Category Archives: Quality

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

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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!

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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

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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

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