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Indulge your appetite for sightseeing, socialising and fabulous food in Dublin

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The Ivy

The Ivy

Photographer: Paul Winch-Furness

The Dylan hotel

The Dylan hotel

The Ivy restaurant in Dublin

The Ivy restaurant in Dublin

Dublin

Dublin

The Ivy

The Ivy

The Ivy

Dublin is well known for its world-class food and drink offering so I thought it was about time I checked out some of its top spots.

The base for our foodie weekend was The Dylan Hotel which has a reputation for being a favourite haunt of the city's stylish set and famous faces spotted there have included Westlife, Kylie Minogue and Louis Walsh.

The five-star boutique hotel, which boasts 72 individually-designed bedrooms and suites, is located in a quiet residential street off Baggot Street in Dublin's leafy south city centre. It is a brilliant location as it is within walking distance of the centre (about 20 minutes) but without all the noise that somewhere in the middle of the city brings.

As it is housed in an opulent and contemporary property that was once the nurses' home for the Royal City of Dublin Hospital, there is a real sense of history in the hotel.

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The Dylan hotel

The Dylan hotel

The Dylan hotel

When you walk in and see the lobby with its opulent forest green and jade furniture, along with original Max Ingrand mid-century glass lighting fixtures, set against crisp, clean, and detailed columns, you immediately feel welcomed in this tranquil setting.

After checking into our room and seeing what it had to offer it would have been extremely easy to have stayed there all day. With large sash windows, vaulted ceiling and a port hole, the bedrooms are all Irish designed and individually styled.

The Experience suites, one of which we were staying in, all have custom-made and individual beds complemented by Irish designed fabrics. With luxurious goose down pillows and duvet, you are guaranteed a great night's sleep. The suites have an additional TV in the bathroom (if you like to watch while you wash) called TileVision.

But in the interests of this review, I knew I had to leave the hotel and sample some of the jewels in Dublin's culinary crown.

I have never been to The Ivy in London, the famous restaurant which became a celeb haunt with many famous faces being photographed by paparazzi as they left.

The Ivy now has a sister restaurant in Dublin's bustling Dawson Street which has also become a haven for the famous and the fashionable in Ireland. It offers an all-day contemporary menu that ranges from breakfast through to lunch and dinner, including light snacks, sandwiches and afternoon tea.

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The Ivy restaurant in Dublin

The Ivy restaurant in Dublin

The Ivy restaurant in Dublin

With an inviting interior, full of plants, painted ceilings and colourful artwork adorning them and the walls, it is a place you could easily spend all afternoon (as we did) due to its buzzing atmosphere. For starters we shared salt and pepper squid and some tremendous truffle arancini (fried arborio rice balls with truffle cheese). These dishes were so moreish I could have just repeatedly ordered them again and again.

Mains were a keralan sweet potato curry for me and blackened cod fillet baked in a banana leaf for my other half. Both were again flawless but I did have serious food envy for the cod with its presentation, taste and the aromas of the soy and sesame marinade.

The star of the show was its most Instagrammed meal - the chocolate bombe dessert. As the hot salted caramel sauce was poured over it, the bombe melted like lava with a vanilla ice cream and honeycomb centre. It tasted as good as it sounds and looks.

An afternoon in The Ivy is all about really impressive food in an extremely impressive venue.

The restaurant also has a fantastic cocktail menu. We tried The Ivy Royale flute which is its signature Kir Royale with rose liqueur, Plymouth sloe gin and hibiscus topped with The Ivy Champagne and the Rhubarb & Raspberry Crumble high-ball which included fresh raspberries muddled with Ha'penny rhubarb gin, chambord and lemon juice topped with ginger ale. Both were packed full of flavour and highlighted the great skills of the mixologists working behind the onyx-topped bar.

As it is city centre-based, it is just a short walk to the shops of Grafton Street or tourist attractions like Trinity College and The Book of Kells in its Old Library - an 18th-century, oak-shelved long room that looks like a scene from the Harry Potter films. Its treasures include a rare copy of the 1916 Proclamation and a 15th century harp that inspired the emblem of Ireland.

As we had done the tourist thing in Dublin several times, including the always excellent Guinness Storehouse, we spent several hours just people watching from the comfort of The Ivy's supremely comfortable squishy seats.

After returning to the hotel later, next on our itinerary was dinner at The Dylan's Eddison restaurant. With its striking moss wall living art installation and sunny verandas facing east and west, the restaurant showcases a commitment to the best of Irish produce which is reflected throughout the menus.

Known for its focus on plants and vegetables, highlights of the dinner were the Fivemiletown goats' cheese with beetroot, candied walnuts, mesculan leaf and balsamic and the Dylan Signature Smoked Chicken with grilled sprouting broccoli, fondant potato, hazelnut and port jus. The chicken was succulent and full of flavour. Little wonder they have adopted this as a signature dish. After dinner you can also enjoy a drink in the warm and intimate Dylan bar beside the restaurant. Both have excellent wine lists. The residents-only Ruby Room, named after Ruby V. Stokes who was a matron of the hospital, has a brilliant cocktail and spirit list also.

With padded velvet wall lined panelling and deep cushioned banquets accessorised with plush feather cushions, the hideaway has a special atmosphere.

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Dylan Hotel Dublin

Dylan Hotel Dublin

Ashley Morrison

Dylan Hotel Dublin

For a nightcap we caught an Uber into town for cocktails at another venue which came highly recommended by someone who likes to be in the know about the coolest places to drink in Dublin.

The Blind Pig in Suffolk Street has to have the funkiest entrance door I have seen in a long time. I won't totally ruin the unique experience but it involves knocking a pig's head to get into this underground cocktail bar and restaurant.

Good luck with finding the bar in the first place as it is not signposted. We wandered around the street for several minutes, even finding another couple who were equally lost and trying to find it. Eventually we bumped into someone who pointed us in the right direction.

It was worth trying to find, not only for the entrance but for its expertly-crafted cocktail menu. I would particularly recommend the Sasha which is made of gin, Irish Greek yogurt and honey and sour orange juice.

Breakfast in the Eddison at The Dylan the next morning was just what the doctor ordered (well not quite!) with the cooked Irish breakfast the perfect remedy to all the cocktails the night before.

Dublin certainly didn't disappoint for food, drink and atmosphere.

With many people now reluctant to travel long haul due to coronavirus fears, why not treat yourself closer to home with a break like this.

Travel factfile

The Dylan Hotel

Eastmoreland Place, Dublin 4

Check out www.dylan.ie, email justask@dylan.ie or call 003531 6603000.

Rates start from £200 for one night's bed and breakfast

The Ivy Dublin

The Ivy on Dawson Street caters for every occasion from breakfast and weekend brunch to lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Open seven days a week from dawn until dusk. Check out the website at www.theivydublin.com

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