John and Sandy Wyer of Dublin’s Forest Avenue on their guilty pleasure and best budget eats

John and Sandy Wyer of Forest Avenue in Dublin, Ireland. Photo by Yolene Dabreteau.
John and Sandy Wyer of Forest Avenue in Dublin, Ireland. Photo by Yolene Dabreteau.

Hometown: Queens, N.Y. (Sandy); Glanmire, County Cork, Ireland (John)
Occupation: Owners, Forest Avenue and Forest & Marcy
Years lived in Dublin: 8
Years worked as a chef: 12 each
Accolades: Best Chef in Dublin, Irish Restaurant Awards (2014, 2016)
Best Newcomer in Ireland, Irish Restaurant Awards (2014)

Go to John and Sandy Wyer’s shortlist

What do you love best about Dublin’s food scene?

We love that it is evolving. It has changed a lot since we first moved here. We also love that we were able to be a part of the changing food scene here. There are a lot of chef-owned restaurants here now that did not exist here before, from people who are passionate about the restaurant business. And hopefully it will keep evolving.

Name the top restaurants that you think every visitor to Dublin should try. 

Etto: You cannot beat the welcome from Simon [Barrett] and Liz [Matthews], the owners, and their staff, food, wine and service here are outstanding — one of our favorites! They offer seasonal, ingredient driven dishes, as well.

Delahunt: Exceptional food in an extraordinary building that was redone by the owner himself. Very good cooking and great ingredients.

Locks 1 Windsor Terrace: Beautiful food in an amazing location along the canal.

The Greenhouse for the best cooking in the country. Exceptional wines and service, more on the high end side of things

Taste at Rustic for some amazing Japanese-inspired food. They have brought over a sushi chef from Japan.

Pickle on Camden Street offers amazing Indian food.

The Butcher Grill in Ranelagh for great steaks.

What’s your favorite neighborhood to dine out in?

Dublin is quite small; you can pretty much walk everywhere. So the whole neighborhood thing exists here but you may only be talking about a couple of streets. Ranelagh has a lot of restaurants and bars in it. Portobello is on the up. Camden Street is also becoming a great little area. And then there is the city center, of course.

Describe your “perfect dining out day” in Dublin.

For breakfast we would go to the Foodgame down the road on Bath Avenue. We would have porridge with banana and walnuts followed by scrambled eggs and brown bread.

Then we would go to 3fe or Kaph on Drury Street for a lovely coffee and to sit on the bench and unwind for an hour. We might grab a cheeky cocktail afterward in Coppinger Row.

For lunch we would go to go to Etto and have a perfectly cooked piece of cod or gorgeous tomato salad whilst chatting to Simon and Liz over a few glasses of wine.

For dinner we would go to The Greenhouse and have the tasting menu, paired with stunning wines.

We would finish up in The Westbury. An oasis of tranquility in the city center. We would read the paper and drink sidecars!

Crab with radish, seaweed, peach, and pickled mussels from Forest Avenue. Photo credit: Yolene Dabreteau.
Crab with radish, seaweed, peach, and pickled mussels from Forest Avenue. Photo credit: Yolene Dabreteau.

John, the menu at Forest Avenue changes often, but what are some of your favorite ingredients to work with?

At the moment I am using incredible organic ox heart and cherry tomatoes from Jenny McNally’s farm in North County, Dublin. They are dressed simply with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and chardonnay vinegar and are wonderful this time of year.

I adore humble vegetables like cabbages and green beans cooked on a grill and finished with herbs and a classic French dressing.

I love lemons and find them an invaluable flavor enhancer. Preserved lemon is also a favorite, as are olives, capers and artichokes. Classic Mediterranean.

I love Irish dairy. Our milk and cream is just spectacular and we use it often for curds, sour cream, homemade butters and ice creams.

Of course I also love luxury ingredients like truffles and foie gras, wild mushrooms like ceps and girolles. A sauce made of roasted chicken bones, brown butter, truffle, thyme and a dash of lemon is heaven to me.

I’m a huge fan of aged parmesan and always have a block in the fridge.

What are some of your favorite places to go to for good cheap, quick eats, and what do you like ordering from there specifically?

There is a place on St. Andrews Street called The Cedar Tree and it does amazing Middle Eastern food and great price. Ukiyo on Exchequer Street does a great bento box for €10. There is also Bunsen Burger; they are dotted around the city. Skinflint near City Hall does great pizzas. 777 does amazing Mexican food and brilliant margaritas. The Fumbally is a great space with simple food with good ingredients.

What’s one dish in Dublin that blew you away and left you wishing you came up with the recipe yourself?

The fermented potato bread at Forest & Marcy!

Since it’s Dublin, we have to ask: where do you go for the best pint of Guinness? 

The pub next to us, OBriens, is great and they do a beautiful pint of Guinness.

What food is your guilty pleasure, and where do you go to get it?

Our guilty pleasure is margaritas and any of the food in 777. There is a lot of depth of flavor in the food. And it just hits the spot sometimes! It is always buzzy and a great atmosphere.

Since this is a site geared for travelers, are there any favorite restaurants or bars at Dublin Airport or in the city’s hotels that you particularly enjoy visiting? 

We love going to The Westbury hotel on a Monday and having an incredibly relaxing cocktail upstairs. There is also a good view of the city from Sophie’s in the Dean Hotel. Another rooftop bar is in the Marker Hotel at Grand Canal.

Do you have any favorite watering holes you like to frequent?

You should go to Coppinger Row off of South William street for a Flo and Basy cocktail.

Are there any snacks or foods native to Dublin that you particularly like and that visitors should seek out?

The Fish Shop is meant to be very good for fish and chips in Stoneybatter. And Klaw in Temple Bar for oysters.

What would you say every visitor must see or do before leaving Dublin? 

A visit to Fallon & Byrne on Exchequer Street is always great. There is a wonderful wine cellar in the basement. Izakaya Bar on a Sunday if you want to have a little dance and meet lots of restaurant heads.

The Wyers’ Shortlist:

Forest Avenue, 8 Sussex Terrace; modern European, lunch Thursday-Friday, dinner Wednesday-Saturday, brunch Saturday, closed Sunday-Tuesday.

Forest & Marcy, 126 Leeson Street Upper; wine room, open late afternoon-evening Wednesday-Saturday, early afternoon-evening Sunday, closed Monday-Tuesday.

Etto, 18 Merrion Row; Mediterranean/Italian, lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday, closed Sunday.

Delahunt, 39 Camden Street Lower; contemporary Irish, lunch Thursday-Friday, dinner Tuesday-Saturday, closed Sunday-Monday.

Locks 1 Windsor Terrace, 1 Windsor Terrace; contemporary Irish, lunch Thursday-Sunday, dinner Tuesday-Saturday, closed Monday.

The Greenhouse, Dawson Street, off St. Stephen’s Green; modern, lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday, closed Sunday-Monday.

Taste at Rustic, 17 South Great George’s Street; Japanese/Spanish/South American, dinner only Tuesday-Saturday, closed Sunday-Monday.

Pickle, 43 Camden Street; Indian, lunch Tuesday-Friday, dinner daily.

The Butcher Grill, 92 Ranelagh Village; steakhouse, dinner daily, brunch Saturday-Sunday.

Foodgame, 10 South Lotts Road; cafe, breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday, brunch Saturday-Sunday.

3fe Coffee, 32 Grand Canal Street Lower; coffee shop/cafe, breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday, brunch Saturday-Sunday.
Second location: 7 Sussex Mews

Kaph, 31 Drury Street; coffee shop/cafe, open daily.

Coppinger Row, Off South William Street; Mediterranean, lunch and dinner daily.

Balfes Bar & Brasserie, The Westbury, Grafton Street; Irish, breakfast Monday-Friday, lunch and dinner daily, brunch Saturday-Sunday.

The Cedar Tree, 11 St. Andrews Street; Lebanese, lunch and dinner daily.

Ukiyo, 9 Exchequer Street; modern Asian, lunch and dinner daily.

Bunsen, 36 Wexford Street; burgers, lunch and dinner daily.
Second location: 22 Essex Street East
Third location: 3 Anne Street South

Skinflint, 19 Crane Lane; pizza, lunch and dinner daily

777, 7 Castle House, S Great George’s Street; Mexican, dinner only daily.

The Fumbally, Fumbally Lane; cafe, breakfast and lunch Tuesday-Saturday, dinner Wednesday, closed Sunday-Monday.

OBriens, Sussex Terrace; pub, lunch and dinner daily.

Sophie’s, Dean Hotel, 33 Harcourt Street; Italian/Irish, breakfast and dinner daily, lunch Monday-Friday, brunch Saturday-Sunday.

Rooftop Bar and Terrace, The Marker Hotel, Grand Canal Square; bar, open hours vary.

Fish Shop, 76 Benburb Street; fish and chips, lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday, closed Monday.

Klaw, 5A Crown Alley; seafood, lunch and dinner daily.

Fallon & Byrne, 11-17 Exchequer Street; food hall/wine cellar/brasserie, open daily.

Yamamori Izakaya, 12/13 South Great George’s Street; Japanese, dinner only daily.


About the Chefs: John and Sandy Wyer’s story together started at an Irish pub in Germany. As coworkers in the kitchen, they developed a friendship that eventually turned into a romance and then ultimately led to the couple becoming life and business partners.

After some time in Germany, John and Sandy moved to Cork, Ireland where they worked in restaurants and trained in the culinary arts. They then moved to Spain to travel for a year before returning to Ireland in 2007. This time, they made Dublin their home and they both worked at the Michelin-starred l’Ecrivain; John was the head chef, while Sandy was the head pastry chef.

They took a break from the kitchen and taught at the Dublin Cookery School after welcoming their daughter in 2010.  During this time, the couple came up with the concept for Forest Avenue, which officially opened its doors in November 2013. Sandy runs front of house, and head chef John has been crowned Best Chef in Dublin twice for his creative seasonal tasting menus.

“WITH FOREST AVENUE, WE DECIDED TO CREATE A FINE DINING EXPERIENCE WITH RELAXED, INFORMAL SURROUNDINGS. A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY THE RESTAURANT REMINDS THEM OF NEW YORK, SO I GUESS YOU CAN TAKE THE GIRL OUT OF NEW YORK, BUT YOU CAN’T TAKE THE NEW YORK OUT OF THE GIRL!”

— Sandy Wyer

As lovers of wine and hoping to fill a void in Dublin’s wine bar scene, the Wyers opened Forest & Marcy in 2016. Ciaran Sweeney mans the kitchen there, offering seasonal dishes in an atmosphere slightly more casual than its sister restaurant.

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