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Lucinda's 20 Best Christmas Spots Countrywide 2019

Lucinda's 20 Best Christmas Spots Countrywide 2019

Wednesday 18 December 2019

With 18,000 sq ft on Limerick's main drag, O'Connell Street, Alex Findlater's Food & Wine Hall has you covered seven days a week, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, between their Food Hall, Oyster & Seafood Bar and their Grill Room. Chose wines from the shelves with no corkage.

Blake's, part of Brasserie on the Corner, won the Best Bar Food in Ireland award this year. So, for chowder, toasties, boards, steaks or seafood, it's a great spot to chow down after a day spent at Galway's wonderful Christmas market.

Having loaded up with gifts, and visited the on-site Museum of Style Icons, treat yourself to lunch by 3-Michelin-star trained chef Calum Watson at the chic Carlton Varney-designed Cafe Carlton at Newbridge Silverware in Co Kildare.

With unbeatable cocktails and casual food, Cask on MacCurtain Street, Cork, is terrific. For more formal fare, cross the courtyard past the rushing rock-faced waterfall to Greenes for an excellent 3-course Christmas lunch/dinner menu (€37.50/€65). A great spot for friends, family or even those nervous Romeos looking to pop the question.;

For great wood-fired Neopolitan-style pizzas, head to Richard Whitty and Laura Kelly's Crust on South Main Street, Wexford. From the Mushroom Delux to The Butcher's Block, there are plenty to choose from. Wines on tap.

Joe and Margaret Bohan's Dela in Galway, with its Scandi-style menu and decor, is brill. Aside from great food, they're also passionate about craft beer, with a selection to delight those with a seasonal thirst. Brunch from 10am-3pm (4pm Sat). Dinner from 6pm, Tues-Sat.

This glorious thatched hotel in Adare is a bastion of old-world charm and style. Princess Anne rather liked it, as did Michel Roux. Their Hunter's Bar is a lively spot with great casual fare, while the Maigue Restaurant serves superb food, including beef carved from the trolley. Adare might be the prettiest town in Ireland, so if you're looking for those perfect Christmas selfies, this one's a safe bet.

Chef Peter Everett, ex Chapter One and Residence, has made his mark in his native Waterford, with fine dining in a 15th-Century building. The Front Room wine bar is great for Christmas cocktails, while the Vault below is perfect for bigger groups. 2/3 course festive dinner menu €37.50-€47. Pre-theatre/lunch €30.

Midleton in East Cork is a great town for shopping, and Finin's gastropub has been a mainstay of the town's foodie scene for 40 years. From now until Christmas, Finin's roast goose with all the trimmings is €29, or a 4-course dinner for €37. Closed Sundays.

Fish & Ale is the mantra at the new Goldie's on Cork's Oliver Plunkett St, but it's also fish & fun. It opens at 5pm, so it's a perfect spot for a post-shopping meal with the family, or a boozy Christmas outing with friends. Whatever your tipple, you're sure to find it here.

Mikey Ryan's is a fantastic gastropub in the heart of Cashel town. Restored a couple of years ago by horsey honcho John Magnier, the old pub was preserved and a conservatory added to the rear. The grub is great, they have a kids' menu, a Christmas menu, they do Sunday lunch, and they are just off the M8 if you want to meet your friends 'halfway'. Tallyho.

Explore Sligo's ever popular Christmas Market and, when your feet are ready to fall off, head for this fab, funky restaurant, featuring a big wooden boat on the ceiling and a lovely view out onto the gurgling Garavogue River, for some seasonal cheer.

Nestled between a church and a gay bar on Sea Road in Galway, Jess Murphy's Kai is a hot destination for those in search of innovative food and fun. Think monkfish with rope mussels; lamb chops with beetroot picada and green tahini; or a strip steak with chanterelle butter.

Having recently been voted as one of the best cities in the world to visit, and with a fab Christmas market, it's no surprise that there are so many great places to visit in Galway this season, none more so than the majestic Hotel Meyrick, standing proudly over Eyre Square, right in the heart of the city's action. Grab a cocktail in the Oyster Bar and then dine in style at their fab Gaslight Brasserie.

With a cool contemporary vibe and unparalleled views out over Cork City, the Montenotte is exceptional. Its Panorama restaurant offers a fantastic atmosphere for romantic meals, family outings or cocktails with friends. 2/3-course Festive lunch menu €35/€40. 3-course Festive dinner €45. Available seven days a week up to January 7.

The legendary Old Ground Hotel in Ennis, which seems to have the most boutiques in Ireland, is a superbly atmospheric place. From delicious lunch specials and evening meals in their Poet's Corner Bar (trad music at weekends) to a Christmas lunch (€25pp) in their O'Regan Restaurant, to contemporary Irish food in their Town Hall Bistro.

The Cavaliere family's Italian restaurant, opposite Kilkenny Castle, is one of Ireland's best. Even if you're having a quick lunch special, it still feels like an occasion in this beautiful elegant room. Antonio's fresh ricotta ravioli in a Gorgonzola cream dusted with crushed walnuts is to die for. As for the rum baba...

There's nowhere better to capture the bustle and atmosphere of Christmas than the famous English Market in the heart of Cork. When you've soaked up the smells and aromas from all the famous food stalls, take yourself upstairs to the legendary Farmgate Cafe. Where else would you get tripe and onions with drisheen, or Irish lamb stew with steamed Lady's Bridge jacket potatoes?

Gearoid and Tara Lynch's picture-perfect Olde Post Inn in Cloverhill, Co Cavan, is a great place for a family get together, or a romantic night away in one of their six lovely bedrooms located in the original part of the postmaster's residence. Coeliac Gearoid wrote My Gluten-Free Kitchen, so it's perfect if you're gluten-free.

John and Tara Coffey's Thyme restaurant in Athlone received a well-deserved Michelin Bib Gourmand this year, so it's sure to be on lots of foodie Christmas lists this year. The wild mallard breast with braised leg, organic pumpkin, chard and wild blackberry is sublime.

First Published In The Sunday Independent