We may not have the weather for guaranteed year-round outdoor dining, but that hasn’t stopped resilient Dublin restaurateurs and their loyal customers from making the most of what’s available to them during the temporary ban on indoor dining.
Footpaths have been colonized, terraces commandeered and awnings hung. Going out for dinner, in the literal sense, has become a move in support of an industry struggling for survival. The number of diners may be capped at 15, and every seat counts, but there is plenty of availability around Dublin city and county. Here are a few of the choice spots to enjoy eating en plein air.
Asador, Haddington Road, Dublin 4
Shane Mitchell’s plan for his Ballsbridge restaurant to get through the three-week indoor dining ban has been to develop a super-luxury menu for the 15 seats on Asador’s comfortable terrace, which is a permanent structure. For €75, you can feast on a set dinner menu of acorn-fed Spanish ham, lobster, turbot, fillet steak and a choice of dessert or cheese. There are two sittings, at 6pm and 8.30pm, Wednesday to Saturday. At lunchtime there is a three-course menu for €35.
Saba, Baggot Street and Clarendon Street
Outdoor dining is available at both city-centre branches of this popular Thai and Vietnamese restaurant, seven days a week, from noon to 9pm. In Clarendon Street there is a smart roadside set up with some protection from the elements, but it’s in Baggot Street where the fun happens. The “secret garden” has colourful graffiti artwork by Subset, and a canopy roof should the weather not co-operate. The venue has capacity for 40, so the 15 seated guests have plenty of space to social distance here.
Rascals HQ, Inchicore
The brewery has been garnering a reputation for its excellent pizzas, served alongside one of its craft beers. Order a Meat Me In Inchicore (tomato sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, Gubeen chorizo and roasted peppers) and pull up a stool at one of the barrels or tables (there isn’t a lot of shelter from the elements here, so go prepared). As well as pizzas, there are side dishes, salads, and a dessert menu.
Sfuso Gastronomia Italiana, Temple Bar
Sfuso means bulk, or loose, in Italian, explain the owners of this business that was formerly Enoteca delle Langhe. They import cured meats and cheeses from small producers in Italy and also sell lots of pasta dishes, grilled meats and vegetables, and side orders, to take away or to eat on their terrace. Everything is sold by weight, even the cooked dishes, so you can buy just what you need. Assemble a regional Italian salumi and cheese platter to enjoy with a glass of wine on the terrace, and bring home a portion of ragu Bolognese to reheat for dinner.
Volpe Nera, Blackrock
Barry Sun’s neighbourhood restaurant has spread its wings to populate the heated terrace at The Wishing Well pub next door, extending its outdoor seating from just two tables to plenty of room for the mandated 15 diners. Opening hours are 3pm-8pm, Wednesday to Saturday, and 2pm-6pm for lunch on Sunday.
Rosa Madre, Temple Bar
The Italian seafood and pasta restaurant was the belle of the ball on social media last weekend, with images of its white linen-draped tables on the cobbled street looking more like Rome than Dublin 2. You’ll take your chances with the weather here, but the atmosphere will make it worth the risk. Open 5pm-9pm, Wednesday to Sunday.
Suesey Street, Fitzwilliam Place
Probably the most “permanent” of the outdoor dining set-ups in the city, the Garden Room at Suesey Street is a stylish and comfortable option with plenty of protection from the elements and a flickering log fire to add visual warmth. Open for lunch and dinner Wednesday to Friday, and dinner only on Saturday.
One Society, Gardiner Street
“We have eight tables and 15 chairs, as well as 15 hot water bottles. Nothing to protect from the rain yet.” They’re nothing if not optimistic at this north city neighbourhood spot. Open for lunch and brunch on Wednesday to Sunday (10.30am-3pm) and pizza and pasta on Tuesday to Sunday (4.15pm-9pm). Bookings for the “terrace” taken on 01-5375261.
Shelbourne Hotel, St Stephen’s Green
The statues are on their way back, and The Terrace is open to non-residents, making the Shelbourne hotel a bit of an oasis in the city. This luxurious space, hidden away on the mezzanine, just off the 1824 Bar, is serving an all-day menu of Shelbourne classics to 15 diners at a time, for the duration of the indoor dining ban. It is open every day, 9am-9pm, and reservations can be made by calling 01-663450.
Sprezzatura, Camden Market
Italian ideas, Irish ingredients, is how this team behind this much-loved Dublin 8 spot describe its offering. For now, the action has moved outside, under canvas. There are heaters in place now, so you’ll be able to enjoy hearty, rustic, autumnal dishes such as short rib lasagne and papardelle with duck ragu, while the restrictions continue.
Conor Sexton and Jutarat Suwankeeree have built a solid Covid-19 business plan by keeping their authentic Thai restaurant as flexible as possible and responding to their customers’ needs. So, as well as takeaway and delivery, they now have 15 outdoor dining seats, some on the street, and these two tables in what was formerly a smoking area.
Wallace’s Asti, Drumcondra
Wood from the pallets that transported wine the owners import from Italy was repurposed last August to create an outdoor dining terrace at this Sardinian restaurant in Dublin 1. Dine here and take your paper menu home with you and on your return, if you still have it, you’ll get 10 per cent taken off your bill.