It is a fairly safe bet to say that Irish cuisine is perceived on the world stage as being bland thanks to the many ‘potato-related’ jokes and quips. Thankfully, the boom that the Celtic Tiger economy gave to Irish society also brought an appreciation of European and World cuisine that has prompted a huge resurgence in restaurant attendances and restaurant openings. This article shines a spotlight on the coastal town of Doolin Ireland which is leading the way in culinary terms for its range and depth of dining options and picks out some of the gems to be found in the area.
What will possibly surprise the average visitor to Ireland are the wonderful dining options that can now be found outside the bigger cities, in the coastal towns and country villages. One village that is leading the way is Doolin on the Irish west coast.
For many years the town has been known for its traditional Irish music which attracts musicians and music fans from all over the globe. But it is now the food in Doolin hotels, restaurants and pubs that is starting to draw in a new wave of culinary tourists.
In the heart of the village sits Cullinan’s Hotel and Restaurant. Their menu focuses on using the seafood and shellfish caught off the nearby coast and delivered daily to the local Doolin harbor. The overall spirit of the menu is one of classic Mediterranean spices and flavor combinations that really complement the fish used.
As with many restaurants in the area, using locally sourced produce is a matter of great pride in supporting their local suppliers and the standard of produce is quite high thanks to the region’s strong farming heritage.
For more romantic dinners, food lovers head to the 15th Century Ballinalacken Castle (a hotel and restaurant) a short drive from town. Their standard and a-la-carte menu is a wonderful parade of French-style dishes that make great use of the beef, veal, fish and organic legumes from the region. Dining here is made just that extra bit special thanks in no small part to the regal decor of the castle’s dining room along with the panoramic vista out across Galway Bay (sunsets on summer evenings are particularly nice here).
If you are simply unsure of what type of dining option you and your group wishes to enjoy then a visit to the Aran View Hotel north of Doolin village has plenty of options. The informal option is to go for the bar menu of wholesome pub fare and enjoy the best views out to the Aran Islands (from which the hotel and restaurant took its name). It is worth noting that this hotel bar is family friendly with a laidback atmosphere and occasional music sessions on summer evenings. The hotel restaurant provides a slightly more formal option which caters for regular and a-la-carte dining options for a proper sit down dinner.
And finally, a trip to Doolin Ireland would not be complete without experiencing the musical entertainment in its bars. It is possible to combine the music with informal pub fare in most of the bars in town. If you were to choose but two, then McGann’s Pub and Restaurant or O’Connor’s Pub both provide great music and hearty pub fare with menus full of scrumptious seafood chowder and Irish stews, along with other Irish favorites. The one proviso is to get along before the music starts as these pubs are renowned for their traditional Irish music so the bar has a tendency of filling up quickly most evenings.
Whether you are rushing off to the Aran Islands or heading off to see the nearby Cliffs of Moher, it is worth taking a time-out and making a stop in Doolin to sample some of the best seafood in Ireland.