Summer 2014: The Irish Foodie Hotlist

21st May 2014
Pól Ó Conghaile

Ireland’s first foodie town…

The RAI’s annual Restaurant Awards are the Oscars of the Irish restaurant scene, and this year there’s a whole new gong to gobble. Entries for Ireland’s inaugural Foodie Town have been received from all corners of the country, with the winner to be announced at the ceremony on June 9th. Rai.ie

Loam, Galway

Could this be the most anticipated new Irish restaurant opening of 2014? Enda McEvoy is the chef responsible for bringing a Michelin Star to Galway (at Aniar). His new restaurant, to be located at Geatana Cathrach on the Fairgreen Road, will seat 66 and be called Loam. Opening date TBC.

Eat 4 Street Kids…

Running May 1-31 in Cork, Eat4StreetKids is a campaign to support the lives of street children in Kolkata, India. Diners at participating restaurants (see website for details) can donate 50c on their bill, or upload a foodie pic to Facebook/Twitter, tag the restaurant, and they’ll donate 50c on your behalf. eat4streetkids.com.

Wexford Food & Wine Festival…

WEXFORD FOOD FESTIVAL

There’s more to Wexford than strawberries, you know. The sixth Wexford Food & Wine Festival (May 23-25) showcases food from the southeast with a menu of over 50 events – including foraging adventures, a festival hog roast, an open-air market and an appearance from Peter Caviston. Visitwexford.ie.

Dublin’s Woollen Mills 2.0…

Dublin’s Woollen Mills was an iconic city building and business for over a century (heck, even James Joyce worked here), though sadly, it fared less well in recent years. That’s set to change when it re-opens as a new ‘Eating House’ this summer. Four floors of foodie fun are set to include a wine bar, on-site bakery, retail space, sandwich bar and takeout… date TBC, follow @woolleymills for updates.

Kilkenny Tasting Trails…

Trail Kilkenny is bringing a brand new trail to its roster, in the shape of a Kilkenny Tasting Trail run by Eveleen Coyle of Dublin’s Fab Food Trails. The guided walking tour promises a snack-fest of treats, and take place on the first Saturday of the summer months and some market Thursdays. fabfoodtrails.ie; €45pp.

Culture and Chips, Limerick

Culture and Chips 20

Here’s a food festival with a difference… Limerick’s Culture & Chips (May 29 – June 2) takes place in a 1920s Spiegeltent in Arthur’s Quay Park, and it celebrates the humble chip in all manner of ways, including a carnival banquet on May 30 and the World Chip Making Championships on May 31st. cultureandchips.com.

Lovin’ Lunchboxes…

Forget plastic tubs stuffed with homemade sambos. Dublin has some slick alternatives for your Stephen’s Green sit-outs this summer – including Wagamama’s new bento boxes (12-3pm; €9.95) and Lovin’ Dublin’s Lovin’ Box (lovindublin.com; €10), which partners with a different restaurant every week. Hatch & Sons (hatchandsons.co; €12) is doing a blaa-based picnic package, too. Nom!

New Openings in Dunloe and Dunmore East…

2014 is the 50th anniversary of Moriarty’s Gift Shop at the Gap of Dunloe, and it’s celebrating with the opening of a brand new restaurant, ‘Heather’. Meanwhile, in Dunmore East, the Strand Inn has just opened a new restaurant and terrace area overlooking Hook Head. Moriartys.ie; thestrandinn.com.

Hazel Mountain Chocolates…

Hazel Mountain Chocolate

The Burren is home to one of the most exciting – and organised – foodie communities in the West. One of its newest arrivals is Hazel Mountain Chocolates, which plans to launch Ireland’s first stoneground bean to bar chocolate this summer. Visitors are welcome. Chocolatier Kasha Connolly has just published the first Burren cookbook, too – Burren Wild Baker (€22). Hazelmountainchocolates.com.

Wild Atlantic Way Guide

Sally and John McKenna’s ground-breaking ‘Digital First’ strategy continues apace with the publication of a new book and smart guide – ‘Where to Eat & Stay on the Wild Atlantic Way’ this summer. A must for the dashboard – or phone – for anyone biting off a chunk of this marvellous 2,500km route. Guides.ie.

The Great Connemara foodie adventure…

Want a foodie tour? Mungo Murphy can go one better – he’s got a Great Connemara Foodie Adventure. The day-long expedition takes in a shellfish farm, historical sites, a fresh seafood lunch, brewery tour and artisan tasting experiences from mid-May to October. Mungomurphyseaweed.com; €90pp.

Taste of Dublin 2014

Taste of Dublin (6)

Taste has become one of the biggest foodie events on the calendar, with a fusion of artisan food, culinary activism and lively events set once again for the Iveagh Gardens (June 12-15). A Brazilian Carnival theme, silent disco and Food Photography Area are new for 2014. Tasteofdublin.ie; tickets from €15.

New bites in Belfast…

Belfast’s foodie scene continues to evolve, with new openings in the shape of Stik & Stones and Michael Deane’s latest eatery, EIPIC. Throw in the recently created Belfast Food Network, and the forthcoming International Bread Festival (May 5), and you’ve got some pretty mouthwatering momentum… visit-belfast.com.

Perfect Princess Tea at Aghadoe Heights…

Afternoon Tea is usually an adult-only affair, but those bite-sized sambos, scones and sweet treats are perfect for kids… so kudos to Aghadoe Heights for coming up with a way to include the little people. Its new ‘Prince & Princess Tea Party for the VIC’s (Very Important Children)’ is served from 12-5pm (€19). aghadoeheights.com

Pastries at Pearl Brasserie…

Pearl brasserie, pastries

The desserts are delectable at Dublin’s Pearl Brasserie. But what if they were cooked at your table? That’s the offering with a new ‘Pièce de Résistance’ that sees pastry chef Audrey Courtois create a table-plated dessert for two using gourmet ingredients and liquid nitrogen… as you watch. Well-travelled foodies may notice it’s based on the way dessert is done at Chicago’s Alinea. Pearl-brasserie.com; €25.

Féile na Mara, Achill

Achill is just one of the islands that should be energised by the Wild Atlantic Way this summer, so watch out for this festival celebrating its seafood and maritime culture (July 18-20). Calvey’s of Achill have recently opened The Wild Mint Deli in Keel, with picnic baskets prepared for hikes and cycles. feilenamara.com.

Fallon & Byrne for Dun Laoghaire…

Fallon & Byrne have been awarded the tender to run the Tea Rooms at the People’s Park in Dun Laoghaire. Renovations at the Victorian pavilion building are due to be completed this summer, and including the roof terrace. “We very much look forward to creating a restaurant worthy of the setting,” they say. Hear, hear!

An abridged version of this list ran in The Irish Examiner.

Keywords: Irish foodie hotlist