World ? Europe ? Republic of Ireland

Republic of Ireland: Best Dining Bets

  • Chapter One (County Dublin; tel. 01/873-2266): Arguably the city's most atmospheric restaurant, this remarkable eatery fills the vaulted basement space of the Dublin Writers Museum. Artfully lighted and tastefully decorated, it offers a menu with local, organic ingredients, all cleverly used in dishes like the ravioli with Irish goat cheese and warm asparagus. Fabulous!

  • Grapefruit Moon (County Cork; tel. 021/464-6646): Here's an elegant, pared-down place in the middle of Ballycotton, an appealing village in East Cork. Run by members of the Allen family, of Ballymaloe fame, its key to everything is using the freshest ingredients obtainable.

  • The Chart House (County Kerry; tel. 066/915-2255): In this inviting bistro, everyone comes for Laura Boyce's confident, simple cooking. Think wonderful comfort food with a flair -- the kind of food you never tire of. And the service is, as the Irish would say, "spot on."

  • The Wild Geese (County Limerick; tel. 061/396451): After spending years making other people's restaurants fabulous, owner-chef David Foley created a gem of his own in Limerick. The cooking is complex, exquisitely flavorful, and refined.

  • Cromleach Lodge (County Sligo; tel. 071/916-5155): In this lovely country house with panoramic views of Lough Arrow and environs, Christy and Moira Tighe have created a culinary destination with few peers. The menu, Irish in focus, changes daily. The eight-course gourmet menu is the ultimate indulgence.

  • The Corncrake (County Donegal; tel. 074/937-4534): Such a judicious blend of fresh ingredients and culinary imagination is a rare treat. The nettle soup, roast lamb, and desserts of Noreen Lynch and Brid McCartney warrant a detour to the town of Carndonagh, where the living room of a small row house has been transformed into an extraordinary restaurant.

  • James Street South (County Antrim; tel. 028/9043-4310; www.jamesstreetsouth.co.uk): This is the table of the moment in Belfast. This place is a hit because of the terrific cooking, which delivers modern classics with an Irish twist. The lamb is always excellent, and shouldn't be missed. Portions are generous, the wine list very good, the crowd rapturous.

  • The Narrows (County Down; tel. 028/4272-8148): Who'd have thought that the sleepy little waterside hamlet of Portaferry would have a restaurant like this? Danny Millar is one of the hottest young chefs on this island -- just ask Food & Wine magazine -- and his complex, yet earthy, cooking is worth going out of your way for.

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