For too many years the restaurant scene in Ireland was a bit of a joke among locals and visitors alike: exactly how many ways can you serve potatoes? One welcome legacy of the false boom was an explosion of modern, metropolitan eateries. An influx of immigrants played its part, particularly the Chinese colonization of Parnell Street in Dublin and the sprouting up of real Italian enotecas like Delle Langhe. But Irish chefs also rose to the challenge, using Ireland's nonpareil produce to reimagine Irish cuisine, with places like One Pico in Dublin and the Cliff House in Ardmore Waterford leading the way. The downturn has seen a cull of some of the more ostentatious restaurants, but fresh and cool new places have been popping up—literally—all over town; a crop of exciting, unscripted, temporary, "Pop-Up" eateries have been opening in the premises of closed down Celtic Tiger vanities. Crackbird in Dublin is a prime example of this spirit of make-do and daring.
Overall, there's a return to good food, good quality, and good service. The locavore movement has taken root in Ireland and the demand for organic and locally sourced produce, as well as, in general, health-conscious options is reflected on Irish menus around the country. Visitors are often surprised to find how celiac-friendly Irish restaurants are; look for the "C" for celiac on nearly every menu in town—there's even a separate line for gluten-free communion in Mass!
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