There’s something ultimately alluring about French food. We’re not sure whether it’s the liberal manner in which the chefs use butter, or perhaps the entire nation’s passion for what’s on their plates, but the enthusiasm that the French feel for their culinary credentials is compelling and infectious. This is the nation, after all, which invented some of the world’s most loved dishes – from Cassoulet to crepes. While a trip to Paris might seem tempting if you’re after trying some authentic fare, we’re here to tell you that nirvana can be found a little closer to home.
So, if you’re looking for restaurants with that certain je ne sais quoi on the streets of Ireland’s capital, then we think we’ve just got just the thing. If you can excuse that heavy-handed use of the most romantic language in the world, then we hope you’ll stick with us to discover Dublin’s best French restaurant.
While your mind might not immediately skip to French cuisine when you think of this bustling city, it does in fact play host to some of the best French restaurants found on the emerald isle. As with all of our best lists, we’ve curated this one to include a little something for everyone. While you’ll of course find gorgeous fine-dining options below (including restaurants with the ever-coveted Michelin stars and Bib Gourmands), you’ll also see we’ve spotlighted a few less-formal affairs. And while some may be more casual French restaurants, that doesn’t mean there’s any sacrifice in terms of quality here. Each and every one of the spots below we’d happily recommend to our own friends and family for a delicious bite to eat while in town, so you’re in safe hands.
With menu options, price points and décor details, we’ve tried to include everything you might want to know before booking a table at one of Dublin’s best French restaurants. As always, we’re keen to hear from readers with your own tips and tricks, so if you think we’re missing one of the best French restaurants in Dublin, let us know.
This sweet little blue-fronted bistro has been on the Dublin dining scene since 2007 and is a popular spot with locals and those in the know. Being just a stone’s throw from St Stephens Green, the location of Hugo’s adds to its appeal, making it pretty easy to get to whichever area of the city you’re coming from. The menu is ingredient led, with local and organic produce given preference. These elements are then transformed into dishes like the soup du jour (which comes with a wonderfully local twist of Guinness bread on the side) or pan-fried cod with béarnaise sauce.
Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud
Offering up the fanciest French food in Dublin, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud is a two Michelin star spot in the centre of town. The dining room is as refined as you’d expect, with layers of linens, crockery and cutlery expertly arranged for that signature fine-dining feeling. While the menus change regularly, you can expect appetisers like oyster with lovage, horseradish and sour apple followed by mains such as squab pigeon with cevenne onions, sweet peas and a verbena pearled jus. Be warned though, this level of high-end cookery doesn’t come cheap, with a starter and main course combination setting you back a cool €98.
1900 has the intriguing USP of serving Irish food with a French twist. If this combination doesn’t sound like a naturally happy marriage, you may just be pleasantly surprised thanks to the chefs’ deft handling of local produce, which their pair with traditional French cooking techniques. Starters include classics like a chicken and ham terrine with apple purée, celeriac remoulade and crispy fried hen’s egg, while mains bring just one choice of lamb, chicken or salmon each. Veggies are catered for by way of a daily special.
La Maison has quickly built up a bank of regular diners thanks to its hearty, straightforward food that appeals to all kinds of people – from families through to fine-dining fanatics. Guests repeatedly cite one of the bonuses of dining here as the food being really good value for the quality on offer, which includes failsafe plates like omelette, salad and chips and moules mariniere. The sweet line up is one worth saving a little room for too, with a classic crème brulee sitting alongside an apple tarte tatin on the menu, plus the all-important cheeseboard.
A fine diner with bold dishes, Restaurant Dax comes with all the trappings of a high-end eatery, with menu choices ranging from between two and four courses. Carefully balanced menus feature dishes like seared foie gras with rush sweetcorn purée, mixed seeds and pickled mushrooms or roast North Atlantic scallops with celeriac and cep sauce. Sides include pomme puree and seasonal organic veggies for a nicely rounded meal.
On the Michelin guide for 2020, Pearl Brasserie is an award-winning find dining restaurant that specialises in French food (naturally). The basement setting is surprisingly light, while the interiors are dressed in a modern yet formal style. Classic French ingredients are employed to fill the tempting menu which showcases produce like quail, crab and foie gras. If you’re happy to try anything then there’s a surprise tasting menu which offers diners six courses of the chefs’ choice and comes in at €80.
Le Bon Crubeen
For hearty portions and low prices, you can’t beat this casual restaurant which specialises in big, bold French flavours (although it must be noted that this is a less authentic French experience when compared to other options our list). Le Bon Crubeen has the added benefit of being close to the Abbey Theatre, so makes the perfect pre-show spot to enjoy a bite to eat. While the atmosphere might be casual, that doesn’t mean there isn’t finesse here. You’ll find treats like a goat’s cheese salad and a pear and almond tart on the menu.
With its florescent light signage and bold clashing colour palette, Pichet attracts a trendy, fashion-forward crowd. The holder of a coveted Bib Gourmand, this French bistro comes with a distinctly Irish twist thanks to locally sourced ingredients and direction from passionate owner Steph Gibson, whose stints cooking abroad have influenced his restaurant’s offering. There are a whole host of menus to pick from, including a pre-theatre, a Tuesday tasting menu special and a line-up of bar snacks. On the dinner menu, mains sit around the €20, with a short selection of carefully honed dishes on offer – like a flat iron steak with smoked bearnaise or pork belly with a potato terrine.
La Cave Wine Bar and Restaurant
Plumping for a distinctly ‘more is more’ approached, this nick knack filled basement space is home to over 350 wines (with 40 of them available by the glass) and serves up a classic menu of French favourites. Moules, pates, escargot and more grace the starters section while mains are split into light meals – with the likes of cheese, charcuterie or seafood platters – and main courses which hero signature serves like duck confit or lamb Bordelaise. This is some seriously robust cooking.
It’s not hard to spot L'Gueuleton from a distance thanks to its signature striped awnings out the front. Once inside you’ll find a cosy convivial atmosphere, where menus are presented to you on communal blackboards for an authentic French feel. Dishes are split up into ‘petit plats’ and ‘grand plats’ with the former featuring things like steak tartare and moules mariniere, while the more substantial offering includes steak frites, seafood and plates of pasta.
Fancy something a little bit different? You might like our guide to the best Italian restaurants in Dublin