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Lucinda's 20 Best Seafood Spots

Lucinda's 20 Best Seafood Spots

Wednesday 11 July 2018

Summer is the perfect time for fish lovers to savour big bowls of steaming fresh crab claws, mussels, prawns or lobster, all dripping with garlic butter. Irish seafood, which our continental cousins would kill for, is second to none, says Lucinda O’Sullivan, who gives you her selection of 20 of the best seafood restaurants and bars around the country from the shores of the Ancient East to the rugged beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way.

This fabulous seafood restaurant, located right over the water at the end of Howth’s West Pier, has stood the test of time, not only because of its award-winning seafood, but because the location is so perfect, lending spectacular atmospheric views to every meal.

Niall Sabongi has taken center stage in the Dublin seafood scene with his cool, casual fish-shack style restaurants. Besides his hip Seafood Cafe on Fownes Street in Temple Bar, he also has the nearby Klaw, as well as Klaw Poke on Capel Street. Think lobster rolls, wild clams and oysters dressed or otherwise.

Glass-fronted fridges and counters boast an ocean of oysters and denizens of the deep, including a giant Norwegian crab with claws that would delight and scare the bejaysus out of any child gazing in. Upmarket, with great seafood, service and style, in Dublin’s South William Street.

Gaz Smith’s neighbourhood eatery in Mount Merrion has become a Mecca for foodies clamouring for tables to chow down on his great big plates of crustaceans, including giant lobster claws, prawns and lobster, coming directly from small independent fishermen in Howth.

Move over Funghi! Sammy the seal is Ireland’s latest sea dwelling celebrity, delighting patrons of the Fishman shop and its Lighthouse Restaurant, on South Quay in Wicklow Town, by emerging from the deep on a regular basis to collect his share of their top-notch fishy fare.

Helmed by chef patron Paul Hynes, and his wife Edwina Tubbritt, the focus at this bright, modern Wexford restaurant on the quay is seasonal menus with very finest seafood being paired with the best locally sourced and foraged ingredients. Think local fish bouillabaisse with garlic croute and sauce rouille or salmon gravlax, with blini, dill jelly and a celeriac remoulade.

Located on Rosslare Strand, they pride themselves on ‘low food miles’, working hard to ensure that their menus are local and fresh, and offer customers the sort of food their ancestors would have eaten. Lots of great seafood, from mussels and crab claws to swordfish to razor clams.

Great seafood meets top local and organic produce at this sassy seafood restaurant and bar overlooking Ballycotton Harbour with its famous fleet of fishing boats. They couldn't be better located for nabbing the best of fresh seafood, which they serve with panache.

This buzzy al fresco street-side restaurant, on the site of the historic Kinsale fish market on Pearse Street, and part of the superb Blue Haven Hotel, is all about using the famed local seafood in a casual contemporary style – crab and shrimp bruschetta, chargrilled swordfish, pan-seared Atlantic scallops, lobster and lots lots more.

It doesn’t get much better than sitting out on the spanking new waterside deck at The Lifeboat Inn in Courtmacsherry, cracking open great big prawns and a glass of chilled white wine. This dinky new gastropub is under the baton of David O’Halloran and Martin Buckley –who has worked at Chapter One and London’s 2-Star Le Gavroche.  

Head Chef Anne Marie Butler has been wowing diners with her culinary style and talent at this popular Bantry restaurant for the past few years. The menu changes regularly, as you'd expect with fresh seafood, and there’s plenty to please the concerned fishophile, but, if you get a chance, try their signature dish of monkfish and smoked venison risotto.

Delicious, fresh local seafood at an affordable rate is the business model that have made the Quinlan's such a huge success. Besides being top suppliers in Ireland’s ‘findustry’, they also have four great seafood bars located in Cork, Killarney, Tralee and, the latest to grab my attention, at the Square in Killorglin.

Martin Bealin’s and Nuala Cassidy’s mission at their atmospheric Dingle restaurant, is to ‘bring together the classic and the bring the purest local ingredients to life’, using lots of local seafood and veg from their garden on Mount Eagle, the most westerly mountain on the Dingle Peninsula. For the full whammy, try their Tasting Menu.

Lots of old world charm at this seafood restaurant – from the thatched roof to the textured walls to the classic polished-wood decor. They always have a great range of locally-sourced fish including Irish rock oysters, hot buttered garlic crab claws, pan-fried halibut or whole seabass.

Eileen and Vincent Graham are always turning heads with the great seafood at their popular lobster bar in New Quay, Co. Clare. With the Burren at its doorstep and views out over Galway Bay, the vibe here is that warm, inviting, classic cottage-style Ireland that every tourist and native alike hopes to stumble across.

The motto here is “One taste and you’re Hooked” and it would certainly be tough to argue with that sentiment. Grab a table at this cool, laid-back family run seafood restaurant, on Henry Street in Galway, and prepare for monkfish cheeks with chorizo; fish tacos; poke and shellfish bowls or a large seafood platter.

Set just a stones throw from the beach in the Village of Barna, near to Galway City, O’Grady’s is home to some of the best views on Ireland’s West Coast, with the panoramic delight of Galway Bay as the starring attraction. Pacific oysters; Killary mussels; Dublin Bay prawn cocktail; King scallops and Ted Brown’s crab and smoked salmon all feature.

Sligo’s newest hip eatery is the colourful Stoked, over The Strand Bar in the surfers' paradise of Strandhill. Think small or sharing plates with Asian twists including fresh tuna poke bowls; oysters; Szechwan aubergine and smoked mackerel with beetroot sour cream.

Whether it’s great lobster, or Eithna’s lentil dahl with seaweed, the food here is great, as are the fantastic views out over the harbour at Mullaghmore. Eithna also does decadent cakes. Look out too for organic veg from the Tattie Hoaker Community Organic Farm. 

Ronnie Blake’s stupendous fish ‘n chipper set right by the harbour in Rathmullen, Co. Donegal, dishes out the kind of fresh simple food that everybody loves. All the classic chipper faves served at restaurant level, along with a wide selection of healthier options for the more discerning diner.

First Published In The Sunday Independent