Tag Archives: Dublin

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

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Nigella, Dorian and Me

Today I am recovering from meeting one of my idols, the eternally youthful and tremendously talented Nigella Lawson. Despite my rehearsed plans to inform her what an inspiration she is and how much I adore her passion for food, I ended up babbling, calling her ‘amazing’ six times and asking her how her breakfast was – shame on me. Thankfully, she took pity and signed my book anyway, despite my social ineptitude.

Yes, she looks that enviously good in real life.

As much as I would like to continue my enthused ramblings, I must move onto the crux of this post.

Honestly, I feel at some point in the near past, they changed what “it” is, and now I don’t get “it”, and what’s “it” is disappointing and confusing. This is applicable to many areas of my life; music, movies, clothes. Sometimes it affects food, and this is a source of much worry and consternation.

My utterly charming dinner companions and I had vastly differing opinions on 101 Talbot, they both on the “This is it” side, and I firmly opposing. However, what if this was just another indication of the changing goalposts of “it”, and my inability to keep up?

This is the kind of thought that keeps me awake at night.

En route to The Picture of Dorian Gray, a powerful, claustrophobic, spine-chilling production, we three stopped into 101 Talbot. Having left ourselves a little short for time, the raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake went sadly untasted, but we managed a starter, main and half a coffee each. Also, on top of this, thick hunks of proper batch bread, chewy and tender, slathered in butter – I requested more for the table; It was addictive.

I hoped that my wild game terrine would be served with this bread toasted. Irritatingly, the brioche which instead accompanied disintegrated in my hand as I tried to pile on the meat; Hearty, heavy, rich with a metallic iron tang, moderated by diced sweet apricot. I would’ve paid handsomely to eat the entire terrine loaf, as long as the over-oiled, tasteless side salad and frail bread were replaced. The chilli and coriander hummus was nice, but nothing memorable.

Next up, the main courses, and our opinions deeply divided. The boys raved, both agreeing that the food was exceptional, and warning me against the mediocre review I was going to write. In good conscience, I cannot lie, but I will merely present the honest facts for your perusal.

My linguine was well cooked, with a slight bite, the crisp, streaky bacon pieces were an absolute joy and the halves of cherry tomatoes burst with sweet juice that cut through the bland sauce. I had to take it on faith that it was a white wine sauce, however, as the overpowering taste was cream. Oddly, the thin shards of parmesan were as non-descript as the sauce.

Next, unusually dry rabbit meat sucked every drop of saliva from my mouth, requiring a large gulp of water to fully swallow. It was plonked on top of a mussel and chorizo paella – an interesting choice – that was packed full of flavour, bright, fresh vegetables, and enough mussels to make it a struggle to finish.

Finally, perfectly cooked chicken with a wonderful scorched crunch, almost ruined by vastly over-salted skin, and an armagnac gravy so good, it almost brought me to tears – simple, but packing a full bodied, opulent punch. Slightly chewy potatoes, perhaps sitting in the oven a touch too long, with crisp goose fat edges, and piles of al-dente vegetables finished off the dish.

Take from this what you will – I won’t return, but my associates may have found their new favourite restaurant.

I’ve decided – Perhaps I’m not with “it”… I’m just way ahead of the curve.

3 starters, 3 mains, 2 wines, 1 beer, 3 coffee €82
101 Talbot, 100-102 Talbot Street, Dublin 1

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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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Disappointment in Clodagh’s Kitchen

I am not an avid clothes shopper; I avoid it as much as I can, buying online or bulk buying in one or two expensive trips a year. However, recently, necessity called; An important, week-long meeting in Chicago and I with not a stitch to wear.

This meeting is the reason there will be no blog post next week; but despair not, for the weekend after, there will be a special Consumation does Chicago post. I’ve spent longer planning the food hotspots I’ll hit than I have preparing for the meeting, I’m very excited about the pounds I am going to put on, and I look forward to walking you through every delicious morsel.

I digress from the point of this blog post; Clodagh’s Kitchen, the oasis of calm that called to us after four long hours of Saturday morning shopping in Dublin city centre, the day of the Notre Dame/Navy American football game. In retrospect, with the usual 20/20 vision, not the most sensible of ideas.

Laden like pack mules, the last quotient of energy sapped, we arrived at Arnotts to Clodagh McKenna’s venture, a café focused on homemade, locally produced food. More than a little excited to be off the packed streets, I selected the Italian summer salad, with the pate to accompany, as my brother opted for pesto, chicken and sun-blush tomato tagliatelle, and my mother the lamb kofta. Many dishes are marked as gluten free on the menu, but approach with care, as the size of the open kitchen didn’t inspire me with confidence that ingredients could be kept completely segregated.

The place had an odd look to it, as if we were sitting in someone’s front room, but I’m presuming that’s the point. Unfortunately, this homeliness did not extend to the bathrooms – these, a trek downstairs and back through the shop, were dank, dirty and dark, an underground train station feel to them. Arnotts really need to put some effort into renovating these; literally any effort at all would be appreciated.

When I returned, lunch had arrived. The advertised “goat’s cheese toasts” on my salad were two tiny pieces of bread, with a measly scrape of cheese – absolutely pointless – but the rest of the salad was relatively nice; fresh, crisp rocket with a generous serving of parmesan, prosciutto, and pine nuts, with a bright citrus dressing.

The pate, topped with peppercorns, was fantastic – velvet smooth and rich, the sharp apple chutney a delight by itself. Par for course, the amount of bread served was inadequate for the slab of pate, but this was resolved when I asked for more, and was absolutely overwhelmed with the three additional pieces I received. The lamb koftas, although nice, looked like a starter – only five mini meatballs, the bulk of the meal being made up by soggy cumin roast potatoes, and a watery, flavourless tzatziki. A complete disappointment.

Thankfully, the brother fared better, in my opinion. Generally, I avoid pesto, having had too many experiences with the half rancid muck that is sometimes passed off in restaurants, but I couldn’t stop myself stealing strand after strand of the perfectly al dente tagliatelle, smothered in creamy sauce. I was extremely grateful for his dislike of sun blush tomatoes, and hoovered them up, but unfortunately wasn’t able to find a piece of the chicken to try, as so few had been supplied.

Tea for two, served in what appeared to be my grandmother’s best china, and a strong coffee to finish, with a fluffy lemon drizzle cake shared between three; nice, and most definitely lemony being the only words I can think to describe it.

Too long, didn’t read?

Expensive and trying too hard, the meal was unsatisfying, and left a painfully large hole in my (read: my mother’s) purse. The pate was almost, but not quite, justified in costing €7.50, and at the other end of the scale, €6 for the cake was in all respects, risible.

The only acceptable explanation would be that she’s raising money for a new toilet but, unfortunately, I’ve a feeling it’s being pumped back into vintage bone china.

1 starter, 3 mains, 1 dessert, 2 teas, 1 coffee €59
Clodagh’s Kitchen, Floor 2, Arnotts, 12 Henry Street, Dublin 1

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Luigi Malones, a recipe for mediocrity

The littlest of brothers arrived back from his French travels this week. I, wanting to hear all about life on the continent, insisted on dinner and, being the budget conscious individual that I am, decided to use some vouchers I had picked up for Luigi Malones.

Temple Bar central, it’s a popular tourist spot, and the menu seems to have a dish to suit almost everyone, ranging from pizza to jambalaya to fajitas and peri peri chicken – a head spinning trip around the world in a few short pages.

We plonked ourselves down, the seat next to the door, and chose chicken caesar salad with a pint of Fischer’s each. Currently one of my favourite beers, Luigi Malones is one of the only places in Dublin where it’s on tap, and to top it all off, it’s on the Happy “Hour” menu (applicable between 5 and 7) for only €3.90. This happy coincidence, unfortunately, is one of only two highlights of the meal.

The salads arrived, and I tucked in with ravenous glee; this joy quickly stymied by the realisation the lettuce was at best, two days old, and wilted. The chicken was unusual – I pondered the similarities as I chewed, and discussed these with my sibling – we settled on packing foam. It was an insipid white, with a rubbery, boiled-sponge texture. The salad was almost saved by the generous amounts of parmesan, the crunchy garlic croutons and the, very few, crispy bacon bits scattered throughout, but all in all, it was a failure.

To be fair, my last outing to Luigi Malones was quite pleasant, the “Awesome Hamburger” not quite living up to its name but a solid, extremely tasty and enjoyable effort nonetheless, let down by the accompaniment of a bland, soggy attempt at chips.

After such a disappointing main, we had to treat ourselves to the “Famous Toblerone Cheesecake,” a particular favourite of mine. We were first introduced about eight years ago; a friend informed me I was to arrange a day trip to Dublin immediately when she heard I’d never tried it.

Fresh faced, dressed in my Sunday best, I set off for the big city.

It was love at first taste, and has endured through the years. Despite the overly sweet, fake cream squirted onto the side of the plate, this cheesecake is delicious – creamy, chocolatey with a hint of butterscotch. Over the years, it has changed shape but not flavour, and for this I am grateful – A beacon of light on the otherwise grey, uninspired landscape of the Luigi’s menu.

Too long, didn’t read?

Overpriced, barely average food, served with a smile, I was left with the usual underwhelmed, unsatisfied feeling I associate with Luigi Malones. Certain parts of some dishes are great, but let down utterly by the other components. The quality is sometimes there, but menu and food just scream “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

Welcome home little brother.

2 mains, 1 dessert, 2 beers €40

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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

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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

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Bear, a steak epiphany

A restaurant dedicated solely to the oft forgotten cuts of beef, despite its connections to a certain chicken based eatery, was too interesting of a prospect to pass up.

With the return of my mysterious companion from his travels, a celebration was most certainly in order. So, on an extremely wet, cold, Julember Tuesday, we headed in to sate our curiosity and, hopefully, our raging appetites.

The first thing I noticed, apart from the shared tables, was the fact that one could move easily and freely around the place; a vast improvement on Crackbird. The decor was low key, the atmosphere relaxed and welcoming. I felt like the staff wanted me to be there, as opposed to my presence being an imposition.

We were seated by the window, and began to survey the menu. For starter, I chose ricotta, celery salt with pickled beetroot, and he chose white bean, rosemary and roast chilli oil; both of these came with brown crusty bread, flecked with shiny salt crystals.

Despite having very little knowledge of beetroot, I could tell this was good – great, even. The sharp vinegar complimented the creamy ricotta, and I could’ve eaten a loaf of the bread by itself. His was similar to hummus with a kick of rosemary, chilli and I swear, despite his protests otherwise, orange. But, thankfully, it was equally as good as mine.

Excited by our starters, we awaited our steaks; rosary was my choice, and feather his. Unfamiliar with the cut, I asked the waitress to recommend how it should be cooked. She suggested medium and explained why, which I appreciated, and then we chose smoky BBQ sauce, house gravy and garlic aioli to accompany the steaks, fries and salt & vinegar scallop potatoes.

The almost religious experience I had eating my rosary steak explained the name.

The meat itself was almost sweet in its flavour, and the caramelised, melt in the mouth fat was incredible. Chunks of salt, and a small brush of butter topped the chargrilled to perfection beef. I can only assume there are other herbs involved in the making of this sublime beast, but I was too engrossed to ask. His feather steak was meatier, with a completely different flavour, and absolutely fantastic nonetheless.

I had chosen correctly and my homemade fries were exactly to my taste; skin on, not greasy and the potato inside deliciously fluffy. His salt and vinegar potatoes were neither salty, nor vinegary enough and a bit of a disappointment. Not that we needed the two sides, as after our starters and life changing steaks, our trousers buttons were barely holding on by their last thread. However, I could not resist the garlic aioli, dipping chip after chip into it, and if my lovely companion was not such a polite man, he would’ve drunk the gravy boat dry.

Deciding not to roll out into the flooded street quite yet, we ordered another drink, and sat back looking out at the rain, listening to the surprisingly good music, and savouring our warm happy-tummy feelings.

Too long, didn’t read?

Knowledgeable, friendly staff and one of the best steaks I have ever eaten, even with my predilection for fillet. The unusual starters are a joy, as I can imagine they are all equally as quirky and flavourful, and the shockingly reasonable bill at the end of the meal was the icing on the Bear cake.

2 starters, 2 mains, 2 sides, 3 dips, 3 beers, 1 lemonade €61
Bear 35 South William Street, Dublin 2

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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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Yamamori, third time’s the charm

I’m a stubborn person, holding grudges well beyond their expiry date.

Ok Yorkie, point taken.

If you cross me or fail me, it takes a lot of time and effort to return to my good graces.

Yamamori had both crossed and failed me, in equally colossal measures. My first outing, bright eyed and hopeful, trying gyuniku yaki soba, was met with grisly, inedible beef, sloppy, over-cooked noodles swimming in a greasy, salty but otherwise flavourless sauce. The crisp, vivid green edamame in Wagamama had tempted me to try the same in Yamamori, but these were horribly undersalted, old, and rubbery.

A complaint to the management which was met with suitably shocked faces, but still requiring us to pay and not even offering a drink on the house, despite the mostly untouched food, riled me to the point of vowing never to return.

Slowly, news of the quality of the Ha’penny Bridge version of Yamamori began to sink in, piquing my curiosity yet again, so I headed along for some vegetable savoury rice. Good, but not great, missing some small element – peas, perhaps – and the combination of ingredients was completely incorrect – more tofu, sweetcorn, peppers and onion, less rice and cashew nuts and this could’ve been a great dish.

However, it was an improvement, a step up from inedible and when the next opportunity for Yamamori to prove me wrong presented itself, I knew the fates had decided for me.

A Thursday evening and due to it being soaking wet outside, we steamed gently at our table as we reviewed the menu. I was accompanied by a veteran who barely glanced before choosing yamamori yaki soba, and after much consideration and debate, I went with chicken ramen.

Two light, dry Asahi beers in front of us, my current Achilles’ heel, and the conversation inevitably turned to my previous experiences with Yamamori. I explained that this was simply the last attempt they were going to get at impressing me, or I would wash my hands of them forever.

The pressure was on, at least in my mind.

With that, our food arrived. Apprehensive, I picked up a some edamame. Still not as good as Wagamama, but a step up – perhaps middle aged, rather than elderly soy beans? Encouraged, I scooped a small piece of chicken into my mouth.

It was excellent; thigh meat chicken, flavourful and tender, in a perfectly seasoned broth. Slightly spicy and salty, a dash of sesame oil, with plenty of ramen noodles and crisp bean sprouts, complimented by the wasabi choi sum. Slopping noodles down my chin, and lowering choi sum into my open mouth, I cleared the bowl in an extremely attractive manner. I was never one for good table graces.

The dining companion agreed her dish was equally as good, despite the mounds of pickled ginger obscuring half of it. So good, she managed to make it stretch to two more meals, but that’s a different, more worryingly bacteria-filled, story.

Too long, didn’t read?

Yamamori is surprisingly good, but disappointingly, will never be fantastic. For the money charged here, there are much better noodle and sushi places to eat in Dublin. However, I will no longer avoid it like the plague, as I was perfectly content, and absolutely sated.

However, I hope they soon realise that unlike wine, cheese and I, edamame does not age well, and they should replenish their stock much more frequently.

1 starter, 2 mains, 2 beers – €48
Yamamori, 38/39 Ormonde Quay, Dublin

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