Sometimes travel bloggers are in the know and sometimes we just get lucky. This discovery is a bit of both.
The in the know bit: if you want to get away from the tourists, head north of the River Liffey. Having lived in Dublin, I can tell you first hand that few residents choose to shop on Grafton street or to eat in Temple Bar if they can avoid it (with the possible exception of the original Bewleys Teahouse).
Another in the know bit: if you want a good, reasonably priced meal, look for the tea shop in a department store. They all have them and they’re all pretty good.
I remembered the one in Arnott’s on Henry Street (a pretty pedestrian mall about three blocks north of the Liffey crossing O’Connell) from my days in Dublin and we headed there for lunch.
The lucky bit: Celebrity Chef Clodagh McKenna (Ireland’s answer to Gordon Ramsay) has just revamped Arnott’s Tea Room into a two level food court/restaurant that served the single best meal we’ve eaten in the entire country at pub grub prices.
I’ll be honest; I had no idea who the “Clodagh” of Clodagh’s Kitchen was upon entering. We splurged (if you can call it that when your view is pillows) on the upstairs restaurant where Deal Dad savored free range Irish Lough Erne Summer Lamb and I discovered that (organic) Irish Sea Trout is actually a pink fish that is more like salmon than the white stuff we get at home. They don’t have a traditional kids menu, but whipped up some pasta and sliders for the Deal Kids, which got raves from them. Even the potatoes were amazing, and we’ve eaten a LOT of potatoes over the last two weeks!
Both of us were blown away by the food and after the first bite knew something didn’t match as our entrees were 13 and 16 Euro, which in Dublin you can pay for a sketchy kebab. Asking an Irish friend and some quick googling when we returned to the hotel confirmed our suspicion that the meal we had wasn’t any normal food court experience. I can’t recommend Clodagh’s highly enough- either the food court downstairs or the kitchen for a meal. You’ll just wish Macy’s could import her!