Eating Out in Ireland
One of you had a great suggestion that I add a bit about places we eat out at to my blog - and so this post is about some of the more memorable places we dined at while we were in Ireland. Going forward I will probably incorporate some of our dining experiences into each post.
Our first meal out after the lockdown restrictions were lifted was at McHugh's Bar and Restaurant in Queens Square, Belfast - located on the opposite side of the river from where we lived but a place that we walked past almost every day - McHughs promised us great food, great drink and great craic!
We arrived about an hour after the bars had officially reopened after the lockdown and we had expected it to be busy - it wasn’t! We still don’t know why, maybe it was due to the dark rain clouds that were hovering or maybe the Irish were being uncharacteristically cautious???
McHugh’s bar dates back to 1711 making it the oldest surviving building in Belfast and there was plenty of memorabilia on the walls to corroborate the claim. The story goes that McHugh's was originally built as a private dwelling on the old Town Dock around 1711. Some time after this the dock was demolished and the River Farset was covered, although it still runs under Queen's Square and the adjacent High Street. Between 1715 and 1725 it was converted to a small pub.
We followed the one way system up the stairs and sat at a table by a window overlooking a fairly empty Queens Square and the pub's outside bar area. Although it was cold and bleak outside both the pub itself and the service were warm and welcoming. We had chosen McHugh’s for Alan to have his first pint of Guinness (not out of a can) of the trip in a traditional Irish pub. And while we were there and seeing as it was lunchtime we also dined on traditional Irish fare in the form of boxty. A boxty is a traditional Irish potato pancake made with grated and mashed potato, flour, buttermilk and baking soda about the size of a fishcake and with a choice of different toppings - we had Shaved Belfast Ham, Fried Egg and Mature Coleraine Cheddar.
....and to ensure us that we were indeed in a traditional Irish pub there was the following old Irish rhyme at the top of the boxty menu...
“Boxty on the griddle, Boxty in the pan, if you can’t make Boxty you’ll never get a man”.
The Titanic Hotel
Our next meal out was a late wedding anniversary celebration and so it was somewhere quite special - and so we had a lovely dinner at the Wolff Grill at the Titanic Hotel. (see my earlier post on the Titanic hotel here). As we expected the food and service were outstanding and it was amazing to be in such a historic building. When we returned to Belfast after our trip around Ireland we dined at the hotel one more time in the more casual bar area which is located in the former drawing office building.
Arnos in Westport
Westport was humming in mid July when we arrived. It was the peak of Summer and the Irish staycationers were out in droves. We were unable to get into the restaurant that was recommended to us for two days and so we wandered through the town hoping to find somewhere to eat but not really believing that we would. We ended up down a little alley - hidden away from the main thoroughfare and that is where we discovered Arno’s. What a wonderful find! And they had a table available for us - I'm assuming it was because it was located away from the crowds because it certainly wasn’t because of the food (it was delicious!) or the service which was outstanding or the ambiance which fabulous! https://arnosbistrot.com
No. 1 Pery Square in Limerick The Long Room
A lovely place for a birthday celebration - No. 1 Pery Square
On their website they promise that they source the best ingredients and present them simply to showcase their flavour and the love that has gone into making them and I think that we can confirm that they delivered on their promise! Added to this was superb service and a fabulous ambiance and it turned out to be a wonderful evening. Limerick can be proud to have the fine dining option of the Long Room at No. 1 Pery Square. We dined on Ring's Supreme of Free Range Chicken with chicken skin, pea and Longueville cider jus; BallinwillinWild Boar Belly with Ballyneety baby carrots, bacon jam and chimichurri; veggies; and then we shared a dessert which was Lemon Posset with Rhubarb compote, brown bread crisp and basil syrup - all very fancy and rather delicious. https://oneperysquare.com/food-and-wine/the-long-room/
Story Cafe in Limerick
On their Facebook page that tell you
"If you don't laugh and smile in your life, then you are missing a lot...
This is why we always try to say hi to our customers with a big smile and make them feel comfortable every time they are with us! Big love from the whole Story Cafe team..." And they certainly made us smile - we arrived right on opening time before going to the market across the road. There was only one staff member there and he made everyone who entered the shop extremely welcome. Not only that but he took our orders and delivered a very tasty ‘half Irish breakfast’ incredibly quickly. We had coffee, toast, 2 sausages, 1 egg, black pudding, white pudding and great entertainment from the owner as he interacted with his customers. Interestingly he wasn’t Irish but Italian, happy and very loud. We definitely recommend Story Cafe if you happen to be in Limerick at breakfast time.
Bullitt in Belfast
Our last meal out on the Island of Ireland was breakfast in a cafe/bar down a little alley in Belfast. It was an alleyway that we had walked past a number of times over the previous few months but it was always either closed (during lockdown) raining or very busy and so we had never ventured into it. This time we did and we found a charming courtyard with an interesting barrel sculpture and a few empty tables and so we stayed and enjoyed an alfresco breakfast.