I do not recommend Crackbird.
A hard week in work, and a late evening on Friday led me, and my sidekick, into town in search of a restorative burger and beer. Specifically, a Paulaner, and a Counter burger.
For reasons that are still too painful to discuss, this couldn’t happen, so we went on a walkabout. Finally, he remembered that I’d wanted to try Crackbird for a while, and by coincidence, we were already walking up Dame Street.
There were two of us, and we were put at a 4 seater table – they do the “randomers sitting beside you” thing. I asked if we could sit on the outside of the 4 seater (to be next to the aisle, and not 5 inches away from another table), and we were told no because.. I’m not sure . He gave some muttered excuse about moving the tables and walked away. 5 minutes later two loud, exuberant guys were seated next to us.
There was no reason whatsoever that they couldn’t have been seated on the inside of the table, had we been sitting on the outside. It was very irritating, and we couldn’t really carry on our conversation, as they were quite loud. Had we been on the outside, we would’ve been able to, as the table next to us was free, and so, noise-less.
Anyway, whatever, they do the pretentious, hipster thing of strangers sitting together. I was expecting this. I was armed and ready for this.
However, I was not expecting that the tables be so on top of each other, you had to use the same strangers as props to crawl out of your seat. Every time the people at the table next to us needed to use the bathroom we were, very apologetically, groped and bashed as they wobbled their way past, balancing on the radiator.
I put how uncomfortable I was to me getting old and not being down with the kids, as well as the moronic planning of the layout (“Room for the PEOPLE to move? What are you TALKING about? Won’t they just hover in on clouds of coolness?”) and ordered a 4 pack of Bitburger (very smart move by Crackbird – each bottle is 4.75, but if you order the 4 pack, it’s 4 quid, and if you order a case, it’s cheaper again per bottle).
The menu looks fantastic. I am overwhelmed, and have to be guided by my lovely companion.
I get a half a buttermilk chicken, he gets half a soy/garlic chicken.
I get crispy bread with cream cheese and jalapeño dip, he gets the noodles with chilli oil, peanuts and.. something (I can’t for the life of me remember what was the other ingredient)
We got 3 dips – mild jalapeño, feta with burnt lemon and thyme honey with llywellyn spritz.
They do not do ketchup. Or mayonnaise. They are much too cool for that.
Apart from the waiter forgetting my starter, I cannot fault the service. They were bubbly, helpful and checked in twice to make sure we were ok.
The food.. my god, it was like a rollercoaster of “What the hell is this crap on my plate” to “I want ALL this in my facehole RIGHT NOW.”
The buttermilk chicken had pools of grease in the batter. When I pressed it, grease collected in the dip around my finger. To be able to eat it, I had to peel off most of the batter/skin. I lost all the flavour, not that the batter had any apart from grease, but I’m sure my arteries appreciated it.
My companions soy/garlic chicken was unbelievable. At one point, I did consider killing him, grabbing the bucket and making a run for it. It was tasty, with a gorgeous soy tang, perfectly cooked, and nowhere near as greasy.
My cream cheese and jalapeño dip with crispy bread was delicious. We both gave up on the bread, and started eating the dip on our chicken.. with forks.. with fingers..
The noodles with peanuts, chilli oil and.. was it spinach? Coriander? Peppers? GODDAMNIT, why can’t I remember.. well, it was absolutely vile. My sidekick is very much of the “Must never waste food” mindset. I have never seen him not clear a dinner table. Ever. To the point of him taking pizza crusts off someone else’s plate and eating them.
He couldn’t eat it. It was swimming in oil. It was bland. It had a chemically flavour. It was completely, and totally inedible. Avoid at all costs.
Finally, onto the dips. The jalapeño one was fresh, tasty, and cut through the stodgy grease of my chicken perfectly. The feta and burnt lemon dip was unusual, and very moreish.
And the thyme honey and llywellyn spritz dip summed up this entire place for me.
The waiter first put a tiny glass bottle with a spray nozzle on our table. He then produced a little ramkin, and another tiny glass bottle. After an awkward few minutes, (awkward as he was squished between my partner and our tablemates to try to reach) he managed to get the honey (with thyme) from the tiny glass bottle into the ramekin.
He then left.
We looked at the tiny glass bottle.
Was it to wash our fingers?
It smelled like vinegar.
It tasted like.. well, I’m not sure. Were we supposed to drink it?
I managed to spray some of it up my nose. It did burn a little.
Were we supposed to snort it?
Almost certainly not.
We asked another waiter what to do, probably showing our absolutely uncoolness in the process.
The spray bottle was the “llywellyn spritz”.
It was at this point that I felt the pretension, which had previously been washing over me in waves, begin to drown me, and we left as soon as the last drop of beer was drained.
Too long, didn’t read?
Pretentious, uncomfortable, loud. Some good points, but the quality of the food is not good enough to make me want to put up with this place again.
But.. wow.. that soy and garlic chicken.. God I hope they do take away.
2 starters, 2 half chickens, 3 dips, 4 beers – €50.
Crackbird, 60 Dame Street, Dublin