Food in Ireland
Food in Ireland is costly, but the quality has vastly increased in the past 10 years. A supermarket may be found in almost every small town, and many feature a weekly farmers’ market. Fast food and bars are the cheapest places to dine out. Many pubs serve a carvery meal, which typically includes roasted meat, vegetables, and the omnipresent potatoes, and is usually reasonably priced. Outside of the major cities, vegetarian options are scarce. Kinsale, a tiny town near Cork, has become known worldwide for its outstanding eateries, particularly its seafood restaurants. Donegal Town, in the northwest of the nation, is quickly becoming Ireland’s seafood capital.
Irish food is charitably characterized as substantial, with meat (particularly lamb and pig), potatoes, and cabbage appearing in almost every traditional meal. Long cooking periods are common, and just salt and pepper are used as seasonings.
However, the days of just serving potatoes on the menu are long gone, and contemporary Irish cuisine stresses fresh, locally sourced foods that are cooked and presented simply (sometimes with some Mediterranean-style twists). The majority of meat (particularly lamb), fish, and dairy products are of exceptional quality.
Try some delicious buttermilk soda bread, which is leavened with bicarbonate of soda rather than yeast. It’s filling, delicious, and practically a meal in and of itself!
If you’re dining out with someone that has a more precise understanding of what is acceptable, just basic table manners are required. As a general rule, as long as you don’t create a scene by bothering other diners, there’s not much more to be concerned about. Other customers often use their cellphones, which occasionally draws a scowl or two but is mostly disregarded. If you must accept a call, make it brief and avoid raising your voice. The only other problem to be worried about is noise – although a baby screaming may be forgiven if it is handled soon, a group of people laughing extremely loudly every few minutes or constantly chatting out loud may draw unwanted attention. In fast-food restaurants, bars, and other more casual restaurants, however, these restrictions are frequently disregarded.
Finishing your meal
Some guests may anticipate the bill to be given automatically after the final meal in a restaurant with table service, but it seems that in Ireland, you must specifically request it. When the plates are being removed, coffee and tea are usually given, and if you don’t want any, the ideal answer is “No thank you, just the bill, please.” Unless you explicitly hail them and ask for the bill, the staff will presume you want to stay.
Drinks in Ireland
Guinness pints (slightly over half a litre) start at about €4.20 and may go as high as €7.00 in Dublin’s tourist attractions.
Stout is one of Ireland’s most renowned exports: a dark, creamy beer, the most famous of which is Guinness, produced in Dublin. Murphy’s and Beamish stouts are produced in Cork and distributed mostly in the country’s south. Murphy’s is somewhat sweeter and creamier than Guinness, whereas Beamish has a faint, almost burned flavor while being lighter. If you declare you prefer Beamish or Murphy’s over Guinness when in Cork, you will undoubtedly spark a lengthy discussion.
Several microbreweries, notably O’Hara’s in Carlow, the Porter House in Dublin, and the Franciscan Well Brewery in Cork, are now creating their own unique stouts. Popular ales include Smithwick’s, which is especially popular in rural regions. Bulmers Cider (sometimes known as ‘Magners Cider’ outside of Ireland) is another popular and readily accessible Irish beverage. Clonmel, Tipperary, is where it’s made.
Almost every bar in Ireland is a ‘free house,’ meaning it may serve beer from any brewery and is not linked to one (unlike the UK). The same brands of drinks are available in all pubs across Ireland.
Many bars, particularly in tourist areas, will carry a selection of the most popular international brands (Budweiser, Heineken, Tuborg) as well as a selection of ‘world beers’ such as Belgium’s Duval, Italy’s Peroni, America’s Sam Adams, Australia’s Coopers, and a selection of Eastern European beers such as Tyskie, Zywiec, Utenos, Budvar, and St. George’s.
In Ireland, especially in tourist regions, alcohol may be very costly. Local ‘What’s on’ publications, on the other hand, will include information on ‘Happy Hours,’ when some pubs give €3 drinks or two for the price of one. Happy Hours may begin as early as 15:00 p.m. and go until 21:00 p.m. For €10-€11, certain pubs may sell ‘Pitchers,’ which are beer pitchers that contain little over three pints.
Bars must offer their last drinks at 23:30 on Sunday through Thursday and 00:30 on Friday and Saturday, with a half-hour ‘drinking up’ period in between. Nightclubs are open till 2:00 a.m.
In Ireland, smoking is prohibited in all bars. A ‘beer garden,’ which is typically a heated outside area where smoking is permitted, is advertised by certain bars.