Believe it or not, it's still just about possible to find a room in a damn fine restaurant for a Christmas get together. You needn't skimp on taste or atmosphere but you may have to be flexible with dates and times. If you find you've missed the boat, keep this list to hand for those other special occasions on the horizon or book now for next year. It blows our minds, but some people already have.
Cliff Townhouse, 22 Stephens Green, Dublin 2, tel (01) 638 3939
We're not sure there's a prettier room anywhere in town, thanks to the views over Stephen's Green, the soaring, delicately plastered ceilings and elegant decor. The dream is a dinner for 16 all seated at one table but functions for up to 60 also work a wonder. Kickstart proceedings with a round of cucumber and wasabi martinis and you won't look back.?www.theclifftownhouse.com
Locks, 1 Windsor Terrace, Portobello, Dublin 8, tel (01)416 3655
We love the new look (and taste) Lock's and being nestled into the intimate front room upstairs with friends and family is really special. Their mission statement proclaims that ?we want our customers to come back to us time and time again for both the big and small events in their lives? and this room will guarantee that they do. www.locksrestaurant.ie
Seapoint, Monkstown, Co Dublin, tel (01)663 8480
Just refurbished and re-imagined ,this restaurant has a very flexible space above it which is perfect for all kinds of gatherings. Their new high tech system for delivering wines on tap makes it a great place for glass-by-glass experimentation as well as keeping crowds happy without blowing the budget. Sequester yourselves and get stuck in.?www.seapointrestaurant.ie
Brookwood, Upper Baggot St, Dublin 2, tel (01) 661 9366
A meal in the panelled and aptly named Club Room (seating up to 18) will feel like an occasion but not at all stuffy- its Old School feel and trad menu are anything but stodgy. Stumble out from a long Christmas lunch to Doheny & Nesbitts a few doors down.?www.brookwooddublin.com ?
Delahunt, Camden Street, Dublin 2, tel (01)598 4480
What began as a Victorian grocery shop is now a cracking good farm-to-table restaurant; great care is taken with the food (ingredients come from an array of local artisanal producers) and likewise, restoration has been meticulous. The building's most delicious period detail is now a glass enclosed snug where parties of up to 10 can whoop it up.?www.delahunt.ie ?
The Pig's Ear, Nassau Street, Dublin 2, tel (01)670 3865
There are three private room options here, all overlooking Trinity's playing fields but our favourite is the Chef's Table on the third floor, which seats 10. Leave the menu to the pros and get on with the party. You won't be sorry.?www.thepigsear.ie
Chapter One, Parnell Square, Dublin 1, tel (01)873 2266
Many would argue that Ross Lewis is the most exciting chef in town so a meal in the newly redecorated Jameson Room (capacity 14) or the semi-private Vault is a very special treat and much in demand.?www.chapteronerestaurant.com
Oliveto, Haddington Terrace, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, tel: (01)416 3655
All the building blocks for a great party are here- especially if people need to dance as well as eat and drink. You can't beat the simplicity of wooden floorboards, a profusion of fairy lights, antipasti boards, pasta, proper oven-fired pizza and great cocktails with optional walks down the pier before, during and after proceedings. Magic.?www.oliveto.ie
Bon Appetit, 9 James Terrace, Malahide, tel (01) 845 0314
The Recession spurred a rethink of this Northside favourite- the offering now is more affordable and the setup more relaxed than before but it still delivers the amazing flavours that saw its previous incarnation draped in Michelin accolades. Chef /proprietor Oliver Dunne will liaise on bespoke menus for 8-60 guests, which means individual tastes can be beautifully catered for.?www.bonappetit.ie
Caviston's , Glasthule, Co Dublin
The seafood market and restaurant are legendary local landmarks but who knew there's a room upstairs that can comfortably take up to 24. ?It's the ideal spot for a relaxed gathering that tends to the boisterous.?www.cavistons.com
A photo posted by Cavistons (@cavistons) on
Patrick Guilbaud, The Merrion Hotel, Dublin 2, tel (01)676 4192
Two Michelin stars and sublime service will make a meal here very, very memorable indeed. The front room overlooking Merrion Street can take up to 30 people but gathering 12-14 around one oval table makes it feel like you're a guest in someone's (very posh) Georgian dining room.?www.restaurantpatrickguilbaud.ie