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Nothing Beats a Good Pokē

Klaw Poke, Dublin

Never visit a restaurant on its opening day, that’s just not playing fair. Despite months of planning, there will invariably be hiccups, late deliveries, staff shortages, missing toilet rolls – you get the picture. However, on this occasion, I didn’t really have a choice. I had been madly curious about the fab Mr. Sabongi’s latest offering (he of Rock Lobster, Klaw notoriety), and my other half was leaving the country for a while and knew he would just love it. So on a sunny Friday early evening in May (you might remember the one), we took ourselves to the posh end of Capel Street (which end’s that you say? Well, you be the judge :-)) Klaw Poke is the new arrival in question, whose menu is focussed around pokē  (pronounced “poh-kay”, but where’s the innuendo fun in that), or Hawaiian Sushi which is a cross between Japanese sushi and Peruvian ceviche and made up of pieces of raw tuna, salmon and other seafood marinated in soy sauce, seaweed and sesame and served on a base of rice or quinoa with greens such as kimchi and avocado to bump up the health value.

Klaw Poke, Capel Street

The restaurant is small and can host about 24 bums on seats, with some at the long bar overlooking the kitchen, watching the magic happen. The decor has a fresh holiday feel with a long chalkboard which would line the wall with its menu was a work in progress on the evening in question. The menus were also still at the printers, and so our super-friendly waiter listed out the options available. Being crap at retention, I could only remember the first and last items he mentioned. Thankfully, himself is less of a goldfish on the memory front, so we ordered the Salmon with Siraracha Aioli & Yellowfin Tuna & House Ponzu. The speedily served result was an explosion of a freshness. Delicately marinated fish in a perfectly paired sauce, rice, chillis, avocado, delicious kimchi (which I’m normally not a fan of), picked cucumber, and radishes created a dish which was perfect marriage of healthy eating and sublime taste. Would I be full afterwards? Maybe not. Satisfied? Definitely. Prices vary according to the fish chosen, and you can choose your toppings and sauce, so you can customise your dish to suit your tastes, or just trust the experts and try one of their signature bowls

Since that first evening, I understand that there have been a number of additions to the menu such as lobster rolls, chowder, and crab on toast. And indeed, they have also played around with their Pokē recipes which is really the beauty of this dish, which will undoubtedly be shooting up in menus all over the place, – the permutations are endless! Unfortunately, I have not been back yet, simply due to the location being a bit out of my way, but I look forward to making the trek very soon, and I recommend you do too.

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FOOD RESTAURANT REVIEWS

Cooking up a Treat in Camden Kitchen

Camden Kitchen, Dublin

I know, I know. It’s been absolutely ages since I’ve written anything. While one of the positives of being self-employed is that you can work whenever you want, the reality is that you pretty much work all the time available to you. And when you’re not working, you’re thinking about the work you should be doing, which leaves poor ‘ole Brekkie at Tiffany’s a tad neglected. Anyhoo, onwards and upwards, or just off Camden Street in this particular case.

I’ve been curious about Camden Kitchen for ages. It’s actually been around since 2010, so I’m ever so slightly late to the party. The cosy little neighbourhood eatery (oh how Irish Times Lifestyle of me) is situated on Grantham Street, just off the main thoroughfare of Camden Street which houses the foodie delights of Delahunt, Pickle, and Tesco Express. Having received a most welcome 50 yoyos from the Mammy for my recent marital anniversary, I thought what better than to seize the opportunity and avail of a Living Social voucher for a three-course meal at CK for two people for a mere €49. And so it came to be last night…

The restaurant is small, situated over two floors, and was completely full on this particular rainy Friday evening. The atmosphere is warm and unpretentious with antiquities and flowers decorating the dining area. Given the smallness of the restaurant, the tables are positioned very close together. Question: when sitting down at a table on those occasions, what is the correct ettiquette? Does one position one’s arse to one’s own table, or towards the neighouring guests? Arses aside, we were well within earshot of our neighbour’s conversation, and let’s just say they won’t be celebrating any anniversary together in the near future!

And so on to the food, himself ordered the wild Wicklow pigeon with lentils, and not wanting to order the same, I selected the chicken liver parfait with sourdough toast. The parfait was beautifully smooth with the accompanying plum chutney adding a delicious sweet contrast. The pigeon and lentils were cooked and seasoned on point. An absolute a revelation and showed the chef’s true understanding of how to enhance this ‘game of the poor’ in the subtle way it deserves. Himself is extremely particular i.e. fussy fecker when it comes to preparing food from the wild. Game always needs a subtle hint of sweetness combined with some nutty aroma and this chef knows that!

Starters, Camden Kitchen

For the main course, I decided to continue my poultry experience and had the Salt Marsh duck breast served with barley and cabbage, confit beetroots, and butternut & orange puree. This was seriously gorgeous! The duck was cooked medium rare with the puree bringing sumptuous sweetness to the dish. And as for the beetroot – brilliant. I initially had reservations about the beetroot being included at all, but man they were good! I ordered a side portion of sauteed potatoes as I was wary of the barley. Again, my doubts were thoroughly unwarranted as the barley was indeed a very welcome surprise.  Himself had the wild Irish hake and bisque risotto and cockles which was perfectly executed and did not disappoint. The risotto was al dente, the hake as flaky and with a crispy skin, exactly as it should be. The chef earned serious kudos from himself for both his dishes which he said were cooked perfectly and packed with flavour.

To finish off, we both ordered the bread & butter pudding. I would’ve been more than happy with any of the four other dessert choices, but in fairness who can resist a bit of b&b pud! For the purpose of review, I would’ve liked one of us to have tried something else, but as himself was in Joey Tribiani mode and wasn’t going to share his, I was not going to miss out. The pudding was beautifully light, made with Brioche and served with almond ice-cream and krokant. My only slight complaint was the lack of sultanas (I only had two), but I am perhaps a tad over-fond of the humble sultana.

Main Course, Camden Kitchen

Camden Kitchen is a great little gem (only slightly) off the beaten track. The service was excellent, with friendly and attentive staff. If you can get hold of the living social voucher, snap it up. If you don’t, still go. You’ll be delighted you did.

Camden Kitchen
Grantham Street
Dublin 8
http://camdenkitchen.ie/
Tel: (01) 476 0125

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Real Gourmet Burger Terenure Review

Real Gourmet Burger, Terenure

And so my quest to keep it local continues. On this particular occasion, I had a severe bout of the lazy-Maisies and didn’t want to cook, and so armed with a jammy little voucher from Groupon, I took myself and the Mammy up to Terenure to a spot I’ve been curious about for some months – Real Gourmet Burger. The restaurant is situated in the heart of Terenure Cross/Village/Enclave which has seen the opening of quite a few new eateries and quality shops in the past year. Not to mention a right fancy looking Aldi. On the ground floor, the restaurant has a laid back atmosphere, decorated with modern, solid Scandi-style furniture, bricked walls, and an open kitchen at the back. Upstairs, there’s plenty of space to easily house small functions and gatherings. And so on to the food, the voucher was for 2 burgers & fries, plus wine (or craft beer) for €20, which given that all the meat is naturally reared and free-range is quite the deal indeed!

Unlike Bunsen, Real Gourmet Burger offers up a whole host of burgers – with 12 types of beef, 2 lamb, 3 chicken, and a couple of vegetarian options. I ordered the classic lamb burger with melted mozzarella, aubergine, and mint mayonnaise. The Mammy went for the Old Timer beef burger with roasted mushroom, caramelised onions, streaky bacon, Swiss cheese and house-made horseradish mayo. Both burgers were served in a poppy seed bun with rosemary fries, and a nice little Pinot Grigio to wash it down. I have to say, everything was a complete triumph.The burgers were cooked perfectly and the add-ons enhanced the flavour of the meat, without overpowering it. Admittedly, there is a brief moment when you think “how am I going to get my gob around that”. But never underestimate the humble gob, folks! They are truly a marvel of design and engineering. Or is that the Golden Gate Bridge? Anyhoo, despite our fullness, but in consideration of the Sundayness of the day, dessert was, I felt, entirely necessary, and so we shared an Eton mess. Lots of meringue – although, perhaps too much – with lashings of cream and beautifully sweet strawberries. A nice end to a lovely meal!

rgbmontage

The restaurant has a great buzz with some pretty decent tunes in the background, and friendly staff adding to the casual atmosphere. When we arrived it was almost full. By the time we left it had got quieter, which is to be expected on Sunday evening. I’d highly recommend picking up one of the vouchers while they are still available. And if they’re gone, hey nonny nonny,  it’s is still great value at full price. Methinks, you’ll like it a lot!

Real Gourmet Burger, 101 Terenure Road East, Dublin 6

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Steak & Lobster Menu at Brasserie Sixty6

Brasserie Sixty6

Who doesn’t love a good voucher. You know the ones from groupon, living social etc but in general, they tend not to be for places I particularly want to go to. The offers on the thetaste.ie are a different story, and if you don’t know the site, get yourself over there tout suite. I have in the past purchased ones for Klaw, Odessa, Rock Lobster (oh, how I miss thee) and L’Avenue, and have been more than happy with the offering. This time around, I bought one for Brasserie Sixty6 on South Great George’s Street, a restaurant that I’ve wanted to try for ages, but for some reason haven’t, despite the fact that my bus stops just outside it! Anyhoo, the offer in question was for 2 course dinner for 2 people from their new Steak & Lobster Menu plus 2 summer cocktails for only €50. Not bad, eh? Especially given that the cocktails on offer would normally cost €10.50 each.

The restaurant was a lot bigger than I had expected from the outside, and was buzzing as to be expected on a Thursday evening, however it has even more seating to the back which would be great for larger groups as well. And so our scoff fest commenced! Before kick-off, we were brought over two large slices of sourdough bread and some butter on a wooden board. Much needed, as I was a bit Lee Marvin to say the least. We ordered some sparkling water as himself, not being an indigenous Paddy, has not yet built up a de-sensitivity to the manky bleachy taste of our fine chlorine-rich Irish tap water. For starters, we both ordered the Caesar salad. In restaurants, as in life, I’m not a huge fan of soup. I’m sure it was flavoursome and all that malarkey, but just a bit practical if you know what I mean. The salad did exactly what it said on the tin with a generous portion of fresh crispy lettuce, parmesan, sourdough croutons, and a whole heap of crispy rashers.

Brasserie Sixty6, Dublin

And so on to the raison d’being there – the main course. Himself ordered the lobster tails, which were tasty (I’m told) but judging by his little disappointed face, somewhat on the smaller size. Nonetheless, the tempura claws, and chunky chips all contributed nicely to fill the belly, and he was by the end a happy bunny indeed. For the sake of comparison (although having seen their size, I didn’t have the heart to taste some of his precious lobster) I had the sirloin steak which was beautifully juicy and served with chunky chips and a gorgeous Bearnaise sauce which had lovely lumps of lobster. Delish! Alongside the meal, we had the Spiced Blood Orange Margarita, and the Absolute Midnight in Paris. Himself originally ordered the former, but he found it a tad sweet so we did swapsies, but I would’ve been more than satisified with either. Or preferably both.

Brasserie Sixty6 Steak & Lobster Menu
Unfortunately, despite all my efforts to lever my dessert pocket open, I just couldn’t fit any more in. But let me just say, the dessert menu looks gorgeous: Chocolate Truffle Cake with caramel ice cream and burnt orange caramel, or how about Raspberry Red Velvet Cake with raspberry jelly and vanilla ice cream? Stop the lights! Methinks, you can now appreciate just how full I was to have been able to resist such lusciousness. So, to sum up: service was very friendly and efficient, food was delicious (and plentiful), and the voucher an absolute steal. Get yours now while you can!

Brasserie Sixty6, 66-67 South Great George’s Street, Dublin 2.
Voucher from thetaste.ie (available at the time of publishing)

 

 

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Suburban Sushi

Tani Sushi, Terenure

I don’t know about you, but I have an awful habit of discriminating against restaurants outside of the city centre, thinking that what chef with any credibility or ambition would locate itself in the ‘Burbs? Well hopefully that mindset is changing somewhat, with restaurants such as Bastible and Craft choosing to locate outside the inner circle and not allow their creativity (and obviously profit margins) be stifled by the ridiculously high rental costs and council rates that plagues their city centre contemporaries.

Out in the burbs where I habitate, I am lucky to have within walking distance of my home (I say walking in a theoretical sense of course), Tani Restaurant in Terenure. Formerly known as Tani Sushi, the eatery underwent renovation early last year, and out went the vacant looking IKEA furniture, and in came darker, moodier woods and exposed brick to give a much more professional look and cosier atmosphere. On my visit last week, the pan-Asian staff were, as always, extremely friendly and really, really smiley. The restaurant itself is small and was brimming over with families on this particular Sunday evening. As we are wont to do, we did the perfunctory act of taking the menus and pretending to consider the options available to us, but inwardly knowing the outcome was always going to be the same. So without any level of experimentation, himself and myself chose one of our favourites to share as a starter – 6 pieces of Spider roll (€13.50) consisting of deep fried soft shell crab, flying fish roe, avocado, crab meat, and spring onions. I’m not one of life’s biggest sushi fans, but this was absolutely delicious with the crab lending a sweetness to the rolls which appeals to my non-sushi loving palette. If you’re not a sushi lover yourself, give these a go, or alternatively try the hoi sin duck rolls which we didn’t have on this occasion but are also seriously scrummy.

Tani Spider Rolls

Himself followed this up with the Tuna and Salmon Set (€13.00) made up of 2 salmon nigiri, 2 tuna nigiri, 6 pieces each of salmon and tuna maki (the roundy ones). In his opinion, these were some of the best sushi he had tasted in Dublin (his other favourite being Zakura in Wexford Street), with the freshness of the fish being particularly evident. Being the sushi philistine that I am, I was more in love with the decorative wasabi bow! For my part, as I was having one of those “order-the-same-as-always” evenings, I had me some Chicken Yaki Soba , a.k.a noodles and vegetables with deep fried chicken pieces. The dish is served with chilli sauce and ginger on the side in case you want to take the heat levels up a notch. Even with the additions, the noodles are not too spicy but my idea (possibly wrongly) of perfect Asian street food.

Chicken Yaki Soba

Having just the right level of fullness, we decided to share a green tea Creme Brulee for dessert. Although the custard had split somewhat, I still found it nonetheless tasty and light. Himself wasn’t feeling the love for it though.

As long as Tani keep up this level of great food at a good price, we will definitely keep coming. And who knows, maybe the Gourmet Burger, and the Italian place up the road are also worth a try. My ‘aul Leap Card could do with a rest anyway.

Tani Restaurant Terenure

Tani Restaurant, 93 Terenure Road North, Dublin 6w. Tel: (01) 538 8000

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BBQ-ing at the Gibson Hotel

BBQ-at-the-Gibson-Hotel

So last week I was delighted to be invited to the Gibson Hotel’s annual launch of their summer barbecue menu. The Gibson is located across from the 3 Arena (or The Point, as those of a certain age will know it as). More recently, it has become famous for playing host to the brilliant Irish First Dates show. It was my first visit to the Gibson, which is not your typical hotel, with its modernist glass frontage, and now-infamous lift which takes you to its third floor reception area.

The event was held in the the Coda Eatery with top DJ Dan Stritch on the decks. We were greeted with BBQ Bramble Cocktails and Sangria.  The lavish gourmet buffet included the usual BBQ suspects such as chicken wings, sausages, burgers and lamb chops, but with a Gibson twist, alongside a huge choice of salads including fresh watermelon, mint and feta salad, potato salad, and a delicious parma ham salad with mozzarella and a strawberry chilli dressing. Oh, and cheesy chips! In fairness, who doesn’t love some cheesy chips. And as for desserts! Well, despite being ridiculously stuffed, the ‘aul dessert pocket was open for business, and so I partook in some gorgeous banoffee pie, mini doughnuts, and rich but fluffy chocolate mousse. To be fair, I did share the latter with my good pal and fellow blogger, Ciara from Irishtravelkey, so there was some semblance of restraint exercised!

The BBQ menu is available for groups of 25 people and more, and costs €25 per person which ain’t half bad. And a bonus, as it’s held in the indoor courtyard or heated terrace, there’s no need to worry about manky weather halting your plans. Result!

Gibson-Hotel-BBQ-Launch

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event and was not requested, nor paid (sure wouldn’t that be lovely altogether) to write a blog entry on the event. All opinions are honest, and my own.

 

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Eat Yourself Healthy at Siam Thai

Siam Thai Malahide

So this week I was lucky to be invited to one of the health & nutrition talks currently running in Siam Thai’s two Dublin restaurants in Dundrum and Malahide. I have wanted to go to their Dundrum restaurant for ages, but have somehow never got around to it, so when I got the opportunity to visit the one in Malahide, I snapped it up. The topic of the evening’s talk was Nutrition on the Go and was held by the charming Gaye Godkin, a clinical nutritionist who works as a nutritional consultant for both organisations and individuals, and has worked with the chefs of Siam Thai to create new dishes with a nutritional focus.

Upon arrival we were greeted with Prosecco (always a plus), before being brought up to a separate dining area, away from the main restaurant, where our group could listen to Gaye’s presentation while simultaneously enjoying the delicious starters which were served up to us consisting of fresh spring rolls, carrot & papaza salad, and Larb Gai (minced chicken). The starters were an absolute triumph – packed full with flavour, but without the guilt! I positively felt like running out to the nearest Eason’s and snapping up a heap of Roz Purcell cook books!

Healthy Starters at Siam Thai Malahide

The main course offering had something for everyone, but I partook in my usual Pad Thai with prawns. Call me a slave to habit, but I like to think it more as a Thai restaurant comparison tool. And a ridiculously tasty one at that! So how did Siam Thai fare? Let’s just say, in my eyes at least, they are quite possible top of the Dublin Thai Restaurant League right now. The prawns were plump, the noodles were cooked perfectly, the sauce had just the right amount of sweetness, and (importantly), there was more than enough to fill this ‘ole belly!

Pad Thai at Siam Thai Malahide

We finished off the meal with a coffee, and as I left the buzzing restaurant (even on a Tuesday evening), I definitely felt more motivated and inspired to put less focus on calories, and give more attention to the nutritional aspect of food, without needing to compromise on taste. On this evening, Siam Thai more than proved it was possible.

Siam Thai, 1 The Green, Malahide, Co. Dublin. Tel: 01 845 4698.

 

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The Klaws are out at one of Dublin’s Best Seafood Restaurants

Klaw Restaurant, Temple Bar, Dublin

Let’s be honest, most Dubliners aren’t the biggest fans of Temple Bar. Even the Huffington Post described it as one of the world’s most disappointing tourist destinations to be avoided “at all costs”. Yes, there may be a glut of British stag parties at the weekend, groups of ripped-off American tourists desperately clutching maps in the hope of finding something that slightly resembles the Ireland they saw in the movies, and clutters of, how shall I put it delicately, right dodgy looking feckers. But it ain’t all that bad, people! A number of new eateries have popped up in the last couple of years which are set to change the perception of Temple Bar completely. One such newbie is Klaw, a seafood shack owned by the lovely Niall Sabongi, he of Rock Lobster Dundrum fame. The restaurant itself is tiny and can accomodate 14 stool-sitting hungry bunnies.  Sizewise, my estimates put it at 1.5 Hubbies wide and 5 Hubbies deep (1 Hubby unit of measurement = 6 foot 3). The kitchen is situated at the back and is in full view, so you can get a good goo of all the schucking taking place.

The menu is simple and written on the large blackboard which dominates the left wall of the restaurant and includes most of the headline acts of the seafood world. Oysters are available in 3 varieties (Dooncastle, Waterford and Galway Bay). For purists, they can be eaten “naked” (with lemon or tabasco), or for the more adventurous, dressed or torched. For the non-oyster eating posse (i.e. moi), there is crab, Atlantic prawns, seafood chowder and their signature lobster rolls. What’s not to love! On this particular day, himself and myself had  vouchers from the nice folk of thetaste.ie for a lobster roll plus a glass of wine for a mere 10 yo-yos (sadly, offer is currently not available). Quite the deal indeed! We were greeted by a super-friendly waitress who observed my “uncanny resemblance” to yer one from Titanic (Hmmm, I’m hoping she meant Kate Winslet, and not Kathy Bates!), and so as she led us to our table, I made a mental note to tip this highly-astute individual generously!

Lobster Roll at Klaw

Having partaken in a lobster roll at the brilliant Rock Lobster previously, I knew this wasn’t going to fill my hungry belly, so I ordered a seafood chowder and himself ordered 6 oysters (it being happy hour n’all). The seafood chowder was delicious, served in a can with toasted baguette on the side. It was a lot thinner in consistency than you would usually expect for a chowder, but it was packed with flavour. Having said that, I do like my chowders to be made with half a cow’s worth of cream, but it made the perfect belly-liner for the main dish. Himself delighted in the juicy oysters, which are half price during happy hour, the Galway ones proving to be his favourite. And so on to the raison-to-be-there – the lobster rolls! Wowzers! The sweet lobster, dressed in a yuzu mayonnaise, oozes out of a delicious brioche bun fried in butter and is served with a whopper chunk of cucumber and a sprinkle of crisps. For those of you lacking in the Google department, the Yuzu is a citrus fruit originating in East Asia and believed to be a hybrid of sour mandarin and Ichang papeda. Readers may also know it as Citrus ichagensis x C. reticulata.

Seafood Chowder at Klaw

Our meal was washed down with a beautifully dry glass of Picpoul, and for some reason unknown to man, not finished off with a dessert! (Like seriously, what’s that all about?) The dessert offering changes but creme brulée and whoopie pies feature regularly. Since our last visit, there have been new additions added to their menu such as mac n’cheese and fish stew, so another visit is long overdue. If you’ve never had a lobster roll, add it to your bucket list and get your booty down to Klaw. It’ll be one of the best 16 euros you’ve ever spent!

Klaw, 5a Crown Alley, Temple Bar, Dublin 2