Tag Archives: restaurant

Consumation Does Chicago (Part 2)

Welcome to the second part of the Consumation does Chicago.

Where we left off, I was relaxing in the comfortable Caribou Coffee and planning my next move. We’ll gloss quickly over that evening’s meal, as stuffing a bagel into my mouth while drying my hair and hopping one legged around my room in an attempt to get my pants on quickly cannot be considered dinner, in any real sense.

A bright, warm morning followed and I stumbled, bleary eyed and brained, into Intelligentsia. Yet another place entirely too cool for me but with happy staff that wanted to chat. The filter coffee menu was incomprehensible compared to the simple espresso options, but buoyed by the friendly interest and banter with the barista, I choose a Debello, served as chemex; only now have I discovered what this means. It’s a particular set up for filtering which, by experience, takes 10 long minutes, but the extraction is delightfully smooth and creamy. This is the first filter coffee I’ve ever consumed black. Unfortunately, the unsatisfying “artisan” sandwich of turkey, lemon, artichoke and onion tasted solely of pesto and paste.

If Intelligentsia ever set up a branch in Dublin, I’m fairly sure my coffee addiction will reach the level of sell-all-my-belongings.

1 coffee, 1 sandwich $11


The Blue Man Group being dishearteningly substandard pushed me into treating myself to a swanky dinner, and Custom House Tavern was only a short walk from my hotel. The dim lighting made it appear rather opulent as I peered through the window, and I was rewarded on entry with a quiet, dark room, Norah Jones tinkling away in the background. For a slow Sunday night it was overstaffed, so I was waited on hand and foot, my water glass never getting more than half empty.

I ordered the chicken liver pâté and steak, then sank back into my puffy seat and watched muted American football – Honestly, I still don’t get it.

There was no salt or pepper on the table and I discovered why when the pâté arrived – it was seasoned to perfection; Warm, crisp sourdough, heavy pâté melting into it with chunks of salt that merged and competed with the sweet of the picked peach and the sour of the vinegar rocket dressing – The battle of flavours in each mouthful left me yearning for more.

I should’ve gotten two as the steak was disappointingly over salted, but well cooked, and the chip oil badly needed changing. However, the blue cheese butter was a surprising success – the smallest amount adding a much needed lift to the steak, the musty, deep cheese flavour lingering on the tongue.

To finish, a Roman Holiday cocktail; gin, limonchello and soda. This should have come in a martini glass, but as it was served long, all I got was a boring, mild lemon soda.

1 starter, 1 main, 1 cocktail $55


In a hurry to get to the Museum of Science and Industry – well worth a visit, by the way – I dropped into Argo Tea for an espresso and pastry. My haste was my downfall; the coffee was scalding hot, burnt and bitter, accompanied by a raspberry and almond roulade that consisted of undercooked, sugary paste. I cannot comment on the tea, and perhaps it is life-affirmingly good, but the coffee should be avoided by anyone with standards.

1 coffee, 1 pastry $ Honestly, they should’ve paid me

That evening, I had big plans. I was going to a real American diner and I was going to eat real macaroni cheese, and have a real malt and an awesome time.

This dream was dashed when I walked out into rain bouncing off the path. Resigned and hungry, I turned into my hotel restaurant – Ironically, an English bar. It’s called Elephant and Castle and populated almost solely by blowhards in rolled up shirt sleeves, guffawing at their own jokes.

I ordered the ‘Loaded Beef Dip’; thinly sliced beef with onions, cheese, au jus for dipping, and a side of caesar salad. The dip was lovely and beefy, but apart from this, the sandwich was pure stodge, with far too much meat – more is not always better – and too few onions and cheese. The wilted, soggy lettuce in the caesar salad was the icing on the bad dinner cake that pushed me into ordering the Big Ben Brownie – apparently their signature dessert.

I shouldn’t have bothered. Two slabs of stale, disgusting, packet brownie, vanilla ice cream with the flavour of “cold”, and a chemical squirt cream from a can. Below is what I sent back, as it was absolutely inedible.

When I left, the rain had just about finished, and I was utterly devastated I hadn’t waited.

1 main, 1 dessert, 1 beer $36


This was the last night before I dove, feet first, into the work portion of my visit, where I was plied with all sorts of nice foods, including steak for both lunch and dinner. I do not recommend this, and suggest throwing a salad in at some point; by the Friday afternoon, as the meetings were finishing up, I could feel the arteries tighten in my chest, overloaded with days of red meat, and only red meat – the hotel didn’t have toast or rolls for breakfast, my morning refection therefore being bacon.

Piles and piles of sizzling, crispy bacon.

I walked this feeling off on the Chicago Gold Coast/Old Town food tour; the absolute highlight of my trip and a tour I wish existed in every city.

With that, let’s leave Chicago alone – I’ve ranted and raved enough, and Dublin’s fine restaurants are calling to me again. Join me next weekend for another installment of The Consumation.

Intelligentsia, 53 East Randolph St, 60601
Custom House Tavern, 500 South Dearborn Street, 60605
Argo Tea, 1 N Dearborn St, 60602
Elephant and Castle, W. Adams St, 60603
Chicago Walking Food Tour

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Consumation Does Chicago (Part 1)

I have returned safely and as I write this, I am trying to shake off the last prickly tendrils of jet lag. This is being ably assisted by coffee, Kraft mac and cheese, goldfish crackers and Reese’s pieces. All of which is also helping me ignore the room high pile of laundry to do because, oh my GOD you guys, I have to tell you – Chicago is AH-MAYYYY-ZING.

The city itself is so interesting to look at – I just left my hotel each morning and walked in a random direction, always finding myself fascinated by the buildings, the stunning parks, the glimmer of Lake Michigan calling to me from the end of the street. The atmosphere of it is so friendly and open, with a pleasant undercurrent of power and business, completely different to the frenetic speed and stress I sense in gaudy New York. I felt settled, safe and, with the amount of food I ate, extremely full.

With that, let me start from the beginning, as it’s a very good place to start.

Hackney’s, my plan for the night I arrived, was out the door with people – exhausted and faint with the hunger, I wandered back up the street and chose the first place that had customers – always a good indication. Amarit, a Thai restaurant, looked busy so I headed on in and ordered tofu cashew nut; plain, simple and fresh. Within minutes, it was on the table in front of me – the vegetables crunchy and bright and the tofu with a delicious crisp edge. I dug in, delighted, until I got a mouthful of pineapple – I will never understand pineapple in savoury dishes. I could eat an entire one by myself in one sitting (and often have), but it is just too sweet and strong in a main meal. Apart from this, the dinner was exactly what I needed, light and vitamin filled, marred only slightly by the guys having a discussion about all out nuclear war with China at the next table; They were prepared for this eventuallity to a rather worrying level.

1 main $9.41

My body, thinking it was 1pm despite the very little sleep, decided to wake me at 6am. What better way to prepare for the day than a filling pancake breakfast, I reasoned, so I set about googling – I decided on Lou Mitchell’s, only a mile west.

No one tells you that Chicago smells like chocolate – chocolate so deep and rich you can almost taste it, wafting through the air from Blommer’s Chocolate Company on W Kinzie St. My mouth was watering and my stomach rumbling by the time I reached my breakfast destination – only to see yet another line out the door. At 7am – An extremely popular spot then!

Thankfully, as I was by myself, I didn’t have to wait and could sit at the counter. I was provided with coffee and a menu at the same time – a fantastic idea. In pure American movie style, I never saw the bottom of the cup, and cream was the only option on the table – Heaven. I was raised up a couple more divine levels by the light and fluffy pecan pancakes with a side of crispy bacon, and oodles of maple syrup. Despite the shocking price of bacon – $4.25 for 3 slices – the queue only got longer the hour I was there, and I can see why. I practically had to roll myself out the door, but if I genuinely needed to, I’m sure the overly friendly staff would’ve been more than happy to oblige.

1 main, 1 side, coffee $16.28

Needless to say after such a large breakfast, a long walk was required, so I meandered east towards Millennium Park. Hours of strolling around, admiring the sculptures and landscapes, getting sprayed by the Crown Fountain and poking the Cloud Gate (Jean IN the bean!), and I was ready for lunch.

Cafecito, the Chicagoland home of the Cuban pressed sandwich, was the next port of call – bright, airy and just beside a hostel, it was packed with young people, all much cooler than me. This included the tattooed, pierced girl behind the till who had obviously spent hours perfecting her blank stare at the area just north of your eyebrows. I ordered a jerk, but as she snapped “Here or to go?”, I had to resist the urge to turn and walk out. There is never any reason to be rude, ever.

However, I am glad I didn’t – the blackened breast of chicken, which had been marinated in jerk spices, was juicy, spicy and succulent, the rest of the sandwich packed out with tomato, onion, lettuce and – honestly, inspired – lime mayonnaise. The Cuban bread was fabulous, crunchy and flaky – I am now a convert. But perhaps I’ll find another place to indulge – one where I do not feel like an inconvenience to the staff.

1 sandwich, 1 water $7.90

I had planned on having a Cuban coffee in Cafecito but felt too uncomfortable, so I went seeking caffeine, and found it in the shape of Caribou Coffee. I ordered an americano, and got distracted by the pastries – Specifically by the interesting looking “Monkey Bread.” Without even inquiring as to what it contained, I asked for one, and headed to a comfortable looking armchair by the window. Surrounded by MacBooks, and I with my Paperbook, I tucked into the buttery soft, cinnamon-chocolate piece of heavenly fluff, warm and sticky with a sugar glaze and sipped on the more than adequate coffee.

Watching the world go by, with a good book, I began to plan where I was going to eat next.

1 coffee, 1 pastry $4.75

Come back next week for Part 2, including what happens when you get coffee in a tea shop, go to an English bar in Chicago, and eat steak for four days in a row.

Amarit Thai & Pan Asian Cuisine, 500 S. Dearborn, 60605
Lou Mitchell’s, 565 W Jackson Blvd, 60661
Cafecito, 26 E Congress Parkway, 60605
Caribou Coffee, 41 East 8th Street, 60605

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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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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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