Dublin restaurant takes top spot at Irish Restaurant awards

Best chef title claimed by Galway chef, as 90,000 public votes are cast in 10th running of RAI awards

Etto, on Merrion Row in Dublin 2, is Ireland’s Restaurant of the Year 2018. Simon Barrett and Liz Matthews returned from London to open Etto in 2013, and it has won the Best Casual Dining Experience in Dublin category at these awards, run by the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), for the past four years.

The winning restaurant also took the best customer service award for Dublin, and head chef Barry Sun Jian was named best chef in Dublin.

Announcing the award, the RAI said: “Etto offers a daily changing, seasonal menu, served in a relaxed and informal environment and describe its dishes as honest and simple, using ingredients from local producers and suppliers where possible.”

The All Ireland Best Chef accolade was awarded to Jess Murphy, head chef and co-owner of Kai Café Restaurant in Galway. Kai was also singled out for Best Digital Marketing.


In its citation, the RAI said: “Murphy sources fresh, organic produce from local suppliers to create daily menus bursting with flavour, texture and colour. The judges were wholeheartedly impressed with Murphy’s commitment to high-quality, local produce.”

In this, the 10th year of the Irish Restaurant Awards, more than 90,000 online nominations were received for Irish restaurants and other hospitality businesses. The public vote was followed by judging panel assessment at regional level, and at national level there were mystery guest inspections and votes from the RAI’s National Judging Academy, made up of industry experts, food writers cuinary academics and critics.

More than 1,000 restaurateurs, chefs, front of house staff and industry figures attended the All Ireland finals of the awards in Dublin on Monday night.

A team of chefs, including several previous winners of the Best Chef title, cooked a six-course dinner for the finale at the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road. The kitchen brigade included Danni Barry, whose restaurant, Clenaghans, took the Best Newcomer national title. Also in the kitchen were TV chef Gary O’Hanlon; Shamzuri Hanifa of The Cottage Restaurant in Carrick-on-Shannon; Keith Boyle of the Bay Tree Bistro in Waterford, and Elena Martinez of Crover House Hotel.

Liam Edwards, president of the RAI, said: “As an industry, the restaurateurs, pub-owners and entrepreneurs of Ireland continue to defy the odds. You strive to create jobs, expand upon Ireland’s understanding of food standards and world cuisine, all while maintaining exemplary customer service. Your support of Irish produce has never been greater and for this you should be wholeheartedly applauded.”


Best Gastro Pub:

Dublin - The Legal Eagle

Connaught - Cronin’s Sheebeen

Leinster - Lennons Gastro Pub

Munster - Moorings

Ulster - The Brewer’s House

All-Ireland - The Legal Eagle

Best Hotel & Guesthouse Restaurant:

Dublin - The Marker Hotel

Connaught - Wilde’s at The Lodge

Leinster - Ballyfin Demesne

Munster - Park Hotel Kenmare

Ulster - Newforge House

All-Ireland - Park Hotel Kenmare

Best Newcomer winners:

Dublin - Michael’s Mount Merrion

Connaught - Hooked

Leinster - Barrows Keep

Munster - Dooks Fine Foods Fethard

Ulster - Clenaghans

All-Ireland - Clenaghans

Best Cafe winners:

Dublin - Honey Truffle

Connaught - Pudding Row

Leinster - Strandfield Café

Munster - Maison Gourmet

Ulster - The Jolly Sandwich Bar

All-Ireland - Pudding Row

Best Wine Experience winners:

Dublin - Piglet Wine Bar

Connaught - Aniar Restaurant and Boutique Cookery School

Leinster - La Touche Wines 4 U

Munster - The Black Pig

Ulster - Ox Cave

All-Ireland - Piglet Wine Bar

Best World Cuisine winners:

Dublin - Nightmarket

Connaught - MoMA Restaurant

Leinster - Pink Salt Indian Restaurant

Munster - Palmento

Ulster - Tuk Tuk Asian Bistro

All-Ireland - Nightmarket

Best Kids Size Me winners:

Dublin - Michael’s Mount Merrion

Connaught - Gather Restaurant

Leinster - Platform Pizza Bar

Munster - GROW HQ Café and Food Education Centre

Ulster - Amici

All-Ireland - Michaels Mount Merrion

Best Local Food Hero winners:

Dublin - Jenny & Patrick McNally of McNally Family Farm

All-Ireland - Mark Murphy & Mark Doe of The Apprentice Chef Programme

Best Casual Dining winners:

Dublin - Hey Donna

Connaught - Gather Restaurant

Leinster - Truffles Restaurant & Wine Bar

Munster - Pilgrim’s

Ulster - Shu Restaurant Belfast

All-Ireland - Pilgrim’s

Best Emerging Irish Cuisine winners:

Dublin - Craft Restaurant

Connaught - Tartare Café + Wine Bar

Leinster - Kernel Bar & Kitchen

Munster - Sage Restaurant

Ulster - 28 Darling St

All-Ireland - Craft Restaurant

Best Restaurant Manager winners:

Dublin - Talha Pasha of Michael’s Mount Merrion

Connaught - Lee Hanifa of The Cottage Restaurant

Leinster - Joanne Harding of the Aldridge Lodge

Munster - Sally O’Brien of Farmgate Restaurant and Country Store

Ulster - Saul McConnell of NOBLE. Holywood

All-Ireland - Sally O’Brien of Farmgate Restaurant and Country Store

Best ‘Free From’ winners:

Dublin - I Monelli

Connaught - Sweet Beat Café

Leinster - Zucchini’s Restaurant

Munster - Nutrilicious Food Co

Ulster - The Dirty Duck

All-Ireland - Sweet Beat Café

Best Customer Service winners:

Dublin - Etto

Connaught - House of Plates

Leinster - Roundwood House

Munster - The Mustard Seed at Echo Lodge

Ulster - Harvey’s Point

All-Ireland - Harvey’s Point

Pub of the Year winners:

Dublin - Walshs Stoneybatter

Connaught - Flynns Bar

Leinster - Morrisseys

Munster - Murphy’s Bar Brandon

Ulster - Tomneys Bar

All-Ireland - Walshs Stoneybatter

Best Chef winners:

Dublin - Barry Sun Jian of Etto

Connaught - Jess Murphy of Kai Restaurant

Leinster - Sam Moody at Ballyfin Demesne

Munster - Aidan McGrath of Wild Honey Inn

Ulster - Chris McGowan of Wine & Brine

All-Ireland - Jess Murphy of Kai Restaurant

Best Restaurant winners:

Dublin - Etto

Connaught - Cian’s on Bridge Street

Leinster - TwoCooks Restaurant & Wine Bar

Munster - Mews Restaurant

Ulster - The Muddlers Club

All-Ireland - Etto

National winners:

Best Private Dining & Club Restaurant - Locks Windsor Terrace

Best Cocktail Experience - The Sidecar at The Westbury

Best Cookery School - MacNean House & Restaurant

Best Seafood Experience - Klaw Seafood Restaurant

Best Digital Marketing - Kai Restaurant