Ambiance, comfort and good food, here are some great bars and restaurants you can book to watch the Six Nations this year …
It’s difficult to beat the electric atmosphere that comes from watching Irish rugby, despite the disappointing ending of last year’s world cup, but finding a comfortable place to do so can be a challenge. Ambiance aside, comfy seating is a must and when you add the yearning for good food to the equation, the options are limited. Here are a few places that will offer all three, but be warned, you will likely need to book ahead (and you can!) for an optimal vantage point.
The Storyteller, Grand Canal Street, Dublin 4
If your ideal rugby-watching experience comes with a side of aubergine parmigiana or a prawn Banh Mi, The Storyteller on Grand Canal Street has got you covered. Relatively new to the scene, other interesting dishes at this Dublin 4 bar include a curry chip croquette with mango chutney plus a selection of larger plates including peri peri chicken with salad and flatbread and mussels with cider and bacon. The intrigue deepens… www.storytellerpub.com.
The Waterloo, Baggot Street, Dublin 2
Promising a range of craft beer, cocktails and wine, The Waterloo has an eclectic mix of old school pub classics (hello cocktail sausages and chips) along with more current menu staples such as ‘nduja mussels with spicy cream sauce and garlic bread. You won’t be disappointed. www.thewaterloobar.ie.
The Old Spot, Bath Avenue, Dublin 4
Recommended by the Michelin “Eating out in Pubs” Guide for the past seven years, The Old Spot is the perfect place to book when good food and atmosphere are top of your list. Its close proximity to the Aviva Stadium ensures ambiance by the bucket load and the food is excellent by any standard. On Sundays there is a traditional Sunday roast and the crispy onion strings are to die for. Alternatively, keep it simple with the classic combination of Guinness and oysters. www.theoldspot.ie
The Circular, Rialto, Dublin 8
With food from Daddy’s café by day and Coke Lane Pizza by night, booking a table to watch the Six Nations at The Circular is a very good idea indeed. A half time feast of Luciano pizza, (a margherita with spicy ventricina salami, fresh chillies and their signature chilli-infused Irish honey) washed down with some wine on tap sounds like a great way to support the boys in green.
The Horse Show House, Dublin 4
Smack bang in the middle of rugby territory, The Horse Show House flies somewhat under the radar but is certainly one to consider. The menu is surprisingly broad with dishes ranging from toasties to Spanish sharing plates, smash burgers to chicken Kyiv. You can book a table and if there is a gang of you, order a platter for an entirely retro experience. www.horseshowhouse.ie.
The Living Room, Dublin 1
A favourite haunt of yesterday’s Culinary Arts students in Cathal Brugha Street and today’s chefs, The Living Room is a recognised sporting venue with a wide selection of beer appropriate soakage food to boot. Bookings are only taken for groups of ten plus so grab the gang and get cosy for the evening. Loaded fries, burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and sliders are the order of the day so my advice? Skip lunch. www.thelivingroom.ie.
The Merrion Inn, Dublin 4
Just across the road from St Vincent’s Hospital, The Merrion Inn, or the M1 as it’s also known, ticks all the boxes for a lazy afternoon filled with food and sport. The menu is a crowd pleaser with wings, gambas, pate and fishcakes among the starter options, and bistro style mains including steaks, seafood, burgers, pasta and salads. The quality is good and the staff are knowledgeable and courteous. There are daily specials and a decent wine and craft beer list. www.themerrioninn.com.
The Barge, Portobello, Dublin 6
Largely known for the proclivity of its patrons to spill out onto the canal as soon as the sun peeks its head through the clouds, The Barge is another bookable venue with a good atmosphere, decent food and a nice selection of drinks to watch the rugby. There is plenty of space and there are match day menus to suit any size crowd. www.thebarge.ie
The Landmark, Wexford Street, Dublin
Considering that former Leinster player Eoin O’Malley is a partner in the group that owns and operates The Landmark pub on Dublin’s Wexford Street, it’s hardly a surprise that it is an ideal city centre spot to enjoy the game. Tables can be booked and the menu is full of pub classics such as toasties, wings, homemade buttermilk chicken and freshly made fish and chips. www.thelandmarkdublin.ie
The Chophouse, Shelbourne Road, Dublin 4
Another Aviva adjacent hostelry, The Chophouse operates a pub-only basis on match days, with the opportunity to reserve a table for an early dinner after the fixtures have concluded. Should you be lucky enough to snag a table for dinner, the steaks are a good bet with the sharing prime Irish Hereford cote de boeuf with garlic green beans, onion rings, twice cooked chips and a variety of sauces guaranteed to put a smile on your face, whatever the outcome in the match. www.thechophouse.ie
FX Buckley Bull and Castle, Dublin 2
FXB’s Bull and Castle outpost will be showing Six Nations games in all their glory in the upstairs bar with the menu, as expected, a carnivore’s dream. The short rib croquettes in particular are a popular choice and I’m rather partial to the beef dripping chips, for obvious reasons. www.thebuckleycollection.ie
Tapped, Grafton Street, Dublin 2
The only bar with an entrance on to Grafton Street, Tapped Dublin (sister of Aperitivo next door) has recently partnered with poultry gurus, All Bar Chicken to expand their food options. There is an impressive array of all things chicken including wraps, wings, loaded fries, burgers and salads. There is also a couple of token veggie options, including cauliflower ‘wings’. A nice selection of wines, beers and cocktails on tap make this a good choice and bonus points for the ability to book ahead. www.tappeddublin.com.
The Blackrock, Blackrock, Co Dublin
On Carysfort Avenue, The Blackrock, owned by Rob Kearney, Dave Kearney, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip and Noel Anderson will be (obviously) showing fixtures and serving food over the match season. The menu includes comfort food classics such as popcorn pork belly, mushroom arancini, seafood chowder and Thai green curry. Both sister establishments, Lemon and Duke in The Hibernian Way in Dublin and The Bridge 1859 in Dublin 4, will also be open for business and what’s more, can be booked in advance. www.theblackrock.ie
And Further Afield …
Harte’s of Kildare is a multi-award winning gastropub with an emphasis on using only sustainable fish and fully traceable Irish meats. Hartes also has its own craft beer range from sister business, The Dew Drop. www.harteskildare.ie
In Galway, An Púcán is the haunt of the Connaught team reputedly so if it’s good enough for them… The food menu is impressive and being Galway, it’s of course full of fresh seafood options. There are separate cocktail and whiskey menus too. www.anpucan.ie