Subscriber OnlyFood

Thirteen great Irish restaurants for winter 2021 that are new and noteworthy

Our food experts Corinna Hardgrave, Lisa Cope and Ali Dunworth reveal their favourites

It is so wonderful to see restaurants back open – and, dare we say it, feel some normality returning, as we head out to meet friends and enjoy the conviviality of a good night out with great food. All the places to eat in this list come from our new guide to 100 great restaurants for winter 2021, which also includes new openings, great places to dine with friends and family, where to go for a special occasion, the places that are doing amazing vegetarian and vegan dishes, the places with clever wine lists, and where to eat outdoors as the days get cooler. Things will continue to change, so be sure to check details with the restaurant when booking. Corinna Hardgrave

Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen
18-19 Parnell Square North, Dublin 1; 01-8732266,
Mickael Viljanen's partnership with Ross Lewis of Chapter One was the blast of exciting news that had everyone geared up for the reopening of indoor dining. Booked out the minute reservations went live, the restaurant then saw glowing reviews flow in, particularly for its €65 lunch. It got five stars from us, and raised questions about the price of just about every other fixed-price menu in town. We expect the Michelin Guide to go right in with two Michelin stars, and we'll be watching closely as Chapter One continues its ascent to three, which we think will take quite a few years yet. Corinna Hardgrave

Éan Bakery & Wine Bar    
Druid Lane, Galway; 091-374154,    
What a joy it was to eat in this amazing wine bar in Galway, which is a cafe and bakery by day. We first tried it when it was outdoor dining only, on a particularly wet night, and couldn't wait to get back to taste more of Christine Walsh's phenomenal cooking. The squid toast has become a signature dish, but the beef tartare is also pretty spectacular, so just work your way through everything on the menu. The wine list is a thing of beauty. We need an Éan in Dublin, in Cork, just about everywhere around the country. CH

Field Kitchen
Camus Farm, Ardfield, Co Cork; 023-8869199,
Six miles from Clonakilty, Camus Farm is a 30-acre holding, growing certified organic produce and raising Dexter cattle, and in June they opened a restaurant. Sustainability practices are at their core, with solar power, an on-farm well, and compost going back into their soils, and food for the restaurant is home-grown or locally sourced. The set, no-choice menu is served from Friday-Sunday, and wines are organic too. Lisa Cope

Full Moon Thai 
8 Parliament Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2; 01-4453111,
Approach the menu at Full Moon Thai with excited caution – this is not Thai food for Irish people, it's Thai food for Thai people. The whole deep-fried seabass with a spicy herb salad is so hot you might need a fire extinguisher on standby, but you won't be able to stop yourself going back for more. Don't miss the Khao Tod (curried, crispy rice balls), Lab Moo (spicy pork salad) and beef Pad Kra Pao with Thai basil. LC

Kingdom 1795
Main Street, Killorglin, Co Kerry; 066-9796527,
Housed in an old pub building, Kingdom 1795 is a light and airy neighbourhood restaurant opened by chef Damien Ring and his front of house partner, Suzi O'Gorman. Both have stellar hospitality experience behind them and it shows in the confident cooking and warm welcome you'll find here. There is a commitment to sourcing locally for their casual lunches and concise dinner menus and there is an impressive drinks list too. Closed mid-February to mid-March. Ali Dunworth

Little Acorn
Market Square, Baltinglass, Co Wicklow; 059-6451805,
Chef Maggie Roche has cooked in some of the finest restaurants in the UK and Ireland and it really shows in the elevated cafe menu at this beautiful new Baltinglass spot. Since opening at the start of lockdown they have been selling out daily with good reason – sandwiches are stuffed with made-from-scratch fillings, salads are layered with flavour and texture and the Parmesan chips are worth going for alone. AD

53 Shelbourne Road, Dublin 4; 01-2313903,
All eyes were fixed on Gráinne O'Keefe when she left Clanbrassil House to partner with Ballsbridge wine shop, The French Paradox, to open a restaurant upstairs which takes Irish produce as its starting point. It's a €62 fixed price tasting menu, which starts with snacks, progressing to Cáis na Tire agnolotti, and a meat or fish course. Dessert is a very fine tarte tatin with Calvados and crème fraiche. CH

Native Seafood
The Crescent, Portstewart, Co Derry; 0044-7828 127739,
Finding themselves jobless in the first lockdown, Rebekah and Steafan McCarry started delivering lobsters, and soon a fish mongers and seafood restaurant emerged. Fish is sourced directly from fishermen in Portrush, Portstewart and Ballycastle; cleaned and filleted on site, and either sold in the fishmongers, or served on the daily changing menu. Everyday classics like hot dogs, sausage rolls, corn dogs, and burgers are made with sustainably sourced fish rather than meat, and sold at an affordable price. CH

Rúibín Bar & Restaurant
1/2 Dock Roads, Galway; 091-399200, 
Chef Alice Jary and Richard Kennan opened their restaurant in 2019, but have been adapting at breakneck speed, and are now settled into serving lunch during the day and two distinct options in the evening. In the bar, it's all about small sharing plates, ranging from oysters to pig cheek fritters. In the restaurant, there's a more serious à la carte menu with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. It's all about the quality of the produce here, with exciting cocktails, and wine from small organic producers. CH

Russell's Bar & Eatery at Fiddle & Bow
Fiddle + Bow Hotel, Teergonean, Doolin, Co Clare; 065-6700200,
With pale wooden floors, upcycled furniture, a blazing fire, and shelves lined with old books, fiddles, a bodhran and an accordion, the focus here is all about keeping things simple. So you'll get seafood chowder and bouillabaisse on Viv Kelly's menu, and battered fish served with seriously good hand-cut chips. There are meat and vegetarian options too. A great place to hang out with friends. CH

Stock Kitchen & Bar
1st Floor, St George's Market, Oxford Street, Belfast BT1 4FH; 0044-28 90240014,
Open from Thursday to Sunday, with times varying according to the day, Danny Millar's first-floor restaurant in Belfast's St George's Market has been getting quite the name for its food, which uses produce from the market below. Top dishes include fish roasted on the bone, Peter Hannan's cote de boeuf and the market seafood casserole. CH

The Old Couch Café
11 O'Connell Street, Waterford city; 087-1725947,
You don't often hear of a pivot from a cafe to a five-table fine dining restaurant but that's exactly what Damira Levacic and Przemyslaw Muszynski at The Old Couch Café have done. Anyone lucky enough to nab a table at their charmingly compact restaurant will be glad it happened. Their six-course tasting menu masterfully combines local ingredients with Polish and Croatian cuisine. One to watch. Closed early January. AD

The Wicklow Escape    
Donard, Co Wicklow; 083-3754372,
The Wicklow Escape primarily offers gorgeous three-day gourmet getaways but with the brilliant chef Danni Barry at the helm, they knew it was a good idea to open up for non-residents. Now you can book dinner on Wednesdays and Fridays to try Danni's seasonal menus, made up according to what is around her in the bountiful kitchen gardens and what can be sourced from neighbouring farms and suppliers. Closed in January. AD

Jump to: 
Seventeen great places to go with friends
Fourteen great places worth a special journey
Twelve great places with iconic dishes
Fifteen great places for special occasions
Ten great places for vegetarians
Six great places for families
Six great places for all-weather outdoor dining
Seven great places with tempting wine lists