Toner’s — Located about a ten minute walk from our hotel, this pub was listed as the best place to try Guinness in Dublin so, of course, we had to check it out. On Friday night it was absolutely jam packed and after 15 minutes of standing, I managed to grab us a seat at the bar. As advertised, the Guinness was awesome but we much preferred our second visit on Saturday evening when we snagged a cozy little nook to enjoy our beers.
Sanai Indian Restaurant — A solid option for reasonably priced food in Dublin. We had a bit of a communication issue at the beginning when I ordered my dishes and the waiter quickly pointed to the back of the menu that there was a minimum price requirement. My two appetizers cleared that hurdle but we finally realized he thought I had ordered for both of us, not just myself. Once that was sorted, it was all smiles and the meal was tasty.
The Dingle Whiskey Bar — After two visits, this little bar became our favorite hangout of the trip. Nice range of whiskey to try (both Irish and Scottish), and a much calmer environment than the beer bar next door. We had helpful and friendly staff during both visits and never struggled to find a table. Highly recommended!
- Glendalough (Glen-da-lock) 7 – very smooth, nice sweetness. One of our faves on the trip.
- Writer’s Tears Redhead – burny on the palate with some red fruit. Too strong for me.
- Tyrconnell Sherry Finish – richer, a little chocolate-y
- Knappoque Castle 12 – reminded Eric of a non-peated Bruichladdich
- Connemara 12 – light smoke, like a lite Caol Isla 12. A sweet start, followed by smoke, then a little iodine.
- Bushmill 16 – oily nose with some caramel and biscuits. Light plum skin after the mild burn. Complex but not my favorite, especially for the price.
La Ruelle Wine Bar — I’m not sure where it all went wrong… We walked in without a reservation on Saturday night intending on having dinner. To start we ordered a bottle of Loire muscadet and patatas bravas. The French manager came over to deliver the bottle and left. I noticed that other customers were getting more attention but figured they were regulars. Potatoes showed up really soggy, not crispy at all. After waving him over the manager was skeptical but said they would redo them. New plate showed up with crispy fries and sauce on the side. Potatoes were unseasoned but otherwise much better. No one came over to ask if they were okay and after we were done they were cleared without comment. Sidenote: the ‘bravas’ sauce was very thin, plain tomato sauce. After ten minutes had passed and no one came by to ask if we wanted anything else we felt we weren’t wanted so we decided to just finish our bottle and leave. When finally asked if we wanted more to eat (another ten minutes) we said no and were moved to a high top table “in case someone else came in”. (Our table was still empty when we left.) We were ignored until I went up to the counter to ask for the bill then it took several minutes for the waitress to come over with the card machine. Nice wine list, but if you make patatas bravas poorly then it’s hard to imagine success with more complicated dishes. Even worse was their indifferent attitude. We certainly wouldn’t bother returning.
Bowes Lounge Bar — Traditional Irish pub with a great whisky list. I ordered a half pint and the whiskey on special which turned out to be great. The prices were a bit cheaper overall than the Dingle Bar but they also offer many other options than whisky. A group of older ladies (sisters) next to us were enjoying (respectively) a glass of white wine, a gin & tonic, and a Guinness after a nearby show – it was the perfect cross-section of drink orders in Ireland! :)
- Irishman Founders Reserve – vanilla on the nose, a bit of burn on the finish, taste of banana bread and light crystalized ginger. After water – mellowed out but kept the banana bread.
- Connemara 12y – light peat, very smooth, a little sweetness and chocolate on finish. Nice initial impression.
- Glendalough 13 – very smooth, nice fruitiness. One of my faves on the trip, but unfortunately we never found it for sale.
- Connemara Turf Mor – very rich, smooth with a nice smokiness. Quite enjoyable, one of Eric’s faves.
Porterhouse Central — We stopped in here for a quick pint and to rest our feet after a day of exploring. It’s a huge space that gets quite crowded in the evenings, but at 2pm was pleasantly empty. The smoked salmon appetizer was pretty good, although the accompanying bread was rather bland. I tried a seasonal stout which was fine and Eric had the Brain Blasta (an amber ale).
Vintage Cocktail Club — The only place we made reservations as you have to knock on a blank door and wait to be let in, “speak-easy” style. We were escorted up the stairs and to a long bench area with a small round table. Eric was not thrilled with the backless stool he was given, especially as we planned to sit awhile and eat, so when the corner section became free we asked to be moved. It was no problem and our enjoyment of the space went up from there. The cocktail menu is categorized by time period and style and all the drinks are the same price (11.95€) so it’s really just a matter of choosing what sounds good!
- Dirty Wizard: Chili-infused Vodka, gingerbread and blackcurrant liqueur, cranberry juice, egg whites with ginger nut rim.
- Weathered Storm: Glendalough Poitin, raspberry syrup, plum bitters with raspberry skewer and mint.
- Oban Islay: Oban 14 yr, ginger liqueur, lemon peel infused genever, oolong tea and wooded vanilla bitters.
- Southern Passion: Pisco, apple and passion fruit, three sugar syrup with a passion fruit coin.
The food was a touch on a pricey side but not unusually so for Dublin. Our cheese plate and croquette appetizers were solid. The chocolate brownie with maraschino cherries and pistachio ice cream though was amazingly memorable. We would come back here on a future visit.