Irish cooking hasn’t always enjoyed the reputation of some of its European counterparts.
That’s changing. ‘Dublin is one of the most vibrant culinary cities in Europe right now,’ says Mark Moriarty, who works in the city’s Greenhouse restaurant.
The 25-year-old Dublin-born chef has worked under Kevin Thornton at his Dublin restaurant Thornton’s; run a monthly pop-up, The Culinary Counter, with friend and mentor Ciaran Sweeney; and was crowned San Pellegrino Young Chef 2015.
‘Traditionally Irish cuisine is very humble,’ says Moriarty. ‘It was all based on necessity, what’s available to eat, and there’s a strong culture of hunting and foraging.’
This month, Cathay Pacific launches its first non-stop route to Dublin; and in July, Moriarty, Mickael Viljanen and Graham Neville bring a taste of new Irish cuisine to Hong Kong with Test Kitchen.
Here, he guides us on the best restaurants in his home city.
Locally sourced Irish food in a really beautiful and casual setting with canal views in Portobello, on the city’s southern outskirts. I’ve been there four times for the Sunday lunch menu and every time it’s faultless. The prices are really reasonable, too. locksrestaurant.ie
Forest & Marcy
Chef Ciaran Sweeney is a very good friend of mine. His restaurant has a neighbourhood feel while serving a modern, seasonal menu that changes daily. The farm-to-table menu on Sundays is also fantastic: not vegetarian, but veg-focused dishes where the protein comes second. forestandmarcy.ie
A lovely little cafe on the outskirts of the city. It’s got a cool warehouse vibe and food is simple, unpretentious and uniformly good: from the bread to salads to heartier meals. I’ll often drop in for breakfast or brunch, and it’s a good place to meet for a coffee (closed Sundays and Mondays). thefumbally.ie
One of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten. Bunsen is perfect if you only have 20 minutes and want a quick bite. There are a few branches in the city. The beef is all Irish, ground on site, and the menu is so simple it’s printed on a business card. bunsen.ie
777 is the kind of place I love to go to unwind: a Mexican-style cocktail bar and restaurant that’s no fuss and lots of fun. Everything from the tiled floors to the cocktails to the food is fantastic. There’s a party atmosphere and great Mexican sharing plates. 777.ie
One of the most innovative menus in Ireland, and fully deserves its Michelin star. If you want classic French techniques but forward-thinking dishes, this is the place to eat. Chef Mickael Viljanen has been propping up the Irish culinary scene for more than a decade. thegreenhouserestaurant.ie
Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud
Probably Ireland’s most elegant restaurant, in one of its best hotels (The Merrion). It’s a real occasion restaurant: two Michelin stars and probably the best wine list in the country. restaurantpatrickguilbaud.ie
We’re not short of pubs in Dublin. But for a traditional pub where you can count on a great pint of Guinness and a beer garden, Toners, on Baggot Street, is one of my favourites. Grogans (15 South William Street) and Kehoe’s (9 South Anne Street) are other good choices. tonerspub.ie
Test Kitchen x Mark Moriarty presents a taste of Ireland in Hong Kong for four nights (25-28 July). testkitchen.com.hk
Cathay Pacific launches a four-times-weekly service to Dublin from Hong Kong on 2 June