Eating Abroad: 48 Hours in Dublin | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Eating Abroad: 48 Hours in Dublin

Food Editor Adele Franghiadi reviews some of her favourite spots for food and drink after a short stay in Dublin city centre.

At the end of January, my partner and I took a short break to Dublin, and whilst taking in all the sights of the city, we were able to sample a wide range of food during our stay.

Sadly, the first night was a culinary write-off.  Arriving to our hotel at 8pm on Thursday night, we ordered Domino’s to our room as it felt too late to bother with going out for a sit-down meal.  I’m usually more of a Papa John’s fan, but I can now vouch that Irish Domino’s isn’t half bad, so if you’re ever at a loose end in Dublin, at least you can rely on a student staple.

Friday’s Food and Drink

Friday was more exciting.  We’d made it a priority to visit Bewley’s, Dublin’s famous “Oriental Café”, as it’s one of those things you “simply must do” or so I’d been told.  When I last visited the city in 2015, Bewley’s was undergoing refurbishment, so this also added to my excitement as it was finally open.

The tea came with a label saying what time it had started brewing. This was a great feature, as I like a longer-brewed tea

However, I had mixed – but overall positive – feelings.  The building is gorgeous, as is the food and drink, but something about the atmosphere was tense.  It was admittedly busy, and I really felt for the staff who did seem quite stressed, but even so, the atmosphere itself was awkward, and the area we were sat in was quite cramped – I had to move our table a little as it felt like we were sitting on the laps of those next to us.

A selection of bakes in Bewley's

We ordered a pot of Irish breakfast tea, one glass of fresh orange juice, a slice of apple pie, and a pain au chocolat.  This only took around 10 minutes to come, which I was impressed by given how busy it was, and that we’d been warned of a wait.  I’d gone for the apple pie as it looked the best value for money, but on the plate, the slice looked a lot smaller than I was expecting.

Even so, it was delicious and went really well with the tea, which came with a label saying what time it had started brewing.  This was a great feature, as I like a longer-brewed tea, and could tell exactly when to pour.

Later that day, we stopped for coffee at Brick Alley Café in Dublin’s Temple Bar region.  This is a quaint stop, and was quite quiet despite being in a busy area, but this was definitely a good thing after coming in from the general hustle and bustle.  I just ordered an Americano to pick up my energy, but my boyfriend ordered a pear and cinnamon hot chocolate.  It was really thick and dark, yet very smooth, making for a comforting drink on such a cold afternoon.

Next, we braved finding a restaurant for our anniversary meal.  We didn’t have much luck, however, or at least not for a long while.  The restaurant we planned to visit was fully booked, so we set about finding a new place.  We stumbled upon Toscana and booked a table.

We were sat in the far corner, surrounded by their ceiling-high wine racks; it was a beautiful little spot

Returning later that evening for dinner, the restaurant was packed and rowdy.  However, we were surprised to be led downstairs by our waiter into a cellar room.  Again this was packed, but much quieter, so we were happy to sit and eat.  But no!  We were led along further, around a bend masked with mirrors, into an almost silent and near-empty second cellar.  We were sat in the far corner, surrounded by their ceiling-high wine racks; it was a beautiful little spot, and I couldn’t believe it was in the same building as the heaving upstairs area.

The wine-rack walls in Toscana

The restaurant was fairly pricey, so we skipped starters and went to mains.  We ordered a margherita pizza, and their gnocchi alla sorrentina to share.  The pizza was pizza – very enjoyable – but the stand-out dish was the gnocchi.  It was served in a creamy tomato and basil sauce, but had a surprising garlic kick.  Usually I’m not a fan of overly garlic-y food, but this was a really well done dish.  For desserts, we shared a tiramisu – my favourite pudding – which again, was delicious.  It was served with a mixed berry coulis, and a strawberry half on top, so it was also very nice to look at (albeit momentarily before tucking in).

Saturday’s Food and Drink

On Saturday, we had breakfast at Cornucopia – an organic vegetarian and vegan restaurant.  Another busy venue, we managed to find a seat and ordered a veggie breakfast to share.  We opted for a portion of their homemade beans, which were like baked beans but in a less sticky sugary sauce and made with cannellini beans. We also had veggie sun-dried tomato sausages, hash browns, and some fried eggs, all served with a side of homemade bread, which I think may have been a soda-bread that day.

As we were flying back late that night, we had a very late lunch at the Pieman Café in Temple Bar.  Having been here twice back in 2015 on my last visit to Dublin, I had to go again because it’s just so good.  I ordered the sweet potato and feta pie, with a side of mash and vegetarian gravy, which came to €8.50.  I was a bit apprehensive to try this flavour – on my last trip, I wasn’t a vegetarian, so went for my old favourite of chicken and leek, but this time I was forced to try feta, something I didn’t think I’d like.  I could not have been more wrong though, as the pie was delicious – I would definitely recommend this option if you’re ever in the area.

Overall, if you’re in Dublin looking for places to eat, I would say don’t be surprised by the prices

Overall, if you’re in Dublin looking for places to eat, I would say don’t be surprised by the prices.  There are many seemingly over-priced restaurants, and the nearer to Temple Bar you are, the more expensive it’s going to be.  Temple Bar is the rowdy tourist area, which consists of many (supposedly traditional) pubs, which all have live music.  Whilst it’s a fun area, I would recommend avoiding it for food – especially meals – as it can be expensive, and it’s also busy at all times of the day.  I’d recommend taking the time to research and book your restaurants before taking the trip, which is something we didn’t do and caused us problems along the way.  One restaurant, for example, required weeks ahead of booking, despite not seeming all that special, so definitely make sure you plan, especially as Dublin has such a great food scene to begin with.

Food and Drink Editor, MA Global Popular Musics Student, quite enjoys cooking (@fradele_)


10th February 2018 at 9:00 am

Images from

Adele Franghiadi