In the coastal suburb of Blackrock, about three miles southeast of Dublin’s city center, Andrew Heron and Damien Grey’s sparsely decorated 24-seater has been one of Ireland’s most sought-after reservations since its opening (book well in advance). Ten-course dinners in warmer months bring lots of bright veggies and fruits, such as an appetizer of romanesco and lavender tossed with raw honey. When temperatures drop, the kitchen focuses on game and preserved food – say, an umami-fueled plate of pickled herring with avocado and kimchi.
For years, Parnell Square had just one gourmet thing going (Michelin-starred Chapter One), but that changed when chef Anthony Smith unveiled this elegant-but-unfussy dining room of exposed brick walls and high-backed leather chairs. Smith, who cooked all over the world before returning home to open Mr Fox, transforms solid, been-there-done-that dishes in unexpected ways: A starter of horseradish-spiked beef tartare, for instance, boosts its savoriness with pieces of smoked eel. His upscale take on classic fried chicken? A perfectly crisped, buttermilk-fried quail, served with dill pickles and a paprika-mayo dipping sauce.