Do you find yourself looking longingly at the couple seated in the window, or those with a view of the kitchen or the perfect perch beside the bar? Where you are seated in a restaurant can make or break the dining experience, believes Ciara McQuillan …
The entire dining out experience is a sum of many parts. Without a doubt, the food is a crucial element, but there are myriad pieces that need to fall into place to facilitate an enjoyable meal out. For some, the décor is an all important factor, for others the ambiance and the staff are paramount. But for many, the table at which they are seated is top of the list when it comes to the success or failure of a meal experience. If this sounds familiar, these are the tables you need to know about.
West Restaurant at The Twelve Hotel, Barna, Co Galway
In Galway, West Restaurant at The Twelve Hotel in Barna has a seemingly endless amount of excellent table options, but for me, it has to be table number 90. It’s a spacious leather booth facing a bright window that feels hidden away and intimate in the best sense. Manager Fergal Guiney (who recently won best restaurant manager in Galway) is a consummate professional who ensures every experience in West is a memorable one and his wine knowledge is superb. When it comes to choosing dishes, head chef Nathan Hindmarsh has recently launched a new tasting menu and at €75, it’s excellent value with the optional wine pairing just €39. www.westrestaurant.ie
Fire, Dawson Street, Dublin 2
According to our insider information, the best tables to request in Fire, on Dublin’s Dawson Street are numbers 38 – 42 for a variety of reasons. The tables are elevated and located to the side of restaurant, affording a great view of the kitchen and dining room without being overwhelmed by the sometimes hectic atmosphere. From this vantage point, you manage to experience the buzz of the restaurant while soaking up the ambiance from a comfortable distance. Plus, these tables are closer to the bar, meaning quicker service for those all-important cocktails… When it comes to menu choices, the steak is obviously good, Fire being a steakhouse, and we are also fans of the cauliflower cheese which is cooked in a wood fired oven. Don’t forget the post-prandial espresso martini… www.firesteakhouse.ie
Marco Pierre White, Dawson Street, Dublin 2
When it comes to the most desirable tables in Marco Pierre White’s Dawson Street outpost, there are two main contenders. Table number 1, just inside the door to the left is a window booth that seats eight and is perfect for a group dinner. Again, it’s near the bar and slightly removed from the hustle and bustle of the dining room, yet close enough to soak up the buzzy atmosphere. The staff are always very attentive so being forgotten is never a concern. For dinner a deux, number 16 is perfect. It’s a corner table for two towards the back of the restaurant. It’s also close to the restrooms and provides the perfect vantage point to enjoy the convivial atmosphere of the restaurant when it’s busy. And to eat? You can’t go wrong with the shrimp cocktail followed by the steak frites with a nice Pinot Noir. www.marcopierrewhite.ie
Also… According to a recent Instagram post from chef Grainne O’Keefe of Mae Restaurant, her favourite table in Mae is table number 5, overlooking the balcony with a view of The French Paradox wine shop; www.maerestaurant.ie. When it comes to wine bars, the window seat at Frank’s on Camden Street affords a stellar aspect over Camden Street and all its vibrant glory; www.franksdublin.com. And in Stoneybatter, new kid on the block, A Fianco vineria (littlest sister of Grano next door) offers lovely high leather stools at a marble topped bar that places you right in the centre of the action; www.afianco.ie.