Special Report
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A look at some dining options for the new normal

Eating al fresco, oyster experiences and honey from Dublin bees all on the menu

Dublin’s Wilder Townhouse is still doing its bit to keep the buzz going. Its Bee Wilder in the City package marks its partnership with the wonderful Dublin Honey Bee Project. Photograph: Kieran Harnett

Village people

Covid has brought a new appreciation of the joys of al fresco dining and no form of foodie provider does it better than food markets. Unfortunately, no one is in more need of your custom either, particularly those that depend on Dublin’s hungry office workers – a rare breed these days. City markets are still a great spot for an informal meet-up though, and Irish Village Markets is carrying the flag on Wednesdays at Spencer Dock, Thursdays at Mespil Road and Fridays at Sandyford. Hop on the Luas to catch up with all your favourite purveyors including Meat Mafia, Papa’s Falafal and curry lover’s favourite Compass & Spice. Trading from 10.30am to 2pm.

Pedal to Powerscourt

There's nowhere prettier in autumn than Enniskerry so if you're in the market for a (very) mini-break, take advantage of the seasonal offers at the five-star Powerscourt Hotel. Its Autumn Abounds overnighter includes a three-course dinner, breakfast, tickets to Powerscourt Gardens plus 10 per cent off any purchases at the Avoca shop in the main house. There's a spa, pool and all the rest but, best of all, a complimentary bicycle so you can head off and explore the estate. From €196 per person sharing.Powerscourthotel.com

Take advantage of the seasonal offers at the five-star Powerscourt Hotel if you want a (very) mini-break.

Get shucking

Enjoy a flavour of Dublin in the rare old times, also known as February, with a stint at the Shelbourne. September marks the official start of oyster season and Stephen’s Green’s finest is going all out to celebrate.

In partnership with champagne maker Laurent Perrier, it is serving up daily specials such as a half dozen oysters with two glasses of bubbly for €50. Or go traditional and order six oysters and a pint of Guinness, for a saltier, savoury alternative. The hotel is offering three oyster experiences also, namely a single oyster with an accompanying drink. Choose from a coastal oyster with a mini Guinness for €6, one of Dungarvan's finest oysters with a mini Bloody Mary for €8, or a Carlingford oyster and a glass of Laurent Perrier for €20.


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Working from home-from-home

Castleknock Hotel has responded gamely to changed times with new on-demand work spaces, available to rent by the day, week or month. It could be the perfect solution for those fed up of HFH and in need of a bright, airy and, dare we say, flat-mate or child-free zone. The fact that it overlooks the golf course is a bonus, but there's high speed wifi too and a friendly support team you can call on if you need someone to tell you to check that the plug is in.

The food and drink options are far more appetising than those at home too. At the end of a rental period, each unit undergoes a thorough sanitising process.  Could be just the ticket if you’ve a big project you need to get through in peace, quiet – and comfort. Day rentals from €35.

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Buzzed at the Wilder

All those "nature is healing" posts may have stopped but Dublin's Wilder Townhouse is still doing its bit to keep the buzz going. Its Bee Wilder in the City package marks its partnership with the wonderful Dublin Honey Bee Project, a conservation scheme that produces honey in all the best neighbourhoods (which is to say, all of them).

Stay at the Victorian townhouse on Adelaide Road, close to the Iveagh Gardens and Stephen's Green, and you get a honey orange blossom cocktail on arrival, a picnic basket of locally produced charcuterie and cheese, a pot of its own house honey, and a chilled bottle of wine. The overnight Bee Wilder in The City package starts from €299 per room.

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Tex-mex bonanza

The pandemic has seen restaurants across the country reinvent themselves wonderfully through do-it-yourself food boxes. Boojum’s are terrific value, delivering fresh fajita kits with more than enough to feed a hungry family of four delivered around the country for just €25, orderable online for delivery on a date that suits you. Top it off with Phil Martin’s Blanco Nino authentic tortilla chips, developed for restaurateurs but now available in independent stores countrywide and, as of this month, in Dunnes supermarkets too. Olé!

Barry McCall

Barry McCall is a contributor to The Irish Times