Tuesday 22 October 2019

The Irish Foodie Bucket List: 30 dishes worth travelling for

Around Ireland in 30 dishes

Inis Meain Restaurant & Suites
Inis Meain Restaurant & Suites
Around Ireland in 30 dishes
The Fatted Calf
1826 Adare, Co Limerick
Mayo Mezze board at Cafe Rua, Castlebar
Flavours and textures of Irish milk and honey, at Chapter One, Dublin. Photo: Barry McCall
Gregan's Castle: mouthwatering crab
Forest & Marcy fermented bread
Aldridge Lodge, Duncannon, Co. Wexford. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile
Charcuterie at Loam in Galway. Photo: Julia Dunin
Comeragh mountain lamb with heritage carrots, cabbage, parsnip and ginger puree at The Tannery Restaurant, Dungarvan, Co Waterford.
Snaffles restaurant, Castle Leslie
Thornhill Duck at MacNean House & Restaurant, Blacklion, Co. Cavan
Ox Belfast. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile
West Cork wonders at Monk's Lane, Timoleague. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile
Zuni, Kilkenny
Ballymaloe House
Hartes Bar & Grill, Kildare. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile
Glebe Wagyu burger at PykeNPommes in Derry. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile
Idas, Dingle
Cassidy's Pub, Carron, Co Clare - Home to one of our 30 Irish dishes worth travelling for
The Old Convent
Fish n' chips at Harry's in Derry
Monkfish with parsnip crisps at VM at Viewmount House, Co. Longfod. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile
Catalina Restaurant, Lough Erne Resort
The Winding Stair

Aoife Carrigy & Pól Ó Conghaile

Aoife Carrigy and Pól Ó Conghaile serve up 30 dishes worth travelling for. It's Ireland's foodie bucket list.

Years ago, the notion of an 'Irish cuisine' or foodie scene would have had tourists choking on their bacon and cabbage. Today, there are Michelin-star restaurants in Belfast, Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny and Waterford.

All has changed. World-class produce, confident chefs and restaurants, tasty trails and festivals have combined to create a distinctly Irish food and a distinctly Irish way of serving it. The results are inspiring travel like never before.

Here's our bucket list. Pack an appetite!

1. Smoked salmon sandwich with seaweed pesto

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Eithna O'Sullivan at Eithna's by the Sea, Mullaghmore. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile

Where: Eithna's by the Sea, Mullaghmore, Co Sligo

What: With views of the harbour and blackboard specials declaring the daily catch from Donegal Bay and beyond, this is a prime spot to savour the fruits of the sea. Owner Eithna O'Sullivan brings something special to the simplest of dishes. Her open sandwich of sliced Donegal smoked salmon, served with capers, lemon and tossed salad leaves from the organic Tattie Hoaker Farm in Cliffoney, is transformed by Eithna's Wild Atlantic Seaweed Pesto. It's a brilliant taste of the ocean. - AC

Details: The Harbour; 071 916 6407; eithnasrestaurant.com

How much: €9.75

If you like that, try this: Capture the surfer spirit of Strandhill in Shells Café (shellscafe.com) - a dreamy seaside café, bakery and good food store.

2. Tiina Laas Organic Quail

The Oarsman, Carrick-on-Shannon

Where: The Oarsman, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim

What: The various menus at Conor and Ronan Maher's exemplary country pub demonstrate the Slow Food principles that they hold dear. This dinner menu gem shows their kitchen's playful approach to a great local product: organic quail reared by an Estonian-born Leitrim producer, Tiina Laas of 12 Quail Farm. The quail breast is served with confit leg, pickled carrot, yoghurt bonbon, roast, spiced chickpeas and a soy and ginger glaze. One of Ireland's original gastropub innovators. - AC

Details: Bridge Street; 071 962 1733; theoarsman.com

How much: €9.95 (as a starter)

If you like that, try this: More surprises (and more local quail) await at The Cottage (cottagerestaurant.ie), a weirside restaurant run by charming Malaysian-born brothers Sham and Lee Hanifa in Jamestown.

3. Mayo Mezze Board

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Mayo Mezze board at Cafe Rua, Castlebar

Where: Café Rua, Castlebar, Co Mayo

What: 'Déanta i Maigh Eo' reads the tagline on this small but perfectly formed taste of the county. The platter centres around a chicken liver pâté served with Stephen Gould's leaves, a Claremorris free-range egg and the house chilli relish. Rua soda bread, Cuinneog butter and Carrowholly cheese add to the sense of place. More than two decades since the McMahon family opened their doors, it's the quintessential Mayo board... with a free glass of homemade lemonade, too. - PÓC

How much: €10

Details: New Antrim Street or Spencer Street (there are two cafés); 094 902 3376; caferua.com

If you like that, try this: Stephen Lenehan's 2AA Rosette restaurant is the highlight of a stay at Belleek Castle (belleekcastle.com) in Ballina.

4. 'Today's local charcuterie'

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Charcuterie at Loam in Galway. Photo: Julia Dunin

Where: Loam, Galway

What: Irish charcuterie is in the ascendant and Loam chef-proprietor Enda McEvoy dedicates a permanent corner of his seasonally changing offer to the best of West Coast charcuterie. 'Today's local charcuterie' might consist of Connemara air-dried lamb from James McGeough butchers in Oughterard and unusual offerings from West Cork's Gubbeen Smokehouse, including moulded salami, coppa (Italian pork) and pancetta. Order at the bar or to preface a meal at this Michelin-starred mecca. - AC

Details: Geata na Cathrach, Fairgreen; 091 569 727; loamgalway.com

How much: €9/€16 for a small/large board

If you like that, try this: JP McMahon's terroir-based Michelin-starred restaurant Aniar (aniarrestaurant.ie; the name means 'from the west') interprets local and often wild foods in a clean, contemporary style.

5. Island sea urchins

Sea urchins on Inis Meain

Where: Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites, Co Galway

What: Chef-owner Ruairí de Blacam's nightly changing tasting menu is inspired by the island's starkly beautiful karst limestone landscape and the wild Atlantic ocean that surrounds it. Each meal begins with a shellfish snack harvested from island shores - periwinkles, perhaps, or umami-rich sea urchin when in season - setting the tone for an elemental feast of the best of the island's shores and the de Blacams' polytunnels. Book well ahead, especially for suites; it's off radar, but in demand. - AC

Details: Inis Meáin, Aran Islands; inismeain.com

How much: €70pp (dinner); April to end of September

If you like that, try this: Tig Congaile, Inis Meáin (inismeainbb.com). A supper of lobster cooked with seaweed by Guatemalan bean an tí Vilma Conneely, caught by her fisherman husband, Pádraig, is unforgettable. Sunset views of the Cliffs of Moher are the icing on the cake.

More: The Irish Bucket List: 30 things to do in Ireland before you die

6 Doonbeg Crab with Cucumber, Radish and fragrant herb oil

Gregan's Castle: mouthwatering crab

Where: Gregans Castle Hotel, Ballyvaughan, Co Clare

What: David Hurley's dishes are like Abstract Expressionist paintings on a plate. Seriously. Sit in the dining room at Gregans Castle and soak them up… each as pretty as the Burren wildflowers outside. A full dinner menu is the obvious indulgence in the 3AA Rosette restaurant, where highlights include this light and beautiful crab dish, seasoned with fresh horseradish and rolled in a sheet of cucumber pickle jelly and wild sea herbs. Make sure to stay the night… you can thank us later. - PÓC

How much: Three courses, with extras, from €72pp

Details: 065 707 7005; gregans.ie

If you like that, try this: Burren Smoked Salmon with lettuce, Ratte potato, red onion and fennel mayonnaise at the Wild Honey Inn in Lisdoonvarna (wildhoneyinn.com).

7. Burren Mionáin (Goat) Burger

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Cassidy's Pub, Carron, Co Clare - Home to one of our 30 Irish dishes worth travelling for

Where: Cassidy's Pub, The Burren, Co Clare

What: Where else can you eat a burger made with local organically reared goat meat, sprinkled with local goat's cheese and served in a soft bap with chips, homemade relish and organic mixed leaves? And with a view of Carron's turlough, a seasonal lake that comes and goes with the swallows? A meal at Cassidy's is worth a detour; make time too for a pint by the open turf fire. - AC

How much: €11.95 (from April 1)

Details: Carron; 065 708 9109; cassidyspub.com

If you like that, try this: Stay a night at Burren Glamping in Kilfenora (burrenglamping.com) and wake to a full Irish breakfast of free-range pork reared outside the door of your converted horse truck!

8. Friendly Farmer Pasture-Reared Chicken

1826 Adare, Co Limerick

Where: 1826 Adare, Co Limerick

What: Ronan Byrne - aka the Friendly Farmer - produces some of the finest-tasting and most respectfully reared chicken in the land. At 1826 Adare, talented chef-proprietor Wade Murphy serves Friendly Farmer chicken breast with a risotto of Cork-grown fungi, from Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms, finished with a truffle jus and tarragon oil. Order as part of the value menu to sample the pan-fried chicken livers too, served with pickles, piccalilli aioli and field greens. - AC

How much: €22.95 (or €29 for two-course value menu)

Details: Main Street; 061 396 004; 1826adare.ie

If you like that, try this: 'Simple things done well' is chef Paul Williams' promise at the colourful Canteen café in Limerick (wearecanteen.com). Dishes like the 'Real Irish breakfast', featuring Crowe's farm pork products and Riot Rye organic sourdough, definitely deliver.

9. West Kerry Tasting Menu

Idas, Dingle

Where: Idás, Dingle, Co Kerry

What: Named after chef-owner Kevin Murphy's great-grandfather and a Dingle native, who went by the nickname of Idá, this rising star of the Southwest is dedicated to exploring the flavour profiles and aesthetic possibilities offered by locally produced and foraged food. Murphy brings an artist's sensibility to his seasonal West Kerry Tasting Menu, transforming ingredients like locally landed pollock (perhaps served with whey butter sauce, fermented turnip and seaweed oil) into visual and culinary masterpieces. - AC

Details: John Street, Dingle; 066 915 0885; idasdingle.com

How much: €50pp for the tasting menu

If you like that, try this: Packie's, Kenmare (kenmare.com/packies). Restaurateur Maura Foley's long-beloved local hub continues to pull the crowds. Chef Martin Hallissey's handling of local fish is masterful.

10. West Cork Plate

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West Cork wonders at Monk's Lane, Timoleague. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile

Where: Monk's Lane, Timoleague, Co Cork

What: Potted crab, salmon smoked down the road at Ummera (a shrine to all things smokable), chunks of Gubbeen cheese and chorizo cooked in decadent red wine, all topped off with a clump of Dunworley organic leaves delivered to the bar just moments before we arrived. Welcome to Monk's Lane! Kinsale has had a killer food scene for years, but a friend's recommendation moved the dial 24km southwest for me on a recent visit - and was heartily rewarded with this local feast. Every village should have a Monk's Lane. - PÓC

How much: €12.50

Details: 15 Mill Street; 023 884 6348; monkslane.ie

If you like that, try this: There's a new wave of food businesses in Kinsale. Try Bastion (bastionkinsale.com) and The Black Pig (facebook.com/theblackpigwinebar) on your next trip.

More: Kinsale 2.0: A new wave hits Ireland's original foodie town 

11. Salt-baked beets

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Sage Restaurant, The Courtyard, Main Street, Midleton, Co. Cork Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Where: Sage Restaurant, Midleton, Co Cork

What: Chef Kevin Aherne has a blissfully simple '12 mile' ethos. He tries - and largely succeeds - to source all the fish, meat and vegetables on his menus within 12 miles of the door (there's even a #12Mile roast on Sundays). It's a simple idea that says so much. Start with the salt-baked beets, served with candied oats and apples, and go from there (the gnocchi with Ballyhoura mushrooms is hard to resist). There's a lot more to East Cork than Ballymaloe. - PÓC

How much: €8

Details: The Courtyard, Main Street; 021 463 9682; sagerestaurant.ie

If you like that, try this: In Cork City, chef Bryan McCarthy is working wonders with local produce - from Macroom lamb to snap-fresh fish - at Greenes (greenes restaurant.com).

12. Myrtle Allen's Carrageen moss pudding

Ballymaloe House Exterior.jpg
Ballymaloe House

Where: Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, Co Cork

What: The dessert trolley at Ballymaloe is an institution within an institution. The ever-present carrageen moss pudding is still made to Myrtle Allen's recipe and served with soft brown sugar and softly whipped cream. Wonderful waitstaff might recommend it with seasonal poached rhubarb, grown here from plants that once grew in the walled garden of Mrs Allen's childhood home in Cork. The perfect homage to Ireland's long-reigning culinary matriarch... and her native landscape. - AC

Details: Shanagarry; 021 465 2531; ballymaloe.ie

How much: €75pp (dinner); from €32 for lunch

If you like that, try this: Rebecca and Kay Harte's much-loved Farmgate Café (farmgate.ie) in Cork's English Market is the place to try that classic dish: tripe and onions with drisheen (a local blood sausage).

13. Comeragh Mountain Lamb

Tannery, Dungarvan, comeragh lamb.jpg
Comeragh mountain lamb with heritage carrots, cabbage, parsnip and ginger puree at The Tannery Restaurant, Dungarvan, Co Waterford.

Where: The Tannery, Dungarvan, Co Waterford

What: If you've ever wondered what purple heather, wildflowers and mountain spring water taste like, order Comeragh Mountain Lamb at The Tannery, reared by local farmers on the nearby mountainside. You can actually taste the animal's natural diet in the subtly flavoured meat that it produces. Chef-proprietor Paul Flynn and his team, who know how to extract maximum flavour from their larder, pair this local delicacy with heritage carrots, cabbage and wild mushroom broth. Magic, naturally. - AC

Details: 10 Quay Street; 058 45420; tannery.ie

How much: €29

If you like that, try this: For a very different approach to local flavours, try the tasting menu at The Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore (thecliffhousehotel.com). Think local Helvick turbot served with Lismore chanterelles, pistachio, bee pollen and linseed…

14. Tempura of Goatsbridge Trout with seaweed

Hotel Entrance.jpg
Zuni, Kilkenny

Where: Zuni, Kilkenny

What: Rewind 10 or 15 years and imagine yourself ordering a tempura of local trout garnished with nori seaweed, pickled cucumber and horseradish in Kilkenny. Impossible? Today, fish from Mag Kirwan's Goatsbridge Trout Farm anchors a signature starter created by Maria Raftery at Zuni, the slick bistro on Patrick Street. The fish is velvety and bright, the seaweed surprising, and the cucumber and horseradish add bite and call your tongue to attention. Delicious. - PÓC

How much: €8.75

Details: 26 Patrick Street; 056 772 3999; zuni.ie

If you like that, try this: Laura and Rory Gannon's Cakeface (cakefacepastry.com) is the devil. Exquisite cakes, pastries and desserts are just the start… could this prompt a reboot of Irishtown?

15. Hook Head crab cocktail

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Aldridge Lodge, Duncannon, Co. Wexford. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile

Where: Aldridge Lodge, Duncannon, Co Wexford

What: Pound for pound, Billy Whitty and Joanne Harding's Aldridge Lodge just might offer the best-value dinner, bed and breakfast deal in Ireland. Served on Sundays and midweek, a €35 tasting menu throws up local plates with surprising flair, textures and complexity, given the unassuming guesthouse setting. Think Kilmore scallop spring rolls, for example, a monkfish tempura balanced with a courgette and peanut sauce, or a fat fillet of hake with local vegetables and a halo of light parsley and wild garlic butter. The crab cocktail perfectly sums up Aldridge Lodge's ethos and authenticity - served with Hook Head crab fished by Billy's father, Timmy (he supplies the lobster, too). A Wexford wonder. - PÓC

How much: Tasting menus from €35pp (B&B with dinner from €80pp)

Details: 051 389 116; aldridgelodge.com

If you like that, try this: Kevin and Catherine Dundon's Dunbrody House (dunbrodyhouse.com) has its own pub doing stonking wood-fired pizzas... and more besides.

16. Crowe's pork belly with Cashel blue cheese and plum sauce

The Old Convent

Where: The Old Convent, Clogheen, Co Tipperary

What: Dermot and Christine Gannon's Old Convent is one of the best-kept secrets in Irish food (and travel). Seven individually designed rooms just cry out for sneaky short breaks, the local walks are wild, and Dermot's eight-course Irish Artisan Tasting Menu is served in a former chapel. Dishes are a hymn to Tipperary, and the 12-hours slow-cooked pork belly is a triumph. Served with mature Cashel Blue cheese, poached pears from the garden and barbecue sauce from Traas Farm plums, it's hugely popular with diners. - PÓC

How much: Dinner from €65pp

Details: Mount Angelsby; 052 746 5565; theoldconvent.ie

If you like that, try this: Chez Hans (chezhans.net) may be one of Ireland's oldest restaurants, but it's still coming up trumps (as is its sister property, Café Hans). A new venture, Stef Hans, has opened in Thurles too.

17. Gubbeen pizza

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Pizza with Gubbeen salami and chorizo at the Firehouse, Delgany. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile

Where: The Firehouse, Delgany, Co Wicklow

What: "It is important to play with your food…" So began a recent Facebook post from Delgany's Firehouse Bakery. It's just one insight into why Patrick Ryan and Laura Moore's hub has won local hearts in jig time. Sourdough breads, sambos and pastries speak for themselves (the doughnuts have inspired a cult; the Wonka-esque éclairs soon will), but pizzas are the surprise treat. Emerging thin, crispy, yet gorgeously gooey from a glowing wood-fired oven, they're ridiculously good value for the price. Try the Gubbeen meat fest, with salami and chorizo hidden beneath the mozzarella and a clump of leaves… and change from a tenner, too. - PÓC

How much: €9.95

Details: Old Delgany Inn; 01 287 6822; thefirehouse.ie

If you like that, try this: The Strawberry Tree at BrookLodge and Macreddin Village (brooklodge.com) puts wild Wicklow produce at the heart of its menu.

18. Irish Smoked Fish Platter

The Winding Stair

Where: The Winding Stair, Dublin 1

What: Restaurateur Elaine Murphy understands that when you source the best ingredients - like Stephen Kavanagh's Wicklow-smoked oyster pâté and smoked scallops, Terry Butterly's Annagassan smoked salmon, or Silver Darlings' pickled herring perhaps - little else can improve them. Simply add some house-made dillisk bread, pickled cucumbers and caper berries, along with a dollop of crème fraîche, and serve it up with a view of the Ha'penny Bridge that would bring a tear to Molly Malone's eye. - AC

How much: €13.95

Details: 40 Lower Ormond Quay; 01 872 7320; winding-stair.com

If you like that, try this: Meet Me in the Morning (facebook.com/meetmeinthemorningcafe) at 50 Pleasants Street, Dublin 2, boasts a short menu featuring big flavours from some of Dublin's finest bakers and growers.

19. 'Flavours and textures of Irish milk and honey'

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Flavours and textures of Irish milk and honey, at Chapter One, Dublin. Photo: Barry McCall

Where: Chapter One, Dublin 1

What: Patriotic gourmands flock to chef-proprietor Ross Lewis' gastronomic temple to pay homage to the very best of Irish produce. What better way to round off a superlative meal here than with pastry chef Darren Hogarty's 'Flavours and textures of Irish milk and honey', featuring Lannléire honey from award-winning fourth-generation beekeeper Eoghan Mac Giolla Coda of Co Louth. Poetic food, worthy of its literary location. - AC

Details: 18-19 Parnell Square; 01 8732266; chapteronerestaurant.com

How much: €75 for a four-course dinner (or try the three-course pre-theatre menu for €39.50)

If you like that, try this: Chef Graham Neville applies a light touch to his impeccably sourced ingredients at Restaurant FortyOne (restaurantfortyone.ie) at St Stephen's Green, some grown in the restaurant's own kitchen garden.

20. Fermented potato bread, bacon and cabbage

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Forest & Marcy fermented bread

Where: Forest & Marcy, Dublin 4

What: If there was ever a dish that proclaimed Irish food's coming of age, it is chef Ciaran Sweeney's fermented potato bread, topped with sautéd cabbage and bacon and a dreamy bacon cream. It's not just that it confidently channels both a renaissance in age-old food-preservation techniques and our newfound curiosity for Irish food heritage; it's also the sheer deliciousness of a star dish at this groundbreaking wine bar and kitchen. - AC

Details: 126 Upper Leeson Street; 01 660 2480, forestandmarcy.ie

How much: €8

If you like that, try this: Forest Avenue, 8-9 Sussex Terrace, Dublin 4 (forest avenuerestaurant.ie).Around the corner at Forest & Marcy's big sister, proprietors John and Sandy Weir run kitchen and floor with their own signature style.

21. Braised blade of beef

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Hartes Bar & Grill, Kildare. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile

Where: Hartes of Kildare, Kildare Town

What: Kildare does a killer line in gastropubs, with The Ballymore Inn, Fallons of Kilcullen and Hartes just three crying out for a detour. Barry Liscombe is head chef at Hartes, whose reputation is growing all the time, and one of his most popular dishes is the braised blade of beef - served with braised red cabbage and a Milleen's cheese and turnip puree. It's the perfect plate to arrange a Sunday or bank holiday around… just make sure you book in advance - PÓC

How much: €17

Details: Market Square; 045 533 557; hartesbar.ie

If you like that, try this: The Ballymore Inn (ballymoreinn.com) always seems to be buzzing. Try Georgina O'Sullivan's cooking and you'll see why.

22. Warm terrine of rabbit and Horan's smoked ham hock

The Fatted Calf

Where: The Fatted Calf, Athlone, Co Westmeath

What: When Fiona and Feargal O'Donnell moved their restaurant from a Glasson pub to a glitzy town-centre space, I wondered if the special sauce would move with them. It has. Irish produce is key here - from Burren smokehouse mackerel to John Stone steaks. But whatever your order, make sure to include a dish that includes the word 'Horan's' (the butcher just two doors down). Head chef Dee Adamson works magic with its produce, as evidenced in this delicious menu staple: a ham hock smoked over applewood and served with spiced pineapple and winter squash from Lough Boora Organic Farm. - PÓC

How much: €8.95

Details: Church Street; 090 643 3371; thefattedcalf.ie

If you like that, try this: John Coffey's Thyme (thymerestaurant.ie) takes local sourcing seriously, putting the Midlands on the menu.

23. Pan-roasted monkfish with parsnip crisps

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Monkfish with parsnip crisps at VM at Viewmount House, Co. Longfod. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile

Where: VM at Viewmount House, Longford

What: Think of Longford, and seafood doesn't exactly spring to mind. After you eat at Gary O'Hanlon's VM, however, it will. O'Hanlon, together with Beryl and James Kearney of Viewmount House, have put Ireland's least-visited county on the tourism map, and the menu is an ode to local and Irish producers… often with surprising twists. On my latest visit, succulent strips of monkfish were garnished with parsnip crisps, green pepper salsa and a red curry splash. On another night, I was drawn by Clogherhead prawns and vodka-cured organic salmon. Complex, yet anchored and assured, I can't wait to see what he comes up with next. - PÓC

How much: Five-course dinner from €60

Details: Dublin Road; 043 334 1919; viewmounthouse.com

If you like that, try this: Henry Stone and Stephanie Barillier's Sha-Roe Bistro in Clonegal, Co Carlow (053 937 5636) remains gloriously off radar, but it's always busy. Pay a visit and you'll become a convert.

24. Roast loin of venison

Snaffles restaurant, Castle Leslie

Where: Castle Leslie, Co Monaghan

What: At the 2AA Rosette Snaffles Restaurant, head chef Andrew Bradley has built this dish around venison from the Castle Leslie Estate. It's served with locally grown sauerkraut and celeriac, as well as chestnut jelly and cranberry jam (and jus) from nuts and berries picked in Glaslough. A warning: the bar and restaurant's gin menu is a doozy, so make this one an overnight visit. Over the years, Castle Leslie has evolved into a peachy Blue Book property… and it's not done yet. - PÓC

How much: Dinner costs €65

Details: Glaslough; 047 88100; castleleslie.com

If you like that, try this: Conor Mee and Charlotte Carr's Courthouse Restaurant (courthouserestaurant.ie) in Carrickmacross… a touch of Monaghan magic.

More: Glaslough's Grip: Castle Leslie and its magical Monaghan village

25. Tom Doherty's Black Pudding and Clogherhead Crab

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Around Ireland in 30 dishes

Where: Vanilla Pod, Kells, Co Meath

What: Hotelier, restaurateur, farmer and Fáilte Ireland Food Champion Olivia Duff is the trail- blazer behind the excellent Boyne Valley Food Series (boynevalleyfoodseries.ie), which fosters collaborations between food producers and chefs throughout Meath and Louth. Besides its central series of unique events, the initiative highlights 'Place on a Plate' dishes on local menus, such as craft butcher Tom Doherty's award-winning black pudding and 'Clogherhead crab with a crab and apple cigar' at Duff's Vanilla Pod restaurant. The Boyne Valley isn't all about ancient history, you know. - AC

Details: Headfort Arms Hotel, Headfort Place; 046 924 0063; headfortarms.ie

How much: €9.95

If you like that, try this: Jeni Glasgow and Reuven Diaz bring a cosmopolitan sensibility to great local produce at Eastern Seaboard (glasgow-diaz.com) in Bryanstown, Drogheda.

26. Thornhill Duck

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Thornhill Duck at MacNean House & Restaurant, Blacklion, Co. Cavan

Where: MacNean House & Restaurant, Blacklion, Co Cavan

What: This year, we asked you to nominate Ireland's favourite foodie experience in our first Reader Travel Awards. MacNean House & Restaurant won by a mile. Neven Maguire's mothership is by now a cornerstone of fine Irish dining, and it's tough reducing such an accomplished menu to one dish. The assiette of Thornhill duck does the trick, however. An 'assiette' sees the same central ingredient prepared in different ways, and here Maguire gives a local farmer's birds the royal treatment in a mini-symphony of seared pink breast, confit leg spring roll and a wee twist of quinoa. Pace yourself, though… it's one of 12 courses. - PÓC

How much: €85pp (Prestige tasting menu)

Details: 071 985 3022; nevenmaguire.com

While you're at it: Gearóid and Tara Lynch's Olde Post Inn (theoldepostinn.com) in Cloverhill is rapidly developing a destination dining culture of its own. Gearóid is a pioneer with gluten-free cooking in Ireland, so coeliacs will be in heaven.

27. Scallop with coral butter and sea herbs

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Ox Belfast. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile

Where: Ox Belfast

What: Ox can claim to have kick-started Belfast's foodie revolution, and its tasting menus continue to be one of the must-do meals in town. Local provenance is an art form here, with scallop (or turbot) landed in Greencastle, Co Donegal, and sprinkled with the pixie dust of sea spinach, radish or lettuce foraged from Helen's Bay and delivered within hours to the kitchen. Castlebar's Cuinneog butter adds to a plate that is simple and divine… and it's just one of eight courses on your journey. - PÓC

How much: Tasting menus from £50/€59.

Details: 1 Oxford Street; 048 9031 4121; oxbelfast.com

While you're at it: The Japanese-style oysters or salt and chilli squid at Mourne Seafood (mourneseafood.com) are snacky seafood at its best.

28. Glebe Wagyu Beef Burger

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Glebe Wagyu burger at PykeNPommes in Derry. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile

Where: Pyke 'N' Pommes, Foyle Marina, Derry

What: Kevin Pyke is famous for running Northern Ireland's No 1 food truck. Now he's also running a 'POD' - a foodie pit stop fashioned from a funky shipping container - and the kitchen at Derry's Blackbird pub. Try the Glebe Wagyu beef burger and you'll have your eureka moment. From a small but perfectly formed sandwich board menu that could just as easily be served in a restaurant, this combines the beef patty with cheese, tomato, pickled onions, 'soft leaves', honey mayo and a toasted brioche bun. Tacos and wraps are on the menu too. Sublime Northern Irish street food. - PÓC

How much? £6.50/€7.50 (or with fries for £7.50)

Details: Foyleview; facebook.com/PykeNPommes

If you like that, try this: Browns is the perfect counterpoint to Pyke 'N' Pommes, a legen-Derry restaurant with chef Phelim O'Hagan at the helm (brownsrestaurant.com). Try his turf-smoked beef.

29. Buttermilk-battered Greencastle fish and chips

Fish n' chips at Harry's in Derry

Where: Harry's, Craft Village, Derry

What: Chef Derek Creagh's saltwater-cured haddock fillet is sourced from day boats in nearby Greencastle, cooked to perfection in buttermilk batter and served with classic mushy peas and chips. This quintessential modern Irish fish-and-chips dish is worth a special Sunday pilgrimage to Donal Doherty's no-frills roadside restaurant in Bridgend in Inishowen, Co Donegal, or to the new Harry's Derry, in the city's Craft Village, through the week. Stay for more of the impeccably sourced menu, featuring produce grown in their own walled garden. - AC

Details: 29 Craft Village; 048 7137 1635 (or 074 936 8544 for Donegal); facebook.com/HarrysDerry

How much: €14.85 (or on the set Sunday lunch)

If you like that, try this: If stone-baked pizzas courtesy of Real Bread Ireland member Scarpello & Co and draught craft beer brewed at Kinnegar Brewery sound like heaven, head to The Tap Room at Rathmullan House (rathmullanhouse.com).

30. Lough Erne Pork

Lough Erne Resort, Catalina004.jpg
Catalina Restaurant, Lough Erne Resort

Where: Lough Erne Resort, Co Fermanagh

What: Executive chef Noel McMeel was a champion of local food long before it became de rigueur. His signature dish of Lough Erne Pork features fillet from local butcher Pat O'Doherty (famous for rearing his own pigs on one of the many local islands) as well as pork belly and cheek, ham hock and black pudding palmier, all handled with the greatest respect and skill. - AC

Details: Catalina Restaurant at Lough Erne Resort, Enniskillen; 048 6632 3230; lougherneresort.com

How much: Two/three-course menus from £45/€52

If you like that, try this: Catch a gourmet theme night with speciality menus and wine pairings at Café Merlot in Enniskillen (blakesofthehollow.com).

NB: Availability of all featured dishes is subject to change.

Read more:

The Irish Bucket List: 30 things to do in Ireland before you die

Dublin's Casual Food Revolution: 21 ideas for your next foodie trip

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