inn.

Kilkenny’s newest gastrobar is retro urban funky with dangling lights, walls papered with old newspapers, and excellent contemporary casual food by chef patron Maria Raftery. Think poached pear and Cashel Blue cheese salad or an Angus beef burger with smoked Gubbeen. Try the Ladies or Gentlemen’s Afternoon tea.

Mary Barry’s Bar
A seafood bar and restaurant in the seaside village of Kilmore  Quay, Co. Wexford, Mary Barry’s is sure reeling them in. Chef Nicky Cullen heads up the busy kitchen serving up perennial favourites such as pan fried Kilmore Quay scallops with black pudding and apple sauce; seafood Mornay; scampi, oysters, lobster and fish ‘n chips.

Having lived in New Jersey for 28 years, Padraig Hennessy returned to Youghal and changed the face of dining there. The former Railway Bar of yore became the cool contemporary Clancy’s a gastrobar and restaurant serving really good food. Large outdoor terrace and music events.

Finin O’Sullivan created a stylish gastropub in Midleton, Co. Cork, before the word was born. With a constant buzz of diners, the prawn cocktail contains real Dublin Bay prawns, the sole on the bone is perfection, the duck is old style falling off the bone, and from November to Christmas, roast goose is on the menu.

Lock 13
Take a walk on the Grand Canal Way and you'll be ready to refuel at Lock 13 at Sallins, Co. Kildare, on the canal bank just below the bridge. There's something for all the family at decent prices, with lots of local produce and craft beers. Try the Leann Follain Irish stout brown bread.

Jim Edwards
Running like a well-oiled machine, this long standing gastropub in the centre of Kinsale is a bastion of traditional good food. Great casual all day grub ranges from seafood au gratin to Madras lamb curry, great crab claws, grilled oysters, scallops, black sole on the bone and kidneys Madeira – a real throwback.

An Sugan
Standing proud on the corner of Clonakilty’s Wolfe Tone Street, An Sugan is synonymous with West Cork’s good food and hospitality. There's something for every taste and budget from a seafood pie to a steak sandwich to great scampi, lobster, and steaks.

Blair’s Inn
This eponymous gastropub just outside Blarney, Co. Cork, is bursting with atmosphere. Grab a chair by the fire, dine in the gardens, and bring your dancing shoes for their summer trad sessions on Monday and Thursday evenings. Great food and craft beers galore.

O’Neill’s -– The Point Bar
At Renard’s Point, Cahersiveen, with stunning views over Valentia Harbour, and In the same family since the 1800s, O’Neill’s is a fab seafood bar now recognised by Michelin. Of course there’s delicious shellfish, but there’s also a casserole of monkfish on diced potato with olive oil, garlic, chilli, and parsley.

Lord Baker’s
Dingle’s oldest gastrpub and seafood restaurant offers all that we want when on holidays – local atmosphere, buzz, good food and friendly service. Chow down on John Moriarty’s Dingle Bay crab claws in garlic butter, Cromane oysters, lobster or just great open seafood sambos.

Bobby Byrne’s
Full of character, Bobby Byrne’s is a Limerick legend, serving excellent food from 8.30am until 9pm. From French toast with crispy bacon to scampi, or Coronation chicken on Vienna bread. Excellent kiddies menu plus a beer garden. Oh yes, they like rugby here too.

On the banks of the River Shannon at Tarmonbarry, Co. Roscommon, this atmospheric gastropub is a destination for good grub and Bono and Ronnie Drew are just a couple of the names on their ‘Wall of Fame’. Try their Kelly’s of Newport black pudding on a bacon and cabbage mash. 

John Keogh’s The Lockeeper
Galway’s newest gastropub was a welcoming spot on a wet day for us and a Japanese family who dried their clothes in the lovely big loos. Lots of snugs and cosy corners, with great food like Galway oysters with a Guinness shot, lemon and seaweed flakes.

Joyce’s Bar
On the long stretch between Galway and Clifden, look out for the Connemara Giant, a statue, facing Joyce’s Craft shop at Recess. The unassuming looking bar is at the end of this building and inside is warm and welcoming, and serves great seafood chowder, bacon and cabbage, steaks, and kids pizzas, at equally great prices.

The Tavern
In the shadow of Croagh Patrick, just outside Westport, Co. Mayo, Myles & Ruth O’Brien’s Tavern at Murrisk serves a wide selection of good food to suit all tastes and pockets. Fresh Killary mussels are mariniere or with an Asian twist, shank of lamb is braised in craft beer. 

Right on the promenade at Rosses Point, Harry's is just bursting with atmosphere and nautical memorabilia. But don’t just expect the obvious here, they also do delicious innovative eclectic dishes. Duck spring rolls are Korean style, while a brill chicken curry comes with basmati rice, poppadom, mango chutney and mint yoghurt.

Maddens Bridge Bar
A destination for those in the know as well as hungry surfers who like good food after battling Bundoran’s great waves. Of course there’s seafood chowder and steaks, but also gratin of king prawns and crab claws is in a garlic beurre blanc, while bangers & mash are Alan Frizzell’s jumbo smoked oak whiskey sausages.