Eat Like a Local: Dublin
And with the new smoking ban, you can actually taste the food
With its ocher walls, plank floors, and little black tables, Boulevard Café, although in the center of Dublin, could have been plucked out of the Mediterranean. The two-course set lunch is the best value at $15, with coffee or tea. Starters include a grilled tian of plum tomato and goat cheese on a tomato-bread crouton with salsa verde; among the entrées is pan-fried loin of pork with mashed potatoes and sautéed mushrooms in a light rosemary jus. Servers know when to appear with what you need--"Parmesan shavings?"--and when to leave you alone.
Fitzers, at the free National Gallery, is self-serve, but it's no humdrum cafeteria. Under a soaring atrium, it's cool and minimalist, with milk-colored stone floors and blond-wood furnishings. The penne with smoked bacon, mushrooms, and red peppers arrives in a silky red cream sauce. Tasteful touches--weighty silverware, dollops of hand-whipped cream in your coffee--deliver the most upscale experience you'll have without a waiter.