The secret is out. Irish food is no longer something to snigger at. Irish chefs and restaurants are dipping into the seas, farms, and fields on their doorstep to source high-quality local ingredients to create a new type of Irish cuisine. Farm-to-table isn’t a term that’s widely used in Dublin, but it’s the best way to describe the dedication to local, seasonal ingredients and artisan producers. The scene is heating up, and here are the restaurants at the forefront of the movement.
Hatch & Sons
You walk down the steps to a Georgian basement wondering what on earth is in store. The sash windows are steamy, and inside Hatch & Sons, you glimpse staff gliding around an island counter piled high with scones, cakes, and lemons. Inside, you step into a space that once served as a Georgian townhouse kitchen. Not long after you’re seated, the Irish food comes thick and fast. There’s beef and Guinness stew, and there are blaas, the soft white baps from Waterford, filled perhaps with St Tola Irish Goat cheese and roasted roots, or Wicklow cheddar with honeyed Irish ham. Order generously, but don’t forget to leave room for dessert.
The Pig’s Ear
Someone has tipped you off. You know to book ahead, requesting a window seat with views over Trinity College. You sit down at one of The Pig’s Ear’s bare bistro tables with a mix of wonder and satisfaction. Chef Stephen McAllister’s dishes are simple creations. If you’re having lunch, try the dillisk cured salmon served in a chrome-black bowl with Goatsbridge trout caviar. If you’re ordering from the a la carte menu, try the pig belly with rolled oats, Jane Russell’s black pudding, parsnip, apple, honey, and clove—a farm-to-table feast if ever there was one. It’s comfort food, but it’s also classy.
L. Mulligan Grocer
The Irish pub has come a long way. The old-school boozers still exist, but quiet revolutions are happening in understated emporiums like Stoneybatter’s L. Mulligan Grocer. Step inside, and your eyes take a moment to become accustomed to the light. You see snug partitions, bottles of craft beer on the shelves, and a clientele ranging from worn old men to hipsters nursing brews. Can this place really do food? The moment you bite into “Sir” Jack McCarthy’s black pudding, plated with almond crumbed sweet potato and a Granny Smith croquette, you know the answer is an emphatic yes!
The clue is in the name. Farm Restaurants is a pair of Irish-owned, family-run restaurants in the heart of Dublin (one’s on Leeson Street, the other on Dawson Street) that “love Irish food and ingredients.” They take inspiration for their dishes from all over the world, but they are always careful to source their farm-to-table ingredients locally whenever possible. You settle into the slick but simple space, its soft green tones reminding you that, not far from Dublin’s city centre, there are green fields filled with wildlife. You order a free-range chicken supreme, stuffed with Connemara salami and Durrus cheese mousse, and all is right with the world.