I didn’t take any notes during dinner. These are simply my recollections 5 weeks after leaving Ireland.
After landing in Dublin, we picked up a car, a new 2018 BMW 520d, clearly designed by a midget. The pillar between the front and rear doors was so far forward that, if you are tall and needed the seat back, it interfered with entrance to the driver’s seat. We just stopped for an ice cream cone for lunch and, after stopping at the Monastic City at Glendalough, Kilkenny Castle and the Rock of Cashel, we continued to Waterford.
Dinner was in the center of town at Botega! I had an appetizer of Wye Asparagus with Brown Shrimp and Hollandaise sauce. The asparagus and shrimp were cooked perfectly, still some crunch in the asparagus and the shrimp were tender and gently spiced. My main course was a bit disappointing- O’Flynn’s Crispy Pork Belly, with root vegetables and roasted onions. The skin was so hard, trying to cut it required squashing the meat. I had a Smithwyck’s Red which became my go-to in many pubs.
The next morning after shopping at Waterford Crystal and a photo of Reginald’s Tower, we drove to Blarney Castle and skipped kissing the stone. We then drove into Cork and stopped at the magnificent St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral. In the village of Dunmanway we stopped at a small sandwich shop. Nothing looked good so we had decent scones and coffee and continued toward Mizzen Head. There had been virtually no rain in Ireland for 6 weeks and water saving precautions were being taken by the government, but when about 20 miles from Mizzen Head, it was heavily overcast and it started to pour, so we skipped Mizzen Head and continued on to Killarney, driving a substantial portion of the Ring of Kerry and the beautiful Killarney National Park.
Dinner was at The Laurels Pub and Restaurant. I had an excellent Warm Smoked Chicken and Bacon Salad. For my main course, I chose Irish Bacon and Cabbage, which was good, but I wish I had ordered the Irish Lamb Stew a woman at the next table had ordered. My wife’s Mussels in Citrus Cream Sauce were excellent, not overcooked and well-spiced. I tried two local beers which I enjoyed.
The next morning we drove to Dingle and stopped to look around the town. From there, we drove Slea Head Drive through the Dingle Peninsula, detouring to Fort Del Oro at an out-of-the-way location with a monument dedicated to Irish and Spanish warriors beheaded by the English in 1580. The countryside is beautiful and returned by a different route to Dingle and then headed up to Conor Pass for photos on the way to the Cliffs of Moher.Along the way we stopped for lunch in a Chinese restaurant with a full parking lot. The food was surprisingly good.
The Cliffs of Moher were stunning beautiful, as was O’Brien’s Tower, though the area was crawling with tourists. We continued past Doonagore Castle into Doolin, where we had dinner at McGann’s Pub, a place several forum members had recommended. I had Premium Burren Smoked Salmon with Irish Brown Soda Bread for an appetizer and thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t remember what I had for the main course, but it was just OK. The Irish music was enjoyable, but every song had the same frenetic pace and sounded about the same.
The next day we drove to Leamaneh Castle and then through The Burren, stopping at several sights along the way, the best being Pulnabrone Dolmen, and ancient above ground stone crypt. We took a long scenic route stopping at the stunning Corcomroe Abbey, then Aghagower’s ruins and other sights. Lunch on the run was an ice cream. We arrived for the evening in Ardara a small town with a lot of charm and a river running through it.
Dinner was at Nancy’s, a restaurant specializing in local oysters, which we had for our appetizer. Briny, plump, and fresh with light cocktail sauce, they were delicious. My Guinness Beef Stew was also excellent, accompanied a Smithwyck Red and a local brew.
In the morning we drove back to Dublin, turned in the car, and checked into the Westin, well-located downtown. We walked to Temple Bar and had lunch at the Old Mill Restaurant on Fleet St. I had serviceable bangers and mash with a local wheat beer. Then we walked arounf Dublin, over the Ha’Penny Bridge before dinner at Gallagher’s Boxty House. We skipped appetizers and just ordered mains. I had the Chicken and Smoked Bacon Boxty plate, a lot of mashed potatoes with a bit of meat hidden in them. I had a Guinness Special Export, which was far better than the food. Skip this place.
The next day we did Day 1 of a 2 day tour of Dublin, stopping for lunch at The Merchant’s Bar. I had Irish Bacon with Cabbage at the waitresses recommendation, and she was right. Excellent, and accompanied by a Smithwyck’s Red. We finished with a pre-purchased Whiskey Tasting Experience at the Jameson Distillery, where a small group of us had a private tasting at the President’s Bar, after which I bottled a Black Slate Cask Strength to bring home. It’s amazingly smooth and actually worth the 100 euro price. Only available at the distillery.
Dinner was at The Old Storehouse in the Temple Bar. This was our best dinner in Ireland for several reasons. The band was amazing, the best music we heard all week. The food was as good or better than anything we had all week. We had a beer listening to the music and then ordered main courses. I had the Steamed Fresh Connemara Mussels in Cider Cream with smoked bacon and garlic bread. Excellent! Highly recommended.
The next day we completed our tour of Dublin which included the pre-booked Connoisseur Experience at the Guinness Storehouse. Ten of us had a private tasting which included pouring our own Guinness after being taught the art. Guinness really does taste better in Ireland. Dinner was at The Pig’s Ear, a pretentious, over-rated restaurant. I had the barbecued pork belly with smoked black pudding, burnt onion, and apple, accompanied by a Grenache from the southern Rhone. I would have preferred almost any pub.