We just returned from a week-long Irish vacation. We spent two nights in Dingle and stayed at the lovely Milltown House B&B. While we did try to use Rick Steves's book when finding a place to eat, after reading all the menus posted, and tiring of sloshing around in the incessant downpours both evenings, we settled on two places not listed in his book. The first one proved awesome, the second a total waste of time and money. The first night we ate at Danno's Bar & Restaurant. It is an adorable little place tucked down an alley just off the Strand Street. There is an outdoor covered beer garden and a very pleasant and homey little bar and restaurant inside decorated with rugby and train memorabilia. We sat next to a little coal stove which Danno himself came by and refilled during our meal. There seemed to be a lot of locals eating there, and everyone was happy. The food was great, and our waitress (Debbie?) had the loveliest Irish brogue.
The second night we set out down Main Street and read many menus before choosing one that looked appetizing for the two of us. We chose poorly. The Old Smokehouse on the corner of Main and the Mall was one of our worst dining experiences ever. The staff was entirely apathetic and clueless. If it was our waitress's first night, perhaps we could make an allowance for her behavior, but even then... The place was one of the classiest looking little places I've seen, which makes me think they are trying really hard to be a fine dining establishment, but the service falls far short. Looks can be deceiving. For one thing, when it came time to order, we were told they were all out of chicken. This was around 7:00pm. An hour later, the table of 4 next to us was ordering and, guess what?, the kitchen now has chicken! My husband, who is not a wine drinker, resorted to ordering wine when we were told they don't serve beer. Really? A place in Ireland that doesn't serve beer?? Then we both waited well over 15 minutes for our wine (we finally had to ask the bus boy if he could check on the wine for us as our server had vanished). We had intended to order off the early bird menu which ended at 7:00. We got there around 6:45, but were left waiting for so long at our table that it was around 7:05 by the time we flagged down our waitress. Her response, "Oh, was there something you needed?" Considering our menus were still in front of us......yeah. I asked if we could still order off the early bird menu. She thought for a moment, then said she guessed that would be ok. It was at this point we learned there was no chicken. My husband decided to splurge and ordered the steak fillet. He asked for it medium rare, which seemed to confuse our waitress. When it eventually came out, there was no steak knife, so he had to wait another 5-10 minutes before he could actually eat it. As it turned out, it was mostly all gristle and inedible. He was not a happy camper. Needless to say, it was not a good experience, and I sincerely wish we had stuck with the choices in the Rick Steves book that evening.