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restaurants

FOOD HOME RESTAURANT REVIEWS

Critics’ choice – Etto, Merrion Row

Etto Merrion Row Review

If you’re anything like me you have a bucket list of restaurants you want to go to, but end up always going to the same ones because you know what you’re getting. Well last week, I ticked off one of my listees – Etto on Merrion Row. Etto has won countless awards – Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand, Restaurant of the Year, and Best Casual Dining Experience in Ireland to name but a few. In addition, it is frequently the winner of food critics choice if they had to pay for dinner themselves, so I reckoned it must be pretty good. Indeed on the day we were there, cooking goddess, Nigella Lawson had visited and given her stamp of approval.

The restaurant itself is pretty small and decorated simply with the front part of the room filled with plain tables and chairs, while to the rear a bar and counter had additional stool seating. Due to the limited seating, it gets booked out pretty quickly and we had to wait a week before we could get a table at our desired time of 6.15 to avail of the pre-theatre menu of 3 courses for €29. Upon our arrival, our friendly waiter handed us a today dated menu – a positive sign that their menu was seasonal and based on what was fresh at that time, although I spotted a few of their regulars which I’d seen on their website sample menu.

For starters, we ordered the Dexter beef tartare, artichoke and blue radish and mussels, spring onions, nduja and sweetcorn. Himself found the beef tartare, which was served with Levain sourdough was the most unusual looking tartare he’d ever seen, but nonetheless, on a taste level hit top scores. My mussels were beautiful spicy, and a welcome deviation from the usual mariniere style that I always make at home.
Our main courses were also delight with himself having the grilled hake and I having the sucking pig. At this juncture, I will say that you absolutely need to order some additional side dishes or you will be hungry. We ordered the hashed potatoes with Lyonnaise onions, and the chargrilled sprout tops which were sprinkled with toasted almonds and mustard dressing. Each dish came in €4.50, so the idea of a three course dinner for €29 is a bit of a misnomer. The hake was beautifully cooked and served with white beans, cockles and celeriac puree in a cider infused broth. My pork belly (please, no jokes) had a beautifully crisp crackling and was soooo tasty, and came with apple, baby turnip, and morcilla (black pudding). The sides of potatoes and sprouts were top rate. Hey, I’m no sprouts fan but served this way, I’m a convert.

For dessert, I had the prunes poached in red wine and accompanied by vanilla mascarpone. This seems to be a staple of their menu and for good reason. It was absolutely delicious. Himself had the bitter chocolate pot which was served with amareno cherries and a hazelnut biscuit. The dense mousse, served in an espresso cup, was beautifully rich but I could have easily eaten a portion twice the size, although he was happy with the quantity. We weren’t drinking on this particular occassion, but they have a great wine selection and even have Prosecco on tap. I’d highly recommend Etto, and for the quality of the cooking and ingredients, the pre-theatre menu is great value. Just make sure to order sides!

Etto Dublin Review

Photo credits: Top photo – Finnegan Menton. Potatoes & Prunes Photos – @nigellalawson Instagram

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Where to Get Your Portuguese Tart Fix in Dublin

PasteisDeNata

If, like me, you’ve been to Portugal, you will have no doubt come back with more than a tan. Yes, we’re talking about a craving for custardy gorgeousness – Pastéis de Nata. What’s that you say? Pastéis de Nata is a Portuguese egg tart pastry dusted with cinnamon and available on every street corner in Lisbon and every other Portugese town. They’re also made in Brazil and other countries with significant Portuguese immigrant populations.  Given the large Brazilian population in Dublin, it’s no wonder they’re popping up everywhere. If you’re feeling all domestic goddessy, you can whip some up yourself courtesy of this Paul Hollywood Portugues Tart recipe. Alternatively, if you lack the baking motivation, but still got the craving, here’s were you can get your fix:

BUTLERS CAFES
Excluding the airport, there are 15 cafes around town, so you’re never far from one. At €2.20, they’re more expensive than what you’ll pay in Portugal, but they’re a good compromise, although they’re a tad too sweet, the custard is a bit too tense, and the pastry isn’t flaky enough, but A for effort.

DUNNES STORES
Yup, such is the popularity of these beauties, even Dunnes has got in on the act. The cheapest in town at 1 euro each or 4 for €3. They’re not as good as the Butler’s ones, (or could it just be a false perception that the Butler’s ones should be better?), and still suffer the same issue of being too sweet, too dense, and not flaky enough, but warmed up slightly, you’ll wolf down a few of these babies nonetheless.

BIJOU DELI
Situated in Rathgar Village, Bijou Deli offers up a whole heap of great pastries, and also some lovely Pastéis de Nata. Costing €2, these rank #2 in terms of the flakiness of the pastry and give a nice crunch but again fail somewhat on the custard being too dense and much too sweet. A very worthy effort, though.

THE BAKERY BY THE CUPCAKE BLOKE
Newly opened in Rialto village, you’ll know the Cupcake Bloke from his weekly stand on Coppinger Row. It is not by accident that I’ve left this one ’till last, it being the best on show. I had tried a couple of times to get my mitts on these, but sadly they were always sold out whenever I got there. But a quick phone call and I secured the last six (best to play it safe) All the elements are there – flaky pastry, creamy custard, and not too sweet, and perhaps even a slightly lemony hint.

UPDATE: AVOCA, SUFFOLK STREET
The new winner! After many of you contacted me to suggest I try out one of these babies, I finally got my hands on one, and they didn’t disappoint. Definitely the winner in terms of the crunchiness and flakiness of the pastry. The custard is good and with the added bonus of a strawberry and blueberry on top. Buy one in the restaurant upstairs and they’ll serve it with a side portion of cream (not authentic, but they love a bit of cream in Avcoa!). A tiny bit smaller than the others tested (I think), and priced fairly at €1.95.

If you know of anywhere else in Dublin, just let me know. I see it as one of my life’s purposes to taste each and every one 🙂 De nada, as they say.

FOOD RESTAURANT OFFERS

Dine in Dublin 2017

Dine in Dublin Festival

If you’re of a certain age i.e. a lot younger than myself, you won’t remember a time when the Dublin food scene was horrendous. Like, seriously horrendous. These days, however, it takes quite an effort to get a crappy meal in Dublin. Nonethless, we humans are creatures of habit, and just as we end up wearing the same ten items of clothing, we also tend to frequent the same handful of restaurants. So, with the advent of Dine in Dublin on Monday, February 27th, running until Sunday, March 5th, now’s the time to break out of your rut and avail of the great offers available during festival week. There is a full list of the restaurants and cafes which are are taking part on the Dine in Dublin website, but here are a few of my recommendations:

Fallon & Byrne
1. FALLON & BYRNE
One of favourite places in Dublin full stop. I could easily spend a whole afternoon just walking around their food hall, and as for their restaurant – fabulous! For festival week, they’re offering a 3 course meal for two people with Prosecco Cocktails on arrival for €60. Choose from a set menu which includes Pan-roasted Irish hake and Free-range Irish coq au vin. And to finish it off, who could say no to a Mont Blanc Knickerbocker Glory with chestnut mousse!
Contact: Fallon & Byrne, 11 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2

Brother Hubbard
2. BROTHER HUBBARD
If you haven’t been to Brother Hubbard, sort yourself out pronto! This über trendy cafe on Capel Street (and Harrington Street) serves up some gorgeous 3FE coffe and semonlina pancakes by day, and from Wednesday to Sunday, offers an incredible Middle Eastern Feast Menu in the evening. For Dine in Dublin 2017, they are offering this 3 Course Feasting Menu for €50 for two people. Choices include falafal, pomegranate chicken livers, beef kofta, lamb shoulder, not to mention a hole heap of vegetarion options. Methinks, you’ll like it a lot.
Contact: Brother Hubbard, 153 Capel Street, Dublin 1

Laduree Dublin

3. LADUREE
I love France. I love the idea of Frenchness. So it’s a bit of a given that I’m in love with Ladurée. Situated on the corner of South William Street, the restaurant/café evokes all that you would imagine a Parisian tearoom would look and feel like. Perhaps the hubby or boyfriend won’t quite appreciate its boudoir decor, but for the ladies, it’s a perfect way to spend an afternoon with friends or the mammy for a special treat. For festival week, they are offering afternoon tea for two people with a glass of bubbles for €45. Choose from a selection of finger sandwiches, pastries, macarons, and financiers (that’s a small almond cake, not the lad who works behind the counter at your local AIB).
Contact: Ladurée, South William Street/Exchequer Street Corner, Dublin 2

The Woollen Mills
4. THE WOOLLEN MILLS
If you don’t get to go here during the festival, make sure to drop by at some stage, if not for a meal, then for a coffee and one of their amazing sambos or sausage rolls. During Dine in Dublin, they are offering a 3 course dinner plus cocktails for two for €60. On the menu are Mussel + leek paté, Ha’penny Bridge homemade coddle, stout-braised beef short ribs, and white chocolate cheesecake among others. When you’re booking, try to get a seat in the roof terrace looking out at the Ha’penny Bridge and the Liffey. The view is pure Dublin!
Contact: The Woollen Mills, 42 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1

All photos courtesy of dineindublin.ie

RESTAURANT REVIEWS

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

FOOD RESTAURANT OFFERS

Best Dining Offers in Dublin Now

Camden Kitchen

The dining scene in Dublin is really ramping it up in the last couple of years, with loads of new openings every month. All the better for us, and needless to say with competition fierce, the offers are getting even fiercer! Well I’ve scoured the offer & voucher websites for you, and picked out a few beauties I think you might like. Go forth and fill your bellies!

CAMDEN KITCHEN (shown above)
Voted by Conde Nast Traveller Magazine as one of the 12 best places to eat in Dublin, this offer is the perfect opportunity for you to try this fabulous little restaurant nestled off Camden Street. Living Social are giving 3 course meal for two people for just 49 yoyos! Just to give you an idea of what you could go for: Goats Cheese Mousse, Walnut, Golden Raisins & Capers Vinaigrette, Gold River Farm Leaves for starters, Wild Wicklow Venison Saddle, Pressed Potato Terrine, Roast Shallots & Pickles Blackberry for mains, and perhaps finish off with Dark Chocolate & 5 Spices Fondant with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream, Coconut Froth. Well that’s me sorted anyway!
Restaurant Website: http://camdenkitchen.ie/
Offer Link: livingsocial.ie

Brasserie Sixty6
BRASSERIE SIXTY6
A really popular restaurant on South Great George’s Street, they have just introduced their steak & lobster menu. Let’s all take a moment and savour those two words, shall we: Steak. Lobster. Anyhoo, the beautiful folks at thetaste.ie are giving 2 course dinner from their new menu for 2 people plus 2 summer cocktails for only €50! Holla! And just to help you salivate a bit more, let me just tell you the full description of the lobster dish: Roast lobster tail with tempura claws, served with thick cut chips, curry aioli, and a summer salad of pineapple, tomato, ruby grapefruit, chives, picked ginger, shallots, and watercress. Told ya!
Restaurant Website: http://www.brasseriesixty6.com/
Offer Link: thetaste.ie

Le Bon Crubeen

LE BON CRUBEEN
This multi award-winning restaurant often gets ignored due to its location on Talbot Street, away from the trendier locations around Grafton Street & George’s Street. But its consistently high standards, and focus on sourcing products from the best Irish suppliers, warrant a visit. The offer is for a 3 course meal for 2 people for 49 smackers. Some highlights include Daube of Beef, Slow cooked Lamb Rump, Sirloin Steak, and Pork Belly. And don’t get me started on the Chocolate Creme Brulee and the Caramel Bavorois!
Restaurant Website: http://leboncrubeen.ie/
Offer Link: dealrush.ie

Photos shown from top courtesy of camden kitchen, taste.ie, le bon crubeen