There’s no doubt about it Beggars Bush (@BeggarsBushD4) has to be one of the hottest gastro hubs in the capital right now – with Juniors, Paulies, The Old Spot, Farmer Browns, Lotts & Co foodstore and The Foodgame café all within a stoned olive’s throw of each other. And the Chophouse restaurant and pub was one of the first top notch eateries to start the trend. We love this place – not only is it the only Dublin gastro-pub to be recommended by the Michelin Guide but it’s also light, bright and invitingly laid out. Chef/owner Kevin Arundel has a serious culinary pedigree, and together with his head chef Kevin Gallagher, they have created an elegant yet unfussy menu where high quality Irish ingredients are allowed to shine. Native beef is the real star of the show here. If you’re a carnivore you’re going to love the legendary beef board they bring to the table to show you the various cuts and colour of the beautifully aged meat. This is not cheap and cheerful gastro-pub fare but rather high-end food served in a low-key, friendly setting. A combination that is winning the place award after award. 2 Shelbourne Road, Dublin 4. 01 660 2390. Thechophouse.ie.
L Mulligan Grocer
At first glance L Mulligan Grocer looks like your average old mans’ pub. But once inside you’ll be delighted to discover there’s so much more going on. Food and drink menus arrive to the table inserted into long-forgotten novels, craft beer pairing suggestions are offered for each course, jam jars are stuffed with wild flowers, and Scrabble tiles make up the clever ‘reserved’ signs. The menu is full of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, with highlights such as their famous Scotch egg starter – free range egg encased in seasoned rare-breed pork and a herb crumb (there is also a vegetarian version). They have recently brought the ‘grocer’ bit back into the picture with a grocery section open each Friday and Saturday from 12.30pm, selling craft beer, local artisan bread, Irish farmhouse cheese, fresh tea and much more. A proper gastro-pub if ever there was one. 18 Manor Street, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7. 01 670 9889; lmulligangrocer.com.
The Purty Kitchen
When it comes to gastropubs I love the kind of casual set-up where you are served food in the same section and on the same bare wooden tables as the people next to you who have just popped in for a pint. This is precisely what you’ll find at The Purty Kitchen in Dun Laoghaire. The pub itself dates back to 1728, making it one of the oldest pubs in Dublin after The Brazen Head and The Norseman, and you get a nice feel for the place’s rich heritage as soon as you walk in. Not surprisingly they offer a stellar selection of Irish craft beer and a quick glance at the menu sees the same artisan ethos shining through with top notch Irish suppliers namechecked – the names Kettyle meats, Odaois Foods, Ocean Marine and Doyles Vegetables – ring out like a roll call of who’s who in the Irish artisan food world. The Shellfish hotpot and Purty Burger are not to be missed. 3-5 Old Dunleary Rd, Monkstown, Co. Dublin (01) 284 3576; purtykitchen.com.
The Black sheep
After a movie at Parnell Cineworld there’s nothing nicer than dropping into The Black Sheep for a cheeky Black Sheep burger (made with proper minced steak) or a comforting bowl of beef stew with Galway Bay stout (served with lashings of creamy mash). The place is one of quite a few owned by Galway Bay Brewery (who also own Against the Grain, Alfie Byrne’s and more) so needless to say Irish craft beer gets top billing here. Their own brews (Full Sail, Bay Ale, Stormy Port and Buried at Sea) are well promoted but it certainly doesn’t stop there. You literally will be spoilt for choice. They also boast a private room downstairs with pool tables and cosy nooks and crannies for a great (free) party venue. 61 Capel St, Dublin 1. (01) 873 0013. galwaybaybrewery.com.
Love this place – in both its incarnations – the original Exchequer Street venue and the newer Ranelagh outpost. Ranelagh definitely has more of a wine bar vibe while the Dublin 2 original feels more pub-like, but amped up with a brilliant food offering and serious soundtrack. With dishes such as feta and ricotta mousse, pickled rainbow carrots, celery – you know you’re a far cry from sad fried food bar fare. They take their sourcing seriously and it shows in the flavour of the food on the plate. If you can rate a place by the imagination they put into their vegetarian offering (which is usually not a bad place to start) the crispy polenta cake, courgette and sambucca purée, caramelized onions, Portobello mushrooms, cashew nuts and orange and watercress salad – gives you a good sense of the skill in the kitchen here. 3-5 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. (01) 670 6787; theexchequerdublin2.ie.