When we talk about the most important restaurants in Dublin's dining history, one of the names at the top of the list is Neal and Jenny Magee's 101 Talbot.
101 is and always has been a pivotal player in the food history of the capital, a destination marked by excellent cooking and a welcoming unpretentiousness that means everyone enjoys this amiable, lovable restaurant. It opened in the early 1990's, in a murky part of town, and its survival through good times and bad over almost a quarter of a century represents one of the great culinary and cultural achievements. Neal and Jenny worked here before taking charge, and proudly continuing the 101 tradition of good cooking and good times.
As Caroline Byrne of the McKennas' Guides points out, 101 “has an awesome energy when full”, and it's an awesomeness that is addictive: we have happy memories of so many good nights in here, sandwiched between birthday celebrations, and people celebrating the fact that it's Wednesday, and people just celebrating because they are in a lovely room having lovely food with a bunch of people hell-bent on enjoyment. “A favourite venue for a get-together” was what Catherine Cleary wrote in The Irish Times, which is true, but we have had solo dinners in 101 and loved them, because everyone else was having a great old time all around us, and happiness is addictive.
Neal's cooking is spot-on, flavour-focused and finger-lickin' good: duck salad with roasted jerusalem artichoke; cannelloni of Irish goat's cheese with spinach and butternut squash; rump of Lough Erne lamb with fondant potato and red wine. Delightful, and unpretentious, and also amongst the best value in the city, and one is always glad to be climbing those famous stairs up into this eyerie of good times.