After a few weeks break, our Bloggers Recommend series is back. Today, our top tips for the best places to eat out come courtesy of beer enthusiast John from The Beer Nut blog. The Beer Nut blogs about the best beers and drinking spots around Ireland, with a special focus on European beers.
The Beer Nut’s Favourite Cheap Eats
The Bull and Castle Gastropub and Beerhall, Christchurch Place, Dublin 2
The Bull and Castle is at the epicentre of Ireland’s growing craft beer trade is also a superb steak restaurant, owned by the FXB chain. There’s something for every
occasion — from tasty beer snacks of cocktail sausages or chicken wings, through to pub grub classics like pies, steak sandwiches and bangers and mash, right up to the full T-bone or fillet steak. The meat from FXB’s own farms is as delicious as might be expected. The back of the menu recommends beers that can be paired with the different types of food, and the vast selection of top-notch Irish brews and quality imports mean there’s a beer here for everyone.
The Winding Stair, 40 Ormonde Quay, Dublin 1.
A survivor of the Thomas Read meltdown, and one of the very few restaurants in Dublin to take beer seriously, The Winding Stair offers solid, unfussy food of a very high calibre. The à la carte is perhaps outside the CheapEats scope though worth it for an occasional treat, but the lunch menu is excellent value, and the fresh fish has been a particular favourite of mine on past visits. The beer list includes a couple from the excellent St Peter’s Brewery of Suffolk. A seat by the window offers lovely views over the Liffey at Ha’penny Bridge.
Diwali, Castle House, South Great George’s Street, Dublin 2.
One of my favourite lunchtime venues, Diwali offers a superb two-course lunch for €11.95. The Monday-to-Wednesday edition is particularly good, with the lamb garlic chilli a highlight. The service is always very attentive.
JD’s Steakhouse, 4 Rathfarnham Road, Terenure Dublin 6.
It appears that the people who run JD’s have bought a book on how to buy and cook beef perfectly. I’ve been coming here since it opened in 2006 and have yet to be served less-than-tender steak. I’m also seriously addicted to the house pate, served with a cumberland sauce and lots of toast. Prices are very reasonable, and quite amazing when you look at what they’re serving up for it. The core carnivore-oriented menu is supplemented with specials and some superb desserts.
Pintxo, 12 Eustace Street, Dublin 2
From the same team who run The Port House, Pintxo is that bit easier to get a seat in, though the lunchtime hours can be a little erratic. The menu offers a variety of reasonably-priced (for Dublin!) tapas, from €2 up to about €6. The lamb caldreta is always wonderfully tender, the calimari is always fresh, and I love the sinfully boozy meatiness of their chorizo al vino. All of this is best washed down with one of the Basque beers they stock, with the Zunbeltz stout the best of the lot.
The Beer Nut’s Wishlist
Good beer in more restaurants
Top of my wishlist is for restaurants of all persuasions to take beer more seriously. It bugs me when I go somewhere with a varied and well-thought-out wine list, but just one or two yellow lagers representing the entirety of beer. Beer goes wonderfully with all kind of foods — much better than wine does when it comes to chocolate or cheese — and every restaurant should at least have a strong and complex Belgian ale (eg Westmalle Dubbel, Duvel) and a hoppy American beer (eg Goose Island IPA, Brooklyn Lager) as high-quality alternatives to wine.
More good-quality low-alcohol beers
The low-to-no alcohol market is very poorly served in Ireland, consisting mostly of adulterated versions of mainstream beers that aren’t very good to begin with. Yet in the UK there’s a tradition of complex and tasty bitters and milds in the 2.5% – 3.5% ABV range. Why can’t we have tasty, naturally-produced, beer at this sort of user-friendly strength?
Irish craft beer in more pubs
Brewers like Galway Hooker, Carlow Brewing, Franciscan Well and White Gypsy are producing beer that’s much better than the factory-made offerings of Ireland’s foreign-owned megabreweries Diageo and Heineken. I’d love to see more beer drinkers seeking these beers out, and more licensees willing to stock them. Ireland once had dozens of individual local breweries — we can return to this diversity if we think a bit more about where our beer comes from.