Finding modern Irish food in Dublin
The Irish are famed for their traditional breads. (Oliver Strewe/LPI)
Coddle, a classic Dublin broth made of boiled fatty sausage and diced vegetables, may have cut the mustard with hungry Dublin dockers in the 1940s, but nowadays Dubliners prefer something a bit more sophisticated. With a good nose for it, you can track down top Irish nosh all over town. Here are a few of our favourites:
The Pepper Pot
Located on a busy balcony in the middle of a beautiful period building, the Pepper Pot has a quiet confidence about its kitchen and staff. It is the perfect spot for a post-shopping lunch, a pick-me-up Ariosa coffee and slice of 1970s-era Victoria Sponge cake with homemade raspberry jam, or a decadent Irish whiskey and pecan tart served on kitsch crockery. The menu is small but everything is homemade with a lot of love. Try the crumbly Guinness and pumpkin seed bread topped with local cream cheese and Burren smoked salmon, organic cabbage soup with chilli and caraway seed, or the to-die-for black pudding, red onion marmalade and Cashel Blue cheese tart.
Temple Bar Market
Wander around the cultural-quarter-meets-stag-party-zone of Temple Bar and you will find, in a well hidden plaza, the best one-stop shop for Irish produce. The Saturday Temple Bar Farmers Market is Dublin’s mecca for foodies who gather to chat with growers at their heaving stalls. Pick up gourmet delights such as Frank Hedermann’s smoked mackerel from County Clare, David Llewellyn’s zesty Irish-grown apple juice, Hicks venison sausages, or rich home-baked orange and rum breakfast cake (it must be the weekend) from the superb Wexford-based Nóirín’s Bakehouse. One of the biggest draws to this atmospheric open-air market though is John Mac’s stall where you can grab a bench and order six freshly-opened oysters, harvested the day before from the Atlantic off County Clare, with a slice of homemade brown soda bread and a glass of chilled white wine. It is the weekend on a plate.
Blessed are the cheesemakers. Or so say the customers at Sheridan’s Cheesemongers off Grafton Street, intoxicated by the heady smell of cheese in all its glorious varieties, stacked in large wheels inside the door. Although the Sheridan brothers began almost 20 years ago in a Galway market, their little Dublin shop feels like a proper artisan institution where knowledgeable staff offer slivers of cheese to taste, knowing resistance is futile. They now offer a range of European cheeses and olive oils but this is the place to taste the wonderful produce of Irish farmhouses – Durrus, Coolea, Gubbeen or Milleen’s all from Cork, St Tola’s creamy goat’s cheese from County Clare or a crumbly Cashel Blue. Pair a chunk of melt-in-the-mouth Irish goat’s cheese with a slice of apple and their Ditty’s Irish oat cake and you will be transported to dairy heaven.
Wolfes Irish Artisan Bistro
Dublin’s Capel Street, with its adult movie shops and pet supply stores, may not spring to mind as a place to go for a memorable gastronomic experience but that is what you can expect at Wolfes Irish Artisan Bistro. With the emphasis on quality Irish produce, delivered with skilful simplicity at astonishingly good prices, an evening spent in this relaxed Georgian setting (and funky industrial heated yard) is likely to be a contented one. The menu mixes the best of traditional fare with new ideas, such as beetroot and Ryefield goat’s cheese risotto, dry cured bacon, cabbage and parsley sauce, followed by bread and butter pudding (a country classic) with Guinness ice cream.
Avoca, the flagship Suffolk Street shop of the Pratt-family hand weavers, spans four floors and is a repository for all things crafty – but the food here is the real treasure. Pull up a chair at the airy top floor restaurant and enjoy Avoca staples like field mushroom soup, rillette of duck with crusty bread, or their sell-out-fast creamy fish pie. All produce is sourced locally from trusted suppliers so you are guaranteed top quality modern Irish fare. The basement food hall serves delicious food to go (potato cakes, soups, pies and salads) as well as gourmet Irish deli produce and jars of Avoca loveliness in the form of country relish, homemade vinaigrette and hedgerow jam.