By Mark Keane
Baggot Street, the perfect place for a drink after watching a game of rugby or football at the Aviva. If you found yourself only visiting Baggot Street whenever the Irish team is in town, you have been missing out. The area is becoming home to a growing number of excellent cafes, restaurants and bars. With bus and DART services being so close, you have no reason not to pay the area a visit!
L’Ecrivain and chef Derry Clarke are an institution of Ireland’s culinary scene. The restaurant opened its doors all the way back in 1989, yet has never once shown signs of slowing down or losing its spark over the years. You wont be disappointed with menu options like a 3-course Pre-Theatre option for €45 euros that has dishes such as truffle risotto, and chocolate moelleux with tonka bean ice cream, or a 7-course Tasting Menu for €90 euros. The latter serving dishes like olive oil poached turbot with mussels and sea beets, and Wicklow hogget with samphire and cockles. An excellent and extensive wine menu means L’Ecrivain should be at the top of your list when you fancy spoiling yourself with some fine dining.
“Stylish restaurant with good value pre-theatre menus, a more elaborate a la carte and tasting menus showcasing top Irish produce” so says the Michelin Guide. Bang Restaurant, with its distinctive and eye-catching front, has long been a favourite of Dublin’s food scene. This is due to the team consistently serving exceptional, stylish food at great value in a beautifully designed restaurant. The only thing you need to decide is whether to visit for lunch where you can order 3 courses for 30 euros or spoil yourself with their 5 course Tasting Menu for 69 euros. When you visit, you will soon see why Bang is a favourite among Michelin and Dublin’s restaurant goers.
The new darling of Dublin’s food scene, Cirillo’s, is serving a modern take on Italian food. What exactly does that mean? It means their menu has dishes like fried calamari with black garlic aioli, pappardelle with braised short rib and wild garlic pesto, and pizza’s that use en vogue ingredients like Nduja, a tasty spreadable pork salami. Pizza and pasta, how could anybody resist? Word to the wise, make sure to book in advance!
Marcel’s boasts a strong culinary pedigree being a sister restaurant of The Green Hen, Pichet and Opium. It’s a restaurant-bistro bar that combines Old World style with a contemporary design, offering something different to Dublin’s food scene. Their seasonal menu caters to all taste buds with options like wild garlic soup, cured salmon with pickled cucumber and dill oil, lamb rump and polenta, as well as a delicious tart tatin. However, if you just fancy a post-work drink and a small snack, Marcel’s mixologists do a Cocktail of the Month and a Bar Menu. Perfect!
Healthy food is having its moment in the sun thanks to restaurants like Cocu. Their obsession is creating dishes that are not only healthy but also creative and full of flavour. To go that extra mile, Cocu had their menu nutritionally assessed by a dietician and only uses the highest quality ingredients like sourdough from Arun Bakery and sustainable fish from Wrights of Marino. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so picking up one of their Buckwheat granola pots with a cold pressed juice is a pretty perfect way to start your day, but paying a visit for brunch on the weekend is where Cocu really shines. Being able to take your time while you stockpile up on protein, omega 3 and iron-rich foods and a coffee is the way to start every weekend. Don’t forget dessert too, once you lay your eyes on them, you will forget about healthy eating for a minute!
Kerala Kitchen, a restaurant that got its start by serving the lunch time crowd at markets such as Mespil Road, East Point and Spencer Dock, finally took the plunge and set itself up on Upper Baggot Street. It can still be found at these markets as well as at festivals and events, but having their own premises is perfect for those who haven't had a chance to try their take on fast, fresh Indian food. Kerala Kitchen is inside an old Georgian building and uses communal tables to keep things social and casual. They also do delivery which is great news for those wanting to try their charred chicken tikka in fresh naan bread, prawn biryani, lamb seekah or onion bhaji dishes.
There aren’t many restaurants that can boast about being established back in 1938 and still serve excellent food day in day out. Unicorn by Fiorentina’s long history is a testament to their team and how they are not willing to rest on their laurels. The restaurant combines impeccable service with a contemporary take on Italian cuisine, meaning you will get your classic pasta dishes as well as dishes like lamb rump with rosemary jus. If you work near the Unicorn, their express lunch menu only costs €12-14, ideal for when you want gnocchi sardi, spring vegetable risotto or duck leg. Or when you have more time, their pre-theatre of 3 courses for €27 is excellent value for those wanting to try jerusalem artichoke soup, or a classic Italian pannacotta with rhubarb compote and biscotti. A comprehensive wine list, particularly for bottles from Italy, and their outdoor terrace, make the Unicorn by Fiorentina an excellent venue for al fresco summer dining.
Millers Pizza Kitchen has almost become a part of Baggot Street itself having opened its doors all the way back in 1991. Despite being 25 years young, the restaurant hasn’t lost its joie de vivre and continues to offer gourmet pizzas with a twist. Rather ingeniously, and unlike most other pizzerias, it flavours its doughs with ingredients like fresh herbs, red chilli, sun-dried tomatoes and citrus to provide a distinctive flavourful pizza base, ensuring you wont be leaving any leftover crusts behind. Millers tick s all the boxes for classic pizzas with their Hawaiin, Florentine and Roma offerings. Their gourmet pizzas is where it gets even more interesting and something you cant get anywhere else. Lamb masala pizza with peppers, roast cashews, mint and mango chutney, duck with hoisin sauce and bean sprouts, a Thai pizza with curry sauce, noodles and coconut milk, as well as a seafood version with prawns, capers and anchovies all sound delicious. Whether you’re a traditionalist or more of an adventurer, Millers Pizza Kitchen has your pizza needs covered.
Craft beer lovers and wine aficionados will be well aware of Baggot Street Wines, but Cavern Wine Bar, located in its basement, has been getting the attention of food and drink lovers since its opening. To say Cavern has an extensive wine list would be quite the understatement, there are around 700 wines available and all their staff are extremely knowledgeable on the subject. Wine is served by the glass or by the bottle, the latter ranging from €22 to €110 euros, catering to those who simply want a post-work drink and those that want to try something truly special. Of course, all good wine bars need some equally good food options, which Cavern provides with regularly changing specials, such as moules mariniere, courgette and parmesan soup, as well as chicken supreme with garlic mash. There are also meat and cheese boards to go along with sharing plates. With a courtyard area that holds 50 people and live music, Cavern is the ideal place to rest those weary legs after a hard days work.
Some things never go out of fashion, like great steak and seafood restaurants that serve well made cocktails. Its always worked, and one can see a fine example of it in action at Brookwood on Baggot Street. It serves crème de la crème ingredients such as Achill Island Oysters and 100 per cent Irish beef such as rib-eyes, 28 oz porterhouse steaks and of course fillet which have all been dry aged for 35 days. Of course, there are dishes such as scallops with Iberico ham, and crubeen ravioli with braised pork cheeks and apple too. Like all good steakhouses, Brookwood offers a Sunday roast option with all the trimmings, ideal for those wanting a lazy day of eating and reading the papers. If you find yourself stuck for somewhere to celebrate your next birthday, Brookwood has its own private dining area called The Club Room, the perfect place to celebrate in style.