We’ve created a culinary ‘bucket list’ of some of the best restaurants in Ireland we want to visit in 2022 …
It’s official, Christmas is over and as usual, January somehow feels like the longest month ever. Perhaps you made New Year’s resolutions that you hope to stick to or maybe you decided to just muddle through this month as best you can, taking each day as it comes. Personally, for 2022 I have chosen to eschew resolutions that I likely won’t keep and instead create a culinary ‘bucket list’ of restaurants I hope to visit over the year. Here are five top notch places where I hope to dine during 2022, which include some of the best restaurants in Ireland, and achieving even one will be a bonus. That’s a resolution I can strive to keep.
Belfast is having something of a culinary moment and the team behind Ox on the banks of the Lagan River are leading the charge. Run by friends Belfast-born Stephen and Brittany-native Alain, Ox has garnered quite the reputation when it comes to outstanding food, service and drinks. With an abundance of awards to their name, the team at Ox appear to have cemented their status as Belfast’s premier dining destination and the addition of the more laid back Ox Cave has added another string to their already heaving bow. Ox is number one on my list to visit in 2022. Bucket list dish: with a seasonal menu that changes regularly, it is impossible to forecast what might appear on future menus but the winter 2021 menu included a gougère, with Coolatin cheddar and beer that was either remarkably photogenic , or as close to pastry heaven as one can get. www.oxbelfast.com
Ballymaloe House, Cork
Ballymaloe House in Co Cork is without a doubt the spiritual home for many food lovers, be they Irish or from further afield. Chefs, cooks and food writers the world over aspire to make the pilgrimage to Ballymaloe, yet much to my chagrin, I have yet to set foot inside these hallowed halls. That ends this year (I hope). The menu is a celebration of Irish produce and a Sunday spent lunching at Ballymaloe followed by a walk around the gardens before retiring to one of their beautiful guest rooms sounds heavenly to me. Bucket list dish: the legendary Sunday lunch dessert trolley. Despite the fact that I am usually 90% savoury and 10% sweet, the dessert trolley from Ballymaloe could quite possibly tempt me to forgo a starter in lieu of dessert for the first time since I was a child, and that’s no mean feat, believe me. www.ballymaloe.ie
Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen
Without a doubt, the hottest table in town for 2021 was at Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen. Critics have been united in their adoration of the venture between Ross Lewis and Mickael Viljanen with the €65 lunch menu being heralded as the best money you could spend on food in the city. Restaurant critic for The Times, Marina O’Loughlin called it “astonishing, life-enhancing food” and as it has been quite a few years since I have visited, I have decided it’s time to return and so on to the list it goes. Bucket list dish: any previous Chapter One experience has been faultless so I expect (especially given the recent reviews) my next visit to be no different but as always, it’s the theatre of the post-dinner Irish coffee that I shall most enjoy. www.chapteronerestaurant.com
Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, The Merrion Hotel
The pinnacle of fine dining in Ireland, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud recently celebrated 40 years in business and I feel that is long enough for any mere human to wait before visiting. Guilbauds holds a special place in my heart, despite the fact that I have yet to dine there, because as a child, I remember being consumed with envy when my parents dined at Guilbauds. It was my first inkling that a meal in a restaurant could be something truly special and that there was a lot more to the entire dining experience than simply eating. Bucket list dish: sadly the dishes my father waxed lyrical about so many years ago are unlikely to still be in vogue, but from stalking the most recent menu I would have to admit the ravioli of blue lobster with lobster coconut cream, toasted almond and split curry dressing is likely to outdo any dish from the early 1980s. My dad would be envious. www.restaurantpatrickguilbaud.ie
Dede at the Customs House, Baltimore, Co Cork
Chef Ahmet Dede appears to have created something very special in a corner of Co Cork with Dede at The Customs House in Baltimore. Combining local ingredients with inspiration from his Turkish heritage, the result has tongues wagging, but in a positive way to say the least. Dede has won all the awards to boot but it’s the Irish produce with a Turkish influence in the scenic surrounds of Baltimore that results in an overwhelming yes from me. Bucket list dish: anything with the native blue West Cork lobster which Dede uses year round in his dishes, claiming “this little beauty loves to take a bit of spice action”. www.customshousebaltimore.com
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