IRELAND - WHERE TO EAT
The widest array of restaurants is concentrated in the big cities - where, alongside Dublin and Belfast, Cork has a particularly vibrant scene - and in gourmet hotspots such as Kinsale, Kenmare and Kilkenny, but good places can be found all over the country, sometimes in quite unexpected locales. Off the beaten track, it`s usually worth phoning ahead, as opening hours can be erratic and, in winter, some establishments in tourist areas close down entirely. There`s no getting away from the fact that dining out in Ireland is expensive, particularly when you factor in the high price of wine, but many fine restaurants offer cheaper, simpler menus at lunchtime, and plenty also lay on good-value early-bird menus in the evening - two or three courses for a set price, usually available until 7 or 7.30pm, though often not at weekends.
Most pubs across the country will be able to rustle you up a simple sandwich or toastie and a cup of tea or coffee, and many offer a substantial lunch. This is often based around a carvery, serving slices of roast meat, potatoes and vegetables, as well as sandwiches and salads which regularly feature crab and other seafood in coastal areas and hot staples such as Irish stew and soups. An increasing number of Irish pubs now also serve meals in the evening. Similar fare is also available in traditional daytime cafés, alongside cakes and scones, which are now augmented in some towns by deli-cafés, offering a more interesting array of food.
The best markets colorful, vibrant affairs that are worth a visit in their own right – are the permanent English Market in Cork city; the Temple Bar Food Market in Dublin, the Galway city market and the Midleton market in east Cork, all on Saturdays; and St George`s Market in Belfast, on Fridays and Saturdays.
Want to sample traditional Irish food? Here`s a few to get you started
Gallagher`s Boxty House,
20/21 Temple Bar, Dublin 2
Specializing in traditional potato pancakes or `boxty`, Gallagher`s also serves up classic Irish dishes including seafood chowder, spiced beef, bacon and colcannon, and the Dublin classic coddle.
Enjoy Atlantic mussels, Irish stew, and beef and Guinness casserole in a traditional riverside thatched-roofed pub.
Clonakilty, County Cork
Local is the name of the game at this celebrated pub, with delicious seafood chowder, a West Cork artisan cheese and meat plate, and Bantry Bay mussels.
The Plough Inn,
Hillsborough, County Down
Choose from the public bar or the more up-market restaurant, this place has lots of international dishes with some classic Irish favorites thrown in, such as dry-cured bacon chop with curly kale colcannon.
46 Great Victoria Street, Belfast BT2 7BA
Victorian elegance mixed with classic pub food makes this city center icon an enduring favorite. Enjoy black pudding potato cake, ham and cabbage, sausage and champ, and pies to beat the band.