The Irish culinary legacy, on the other hand, is still being rediscovered and refined. Dublin is where much of that reinvention is happening, powered by fresh seafood, pasture-raised meat, sharp and subtle cheeses and a bounty of local produce.
There has long been a small number of globally lauded Dublin restaurants — like Chapter One and Patrick Guilbaud — but in recent years, younger generations of Irish chefs and restaurateurs, many of whom left home and worked abroad, or at least outside Dublin, then returned, have been flourishing in the capital. Some talented foreign chefs have also made Dublin their home. These days, there’s a fine range of sophisticated, even surprising, Dublin food to complement all that Guinness, poitín (a traditional distilled spirit) and whiskey.
Assassination Custard — named after a dessert that the Irish writer James Joyce gave to another literary figure, Samuel Beckett, when Beckett was in the hospital — is situated near a bustling intersection. Beyond its cafe-like exterior is a functional, yet cozy, eatery where the focus is on preparing extraordinary ingredients in striking ways.
A recent meal there started with crunchy rounds of pickled sunchokes shot through with turmeric and dill. Cold-smoked albacore tuna, sourced from Sally Ferns Barnes, a Scotswoman who has been smoking fish in Ireland’s West Cork region for 44 years, is dressed with curried crème fraîche. Creamy stewed fava beans are served next to sautéed bitter dandelion greens.
Ken Doherty and Gwen McGrath, the husband-and-wife team who own and run Assassination Custard, serve only lunch, from noon to 2 p.m., Tuesday to Friday. They don’t sell alcohol and do not take reservations. The menu is a cursive scrawl on a paper bag, with an occasional shout-out to a supplier and nary an adjective in sight.
Assassination Custard, 19A Kevin Street Lower, Portobello, Dublin 8. Lunch for two runs about 60 euros, or around $64.
Though nestled inside what was once an old drinking den, Spitalfields isn’t really a gastropub at all — it’s a true restaurant. The draw is the combination of cuisine, atmosphere and profound hospitality. The manager and host, Declan Maxwell, is a 17-year veteran of one of Dublin’s first high-end, fine-dining restaurants, Chapter One, and here he presents the warmest of…