Sexy Eats: Ireland

It’s the time of year when “going green” takes on a whole new meaning.

Beer, baked goods, human faces and even rivers are dyed a brilliant shade of emerald. Yes, St. Patrick’s Day is fast-approaching and what better way to celebrate Ireland’s most beloved holiday than visiting the great, green country that started the whole thing?

After all, the Irish really do do (Hee!…Ed) it better. And trust me, I know what I speak of. OK, so I’ve never actually been there during the month of March. But I have been lucky enough to visit the Land of Saints and Scholars a couple of times, including a month-long trip last October.

My mission for that particular expedition was to find a soul mate. Never happened. But when people ask me, “So did you fall in love while you were over there,” I always reply, “every day.” Ireland really is home to some of the friendliest (not to mention some of the sexiest) people in the world.

It’s also home to some of the best food. And I’m not just talking about fish & chips and traditional stews here. Nope. Ireland is now a hot destination for foodies and hopeless romantics — and if you happen to be a combination of the two, so much the better.

Although it’s virtually impossible to have a bad meal in Dublin, Cork and Belfast, there are few exceptional restaurants that deserve special props. So should you find yourself on the beautiful Emerald Isle this St. Patrick’s Day or any other day of the year, here are six of the sexiest eating establishments to check out. Cue the Pogues!

Cork City
For Hip Herbivores: Café Paradiso

16 Lancaster Quay
Phone: 353 21 4277939

There’s nothing hippie about this vegetarian restaurant. It’s the hot spot in Cork for vegetarians and meatheads alike. A truly visionary herbivore, owner Denis Cotter is far too ambitious to settle for standard veggie fare. Stir-fry? What stir-fry? With dishes like the aubergine parcels and braised turnip galette, you won’t be missing your meats. Plus, nestled in a funky little spot just 10 minutes away from the city center, it’s perfect for an intimate dinner for two. And the best part about dining here is you’ll leave completely satisfied, but not too full to f*%#.

Please Sir/Madam, May I Have Some More?: Gruel

68a Dame Street
Phone: 353 (1) 6707119

A hipster’s paradise, there’s usually a queue to get in here. But don’t worry: it moves fast and is worth it. The emphasis at this lively, but unassuming, cafe is comfort food. Gruel is the kind of place struggling musicians go to for a hearty, home-cooked meal before heading into studio to record some heartbreakingly beautiful music. (Think Once — and if you haven’t seen this Oscar-winning, Irish love story, do!) It’s also a great precursor for a night of drinking, as the substantial servings make for a great booze cushion. So if you’re planning a pub crawl for two with a local starving artist type, this is the place to start.

Rock Star Chic: The Octagon Bar
The Clarence Hotel
6-8 Wellington Quay
Phone: 353 (1) 407 0800

As the title suggests, the center bar has eight sides, but there’s a cozy room with a fireplace in the back for a more intimate dining experience. Housed in the Clarence Hotel, which, incidentally is owned by Bono and The Edge, the Octagon has an impressive cocktail list as well as plenty of tasty eats. Not only that, but it’s very near the renowned Temple Bar area. So after sharing a few appies and sipping a couple of champagne cocktails, you can just step outside and be in the middle of all the action…. Or you could just order another round and wait to see if the rock star proprietors show up. What could be more romantic than getting a private serenade by U2. Ahhh….. Two Hearts Beat as One . Doesn’t get any sweeter than that.

Impress and Indulge: Halo Restaurant
The Morrison Hotel, Ormond Quay
Phone: 353 (1) 887 2400

Got a smokin’ hot date? Then you might want to head down to this trendy hotel restaurant and bar where all the beautiful people hang out. Halo is in the Morrison Hotel, where a lot of touring bands stay when passing through town.

The first thing you see when you walk into the bar is a huge, life-size poster of a young (and insanely sexy) Bob Dylan — very rock ‘n’ roll indeed. The restaurant, however, has a broader appeal. The decor is very modern for Dublin, almost American (and I mean that in a good way), but the room is still warm and sexy. Halo is definitely a great date place, especially if you want to take your time and make an evening of your meal, which you will. Everything on the menu is to die for. Note: leave your low-carb diet at home. They do incredible things with potatoes.

Isn’t it Romantic: The Mitre Restaurant

Culloden Estate & Spa, Bangor Road, Holywood
Phone: 44 (0) 28 9042 1066

If ever there was a place for a man to get down on bended knee, this converted Bishop’s palace and five-star hotel restaurant has got marriage proposal written all over it. Overlooking 12 acres of sprawling gardens and rolling hills, guests are treated to French-inspired cuisine and a resident pianist playing classic background music. The undeniably romantic atmosphere could explain why the Mitre boasts a lot of high-profile regulars, including Belfast’s own Van Morrison. But don’t even think about saying hello to the classic rock star — he’s notorious for being a grumpy son of a bitch…like 24/7. “Marvelous Night for a Moondance” my ass.

Keep Your Options Open: Piano Bar Restaurant
Europa Hotel, Great Victoria Street
Phone: 44 (0) 28 9027 1066

Dubbed the most bombed hotel in Ireland, the Europa is a political landmark. But it’s also a great place to dine. Putting a modern spin on traditional Irish dishes, the Piano Bar Restaurant is a simple and elegant place to take a new love. And just think: if you hear sirens, you and your date could share a kiss under the table (Life is Beautiful-style) as you duck for cover and dodge flying shrapnel. And if things don’t work out with your date (ladies), you can just wander into the bar area. There are always loads of lonely English suits sitting there downing a few after a day of high-power meetings. It’s a win/win.

Article courtesy of Click by Lavalife.

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