Sitting snugly in the green hills of Dublin, looking down over the city, is a restaurant that exists solely to give its customers an Irish experience they won‘t forget in a hurry.
Known especially for its seafood, Johnnie Fox’s – the highest and one of the oldest pubs in Ireland, no less – combines dancing and live music with a Moorish menu and a sense of good old fashioned let-your-hair-down-and-your-feet-fly fun. My recommendation? Leave inhibitions at the door and give the evening a good crack.
Located in Glencullen, the restaurant is about a 30-minute drive from the centre of the city. But fear not – you need not miss out on a few pints. There is a bus that picks up patron from various hotels dotted about the city, before heading for the hills. It delivers guests to the door at 7.30pm and picks them up directly after last call (around 12.30pm) on a Friday and Saturday night.
Once there, dropped at the door by the Johnnie Fox’s emblazoned mini-bus, my friend and I braced ourselves. The place was packed. People were waiting to be seated. We were booked in for dinner and a show and kicked off the evening with a bottle of wine. Looking back, it was the beginning of the end. Cut to me jigging violently on the temporary dance floor, too in the moment to finish my delicious vegetable curry.
At this point, consider yourselves warned. It is highly possible, full of food and well lubricated by a Guinness or three and the encouragement of your neighbour (who will be in a similar state of festivity) you will end up attempting to jig. This may or may not end in tears, depending on your balance.
But first, the food. Selecting off the a la carte menu, I went vegetarian for the night because I had a meat lover in my company and between us both, we could cover all angles. My disc of crumbed goats cheese was warm and creamy, the melon and mango chutney giving it the perfect bite it needed. It was also filling. Here’s your second warning; the meal sizes are more than generous. My friend went for the house specialty – fresh, steamed mussels in creamy garlic and white wine sauce – even with my help, the two of us were groaning. On the plus side, disdended stomach aside, Johnnie has given me a new love for mussels. Next came the vegetable curry for me and the prime sirloin steak for my friend. We gave it the best shot we could because the food, fresh and tasty, deserved it. But about three quarters of the way through our dishes, the lure of the dance floor proved too much. The dance floor, that is, created by a birthday party of 43 Norwegians with whom we’d somehow merged.
In between impromptu jigs and, at one point, possibly the cancan, we returned to our table for our final hurrah; an absolute bake-me-a-whole-one-and-I’ll-eat-it-in-one-go Bannoffi Pie, made with fresh banana and Fox’s famous Whiskey Gateaux. We were defeated, utterly. The desserts were the icing on a very, very full cake. That they are baked fresh on the premises says all you need to know. Onto our second bottle of wine by this point and almost unable to move, we were invited back to the floor by our new friends for one final jig.
I should have declined. The food (not the wine) had affected my balance. I was front heavy.
As I took my majestic tumble, almost joining the band on stage, I couldn’t help but feel it was all part of the experience. Obviously, at the time, I was trying not to die of utter mortification – but later, as I rationalised it over breakfast with my friend the next morning, if you can’t take a tumble on the tiles in Ireland, several beverages down the road, where can you?
And so, bruised of bottom and so full we vowed to hibernate for the weekend, we hobbled onto the mini bus. Johnnie Fox’s must be what they mean when they talk about a good craic. And my goodness, we gave it a good crack.
Where: Glencullen , Dublin, Ireland
Contact: (01) 295 5647, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org