Home / Mint-lounge / Features /  Foot Notes | A mighty ‘craic’

After a few days spent traversing Ireland, the stunning Emerald Isle, I found myself in Dublin, walking with the Trinners, trailing the life and pints of James Joyce and contemplating a Viking boat tour, before going on a food walk. For a hectic and delectable 2 hours, I hustled through a maze of the city’s historic markets and shops, stopping to chat with cheese-mongers and chocolatiers, extricating food secrets and combining them with fine-dining gossip.

Shedding its rustic image and coming into its own as a European culinary destination while making the most of its fabulous produce, Dublin surprised me at every turn. Here are my top five food stops in the city:

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Faloon & Byrne on Exchequer Street

I snacked on a butternut squash salad with aduki beans, marvelling at its freshness, and washed down a slice of goat- cheese pizza with elderflower juice, even as I eyed the vegan salad bar. It was bursting with exotic ingredients like shoyu ginger glaze, umeboshi (Japanese salt plums), tahini, alfalfa seeds, wakame seaweed, roasted tofu and artichoke hearts.

Fallon & Byrne: This is the perfect spot to get a cappuccino and gateau while watching locals socializing and shopping for groceries. I hung around the prolific potatoes section—purple potatoes were my obsession—before trekking over to the deli and charcuterie, and then running down to the wine room for a vino and nibble at smoked duck slices. I returned to sample the three-course pre-dinner menu at their restaurant on the first level. I had a delicious Pan-Fried Sea Bream with Dill Crushed Potato, Red Onion Marmalade, Sautéed Spinach and Lemon Beurre Blanc, barely managing to have the wobbly vanilla bean panna cotta that followed.

The Woollen Mills: My food trail collided with a literary one. The Woollen Mills is set in a century-old building where James Joyce once worked. Typical of Dublin’s modern, eating-out landscape, the décor is industrial chic, with high ceilings, whitewashed walls, a private room and a terrace. I asked for a crispy fried mackerel, but it was my tour guide Eveleen’s salad, full of purple potatoes and crunchy, salty samphire (this sea vegetable is one of the hottest local ingredients on restaurant menus across the city) that I borrowed liberally from.

The Swan Bar: Located in a historic building on Aungier Street, The Swan Bar dates back to 1723. It’s a rare example of an authentic Victorian bar, featuring the original cash booth, Scottish granite counter, beer pumps and cask-dispensing systems. Dave the barman ran me through their collection of rugby jerseys and other memorabilia, including a bronze bust of the owner Sean Lynch, a famous rugby player in his heyday. My big refreshing find of the day, though, was a tall glass of red lemonade.

Chapter One: Chapter One is among the city’s burgeoning Michelin-starred establishments, serving progressive Irish cuisine with a French twist. Chef Ross Lewis puts a creative spin on local, seasonal ingredients like smoked bacon, free-range pork, Irish butter and Ballyhoura mushrooms. My stomach had room only for the delicate beef carpaccio with acidulated onions, pickled quail egg and marinated chestnut mushrooms, although the waiter highly recommended their Loch Neagh smoked eel with poached lobster. I finished my meal with an Irish coffee served with lemon macaroons, before heading out to a night about town.

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