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Lucinda's 20 BEST Gastrobars 2019

Lucinda's 20 BEST Gastrobars 2019

Wednesday 21 August 2019


Bart’s on South William St, in Dublin 2, is like a theatrical set, bursting with drama, but its small plates, at drama-free prices, are excellent. Fragments of seaweed with oyster emulsion; duck bikini; and turbot with lobster fries all went down a treat.

This iconic Glasnevin pub was re-opened last year by the people behind Aqua in Howth. I knew the fish would be good – and it was – and the prices are too. There’s a cosy bar plus a handsome dining room with all the wonderful old features. Have the crab claws and a great steak.

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden visited the Legal Eagle on a recent state visit. Near the Four Courts, it too was once a ‘hang sandwich’ place for lawyers and clients but, under Elaine Murphy’s umbrella, it’s a horse of a different colour. Think steak & ale pies; oysters; or a 1kg Chateaubriand – plus they do a fab ‘Seriously Seventies’ Sunday lunch.

PMACs, on the corner of Digges Lane and Stephen Street, with candleabras and funky vintage furnishings, attracts the young hip crowd, like proverbial moths to the flame. They love the decor – think candelabras and funky vintage furnishings – and casual grub, from devilled crab to fish tacos to prawn po’boy.

Part of the FXB butchering family group, Ryan's of Parkgate Street is one of Dublin’s iconic pubs; with an ornate bar and glorious olde worlde snugs, it’s. Kick off with oysters and proceed on, as Leopold Bloom might have said, with calf's liver and smoked bacon. Needless to say, the steaks are unbeatable.

In the heart of D4 rugby territory but also close to Googleland, with plenty of yuppies looking for an Express lunch. Expect lots of people watching opportunities, as well as cocktails, and excellent contemporary food, such as Japanese-style tuna carpaccio with ponzu. Sunday lunch is wow.

A licensed premises for over 300 years and a Dubliner fave, from 8am they do a great full Irish here at O’Neill’s in Suffolk St. From 11.30am onwards, it’s oysters galore; devilled whitebait; Lissadell mussels; Irish stew; shepherd’s pie; plus their famous carvery with every meat joint you can think of. There are also great trad music seisuns and a rooftop beer garden. 

Actor Gary Whelan turned the longstanding McDonagh’s pub into The Dalkey Duck, a gastrobar and music venue, where Kristan Burness is serving some very slick food. Think lobster & fries; Carlingford rock oysters with ponzu. There's a sun-filled terrace out back.

At the heart of the village, the Enniskerry Inn, with its oak-beamed contemporary hunting lodge feel, does great eclectic casual food ranging from halloumi skewers to kimchi style prawns to homemade beef or chicken breast burgers to fillet steaks. There’s a perfect suntrap yard, cocktails, Prosecco on tap, and rooms too. 


Georgina & Barry O’Sullivan’s gastropub in Co. Kildare has remained a great foodie destination, the reason being they never stand still. Check out their extensive vegan and veggie menus plus their new Back Bar menu. Eclectic influences include hummus with pickled cucumber & kimchi; prawn tempura; and grilled Toulouse sausage & champ. Their kids menu will turn the little tykes into foodies.

Finin’s on the Main Street in Midleton, East Cork, is one of my favourite spots. Finin O’Sullivan is a star of Irish hospitality and food. The seafood platters with local Ballycotton fish are sublime, his crispy duck divine, his pate unbeatable, and, from November to Christmas he serves roast goose. Put it in your diary. 

Colin Hennessy opened his seafood restaurant in what was Lynch’s Inn, in a lovely spot overlooking the fishing trawlers in Ballycotton Harbour. Now, with new owners, while retaining the old world pub, it’s had a bucket of money lavished on it – turning it into a sleek sophisticated little East Cork jewel, with guest rooms too. 

Soft shell crab burger, and Gruyere cheese & saucisson croquettes are but a couple of the delights at one of Cork’s hippest gastropubs. This is where Ross Lewis held the charity event for Cork Simon and Cork Penny Dinners with Michelin chefs Rob Krawczyk (of Restaurant Chestnut), Ahmet Dede (of Mews), and Takashi Miyazaki (of ichigo ichie) joining him at the stove.

For great local seafood, you can’t go wrong at this long-standing nautically themed gastropub in the centre of this Co. Cork town. The bar menu has hearty stalwarts, such as open crabmeat sambos; baked seafood au gratin; or fish & chips, while the restaurant does divine grilled whole black sole on the bone; pan-seared east coast scallops and lots for the carnivore. There's accommodation also. 

You can eat, drink and stay at the O’Crowley family’s An Sugan, the brilliant landmark pub on the corner of Wolfe Tone Street in the colourful west Cork town of Clonakilty. Food is served all day in the bar, with lots of local produce, seafood and steaks.  

Also in Co. Cork, ‘Seafood with a sea-view’ is the mantra at the Glandore Inn. Overlooking Glandore Harbour with a view out to Union Hall, where they get their fab shellfish, the vista is spectacular, as are the passing parades of glamorous cars, and the Yacht crowd. I sent a friend recently, who had a ‘faint moment’ on seeing three Porches parked outside!

In Kerry, the newly revamped Major Colgan’s, fronting on to the Muckross Park Hotel car park, is perfect for a visit to Killarney’s Muckross House & Gardens. Bursting with atmosphere, it does great casual food ranging from chowder to club sandwiches; fish & chips to 10oz sirloins with the works. Check out ‘Colgan’s Irish Night Pub Show’ with a 3 course package menu, €39.

One of the most reliable and popular gastropubs in Galway, the City of Tribes. It’s all about really good steak and seafood here. Who can resist lobster & leek ravioli, or pan-fried scallops with a raisin vinaigrette? And they’re just to start.

Conor Lynam hit the ground running with his hip gastropub in Galway's West End district, which he described as “Irish without the hearts and shamrocks”. With lots of great bars in the city, The Universal is decidedly unique. It does small plates, large plates, good prices, and great cocktails. Try Revuelto - two eggs, scrambled, with chorizo piccante, sweet onion and sheeps cheese.

A divine little pub, beer garden, B&B and restaurant near Slieve League and Teelin Harbour in Co. Donegal. The bygone-era atmosphere has been cleverly retained but with quirky modern tweaks. You'll also find contemporary casual food, and chic bedrooms with a five-star Failte Ireland rating.

First Published In The Sunday Independent