Johnnie Fox’s is one of Ireland's oldest and most famous traditional Irish pubs. Situated in Glencullen on top of the Dublin Mountains it is also famed as the highest pub in the country and is located approx 25-35 minutes drive from Dublin City centre and is well signposted on all approach roads.
I can’t count the amount of times I have been to Johnnie Fox’s pub. I have dropped in for sandwiches after golf and walks, we have brought visitors from abroad there for dinner down the years and each year there is a mountain walk from Marley Park to Fox’s on St. Stephen’s Day and back when sandwiches and coffee taste better than anything else after three hours in the winter cold.
It has been an institution for many years now and in recent years its reputation has grown beyond the borders of South Dublin and Wicklow and now attracts visitors from around the world. The outdoor seating is fabulous on a good summer’s day, with views over the hills and valley’s. In winter the turf fires and old furniture make it an especially cosy spot for a drink or a bite to eat after a brisk walk.
The pub has grown from a small local spot that dates back to 1798, to become one of the most famous tourist destinations. The kitchen serves an extensive menu, with about eight to ten hot and cold starters including fresh and cooked oysters, prawn cocktail, mussels, crab claws and Macroom Buffalo ricotta.
Main courses include a choice of seafood platters, ranging from the modest Aran with smoked salmon, crab meat and prawns up to the really serious Giant seafood platter which offers everything including a half dozen oysters, Dublin bay prawns on the shell and assorted seasonal shellfish. There is also a feather blade of beef, Tipperary loin of bacon and cabbage, succulent ribs topped with tiger prawns and a very good fish and chips.
On a fine summers day the place was busy, with a couple of groups of tourists, some friends on a day out and assorted explorers taking a break from discovering the beauty of the landscape. We shared a very good prawn cocktail and the garlic crab claws to start; plenty of soft, North Atlantic prawns, tangy Marie Rose sauce, with crisp lettuce and lots of home made brown bread. A well made prawn cocktail is hard to beat, and our other starter of big juicy crab claws in oil, butter, garlic and parsley was delicious and a perfect contrast to the sweet cocktail.
We decided to stick with the sea for tha main courses; the special of pan fried brill with broccoli and potato cake was perfectly cooked, while the homemade fish and chips came with a crispy beer batter, made lighter and crispier with the addition of a little baking powder. The large fillet of haddock within was moist and firm and the homemade chips were doubled cooked; paraboiled first and then fried, so they came of crispy outside, soft and fluffy inside. Mushy peas were flavoured with thyme instead of mint, which was really good and homemade tatatre sauce was in a little ramekin.
We really couldn't do a dessert after this, and finished with two good coffees.
Johnnie Foxes is a great spot to stop for lunch or dinner, and the food is above par. We ate from the cooked menu, but the seafood platters are excellent, and there's a good selection of craft beers and wine.
If you haven't been, rectify that omission and if it's been a while maybe it's time to reconnect.
***Traditional music sessions are as much alive today as they were in the past. Johnnie Fox's has been famous for sessions popping up ad hoc. Live entertainment has been a trade mark at Johnnie Fox's and it continues to this day, be it in a more structured way now with nightly entertainment from one of many house bands or singers or with the famous Hooley Nights, which includes dinner, starts with live music and finishes with the Irish dance troupe. Phone for details.