Words: Emily Mullen
Plein air is the new fresh air
Come June 7th pubs and restaurants around the country will be dusting down tables, arranging themselves real nice and flinging their doors open for the onset of outdoor drinking and dining. The announcement has caused sites to crash, saturated systems and led everyone around the country to lick their collective lips in anticipation. We all know the plates we are going to lick clean immediately and the glasses we are going to clank against our teeth first, so we’ve created a list of places that are a little off the beaten track, which would be perfect for a day trip. Here are the top 10 outdoor dining experiences that are worth packing the bag up and trekking across town for:
Overlooking the river Dodder (and an out of context sculpture of a rhino) in the suburb of Rathmines is the pretty well-renowned Dropping Well. It’s got a pretty gnarly origin story, as it was first licensed as a community morgue during the famine. Fast-forward a couple of centuries and The Dropping Well is now a pretty jolly spot that has dispensed with its cold-storage shtick. Set along the river, with a little green area to the back, the pub is in a lovely situation. It’s a nice spot for a walk along the river and is just down the way from Dartry Park too. The team are now accepting bookings for their outdoor area, which judging by the size of the carpark will be a pretty healthy size. You can find The Dropping Well on Milltown Rd, Rathmines, visit their Instagram for more information about bookings
Since the suits have departed Baggot Street, the place has gotten a whole lot calmer without the frantic stamping and footpath battles that were once regular occurrences. The area around the canal has an altogether more serene and sleepy quality to it now, somewhere if the late Patrick Kavanagh was strolling along, he might even recognise. Installed along the banks of the canal is Angelina’s, which has one of those terraces that might make your mam say “sure you could be anywhere” if she sat down in. There are few nicer spots to sit on a sunny day than overlooking the canal with a glass of wine and a few bits off Angelina’s Italian-American menu. You can find Angelina’s in 55 Percy Place, Dublin 4, follow them on Instagram for more information on bookings.
Nestled against the wall of the Phoenix park, is the Hole in the Wall pub, it’s a long strip of a place that is a total of 100m in length, making it Europe’s longest pubs. Their team have been hard at work over the last couple of months, selling their own brand of brand of spirits, alongside Hole in the Wall branded notebooks and even scented candles. They have a pretty standard pub fare of burgers, fish and chips and pies, alongside things like scotch eggs, toasties and croquettes. The Dublin 15 spot will be open for outdoor dining but space will be limited, luckily enough they are a hop, skip and a jump away from the Park. You can find the Hole in the Wall at 345-347 Blackhorse Ave, Phoenix Park, Dublin 7, follow them on Instagram for more information about bookings.
Believe the mythology around a cloven hoof sighted at a pre-Independence card game or not, the Hell Fire Club is well worth a visit. The view from Montpelier Hill at the top takes in the entire breadth of the city and Dublin Bay on a clear day. It’s also a lovely windy walk up to it through Coillte woodland, where you get a lovely view of Wicklow on the other side. Near the entrance to the Hell Fire Club is The Timbertrove Cafe, a cafe borne out of a sawmill, which sells tea, coffees, pastries, old-style cakes, soups and sandwiches. They have a nice outdoor space which is already set up for outdoor eating, plus there’s plenty of wooden seats about, thanks to the handiwork of the sawmill. You can find The Timbertrove Cafe in Killakee Road, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16 (eircode is advised: D16 R768) and follow them on Instagram for more information.
Forget all those naysayers that say going to the seaside in summer is the equivalent of wearing florals for spring. Go to the sea, kick the end of the Howth pier, dodge the dive-bombing seagulls and enjoy it. Handily located at the bottom of Howth Hill and looking out over the pier, is King Sitric, an unreal seafood restaurant that’s been known for its quality fare for a very long time. They’ve made the best use of their outdoor space with their outdoor booths directly beside the restaurant, complete with French-style canopies and heaters, they also have the new addition of wooden picnic tables with a roof over them. Those looking to go the whole hog can also stay in King Sitric and have their dinner upstairs (away from the rabid gulls). You can find King Sitric on Howth’s E Pier, follow them on Instagram for more information about booking.
A trip to Glasnevin is one of the more manageable day trips on offer for city slickers, there’s also a hell of a lot to offer around there. There’s Glasnevin Cemetery, which is filled with some of Ireland’s most prominent national figures and the botanical gardens, which even if you don’t know your snapdragon from your shoulder is a lovely walk around. A stone’s throw from them both is The Washerwoman (cousins with The Winding Stair, Legal Eagle and The Wollen Mills), who have unveiled their heated and covered outdoor area to punters (there’s even a refillable hot water bottle service on offer). They are starting back with a pretty short and sweet menu, with things like colcannon fish cakes, cauliflower croquettes and pork nachos. You can find The Washerwoman in 60 Glasnevin Hill, Dublin 9, follow them on Instagram for more information about booking.
It doesn’t get much more central than the location of Fred & Nancy’s airstream on the beach in Killiney. In terms of outdoor seating, you have the whole of Killiney Beach at your disposal. They are probably more well known for their coffees, but the team also bake their own bread, croissants and makeup all their sandwiches from scratch, and have been known to offer daily specials like chicken rendang, homemade sausages and Cajun salmon salad with black quinoa. Early risers, the team at Fred & Nancy open at 7:30 am each day making them the perfect shout after an early morning swim. You can find Fred & Nancy’s in The White Cottage, Killiney Beach, follow them on Instagram for more information.
Trails Café is not what you are expecting to find while you are preparing yourself to climb Ticknock mountain, but boy is it a pleasant surprise. Trails are part bike-rental part-cafe, which has the same vibe as a surf shop that sells smoothies on the side. The coffee is unreal and they frequently sell pastries and sandwiches for walkers preparing themselves to tackle Ticknock or Three Rock. The cafe is set in a little clearing from the Coillte woodland, there’s plenty of spots for customers to plonk their bums but a lot of people grab their coffees and start on the trail. You can find Trails Cafe on Windy Ridge, Ticknock Road, Tiknock, Dublin 18, follow them on Instagram for more information.
Far too often you take a great day trip only to grow increasingly hungry and frantic while looking for somewhere to eat afterwards. Airfield Estate out in Dundrum is the anthesis of that, it’s a lovely day trip but it also boasts food from Overends Kitchen, which it supplies product for. On the estate’s 38-acre farm you’ll be able to visit the Jersey milk herd and sample cheese from them a short while later. The farm supplies seasonal fruit, vegetables, and herbs to the Overends Kitchen and the Farm Shop on site. The Overends Kitchen has a lot of space for outdoor dining, but if you are keen to dash you can also pick up store cupboard staples and from scratch fresh baked goods from the Farm Shop. You can find Overends Kitchen in Airfield Estate, Overend Ave, Dublin 14, for more information about booking visit the Overends Kitchen Instagram account.
Anyone who has been to the Strawberry Beds knows that it is one of the county’s most magical spots. The Liffey lolls by, there are countless fields and rolling hills, only the M50 rumbling overhead would remind you that you are a couple of kilometres from the city. The Strawberry Hall has been playing a blinder over the last few months, with the Goats Gruff slinging coffees from its carpark across the road. The pub has been busy assembling a popup outdoor setting worthy of festival producers, with a massive canopy and loads of park benches ready for al fresco dining. There will be pizzas on offer from the Goats Gruff, while the bar will be handling the beverages. You can find The Strawberry Hall in Lower Road, Astagob, Dublin 20, D20 RH59, visit their Instagram page for more information about bookings.
Elsewhere on District: Last Supper Galway 005 Jess Murphy