Category Archives: Good

Let’s Do Blunch

What does one do on those slow weekend mornings when one wakes up too late for breakfast, too early for lunch, but is famished? A conundrum which has troubled me for years, it often leaves me lying in bed, pretending to be asleep, until a food appropriate hour. This, however, leads to the inevitable growling stomach and aching head.

Well, I have come up with a solution – a meal larger than breakfast, not as savoury as lunch, that sates until dinner. I call it… Blunch!

Ok, I’m working on the name, but the principle still stands.

But where to eat this newly identified repast? There was only one thing for it – an investigative report by a crack team of eaters, led by yours truly. I grabbed my phone, swiped to my trusted companion, and sent the fateful message – “Let’s. Do. Blunch.”

Off we toddled to the appealing suburb of Portobello, and the much recommended Lennox Café. Kitsch, cheery and so jam packed, I practically spent my meal on the lap of the lady behind me. It was busy, constant streams of patrons hauling in bursts of cold air, and there was a pleasant, homely community feel to the place.

Despite the ravenous, cawing crowds, we were served in a timely manner. The first coffee was bitter, acrid burnt, but much improved by the next cup; I’m a kind, gentle soul who gives second chances.

The food took reassuringly long to arrive, allowing us to sip and chat. I was instantly raptured, ascending directly to heaven, with one bite of French toast – substantial, brick-sized slabs of bread, flaky crisp on the outside, eggy and cloudy soft in the centre, sheer perfection on a plate. The maple syrup and proper, quality rashers taking second place, despite being utterly divine in and of themselves.

Eggs benedict, piled high on the same toasty bread – such delightful, remarkably light bread – would not be my usual choice. This is why I bring my dependable confidant, apart from the witty repartee. Fresh, soft-poached eggs, smothered in a contentious, homemade hollandaise sauce; unusually, it contained mint, which I believe took away from the delicate, buttery sauce, and he felt lifted and brightened it. Arguing over deck chair positions on the Titanic, to be honest, the food was universally incredible; the same quality bacon with slightly blackened edges adorned his dish, and each mouthful had a melting richness that filled the senses.

Buoyed by success, and despite my impending sugar overload, we split a slice of maple pecan pie; good, but perhaps a step too far for blunch. My eyes tend to make promises my stomach can’t keep.

Trundling back out, we declared a full and total victory for… Oh, I’ve got it! By Jove, I think I’ve got it!

I’ll call it… Lunast!

2 mains, 4 coffees, 1 pie €34
Lennox Café, 31 Lennox Street, Portobello, D8

Tagged , , ,

Consumation does Paris

If there ever was a city designed to best capture my heart, it would have to be Paris – food aromas filtering up from twisted, secretive streets, the river reflecting the setting sun to neon-orange highlight the pompous architecture, the resplendent beauty of Notre-Dame and the parks, verdant pockets of calm amidst the bustle. At night, lit up electric white, it buzzes with people – the city of romance but, much more importantly, a city with over 8,500 restaurants and only one weekend to try them all.

I, my rumbling stomach, and my Parisian companion set out on a restaurant hunt. I brought the weather with me from Ireland and we were soaked through in minutes, the umbrella helpless against horizontal rain. A beacon of light, Les Philosophes, had a queue out the door. We decided to wait it out – somewhere this packed with natives had to be good, right? – and were seated under a blazing heater within twenty minutes, peering out at the poor, damp souls making their way up the cobbled road.

Surprisingly, for the centre of Paris, the prices were reasonable and we both went for the two course meal at €25 a head. I tried to appear as French as possible and chose gratin onion soup with boeuf bourguignon, despite my complete inability to pronounce either, and my friend opted for tomato mozzarella salad followed by rump steak.

Sipping on sharp-sweet caprioska, slowly regaining sensation in my sodden skin and people watching from a cosy bubble of warmth, I would’ve been content to continue in that vein all night, all thoughts of food aside – an extremely unusual occurrence. However, when the steaming hot bowl of soup arrived, I realised my folly. Satin soft onions steeping in beefy broth, with three chunks of bread smothered in melted, stringy cheese. Filling, full of flavour and fabulously warming, my chilled insides thanking me with every bite. The unending supply of fresh bread allowed me to soak up every last drop. To be fair, I could’ve cleared a basket of the bread by itself, had I not controlled myself in anticipation for the second course. My partner eagerly cleared her plate; the salad was farm fresh, and the more-ish, nutty pesto was clearly homemade.

Speaking of farms; the supplier of each ingredient is listed on the menu. I assume this is so you can contact them to thank them for dedicating their lives to supplying such fantastic food – a reasonable response, considering what happened next.

My main, the boeuf smileandpoint was.. I think, for once in my life, I’ve lost words. The beef dissolved into fibres as I touched it with my fork, into its rich, satisfying sauce flavoured with lardons, red wine and garlic. The carrots were crisp, the peas, sweet and uneven in size, as if I had picked them myself in my Dad’s greenhouse. The whole plate was a shining example of hearty, well made, quality food, impeccably seasoned and sauced, the vegetables with a vital crunch.

Heated to all my extremities, pleasantly full, and more people watching to complete, we ordered another drink. All in all, we must have sat for three hours; never once were we hurried or rushed by the attentive staff, despite the crowds.

The next day, in a desperate attempt to eat all the food in Paris, we headed on the Flavours of Paris food tour. Despite my best attempts – pulling off handfuls of crusty, chewy, slightly sour baguette, running my finger around the cup to catch the last drop of thick, luxurious hot chocolate (with imperceptible spices that raised it from great to heavenly), inhaling spoons of homemade tapenade on delightful salty pastry bites and letting gooey sweet macaroons disintegrate on my tongue – I did not manage to eat Paris out of house and home. Even eating the entire round of the creamy, crumbling goat cheese from our tasting platter – I highly recommend you eat all the mimolette you can find and avoid livarot, unless you enjoy licking barn floors – didn’t help.

This only means one thing – The Consumation will have to return to Paris for a second attempt – the training has already begun.

2 starters, 2 mains, 4 drinks, 1 espresso €90
Les Philosophes

Maison Kayser – Great breads, with seasonal variations
Un Dimanche à Paris – The best hot chocolate I have ever tasted
Première Pression Provence – Olive oils sourced in Provence, with homemade tapenades that will make you look like an incredible chef
Gerard Mulot – Macaroons the way they’re supposed to be
Flavours of Paris tour

Tagged , , ,

A Tale Of Two Burgers

A good burger is something beautiful to behold. A symphony of texture and flavour, a million combinations of buns, meats and toppings to choose from.

My favourite places allow me to pick and mix these to suit my moods. The Counter is particularly good at this – I love the ticky-box ordering system – It satisfies some primal accounting need. The fact that it’s allergen and vegan friendly is an added bonus – Their website has a complete breakdown of everything on the menu.

On this occasion, I selected burger in a bowl – It comes with a huge serving of lettuce instead of a bun, and I always feel much better about myself. Chicken, pickle, corn salsa, grilled onions, grilled peppers, aged cheddar, and bacon – a carefully chosen composite of some of the best parts of the Counter. This is one of the only places I will trust for chicken, so in fear I am of receiving that grey, chewy sponge some restaurants try and pass off as poultry. My accomplice opted for beef, red cheddar and onion strings. The handful of chips that come in a single serving is depressing, so always go for the large version between two.

As is typical when you’re ravenous, our burgers took an an awfully long time, with everyone around us getting their food before our plates arrived. Eager, mild starvation setting in, I dug into my bowl as soon as it was placed in front of me. As per usual, the grilled chicken was beautifully cooked, succulent and packed full of flavour, all the vegetables vividly fresh, the onions and peppers melt in the mouth good and the crispy bacon just to die for. Just looking at the picture below makes my mouth water. And, oh, the cheese… The cheese was… absent.

I looked up, dismayed, and met the shocked face of my companion; her beef burger was made of chicken. This was disastrous.

Though, not really, as we had new, correct dishes in front of us in minutes, and an upfront offer of a discount – Achievement unlocked, impress the food blogger.

Wanting to extend the evening and the amusing banter, I suggested dessert and ordered an adult smoothie – less ‘xxx’ and more ‘mmm’ – strawberry and banana spiked with alcohol, topped with that hideous can cream. Nice, but not worth the €8 price tag. Twisting her rubber arm, she ordered the oversized chocolate chip cookie with ice cream. The cookie was huge, gooey, sweet and sticky, rich vanilla ice cream melting into the warm dough. Decadent, delicious, and a dessert big enough for two.

Not that she had much of a choice in that matter.

2 burgers, 1 fries, 1 coke, 1 adult smoothie €37 (cookie unknown, as taken off the bill)
The Counter, Suffolk St, D2

This brings me on to the next burger bar in the ongoing battle for my affections. Bobo’s, another joint priding itself on locally sourced ingredients, has always caught my eye. A young gentleman, soon flying to far lands, offered to take me and I jumped at the chance. The first thing I noticed were the creepy, realistic cows painted on the wall. I sat directly underneath one, so its big soft eyes couldn’t watch as I devoured its friend.

The place had a canteen feel, not helped by the white tin plates I could see being dropped to other tables, but the menu was intriguing. Lamb, beef, chicken, fish, pork and two different kinds of vegetarian burgers – I almost chose beef until..

I couldn’t – I went for the Miss Piggy instead; pork and chorizo with goat cheese, rocket and garlic mayonnaise, accompanied by a half and half of onion rings and chips. My travelling friend chose The Grafton, minus the cheese and bun, with a side salad.

Quickly, our food arrived. My burger towered in front of me, menacing but inviting. I glanced over. The bun had been replaced by two lettuce leaves holding the burger, giving an oddly sad look to the plate – Worst presentation of a dinner, ever.

I was more interested in the imposing structure in front of me, and tentatively begin to devour.

The food was, in many parts, excellent. Pork mince has a tendency to dry out, but I didn’t find this at all with my burger, juicy with chunks of quality goat cheese disintegrating in the heat, their flavour being brought out by the contrast of peppery rocket – a classic combination for a reason. The chorizo was bland, a rather pointless addition as it faded into the background – a spicier version should be used. Home made onion rings always tempt me, and I need to stop giving into it – I am always let down by how greasy and tasteless they are, and Bobo’s were no exception. The chips, however, were crunchy and good, and my counterpart’s salad was great, with a lip smacking vinegar kick.

2 burgers, 2 sides, 1 coke €33
Bobo’s, Dame St, D2

In this round, yet again, The Counter has come out on top – will there ever be a true contender?

Well, I don’t know – it was a hypothetical question.

As I write this, I am procrastinating from packing for another trip – this time to London and Paris. I leave in 12 hours, and my suitcase is miserably agape on my bed. As I shall be marching up the Eiffel Tower, drinking coffee and eating cheese all weekend, there will be no post.
Again, fear not, for a Consumation does Paris will follow!

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Nando’s Unpretentious Chicken

As someone who abhors puns but has a grudging respect for good ones, the “Man Eating Chicken” sign outside Nando’s left me torn. The fact I was frustrated, out of breath and sweaty due to a simple misunderstanding that anyone could have made – there are two Nando’s in the city centre: The one I was actually eating in, and the one I arrived at – did not help. Groan and roll my eyes, or giggle? I gave up.

A friendly, “Hi there, welcome to Nando’s! How can I help you today?” greeted me as I entered which swept away the annoyance, but not the sticky, sweaty feeling. I was ready for a beer.

Thankfully, because of my utterly blamelesss lateness, my tablemates had already selected dinner from the simple, clear menu, with no spritz in sight. With three of us dining, the full platter seemed to suit best; a full chicken, with 2 large sides.

Next came the spice discussion – go with highest spice level that suits everyone. If one person doesn’t like spice at all, then choose something along the lines of mango and lime. With the full range of peri-peri sauces available for dipping – my favourite being garlic – each person can spice their meal up to the correct level.

(Attributed to Verndogs)

I went up to the till, Nando’s being an odd mix of both self service and table service, and ordered the platter, a Portuguese bread roll, a slice of cheese and two beers.

I warned the waitress about keeping the bread roll separate to everything else, as one of my companions was coeliac, and she scurried downstairs to warn the kitchen staff. Nando’s is particularly good for food intolerances, with an allergen book in each branch covering every dish and who it’s acceptable for. Also, according to my friends who are that way inclined, the veggie burgers are fantastic and, surprisingly, vegan.

As everything is cooked when ordered, it was about twenty (heart breaking, stomach rumbling) minutes before our food arrived. The Superbock was sating my thirst, a light and refreshing lager, but doing nothing for the gaping, bottomless pit in my stomach,

It’s this hunger that accounts for the lack of food pictures in this post, as I fell upon the BBQed corn, sweet and crunchy, smothered in butter, as soon as it arrived, following it quickly with most of a leg of chicken stuffed into the bread roll with cheese, ketchup and garlic peri-peri sauce. By the time I remembered my camera, I was already wiping the smears of sauce from my face and hands.

Nando’s serves the chicken skin on, and the tart lime mellowed with mango marinade permeated right through the meat. It was perfectly cooked and juicy, and I was a little sad when I finished picking the bones and there were no more delicious morsels left.

The chips are nothing special at all, disappointingly, as the quality of the other dishes raised my expectations – I would opt for garlic bread side next time.

Unfortunately, we had to rush off, but from previous experience, the white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake is worth a trip to Nando’s by itself. Like none other I’ve ever tasted, it is extremely firm, as if the cake has been compressed, increasing the flavour intensity. Sweet and cheesy and sharp and decadently heavy, you’ll think the thin slice you’ve been served is too little, but it is the perfect amount.

Too long, didn’t read?

Good quality, healthy food at relatively good prices, with no ridiculously pretentious bells and whistles, fantastic at catering to food allergies and very family friendly – there’s something for almost everyone in your group.

If you manage to go to the right branch, of course.

Platter (Whole chicken, 2 large sides), bread roll, cheese, 2 beers €37
Nando’s, St. Andrews Street, Dublin 2

Tagged , , , , , ,

This lunch was brought to you by the letter (Cafébar) H

En route, with my mother, to the utterly fantastic and perfect production of Phantom of the Opera in the Grand Canal Theatre, it was CaféBar H that caught our eye for a quick pre-theatre lunch.

Previously I had dropped in for coffee and had been intrigued by the hanging hams and dried chillies, and many words on the menu I couldn’t understand; at a two minute walk from the theatre, in yet more lashing rain, the decision was quickly made.

Unfortunately, the first thing I noticed as we were seated was Adele being blasted from the speakers. This in itself is not a crime.. but it was followed by more Adele and then, yet more.

Dear reader, do not get me wrong – I love Adele. Just not the entire tormented, melancholy album – twice – whilst trying to have a nice light lunch.

Thankfully this was replaced by Debbie Harry during dessert but my advice to the staff member who brought the Adele CD in – take it one day at a time, you WILL get through it and cut out the monumentally depressing music – It’s only making things worse

I ordered the bikini sandwich with a side of rocket and parmesan salad and my mother decided on the soup and sandwich of the day – butternut squash soup and an open face smoked chicken sandwich.

25 minutes passed and my lunch arrived, with no sign of my mother’s. Confusion abounded until it turned out it had not yet been ordered.

With less than ten people in the restaurant at this point, I was irritated. Annoyed, even, with some very choice words running through my mind. However, her soup and sandwich landed on the table within five minutes, with some effusive apologies, and all thoughts of revenge were forgotten as I turned and realised half my sandwich had disappeared.

The guilt ridden face on the opposite side of the table told the whole story.

One bite and I realised why it was irresistible – flaky, light bread, the manchego cheese softened but not melted giving a smooth, creamy, slightly crumbly texture to contrast with the peppery kick from the romesco sauce and, oh, the crispy toasted edges of serrano ham – it was just divine. Not in any way heavy or dense, simple, full of flavour and definitely my main reason to return again. I think it was complimented very well with the rocket and parmesan salad – fresh, with a drizzle of balsamic dressing, served with a chunk of fluffy white bread.

Perhaps how good my dish was negatively impacted our opinion of the soup and sandwich, but it was bland; The butternut squash soup had no flavour and the fact it had a nice texture was just about the only compliment one could give it. The open faced sandwich was completely lacking in… anything. Smoked chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion and an inadequate scrape of some sort of chilli or sundried tomato pesto. It needed an additional flair, perhaps caramelising the onions or bumping up the pesto would’ve brought this dish up in our estimation, as the ingredients themselves were perfectly adequate.

Thankfully, as Phantom is two and a half hours long, the coffee was good and strong, and the dense almond based Tarta de Santiago absolutely dissolved on the tongue with a nice hint of sherry.

Some of sweetest words a daughter can hear, “Oh, this is my treat,” came after the opportunity passed to order expensive champagne and every dessert on the menu, but a lovely lunch was had nonetheless.

Too long, didn’t read?
A few gems, with the bikini sandwich being one of the nicest lunches I have had in a long time. Perhaps avoid the soup/sandwich of the day, as there is plenty of variety on the menu, and this will suit most tastes.

Also avoid if you’ve had a bad break up recently, for obvious reasons.

2 mains, 1 side, 1 dessert, tea and coffee €35
Cafébar H, Grand Canal Plaza, Dublin 2

Tagged , , , , ,

Red Wine Stew

We are currently having one of the worst summers on record in Ireland. I try to avoid mentioning it when I write about restaurants but I’m usually dripping at the table, my trousers sodden and clinging to me with my jacket creating a small moat around my chair. What starts off as deceptively nice morning sun can become a torrential downpour with hail stones within hours. I’m surprised we haven’t been washed off this tiny island yet, as this seems to be the ultimate goal of whoever is determined to punish us.

With this in mind, I present one of the most comforting, tummy-warming foods I can make; a stew that is packed full of flavour with melt in the mouth beef. This never lasts long in my freezer.

My mother will tell you this should be served with floury potatoes… but I wholeheartedly disagree and highly recommend buttered fresh, crusty bread instead.

Ingredients (Serves 4/5)

500g beef (Some sort of braising steak, like stewing beef or skirt. It needs to have the fat and connective tissue which break down during the long cooking.)
2 onions
4 cloves garlic
5 carrots
2 peppers

1 tin chopped tomatoes (~400g)
1 tin tomato puree (~140g)
1.5 sprigs of rosemary
375ml red wine
2 beef stock cubes in 1 can of hot water (I use the chopped tomato can)
3 dessert spoons soy sauce
3 bay leaves
Salt, pepper, vegetable oil.

Steps to deliciousness

1) Coat the beef in some vegetable oil, pepper and salt.

2) Fry on a high heat until it is browned, and put aside.

3) Chop the onions and garlic. Saute in some vegetable oil until the onions start to wilt.

4) Chop the carrots and peppers, and add to the pan. Fry for a few minutes.

5) Add the beef back in and the rest of the ingredients.

6) The rosemary has to be chopped finely but he bay leaves should be left whole so you can pick them out at the end. Add as much pepper as you want – I usually just grind it in until my hand gets sore but I adore pepper. Follow your own heart.

7) Bring to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer for about 2 hours – You may need to add a little water during the cooking to make sure you’ve plenty of sauce at the end.

8) When the beef falls apart when you poke it with a fork, the stew is ready.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Koh, the way to my heart

Writing about perfection is difficult. Impossible almost, but that’s my burden to bear.

I’d like to let you in on a secret, share with you one of the best places to eat in Dublin, my steady favourite, my go-to joint; Koh.

What is it about this restaurant that places it so highly in my heart and makes me recommend it to every single person, whether they want to hear about it or not?

Is it the cocktails? The perfect end to a meal Toblerone, the award winning Citrus Flower or the delicious Chilli Mango Caipiroska?
Or the decor? A dark, well designed lounge, backed by rows of illuminated bottles gleaming like jewels behind the cocktail masters at the bar, which leads into a comfortable restaurant where individual booths with curtains can be booked, making everyone feel like Very Important Persons.
Perhaps it’s the food? The extensive list of starters and mains, touching all bases including Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese, as well a melt in the mouth steak?

No – What makes Koh outstanding is all of these things, and more; The absolutely unparalleled service by friendly, highly trained staff, the welcoming atmosphere, the low level hum of happiness that can only be created by fantastic food and drink, small touches like incense in the bathroom, and freezing cold jugs of water packed with ice on the table.
I cannot find fault, and I will not find fault.

Two omnivores, a vegetarian, a dairy intolerant coeliac and a vegan walk into Koh.

You think one of them would’ve seen it.

(Attributed to Karamell)

I didn’t need to open the menu, the chicken cashew nut being far and away the superior dish, but the motley crew hummed and hawed for what seemed like hours before coming to a consensus.

One chicken cashew nut, one sweet and sour duck, and three Phad Thais.

But these were not just any Phad Thais – These were special Phad Thais. One tofu, no egg, no fish sauce, one tofu with egg, no fish sauce, and one prawn with egg, coeliac, no soy, no dairy.
However, as soy sauce is an integral part of Phad Thai, the waiter assured us the chef could tailor a dish specifically to suit.

And tailor he did. It was absolute lovely, and lived up to every standard I set for Koh. As did the the vegan and vegetarian versions. The chicken and cashew nut was, as always, stunning; the quality of ingredients shines through, and I find it difficult not to lick my plate to clear every last drop of the salty garlic, ginger, soy based sauce that soaks into the sticky rice, making it completely irresistible.

The mango mojitos were on special offer, and were so good, I had to snatch a sip while an owner was away from the table, as I was reticent to ask any of the three to share, their exclamations of enjoyment were so exuberant.

I must also mention cheesecake at this juncture, the white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake, that no matter how full I am, I will order.
I will order, and devour, and spend an hour holding my splitting stomach in pain if I have to.
It is unbelievably creamy, and the exact mix of tart cream cheese, swirls of raspberry and sweet white chocolate to make this blogger dizzy with delight.

Too long, didn’t read?

Go. To. Koh.

1 starter, 5 mains, 1 dessert – €95
Drinks – Oh, hundreds. (Or, more likely, I don’t have the receipt, and don’t remember how much the cocktails were)
Koh Millennium Walkway, Dublin

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

The one, and only, Brown Bread

Passed down from generation to generation and finally, with the tweaks and additions that make it perfect, passed onto to me at the tender age of 25. Of the innumerable things my mother has given to me, allowing me to post this recipe on the internet ranks right up there with Snape’s sacrifice.

Or, for the less nerd-inclined of you, an extremely selfless act, and please go read Harry Potter.

This brown bread, fresh from the oven, is an enduring memory of my childhood. Eight in the morning, shoving spoonfuls of cereal into my mouth, watching with sleepy eyes as my parents spread it with marmalade to accompany the cup of tea that wakes and greets the day. Then, as my own taste palate expanded, dipping the bread with cheddar cheese into fresh vegetable soup straight from the pot, or making sausage and ketchup sandwiches, or simply smothering it with real butter as I could never, and still cannot, resist nabbing a slice while it’s cooling on the wire rack.

Dragging myself out of bed before noon on a Saturday morning, and with moderate adult supervision, I set about making my version of this family classic, in the hope that I wouldn’t royally screw it up and ruin lunch.

The pressure was on.

Ingredients (Creates one 9 inch circular brown bread, 4 inches deep)

Vegetable oil
300g wholemeal flour

30g sunflower seeds
30g sesame seeds
30g pinhead oatmeal
30g oatbran
30g porridge oats
(Or any combination of the above to make 150g)

A handful of sunflower seeds and sesame seeds
225g self raising flour
1.5 teaspoons bread soda
Half teaspoon sugar
Half teaspoon salt
1 egg
750ml buttermilk

You will need a some sort of a pot with a lid, rather than cake tins, as it needs to be cooked covered.

Steps to deliciousness

1) Oil the pan, and put in the oven as it is preheating to 200 degrees C.

2) Put a big mixing bowl on the scales, and add the wholemeal flour, the 150g seeds, salt and sugar.

3) Sift the self raising flour and baking powder into the bowl.

4) Beat the egg with two dessert spoons of oil, and add to the mix.

5) Add most of the buttermilk.

The baking powder and self raising flour will activate when you add the wet ingredients so you need to move quickly from here on in.

6) Mix well, and add more buttermilk until you have a sloppy concoction that just about holds a shape. If you add too much, even it out with a little wholemeal flour – this recipe is very forgiving, lucky for me.

7) Sprinkle sesame seeds and sunflower seeds into the oiled, preheated pan.

8) Add the dough, spread evenly to the edges with a fork.

9) Top with more seeds.

10) Pop on the lid and put in the oven.

11) Leave for 50 minutes/1 hour until the top is dark brown, and the bread sounds hollow when you tap the bottom.

12) Add butter, and enjoy!

Tagged , , , , ,

Herbstreet, and resisting everything except temptation

Oh my GOD, you guys!

Legally blonde was, like, totally awesome! Snaps for Elle!

The enjoyment was dampened, only slightly, by having to fight to stay awake after my pre-theatre dinner, something which I take full responsibility for.

Herbstreet, priding itself on local produce, is spitting distance from Grand Canal Theatre. Book in advance if you’re hoping to head here before a show, as every table was full when we arrived. The menu, though small, appeared perfectly formed, with a mix of dishes that appealed to both the adult and the kid in me.

As usual, I went with my inner child, and ordered a burger and chips, with bacon and, of course, cheese. For some reason, both of my partners-in-dine went for turkey burgers, with sweet potato wedges.
Ever since I came out against this vile invention, they have followed me from restaurant to restaurant, and I do not appreciate it.

Biting into my burger, the freshness of every ingredient was evident. It was pretty damn tasty, and I managed to convince myself it was relatively healthy, because of the huge leaf of lettuce and thick slice of tomato, despite both being smothered in cheese. As a true bacon lover, I was disappointed by its tastelessness.

When it must fight with other flavours in a dish, streaky bacon should be used. This is the kind of essential information we need to be teaching our children. I would gladly volunteer my time to pass on Bacon 101 to the chefs of tomorrow; job offers should be left in the comment section.

Suddenly, my mouth was filled by an unfamiliar, utterly delicious flavour, imparted by something very crunchy. I tipped open the bun to find slices of gherkin.

(Attributed to ClintJCL)

A lifelong aversion to gherkins, fed by those soft, snot-green, slimy circles on McDonald’s burgers, came to an end. This is what people have been talking about, trying to explain to me, attempting to bring me round to. I have seen the green gherkin-y light, and I will never go back.

I polished off the burger, and some of the distinctly average shoestring chips. The turkey eaters agreed that their burgers were equally as good, but the sweet potato wedges were greasy, soft, and flavourless; almost inedible. Buoyed by gherkin success, I tried one.

They were right. Avoid if you love your tastebuds.

Finally, with an hour to spare, we decided on dessert, all homemade, and some very imaginative. There was also a chalk board with specials which doubled the choice. The homemade iceberger icecream, and the brunch ball were lovely. However, it was the arrival of the banoffi pavlova that piqued my jealousy, and started my overeating downfall. The generous pile of cream on the meringue was topped with bananas, butterscotch sauce and candied pecans. One bite into my brunch ball, a scoop of icecream encased in crumbled biscuit, and I asked for a taste of the pavlova. It was simply stunning.

I immediately looked for the waitress, and requested one. One dessert already in front of me, I could feel the judgement of the tables around me, but I didn’t care.

I swapped my bananas for her cream – thank god for diets – and cleared the plate, ignoring my stomach’s cries of “I’m too full, please STOP!” as my mouth luxuriated in absolute heaven.

As an aside, and hopefully to convince you that I’m not that much of a glutton – I have lost four stone in two years, partially by moderating portion size. Prior to this, I would constantly eat to this point of bursting, my body crying out in resistance. I cannot remember the last time I have done this, as I always stop myself and ask, ”Is this food worth it? Is this worth the indigestion, the sleepiness, and the nauseated, unwell feeling of being too full?”

Nothing in two years has come even close.. apart from this magnificent dessert.

Like, oh my god, mad props you guys!

Too long, didn’t read?

Good main courses, disappointing sides, and a dessert menu to, almost literally, die for. Herbstreet may become my Sunday retreat. I plan on coping with the extra calories by jogging the 45 minutes there and back – a good compromise which will allow me to sample each and every dessert – of course, only to record my thoughts for future posterity, and my second lesson for future chefs, Unbelievable Desserts 101.

3 mains, 4 desserts, 5 beers – €89
HerbStreet Hanover Quay, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin

Tagged , , , , , ,

Boojum, I have been changed for the better

I tend not to do quick food. I will go out of my way to have a full, sit down meal, despite the state of my finances. As a child, I thought a lot about how wonderfully grown up it would feel to utter the words, “Just put it on my card,” and the reality has not disappointed.

If fast food is absolutely necessary due to time constraints, I fall back on Subway, or a slice of Di Fontaine’s perfect pizza.

It took a new companion recently returned from Holland to push me, and for this I thank her. Because if she hadn’t, I would not have tried Boojum and my life would be ever so slightly emptier.

Waiting outside this tiny joint, the scent emanating from the doorway was mouthwatering. The music was good, and the patrons, with their sour cream and salsa smeared faces, looked overjoyed.

I opted for three mini soft flour tortillas, with shredded pork, and the world-travelled vegetarian was happy to have a choice of two bean chillis for her burrito. The, obviously new, staff member carefully placed the fillings onto our steamed tortillas.
She reconsidered. Added a little more pork, and looked again.
I could see her debating, worried, in her head, and almost wanted to reach over and give her a hug.
Finally she made her decision, and slid the food along the counter to the topping section.

Everything looked so fresh and tasty, I had difficulty choosing, but eventually went with the corn salsa, grilled peppers and onions, sour cream and cheese. The bean burrito came with guacamole, and cilantro-lime rice as standard, which was topped up with peppers and onions, hot salsa, sour cream and cheese.

A small sign on the beer fridge caught my partner’s eye. It read, “Sol, Desperado and Corona – €2.95. All other beers, €3.95!”
I could not list all the beers in the fridge, even if I tried, but it included Goose Island, Anchor Steam, Sierra Nevada, Blue Moon, and Samuel Adams, at a price barely above an off license.

The brisk level of customer turnover meant the very small amount of tables didn’t hinder anyone getting a seat.

Armed with piles of tissues, we tucked in.

It was absolutely delicious – I can still taste the spices in my mouth as I type this. The shredded pork was succulent and tender, the peppers and onions still had bite, and the salsa was fantastic. Do try the hot sauces on the table, which taste of chilli, rather than burning. As someone who doesn’t cope well with very hot food, these sauces were a surprising delight.

The high point of the dish was the cheese. It was indescribably tasty. To the point that, when my companion had to give up on her head-sized burrito (for lack of space, rather than lack of want), she dug out the cheese with a fork, as it was physically impossible to waste it.

Speaking of the burrito, which I was assured could keep the human race in food for the duration of a nuclear winter; it was the perfect vegetarian meal. Not soggy, or bland, but as full of flavour as my meat filled version. The pinto bean chilli was highly recommended, as was the homemade guacamole, and hot salsa, from what I could gather from the various ecstatic noises and compliments of my dinner partner.

You are asked to split your recyclables at the bins, so we left happy, with a sense of good-doing, and filled right to the very brim, with barely a carbohydrate in sight.

Too long, didn’t read?

Fresh, tasty, cheap, mountains of food with reasonably priced beer. Fantastic staff, and a great atmosphere. Everything is homemade at the HQ in the outskirts of Dublin, including grating the cheese, with daily deliveries to the restaurant – trust me, it shows in the quality and flavour of the dishes.

Boojum has changed my outlook on fast food completely. And I will not be the only one, mainly because I will be dragging all and sundry here at the first opportunity I get.

2 mains, 2 beers – €20
Boojum Millennium Walkway, Dublin
Di Fontaine’s 21 Parliament Street, Dublin
Subway Oh, bloody everywhere

Tagged , , , , , , , ,