Aoife Carrigy picks some of her favourite spots around the country for al fresco dining from garden rooms to sheltered terraces and heated dining pods
If it’s chi-chi shelter you’re after, The Belvedere Terrace is a partially covered plaza on the first-floor courtyard of Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel where fruit-focussed cocktails like the Belvedere Blackberry and Lemongrass Spritz are the order of the day, along with carefully curated sharing boards, seafood platters or the Shelbourne Gateaux of the day. Comfort is guaranteed thanks to cosy banquettes, armchairs and sofas, while trellised arches drip with elaborate floral displays that promise five-star summer. Very tucked away, in a ‘you know if you know’ kind of way. Now you know. theshelbourne.com
The riverside terrace at The River Lee hotel gets a regular seasonal makeover and this summer The River Club Bar & Terrace has transformed into a celebration of ‘la dolce vita’, with a Mediterranean-style installation in partnership with Cork’s innovative florists, Fox Flowers, inspired by the wildflowers, cool olive trees and bright bursts of bougainvillea typical of the Amalfi coast. Sip on cocktails like the Tempo al tempo (All in Good Time), a take on a Limoncello Collins, and graze on an English Market tasting board, perhaps, or brunch classics given a Cork twist from the River Club Bar menu.
The Heritage boasts a smart new terrace that is covered and heated and strewn with bright cushions and graphic knit throws, but with optional side walls that can be opened out on a sunny day. Serving an all-day casual dining menu that starts early with brunch (think pancake stacks, or omelette with Garryhinch organic mushrooms, rocket and roasted red pepper) and runs till late, this is a stylish spot for relaxed grazing in a lush green setting with plenty of indoor plants drawing your eye out to the golf greens outdoors. theheritage.com
The team at The Twelve love nothing more than getting creative and they’ve brought their colourful style to a previously unused space just outside the hotel’s front door. Slip into holiday mode at Nóin (Irish for noon), an airy but sheltered courtyard that brings a little French Riviera al fresco style to the seaside village of Barna where Galway city greets Connemara. Bar bites from The Pins Gastro Bar are matched with clever cocktails — we’re hoping that last summer’s strawberry daiquiri ice lolly might make a reappearance. thetwelvehotel.ie
The pretty sandstone terrace at The Duck restaurant and cafe is a charming spot to soak up the country house style of Marlfield House, with retractable awnings providing enough cover to take your chances on an unpredictable day of light summer showers. The restaurant itself is located in the restored coach house, potting shed and gardener’s tool shed, with French doors looking onto the terrace and adjacent kitchen garden where vegetables, soft fruits and herbs grow among the fragrant roses. marlfieldhouse.com
Cask was named one of the top 10 cocktail bars in Europe at ‘Tales of The Cocktail’ 2022 Spirited Awards, and for good reason: its farm-to-glass cocktail menu takes seasonal mixology to new levels, with a healthy dash of Cork personality, and its commitment to local ingredients carries through to the street food-inspired tapas and small plates food menu too. Add to this one of the city’s most attractive outdoor spaces — a heated, covered courtyard with a retractable roof and waterfall for cooling those hotter days, and weekend DJs turning the heat up at night — and you have the perfect party destination. caskcork.com
At the Garden Terrace at Mikey Ryans in Cashel, casual diners can nestle into rattan furnishings under large parasols to escape light showers while enjoying gastropub fare with a true ‘Taste of Tipperary’. Or for a special summer gathering guaranteed to withstand the weather, The Glass Well is a very special private dining space: a glass-walled heated pergola with an automated louvred roof sheltered by the restored stone walls of the Cashel Palace Hotel and surrounded by carefully manicured greenery — and automated blinds for when more privacy is desired.
What do you get when have one of the capital city’s best-loved maitre d’s hosting one of its most stylish covered terraces and serving up classic French cooking (think beef tartare with capers and quail eggs, or soup de poissons aux fruits de mer)? A little bit of heaven is what, complete with verdant foliage, cushion-strewn seating, a wood-burning fireplace, that all-important retractable roof and a great front of house team lead by John Healy (as charming in person as he is for The Restaurant’s TV cameras). The Garden Room at Suesey Street is bookable for exclusive gatherings as well as smaller individual tables.
If you’re looking to create special memories this summer, a booking at Dede at the Custom House in the charming seaside town of Baltimore is one sure way to do it. Chef Ahmed Dede brings the flavours of his Turkish heritage to bear on meticulously sourced local ingredients, and a partially covered garden offers rustic-chic outdoor dining complete with a wood-burning stove and sheepskin throws to keep you cosy. Serving a full tasting menu only from July, this is Michelin-starred dining infused with the signature cosmopolitan style that West Cork summers can offer. customshousebaltimore.com
If a feast of fresh west coast oysters sounds like your kind of celebration, Morans Oysters Cottage is the perfect location for it — a thatched cottage perched by the weir at Kilcolgan with a covered outdoor dining area that can withstand whatever is rolling in off the Atlantic. Oyster lovers will go au natural, but there are also cooked oysters including Thermidor-style, baked with a brandy mustard cream and Parmesan breadcrumbs — or skip the oysters with a Moran’s Seafood Special of organic smoked salmon, prawns, crab meat and a classic Marie Rose sauce. The only real question is creamy stout or a crisp cool white?
For guaranteed cover from summer showers, and something completely different to your usual heated terrace options, Muse Coffee + Food on the grounds of Kilkenny’s fabulous Butler Gallery have five pre-bookable heated dining pods that allow you to soak up the atmospheric medieval setting without risking any weather hiccups. Serving a daily cafe lunch menu and with some original twists (the meat Lovers Flatbread features smoked Andouille sausage from Kilkenny’s own Breagagh Valley Artisan Meats) and weekend brunch (hard to pass by Jude’s Croque Benedict on Seagull Sourdough), the food is as fun as the sun-trap pods themselves.
Set in the lush gardens of Nano Nagle Place, a heritage centre that celebrates the charitable work and spirit of a remarkable 18th-century woman, Good Day Deli is a green oasis of calm, beauty and positive thinking in the heart of Cork city. Grab a seat on the terrace that runs alongside the cafe’s main glass-fronted garden room, or opt for a table under one of the garden gazebos. A perfect setting for a glass of natural wines and considered plate of vibrant food with an emphasis on sustainable production and sourcing inspired by Mana Tiaki, the cultural values of guardianship native to one of the owners’ Cook Island heritage. gooddaydeli.ie
With Dublin mountain views and water-dappled light, the covered deck at Overends Kitchen offers gorgeous bookable tables for outdoor Dublin dining. Its new table-service menu draws from Airfield Estate’s own farm produce, which includes lamb from Jacob sheep, pork from Oxford sandy black pigs and fresh seasonal vegetables straight from the kitchen gardens. Choose wines by the glass or homemade kombucha or kefir to accompany the farm-inspired fare. After lunch or a
weekend brunch, explore the inspiring gardens set within the 38-acre farm, or browse the weekend market or Farm Shop for the estate’s own Jersey milk or free-range eggs from the Rhode Island red hens.
In the leafy setting of the College Gardens overlooking the Methodist College (and close to Botanic Gardens for pre-dinner or post-lunch strolls), the covered and sheltered terrace at Deanes at Queens Bar and Grill makes for great all-weather outdoor dining. A Mibrasa Charcoal Grill despatches the likes of Mourne Black Face lamb rump or whole fish or half a boned chicken with the kind of consistency you can expect from one of Michael Deane’s solid establishments.
If arriving into the heritage village of Grangecon in West Wicklow feels like discovering a well-kept secret, entering the heated stretch tent in the pretty side garden of Grangecon Kitchen feels like walking into a surprise party — but an extremely relaxed one with the best of food. The main kitchen serves up brilliant brunch fare, savoury tarts and the most fabulous baked treats (think passionfruit and raspberry choux buns or orange curd cream doughnuts) plus a wood-fired oven sends out some serious pizza and flatbreads at weekend.
It doesn’t matter how wild the summer weather gets, the rooftop restaurant terrace deck at Dooleys Waterfront Bar & Restaurant is the perfect weatherproofed spot to enjoy crowd-pleasing burgers, Hereford steaks or fresh hake, perhaps, with black pepper gnocchi and garlic prawns, with views of those ocean waves crashing in on the golden strand at Ballinskelligs Bay below. Throw in a friendly welcome and a great bar atmosphere, and this is one special stop on the Ring of Kerry route.
Right on the seafront at Sligo’s surf-central Strandhill village, Shells Cafe has recently invested in a new seating area that makes the most of the ocean views while giving the shelter of awning cover. If you love the food (and you will, with perfect summer dishes like a salad of fresh strawberries, local goats cheese, candied walnuts and balsamic reduction; or fried potatoes and market fish with salsa verde, crispy capers, leaves and pickles) then pick up one of its two cookbooks in the cute lifestyle store inside.
Even the sunny south east sees fickle weather, but if the uninterrupted sea views from the large uncovered terrace at The Strand Cahore feels exposed, there is an enclosed courtyard with beach views and the cover of a stretch tent. Order from its unique pizza menu (toppings range from ribeye and caramelised onions to nutella, strawberries and cream) washed down with draught craft beer, a local gin or something from the smart wine list, followed by Murphy’s ice-cream or a boozy coffee and baked treats from the Sea Biscuit coffee truck.
If the rain sweeps in while you’re walking the two miles of dune-lined golden strand at Portstewart, but you still fancy lunching outdoors with the sea air to season your seafood lunch, there is a low-lying stretch tent covering half of the extensive decking area at Harry’s Shack. And if you feel like making a night of it and booking accommodation nearby, the tent becomes cover for a dance floor every Saturday with local DJs spinning vinyl at this National Trust-managed beach.
Together with her chef-husband Garry, Mairead Anderson of Killybegs Seafood Shack also runs a bricks-and-mortar restaurant that enjoys fine views of the harbour and marina but with a more extensive menu than the old pier’s shack. Though our recent windy and cool weather has delayed the reopening of their outdoor area, once the weather delivers some summer-worthy temperatures, this covered cobblestone courtyard will make a fine alfresco spot to sample Garry’s award-winning chowder followed by your pick of the freshest seafood landed within view of the restaurant.