It’s officially February, and all the heart-shaped pink and red marketing has descended; Valentine’s day is swiftly approaching. So it’s time to get that sweet, sweet reservation.
The Dublin food scene is going from strength to strength, and people are living for it. That means getting a reservation at the best of times is challenging. Valentine’s day, though, is not the best of times. In fact, among the trickiest weekends to go to dinner, Valentine’s ranks top.
This is a time of year when prix fixe menu prices venture into the stratosphere. When people who don’t typically eat out take to the dining halls of the city in full force. While valentines weekend is a notoriously busy one that can end in heartbreak, it is one where you’re likely to get some damn good food.
Here is a list of restaurants that all have tables still available on Friday, February 11th, Saturday 12th and Monday 14th at the time of publishing. Get on it so that you’re not left scrambling next week because there will be no reservations next week.
The most romantic and likely the fastest to book up on this list is Pichet. The Dublin 2 restaurant is a modern take on a classic french bistro. It’s a consistently well-reviewed, award-winning restaurant that makes excellent food. If you’re into your wine, this is a spot for you. They have well trained and knowledgeable staff that are comfortable with classic wines, and there’s always something wild to try. They change their menu regularly, but their stalwart food principles remain the same. From baking their own bread fresh every morning to butchering all their own meat, there is an unparalleled level of detail that goes into making their food. While there isn’t a charge to book, there is a €20 per person no show fee.
Book a table at Pichet here
If you’re into sharing small plates, then Big Fan is the spot for you. This addition to the increasingly eclectic Aungier Street is an award-winning restaurant with dishes inspired by China, Taiwan, and Korea. Foodies who are always looking for a new place to try will love this experience. As will those looking for something completely different to the norm.
Book a table at Big Fan here
This is the valentines day spot for the vegan veggie enthusiast. They specialise in veggies, but they make food anyone can enjoy. The dishes are excellently presented, and the wine list is a lovely balance of quirky and steadfast. The early bird menu is exceptionally well priced, and the decor is elegantly floral with a touch of pink. Perfect for the day that’s in it.
Book a table at Glas here
El Bahia is a full-blown Moroccan dining experience. It’s intimate, cosy and authentic, with decor full of Moroccan mirrors, metalwork, cushions and seating you curl into. Ornate lamps light the rooms. The windows are all curtained, which further enhances the intimate atmosphere—ideal for a valentines day romp. If you’re a sucker for simple foods that are well-prepared and flavoured, then their starters will sucker punch you. The knockout is their sharing platters—enough food to feed two famished forlorn lovers and set them on the right path. If you’re feeling like you want a little more flamboyance, you can sip Moroccan wine while a belly dancer gyrates inches away. This spot doesn’t open Monday 14 though.
Book a table at El Bahia here
The Green Hen is a much-lauded restaurant on Exchequer Street. The spot has won many admirers with its combination of French atmosphere and affordable Franco-Irish cuisine. They were ahead of the trend with locally sourced ingredients. Their low lighting and buttery delicious food make it a perfect way to embrace the sensual longing that Valentine’s oozes. So if you snag a res here, be sure to check out their desserts. The pistachio ice cream is ooo la la beautiful, and their pastries are second to none.
Book a table at The Green Hen here
If you’re reading this a little too late and it’s all been snip snapped up, fear not. The best way to get a last-minute reservation is to call more off the beaten track restaurants at lunchtime. Ask them if you can reserve to sit at the bar. Then if there’s a no show, you can take the table.
Who knows, maybe you’ll be in the restaurant where the lad thinks it’s a good idea to try to get engaged on Valentine’s Day in public. And come away with an anecdote.