Thursday 22 June 2017

20 best spots for outdoor dining during the heatwave

SUMMER SUN: Having fun outside The Bailey off Grafton Street. Photo: Steve Humphreys
SUMMER SUN: Having fun outside The Bailey off Grafton Street. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Lucinda O’Sullivan

Lucinda O’Sullivan

The best part about all this good weather is the opportunity it creates for al-fresco dining.

The tans are on, the linens are out, and the BBQs are firing up. Suddenly, we all want to be part of the great al fresco dining scene. So, if not eating at home, where are the best places for chowing down outdoors?

Gastropubs are opening apace, transforming old-style pubs to suit today's discerning casual diner, while roof-top terraces are de rigueur for hip hotels. Here are some great places with prices that won't frighten the horses and perhaps offer more than pulled pork…


This old-style pub has just re-opened this week having morphed into a cool new gastropub with an outdoor dining area. Chef Gareth 'Gaz' Smith is the man at the helm and, apart from The Chart House, Chapter One and 1014, he has also worked in some of the top gastropubs in Vienna. Think all the faves like burgers, steaks, fish 'n' chips, but also crab claws, gambas on toast, asparagus, truffle and roast red onion tart and maybe even a classic Viennese schnitzel.


The former Kiely's Pub in Mount Merrion is now the urban cool Union Cafe, part of Paddy McKillen's Press Up Group, with a large bar restaurant, an old world Irish pub (Kennedy's), a deli and an outdoor space for chowing down. From Eggs Benedict to pasta to posh sambos, rotisserie chicken, lots of healthy avocado, plus a great kids menu.


On Temple Road, Blackrock, Co Dublin, the first venture into the pub world by Eddie Rocket's is really cool. With neon lights and leather booths, there's a fab enclosed outdoor terrace where they serve cocktails and a great range of casual grub for all the family, including charcuterie boards, wings, popcorn chicken, burgers - Spanish Harlem, Korean Swine, Hot Headed Mexican… Check out their weekend Drunch and the Chisler's Menu.


It really doesn't get much more sophis or grown-up than sitting, shades on, outside the legendary Bailey on Dublin's Duke Street, nonchalantly surveying the passing parade while sipping a glass of bubbles and eating a plate of scampi or truffle and Parmesan arancini balls.


You don't have to be Einstein to realise at first glance, from the wildly arty exterior, that this is a really fun, funky place. On South Richmond Street, apart from being a hipster bar-cum-cafe, it has a great outdoor backyard beer garden with a pool table and the magical double decker Blue Bus serving pizzas.


Known also as The Bar With No Name, this is a hip rooftop terrace on Fade Street, part of the operation that runs L'Gueuleton Restaurant, Hogan's Bar and Kelly's Hotel. Drop in for a mojito and a great weekend brunch.


Dun Laoghaire has the fab Fallon & Byrne at the People's Park, which not only has the park as a 'playground', but also the beautiful terrace, around the former historic tearooms, on which to sit and chill as you enjoy a light bite or perhaps go the whole hog.


David Whelehan's Cafe Bar and Wine Store, at the former Silver Tassie pub, is a uniquely civilised spot, which has proved a huge hit. You could spend hours here browsing the wines and enjoying antipasti, bruschetta and salads.


Sitting outside The Lobster Pot, at Carnesore Point in Co Wexford, chowing down on one of their special seafood platters is one of the greatest pleasures of life. This dinky old world pub has long been the destination of the rich and famous in search of their fishy fix.


A visit to The Strand Inn in Dunmore East always reminds me of France. It's totally chic, family-friendly and, with a terrace overlooking the beach, it's the perfect place to chill and enjoy the likes of Black Knob crab claws served with garlic butter, Duncannon mussels, or a petit filet steak and French fries, onions and pepper sauce.


Padraig Hennessy returned to Youghal after 28 years living in New Jersey and set up his fantastic gastropub in what was the Railway Bar of yore. With an extensive beer garden and an ethos of great food, think McGrath's striploin steaks, crabmeat and smoked salmon fish cakes, surf & turf scallops plus gourmet burgers.


On the site of an ancient Franciscan monastery, this is one of the best beer gardens in Cork City, serving an extensive range of craft beers, ales, lagers and stouts. On top of that, they have a wood-burning pizza oven manned by the popular Pompei Pizza guys.


Life doesn't get much better than taking the sun outside Vista Wine Bar, overlooking Kinsale's fab marina. They also have an amazing balcony with unparalleled views out over Kinsale Harbour. Excellent all-day casual food including pizzas and evening tapas in a very friendly atmosphere. Eat your heart out, Cannes.

Tel: (021) 470-6866


One of the most fantastic locations in the country to watch the sun go down is Ahakista on West Cork's Sheep's Head Peninsula. This is where Shane and Fiona Arundel's brilliant bar and restaurant serves up super food such as Durrus farmhouse cheese fritters, Bantry Bay Mussels, seafood galore and even Moroccan couscous royale.


On the Maharees, jutting out into Brandon Bay on the north side of the Dingle Peninsula, Spillane's does top food in a dramatic setting. Sit outside and enjoy the best of local produce with Annascaul black pudding polenta or maybe some of Ted Brown's organic smoked salmon. They also do scampi, plus seafood specials, Irish stew and steaks. It's blissful.


With breathtaking views overlooking the River Shannon, The Locke's beer garden is the largest in Limerick. There's a great vibe here and great casual food, from breakfast through lunch and dinner, including Brioche French Toast with Gubbeen bacon and maple syrup, Roaring Bay oysters, O'Loughlin's pork and leek sausages, Dingle Bay crab claws and steaks.


Moran's of The Weir at Kilcolgan, Co Galway, has long been a popular, fun spot for those in search of a pint and the local gigas oysters. It exudes that holiday feel and serves a wide range of seafood, from mussels to crab meat to smoked salmon. Dine inside or out.


In the shadow of the mighty Croagh Patrick, Myles and Ruth O'Brien's pretty pink-fronted Tavern at Murrisk, just outside Westport, serves consistently great food. They have their own lobster tank and also do Killary mussels, plus wonderful chowder, Mayo lamb and delicious Clew Bay seafood penne.


Opened by two former bank employees, Knox is a really cool new hipster-style eatery in Sligo, with an outdoor terrace in which to soak up the sun. Their weekend brunch menu includes a great 'Spanish Brekky', while they also do homemade burgers and a Thai Massaman curry.


Just 10 minutes outside Donegal town, The Village Tavern at Mountcharles does really great seafood, fresh from the nearby ports of Invery and Killybegs, which you can enjoy on their decking area. It's not all about seafood, as they do great steaks and a fine spring lamb plate, matching their dishes with craft beers.

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