In 2018, our sister publication's annual celebration of chefs and restaurants in Ireland, The FOOD&WINE Awards, reflected the evolution and revolution taking place across Ireland’s restaurant sector.

FOOD&WINE Ireland welcomed a host of new faces to their September 2018 awards stage, in Dublin.

From the individuals and teams that stand out to the exceptional food offerings, ambiance, service, and eclectic décor, here's FOOD&WINE Ireland's guide to the best cafés, pubs, hotels, places to brunch and, of course, restaurants and chefs around the country.

Restaurant of the Year Award 2018

Sponsored by Nespresso

OX

Oxford Street, Belfast

View this post on Instagram

Cool #repost #thanksforthepic

A post shared by OX Belfast (@oxbelfast) on

An independent spirit shines brightly in Belfast’s one Michelin-starred OX, bringing consistently creative food in a refined yet refreshingly relaxed environment.

Head Chef Stephen Toman and Manager Alain Kerloc’h have created somewhat of an institution with OX, with diners raving about it from afar and locals always finding an excuse to stop by, be it for a glass of wine from the expert list in attached wine bar, OX Cave, or a tasting menu of local and seasonal ingredients plated with perfection.

An extraordinary experience that makes you proud to have a restaurant of this quality on your doorstep.

Read more: Traditional Irish meal named among Lonely Planet's world's top eating experiences

Chef of the Year Award 2018

Sponsored by Nespresso

Andy McFadden & Team, Glovers Alley

Dublin 2

What does it take to be the best chef in Ireland? As Andy McFadden knows, it takes a team - fellow superstars working towards one common goal in the kitchen. Andy’s opening of Glovers Alley earlier this year was met with much excitement in the culinary scene, and it’s exceeded expectations.

A showstopper menu of French-influenced cuisine, Andy crafts each dish perfectly to bring out the best of local and exotic ingredients. Supported by Head Chef Philip Roe and Executive Pastry Chef Aoife Noonan, Andy is an inspirational talent and - important in a busy kitchen - makes being a chef fun again.

Best Chef Leinster

Sponsored by Nespresso

Garrett Byrne

Garrett Byrne, Campagne

Garrett Byrne, Campagne

One chef that rose to the top in FOOD&WINE's Leinster category this year is Campagne’s Garrett Byrne.

His use of local produce and seasonal philosophy lends itself perfectly to classic French cookery, which is his expertise. Garrett manages to create a dining environment that’s ideal for a special occasion without being stuffy, and his desire to constantly re-create and push himself in the kitchen stands to him time and time again.

www.campagne.ie

Best Chef Ulster

Sponsored by Nespresso

Danni Barry

Danni Barry, Clenaghans

Danni Barry, Clenaghans

Chef Danni Barry is one of an elite group of female Michelin starred chefs in the UK & only the second female chef ever in Ireland to gain a star and carried on her talent from her time in Deane’s Eipic to open her own restaurant in Co. Down last year.

Known for her bold flavors and produce-led menu, Danni’s cooking demonstrates that casual food can often be the most exciting. A true star in Ireland’s restaurant industry.

 www.clenaghansrestaurant.com

Best Chef Munster

Sponsored by Nespresso

Aidan McGrath

Aidan McGrath and Kate Sweeney

Aidan McGrath and Kate Sweeney

A longtime leader in the food revolution in Munster, Aidan of Michelin-starred Wild Honey Inn worked hard to change the perception of “pub grub”, bringing his refined classical technique to more robust dishes that are directly influenced by the rugged beauty of the Burren.

A champion of superb Irish cooking, Aidan is a testament to stick to what you are passionate about in the kitchen.

www.wildhoneyinn.com

Read more: How hard is it to eat vegan or vegetarian in Ireland?

Best Chef Connacht

Sponsored by Nespresso

Jess Murphy

Jess Murphy

Jess Murphy

New Zealand native who now calls Galway home, Jess Murphy is a shining light in the west of Ireland.

Renowned for her creative food that’s bursting with flavor, texture, and color, Jess has been at the helm of Kai since opening it in 2011 and has dedicated her whirlwind energy to cultivating relationships with local farmers and foragers to bring the best ingredients to the plate.

www.kaicaferestaurant.com

Best Chef Dublin

Sponsored by Nespresso

Andy McFadden & Team

Glovers Alley chef team

Glovers Alley chef team

For the first time in FOOD&WINE’s judging process for best chef, they decided to honor entire kitchen teams that they felt best demonstrated the importance of working together to create excellence.

Andy McFadden has done this to a tee in Glovers Alley, handpicking Head Chef Philip Roe and Executive Pastry Chef Aoife Noonan for his “dream team”; the perfect companions for his ingenious take on French-influenced cuisine. Once the youngest chef in London to hold a Michelin star, Andy’s return to Dublin earlier this year is a welcome addition to the city.

www.gloversalley.ie

Best Restaurant Leinster

Sponsored by Nespresso

Campagne

Campagne

Campagne

An exciting region for restaurants of late, Leinster boasts a range of fine dining and casual eateries that are striving for excellence.  

Kilkenny‘s Michelin-starred restaurant, Campagne, impressed with its continuous high standard of both service and food. A local favorite that also attracts diners from all across the country, Campagne is the place to go for a memorable meal for any occasion. French-style cuisine served effortlessly - and a stand-out Early Bird menu, too.

www.campagne.ie

Best Restaurant Ulster

Sponsored by Nespresso

Wine & Brine

Co. Armagh 

Wine & Brine

Wine & Brine

Ulster is quickly becoming a hot spot of up-and-coming local restaurants and stylish

modern establishments that alone are worth a trip north.

Chef Chris McGowan is to thank for Co. Armagh’s stellar Wine & Brine, a dining establishment that delivers a sensory experience at every meal. The combination of modern dining trends combined with age-old techniques (hence the ‘brine’), the food here takes you on a tour of the best Northern Irish ingredients. In fact, every town should have a restaurant as good as this.

www.wineandbrine.co.uk

Best Restaurant Connacht

Sponsored by Nespresso

Kai

Co. Galway 

Kai

Kai

Once a region where the best restaurants were solely based in main cities, Connacht is becoming a proper food destination, with many intriguing places popping up in the countryside.

Boasting proximity to the coast, it’s only natural that this year’s winner Kai in Galway city features Irish seafood on its daily changing menus. A quirky, creative cafe and restaurant where you always feel at home, Kai’s real beauty is in its inventive dishes and organic goodness that seeps from every bite.

www.kaicaferestaurant.com

Best Restaurant Munster

Sponsored by Nespresso

Wild Honey Inn

Co. Clare

Wild Honey Inn

Wild Honey Inn

Munster‘s best restaurants for 2018 are a wonderful display of all that is great in Irish hospitality, with tiny food-focused gems making the cut alongside grander hotel restaurants.

Winner Wild Honey Inn in Co. Clare is the first pub in Ireland to be awarded a Michelin star and is an exhilarating yet comforting dining experience. French influences merge with locally sourced ingredients from the surrounding landscape and being able to toddle off to their cozy guest rooms after dinner is an added bonus.

www.wildhoneyinn.com

Best Restaurant Dublin

Sponsored by Nespresso

Chapter One

Dublin 1 

Chapter One

Chapter One

Ireland’s dining capital has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years, with innovative pop-ups emerging in the suburbs to rival beloved favorites.

Chapter One always springs to judges’ minds when deliberating over Dublin’s best restaurants, and for good reason: Ross Lewis strives for perfection in the kitchen on a daily basis.

Understated and elegant, its dining room is where some of Dublin’s most magical food moments happen and their food is equally matched by expert front-of-house service.

www.chapteronerestaurant.com

F&W Local of the Year Award

Sponsored by Nespresso

Michael’s

Mount Merrion, Dublin 

Michael’s

Michael’s

This category is all about those neighborhood restaurant heroes that welcome you any day of the week with a trusted menu and the comfort of eating in a home-away-from-home.

Michael’s in the south Dublin suburb of Mount Merrion has been on critics and local’s lips all year, with half the city raving about chef Gaz Smith’s hearty seafood platters that vary depending on the day’s catch and impeccable service. Count yourself lucky if you live within reasonable distance to this stellar spot.

www.michaels.ie

F&W Farm & Sea to Plate Award

Sponsored by Fare Plate

Ballymaloe House

Co. Cork 

Ballymaloe House

Ballymaloe House

This award recognizes those restaurants and chefs whose connection with the land and sea is real and tangible, and this year’s winner is one of Ireland’s longest champions of the movement.

Ballymaloe House has shown a consistent dedication to using organic and seasonal produce since it was opened over 50 years ago by the late Myrtle Allen, whose aim was to emulate the best in Irish Country House cookery.

Although times have changed in Ballymaloe, the Allen family continue Myrtle’s legacy with their cookery school and restaurant serving homegrown (from their beautiful walled garden) and locally sourced ingredients.  

F&W Pub Food of the Year Award

Sponsored by Nespresso

The Legal Eagle

Dublin 1

The Legal Eagle

The Legal Eagle

The perfect setting for great pub food can be found in a cozy atmosphere, roaring fires and homely food cooked better than you thought imaginable. Luckily, Ireland is blessed with many such places around the country and this is one category where every judge had their own personal favorite.

The Legal Eagle, in particular, was noted for its superb nose-to-tail menu, carefully curated wine list and DIY crisp sandwich with lashings of butter.

F&W Restaurant Bar of the Year Award

Sponsored by Nespresso

L’Ecrivain

Dublin 2

L’Ecrivain

L’Ecrivain

This category is all about hat-tipping those restaurants that go the extra mile with their bar offering - providing a wow factor for guests to sip a drink or two before sitting down to their meal.

FOOD&WINE had some fantastic new additions to this category over the last year, with the ultimate winner being the classically brilliant L’Ecrivain, whose bar is a delight to sit at and indulge in a glass of French Chablis or a mean Manhattan.

F&W Hotel Restaurant of the Year Award

Sponsored by Nespresso

La Fougère

Knockranny House Hotel, Co. Mayo 

La Fougere

La Fougere

The restaurants of many of Ireland's hotels are destinations in their own right and this year’s nominees excelled with consistently superb food and a welcoming environment in which to enjoy it.

The recently refurbished La Fougère restaurant under the direction of chef Seamus Commons is inspired by 1920’s glamour and the sweeping view of Croagh Patrick from its windows. The food is impeccable and the nightly tasting menu is one of the most enjoyable in the country.

www.knockrannyhousehotel.ie

F&W Best for Brunch Award

Meet Me In The Morning

Dublin 8 

Meet Me In The Morning

Meet Me In The Morning

Brunch might be everywhere, but only some locations are getting it just right – offering an imaginative range of brunch dishes with a seasonal and local ethos at its core.

Meet Me In The Morning is a minimalist cafe noted for its excellent sourcing of produce, the colorful greens and veg on the menu and the well-executed and subtle flavors. Just don’t leave without ordering one of their stuffed donuts.

www.mmim.ie

F&W Best for Romance Award

Sponsored by Weir & Sons

Wineport Lodge

Co. Westmeath 

Wineport Lodge

Wineport Lodge

Restaurants can hold so many treasured memories for couples, and creating the right ambiance and setting can be as important as getting the food spot on. These are the go-to places for getting down on one knee, so they’re just about as romantic as you can get.

With their crackling fires, lakeside views and exceptional dining, FOOD&WINE can’t think of a more romantic dining break than Wineport Lodge.

www.wineport.ie

F&W Best for Wine Lovers Award

Whelehans Wines

Co. Dublin 

Whelehans Wines

Whelehans Wines

FOOD&WINE were spoiled for choice with this category and, as you can see from their top ten shortlists, even the smallest establishments can hold their own once the right wine selection and experience is there.

Set up by David Whelehan at the well-known Silver Tassie in Dublin 18, Whelehans Wines has trumped for the second year in a row thanks to its helpful staff (a particularly passionate bunch who will always help you find the perfect wine) and a unique selection of vino.

www.whelehanswines.ie

F&W Rising Star of the Year Award

Sponsored by The Sunday Business Post

Karan Mittal 

Karan Mittal

Karan Mittal

This category recognizes the talent that is coming through Ireland's kitchens in all sorts of guises – the household names of the future and the ones we’ll still be talking about in years to come.

Karan Mittal of fine dining Indian restaurant Ananda may be young, but he is already taking it to new levels with his one-of-a-kind tasting menu and vibrant flavors. Having come to Ireland in 2017 via a stint in New York, this is only the beginning for Karan.

www.anandarestaurant.ie

F&W Host of the Year Award

Sponsored by Nespresso

Talha Pasha

Talha Pasha

Talha Pasha

The perfect host makes you feel at ease and is ready to cater to your every whim with the minimum of fuss; the first face that greets you at the door and the last to say goodbye.

One person who sums up what this category is all about is the effervescent Talha Pasha of Michael’s restaurant, who has a keen eye for detail and incredible warmth (and he makes a delicious ‘Talhatini’ cocktail!).

Talha is the host every casual restaurant should aim to have in their ranks and proves that it’s not just fine dining restaurant who benefit from a dedicated front of house.

www.michaels.ie

F&W Pastry Chef of the Year Award

Sponsored by Nespresso

Aoife Noonan

Aoife Noonan

Aoife Noonan

The right end to a memorable meal can make a dining experience, and yet so often hard-working pastry chefs are left in the shadows.

The ultra-talented Aoife Noonan has rightfully become somewhat of a pastry superstar this year, sharpening her talent at Glovers Alley where she tirelessly creates works of art that taste just as beautiful as they look.

www.gloversalley.ie

F&W Sommelier of the Year Award

Julie Dupouy

Julie Dupouy

Julie Dupouy

Once considered a stuffy, traditional role, a new generation of sommeliers are reminding the public of the importance of trusting someone to help you navigate a restaurant’s wine list.

A great sommelier such as Julie Dupouy can keep up with the extraordinary explosion of first-rate wines being produced around the world, guide both novices and wine connoisseurs towards the perfect bottle of wine and instill a love for wine in just about anyone they talk to.

Julie holds the title of Best Sommelier in Ireland since 2009 and excels in her restaurant consultancy work and private demonstrations for various wine producers.

www.down2wineblog.com

Do you have a favorite restaurant or chef in Ireland? Let us know your top spot for nosh in the comments section below.

Read more: Top hearty and healthy Irish recipes to try 

* This article was originally published on FOOD&WINE Ireland. See the full Top 10 shortlist for each category here: FOOD&WINE Awards 2018 Winners & Shortlist Results

Ist-tile-july-2019

OX, Belfast: Ravioles from the garden, vegetable consommé OX, Belfast / Instagram