IstanbEl FalafEl

My Dad used to cut my hair until I was about 16 or so. I’m not certain that the result was all that much help in attracting potential girlfriends.* The vague relevance of this Dad haircutting revelation is that I walked past Snips in Middle Abbey Street (the site of my first non-pudding bowl haircut in 1976) on my way to my latest eatforafiver venue.

snips

It’s looking a bit battered but it’s still in business.

My eatforafiver venue of choice is of a much more recent vintage.

Extuse

Google didn’t believe the spelling, asking politely if I meant Istanbul. But there it is, in red and white, at 10 Lower Liffey Street, just a couple of doors down from the Food Emporium and the Gin Palace.

To me, Lower Liffey Street is like a corridor that you have to go through to get from the Ha’penny Bridge to Henry Street. The shops have no sense of permanence, apart from the enthusiastically evangelical Games Workshop with its bespectacled, black t-shirted and acne’d patrons endlessly strategising on behalf of their plastic orc armies.

I don’t know how long Istanbel has been there but a Google search showed that it was established as a company just over a year ago.

Its food offerings are plastered brightly all over the outside of the building, with more on the backlit panels behind the serving area. It caters for a broad range of tastes, offering kebabs, pizza, burgers, chips, a range of Indian and Thai curries, and Mediterranean/Turkish staples such as falafels, Lahmacun, Kofte and Baklava.

I was greeted warmly by the woman behind the counter and I ordered the falafel plate and handed over my fiver. I took a seat beside a massive wall mirror that makes the place look twice as big as it is, and had a look around. There were only two other patrons. Well, two and a half really: a couple with a baby.

Inside, it’s clean and bright but a little spartan.

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Not a venue for a romantic evening but not a bad place for a quick bite and a chat, or to fill up in if you happen to be passing. At a guess (lazily, I didn’t count), it seats about 24 but I’d say a lot of its trade is take-away.

My falafel plate arrived …

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… with its salad

TheSalad

pickled chilli (I love those)

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and, under the bread, my falafels.

Falafels

There were also two sauces in one ramekin: a garlic mayonnaise and a VERY mild chilli sauce.

As you’ll see, my falafels were the doughnut type, with the hole in the middle. I understand that the purpose of this design is to allow more of the outside of the falafel to come in contact with the hot oil thereby making it crunchier. To be honest, I prefer the traditional type, made with the miniature ice cream scoop but that’s just me. I’m not that fussed about crunch. They tasted, well, falafel-y and not at all greasy.

As for the rest, the salad was fresh and crisp and the pickled chilli was as you might expect. The garlic mayonnaise I kept tasting for the rest of the day. The flatbread, however, was excellent.

This was a pleasant lunchtime snack, in a clean if rather featureless venue, served efficiently and pleasantly. If I was looking for a good value and reasonably healthy snack and I happened to be in the area, I’d go back to Istanbel rather than some of the places in the food emporium a few doors up the street.

I was there last Wednesday. Later in the evening, I was back in the area being dragged (willingly, to be honest) by Jacko, an old college pal, to The Academy to see Blackberry Smoke do their stuff. They were hairy and authentic, and it was a most enjoyable evening. What intrigued me were the fans. Blackberry Smoke is hardly a household name but the majority of the crowd (mostly men in dark t-shirts, aged between 45 and 60) were singing along to every song. They opened with this:

 

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*that is if you don’t count Maeve, with whom I almost shared a kiss in a nettled laneway when we were 9. It certainly doesn’t include Susan, however, who dragged me on to a bed when I was 10 and gave me an unrequested and unwanted wet kiss, the memory of which, to be honest, still has me a bit traumatised.

 

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Falafel O’Falafel

It’s not often that one comes across a pregnant woman in a wire cage, on a vacant site. But there she was …

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… at the corner of Harcourt Road and South Richmond Street. She was there as part of the Dublin Live Art Festival. She seemed a lot more squished in when I saw her first. I think this is her relaxing.

O’Falafel, where I went on Friday for lunch is on South Richmond Street; the bit of it that forms two sides of a triangle at Kelly’s Corner. If you need a landmark, it’s near the Bernard Shaw pub (see below).

O’Falafel is new. And orange. Bright. Eye-catching.

Entrance

Interestingly, I had two emails last week from people who, in one case (Siobhan), lives in and in the other case (Ian) works in this area who suggested that I give O’Falafel a go. I was more than happy to.

O’Falafel opens onto both parts of South Richmond Street. Here’s the inside out:

Insideout

The last time I was in this space was when it was Grub Hub, and the bloke ‘serving’ was more interested in his mobile phone than in the only potential paying customer in the place.

O’Falafel was notably different and service was both swift and attentive. My questions were answered clearly and my order taken without fuss.

O’Falafel is open almost all the time. I’ve been trying to find them online to check but they don’t seem to be there. As far as I can remember, the pleasant young woman behind the counter said that they open at 7am on weekdays and close at something like 2am.

Inside, it’s small but clean. There are five or six small tables but my guess is that it’s really more of a take-away place than a sit-down place.

The menu is very tempting. Lebanese inspired, there was lots on it that I want to eat and I’ll be back to work my way through other bits of the menu in due course. Here it is. (Click to big up.)

Menu1

 

Menu2

As you see, there’s lots of choice for a fiver or thereabouts, and lots of tempting treats, including things like Halloumi (a packet of which resides in my fridge and will remain there until I work out what to do with it) and Fattoush (which I made once and is gorgeous).

I went for the Spicy Sujuk, mainly because I was intrigued by the idea of a filled falafel, something I haven’t encountered before.

My Spicy Sujuk came soon enough. The falafels, tomato, lettuce and pickles were wrapped in a flat bread which had then been heated in a panini grill. While I’m quite happy for my wrap not to be grilled, the grilling process makes it a little crispy which is nice, and it also makes the thing less susceptible to splitting open and depositing its contents on your lap.

Taste-wise it was good. A little over-dominated by the pickles and, although the title and description emphasise the work ‘spicy’, it wasn’t much. Let’s not be too critical here, however. The wrap was very substantial and tasty and, if all the food on the menu is a) made with such care and b) as filling and tasty as this wrap then O’Falafel is exceedingly good value for money.

Pretty well stuffed, I paid and left, feeling that this was €4.50 well spent. Give it a try.

Wandering down Harcourt Road, I noticed that Soup Stop, which I wrote about some time ago, hasn’t reopened since it closed its doors a month or so ago. That’s a pity but around this area there are now quite a few nice cheap places to eat and drink coffee in, and South Richmond Street itself which has looked a little messy in the past is now getting interesting.

I mentioned the Bernard Shaw above. Here it is …

TheBS

I’ve always liked the look of this place, and the street art around it but I’ve felt this weird reluctance to go into it for a drink. I somehow always feel that I’m too old and dressed in the wrong clothes.

It has a sibling however, which is gorgeous. It’s the MVP on Clanbrassil Street, beside where the Man of Achill used to be, on the right as you go up the hill to cross over the canal bridge heading from town towards Harold’s Cross. I spent a very pleasant Friday night there a few weeks ago in the company of a couple of old pals. It’s got two floors, is basic but atmospheric, has lovely staff and mixes real cocktails. Well worth a go.

 

Banh Mi x 2 @ Pho Saigon

I have Garwin Liu to thank again for his tireless exploration of eating places north of the Liffey.

This time it was Amiens Street, just under the bridge and opposite Sheriff Street where I spent two pre-Christmases a long time ago pretending to be a postal worker.

The venue was Pho Saigon,

outs

and Tim B …

Tim Outside

… came along to sample the heady delights of eatingforafiver.

I’ve known Tim since he was a mischievous pre-adolescent and it’s safe to say that my pre- and early teen years would not have been so adrenaline filled had I not lived around the corner from him in Stepaside. From amateur demolition works on the Ballyogan Road, to gaining ‘free entry’ into Pat Quinn’s Club, to sending a string of taxis to a nearby housing estate, and phoning people with unusual names … well, I could go on but I won’t.

I shall also forever associate Tim with music, both for his meticulously kept lists of Top 20 hits, books of lyrics and for the rather innocent discos held in his house at which I always ended up with the same girl (I’m not complaining, you understand: she was gorgeous) dancing to Bridge Over Troubled Water but not quite managing to say anything to her.

It was Tim’s meticulous organisational ability that no doubt contributed to him becoming a rather significant figure in market research in the Far East for some time. Anyway, retired (!) and partnered up, he’s kind of at a loose end now (normally residing in Thailand) and our lunching was made possible by a short visit to Ireland to see his ma and her Labradors.

Pho Saigon opened about 3 months ago according to the nice man behind the counter (who I guessed by his enthusiasm is the owner).

ins sign

It opens from 12 noon to about 10pm and is spotlessly clean. It wasn’t full (a bit of an understatement) but those who were eating were doing so with some relish.

There’s not a huge choice for a fiver. Well, actually, we were limited to the Banh Mi (the anatomy of which you’ll remember was described here) and a drink = the ‘Lunch Special Offer’ = €5.

I might need to relax the strict fiver thing soon. For not too much over a fiver in Pho Saigon, there’s a pretty good choice, as you’ll see if you click on the menu …

menu

The Banh Mi (no idea what the plural is) arrived soon. Actually, we were deep in chat so I haven’t a clue how long they took. Quick enough anyway.

BanMi

The first thing we noticed was that the rolls were fresh. Pleasing. Inside were slices of pork, chilli, coriander leaves and grated carrot.

insroll

They hadn’t gone heavy on the pork. A little more (of everything) would have been better, but for a fiver, including a can and considering these were made on the spot, they were OK value. Tasty too. You never know with chillis whether slices of raw ones are going to blow your head off. These ones didn’t and I suppose there’s quite a lot of bread in a Banh Mi to dilute the capsaicin. Lots of fresh coriander too, which I love.

Oh yeah, here’s Tim stuffing his face:

Tim stuffing face

So … clean, new, enthusiastic owner, pretty good value (better if you spend over a fiver), freshly made Banh Mi. If you’re in the area (just turn left at the bottom on Talbot Street) this is a good and more healthy alternative to the pizza and chips offerings around the corner.

Tim paid. Thanks Tim. I lost the receipt.

We repaired thereafter to The Gin Palace on Middle Abbey Street and spent the rest of the afternoon in the company of pints. (Just in case there are any people associated with my work reading this, I did work two evenings to make up for it!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey. A guest post from my equine-friendly step-sister Judy who ventured across the county border to Limerick City and posted this bulletin.

Living in East County Clare, Limerick is my nearest city and I go there fairly regularly.  Recently I noticed several establishments offering lunch for a fiver or less.  Had I not been familiar with the eatforafiver blog I would probably not have paid any heed to them.  However, I determined to eat for a fiver on my next visit to Limerick.

Limerick, perhaps surprisingly to some, is, at 91k, Ireland’s third largest city, beating Galway by some 15,000 and being nearly twice the size of Waterford.  It is Ireland’s first National City of Culture and there is lots going on.  Of course it is also home to Munster Rugby and I have many times left the superb Thomond Park venue more than a little hoarse from screaming encouragement at our wonderful Red Army.  The atmosphere in Thomond Park, especially on those occasions when the Boys in Blue descend on us from Dublin, is second to none.

I digress as today was eatforafiver day for me.  I headed to Arthur’s Quay Shopping Centre as it has several establishments offering food (more than just soup and a roll) for the requisite price and opted for a Chinese stir-fry.   The place was empty, but I put this down to the fact that I was only getting around to lunch at three o’clock in the afternoon.  The menu board outside boasted a good selection of familiar sounding beef (€5) or chicken (€4.50) dishes and I ordered a beef dish with noodles only to be asked for “six euro please.”  Polite questioning elicited that rice, noodles or chips were one euro extra.  Looking at the menu board again I guess technically it does state this but I found the wording misleading (half & half €1 extra is what I saw) and think I can be forgiven for misinterpreting it.

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 (^ Click = big)

However, you may disagree?

Indeed eatforafiver has several postings from Chinese restaurants with very tasty looking and positively reported on meals where rice or noodles were included in the price.  Oriental Emporium on Abbey Street (31st October 2013) in particular had my mouth watering.  Unfortunately today I had no option but to cancel my order.

I headed for my second choice in Arthur’s Quay, the Foodcourt Carvery/Deli …

B1

… where, for €4.95 I could have a chicken, ham, mushroom & spinach pasta bake with side salad or chips.  Sounded pretty good.  Must have been because by the time I got there it was sold out.  However, I was offered in its place a pulled pork wrap, again with a choice of salad or chips.  Acceptable.  I opted for the salad.

C

The wrap was hard and dry underneath, I deduced as a result of having been sitting on a warming tray for at least a couple of hours, but OK on top.  The pork was cut into several small chunks and definitely not pulled (which seems to be the “in” word for pork these days) but hey, at €4.95 I wasn’t complaining.

D

Mixed with the pork was a sparse selection of chopped soggy vegetables, all served in an inoffensive though rather sweet sauce, which provided the only flavour to the dish.  The salad was crisp and enjoyable.

I imagine that this restaurant does a very good lunchtime trade.  The seating area is open, clean and bright, with plenty of well spaced tables.

E

 

F

Other food options were bacon and cabbage for €8.95 and chicken kiev for €7.95.  The pork wrap was also offered for €6.95 served with veg & mash or chips & salad and I suspected was only offered to me at the lesser price, but with less choices, to use it up.  However I didn’t mind this. I believe I could also have had a free tea or coffee but a glass of water suited fine on this occasion.

Overall impression:  Staff – friendly; salad – tasty; pork wrap – could not have told you what it was from taste alone, thus disappointing; Chinese – feeling duped as I think it a fair assumption that a stir-fry is served with at least rice included in the advertised price.  I would like to visit the Carvery/Deli again sometime, at an earlier hour, to hopefully sample the pasta bake.

H

 

Lagoona Feast

That man Garwin Liu has a good nose for cheap, filling food. This is the guy who recommended Star Pizza and the Oriental Emporium, where I’ve had two great feeds. He told me about the Lagoona Bar, just opposite the National College of Ireland on Mayor Street in the IFSC area ages ago. I was a little reluctant to go because the last time I was in that area I got stuck in an almighty traffic jam that lasted for ever.

Anyway, Garwin was in touch again recently through the eatforafiver Facebook page and mentioned Lagoona again. Guilt and curiosity combined today with a little flexibility in the middle of the day and the availability of a feeding partner: the young lad, on interminable school holidays, and perpetually peckish.

I think part of the problem the last time I was in Mayor Street was that the Luas tracks were being laid and the place was a mess. It’s all settled down now and today the area, even out of term time, was hopping. I have a pal who used to work in NCI some years ago when it first moved from Ranelagh. Back then, NCI was a bit lonely among cranes, not yet occupied office blocks, remnants of old dockland buildings and a lot of hoardings. Then, it was difficult enough to find somewhere to eat. Now you can’t move for bagel bars, pubs, pizza parlours, sandwich shops and pricy pasta purveyors.

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The Lagoona is a big place, situated in a corner of Custom House Square which is home to several other bars and restaurants.

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It was a pleasant day and most other establishments had several tables and chairs outside to facilitate al fresco dining. The Lagoona had two quite high tables, one of which we nabbed when we’d got our food.

Garwin told me that Wednesday’s special was roast meat in a roll with chips. And he was right. The choice of meats was beef or pork. The young lad opted for beef and I went for the pork. You can opt for different breads if you want and also have a few salad items to accompany the meat: lettuce and mayo for the young lad and coleslaw for me.

The portions of roast meat were generous and the meat was nicely cooked, moist and tasty.

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The rolls were pretty standard but fresh. The chips were a little hard, probably from being kept warm for a little bit too long. Still, hey, this was a pretty decent feed for a fiver. I think in the amount of meat stakes, the young lad was the winner.

There’s a carvery special each day (click to big up) …

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… and there’s lots of other food on offer too …

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… including this whopper sausage.

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We took a little wander around after our lunch to see what else was on offer. The odd thing was that the Lagoona seemed to be the least busy place in the area. Maybe it’s because it’s principally a bar. Maybe it’s because it’s a bit dark inside. Maybe it has too few tables outside and maybe they are the wrong sort of tables. They’re high, man-type tables. Maybe it’s mainly a student place and it’s not term time. I don’t really know.

Anyway, thumbs up for Lagoona. Meat, bread, chips. Cheap and filling. Nice one.

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Lagoona is on Facebook and Twitter, btw (thanks @MsFrugalone for the latter link).

 

So, yes, I was in a film, set in Belfast but shot in Dublin in the early 1970s. It was a made-for-American-TV film called ‘A War of Children‘, starring Jenny Agutter and Anthony Andrews among others. The only reason I mention it (well, apart from pure vanity) was that the opening scene was shot just off Harcourt Road, the location for yesterday’s eatforafiver adventure. Interestingly (to me anyway) the road on which the scene was shot no longer exists. It was Old Camden Street which kind of curved through what is now the Camden Hotel. Charlotte Street, which continued from Charlemont Street to Camden Street is also gone.

(There’s more information about these streets and the history of this area on wideandconvenientstreets and comeheretome, if you’re interested. Both of these sites are fascinating if you’re at all keen on finding out more about the history of Dublin.)

The Birdcage Bakery…

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… is at 21 Harcourt Road, between the Soup Stop (previously described here) and an Abrakebabra (another branch of which I dealt with here). It’s been open since November 2013 and has been the subject of loads of reviews, including ones from Lovin’ Dublin and A French Foodie in Dublin. There are also consumer reviews on Yelp and on its own Facebook page. Overwhelmingly positive. And I’m not going to disagree.

I got there early, just before 12.30pm mainly because I’m fed up arriving at places when half the food is gone. Also, I saw on their Facebook page that there weren’t that many seats. (It seats about 10 or so but it’s mainly a take-away place.) I was greeted warmly (nice) and the choices were explained clearly. You do have to look in different locations in the Birdcage for the price of things and maybe making their price list a bit clearer is something they could look at for the future.

There’s a good choice of food … (click to embiggen)

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… and most of the single items (wraps, calzoni, and so on) are under a fiver. They also do deals …

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My crappy photos …

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… give no sense of the portion size but let me assure you that the items are pretty substantial, especially the calzoni. As you see they also do soup (but not on hot days), coffees and tea, and a range of scrumptiously delicious looking cakes and biscuits (this pic shows only a small selection of the sweet goodies on offer) …

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A French Foodie’s review was tacked up on the window and I saw that she had had a salad box for under a fiver, so that’s what I opted for too although the salad boxes aren’t advertised or listed anywhere that I could see.

For my fiver I got a large salad box (a small one is a fourer) comprising these salads here …

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Ok, so from the left: potato/feta and cherry tomato, chickpea and chicken, and bean and rocket: each dressed freshly and not an ounce of mayonnaise in sight.

The salads are spooned generously into a plastic box and, if you want to eat in, the box is served on a slate.

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Water was offered and accepted gratefully. A fiver changed hands. I sat and ate.

The Birdcage Bakery is lovely and bright, decorated with appropriate murals …

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and shelves containing coffee and ingredients.

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It’s a pleasant place in which to spend a bit of time although one is always conscious of the substantial traffic that seems to speed along Harcourt Road.

Its natural customer base must be the offices opposite and around the corner on Charlemont Street. It’s not a long walk from Adelaide Road and Hatch Street either and I’m sure that they’ve done their marketing there too.

The salads were gorgeous. They were fresh tasting, interesting and quite filling. I love beans and chickpeas anyway so … yeah… good. I’ll go back and I do recommend that you try this place if you work anywhere close. It opens at 7.30am for breakfast

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and closes at five.

My fiver spent, judgement made and integrity upheld, I then had a flat white (€2.50). Oh. Yes. Well-made. Gorgeous.

Do try The Birdcage Bakery out. It’s restored my faith in the eatforafiverthing.

If you work nearby, by the way, please give Darragh next door in Soup Stop a bit of your custom too. I’d love to see these places continue to do their independent thing.

 

To end, here’s a gratuitous picture of our cyclamen …

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Camden Snack @ Martino’s

I was going to tell you about the film I was in but you’ll have to wait.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted but such are the rhythms of the work I do. March to mid-June is busy. Well … manic. And this year, because Easter was so late, it was super-manic.

Why we all have to suffer because some crowd in 325CE decided that the date of Easter should be determined by the equinox and the full moon beats me. It’s inconvenient and, in the 21st Century, just a bit bizarre.

Today, I was going to try Toni’s Diner on Charlotte Way at the top of Camden Street but, to be honest, I’m feeling fat at the moment and the last thing I wanted was a feed of chips. And then I thought I’d have a look in a new place that seems to have opened opposite the Aussie BBQ at that triangle at Kelly’s Corner. It’s called Grubhub but when I went in, the bloke behind the counter was more interested in his phone than a potential (actually, his only) customer and the filled rolls were a whopping €7.50. It seems that you just need to put ‘Pulled Pork’ on the menu to give yourself a licence to charge a fortune for a glorified sandwich.

Luckily (although it was more to do with good marketing than luck) a very pleasant person outside a relatively new place at the corner of Camden Street and Grantham Street, Martino’s, had waved a wooden board in front of me a few minutes before, on which were little bits of pizza impaled on cocktail sticks. The pizza was tasty and her patter was enticing. So, I wandered back to Martino’s to see what was on offer for my fiver.

outside

Martino’s is where a sushi place was until reasonably recently. It’s tiny, with room for a counter, a coffee machine, a pizza oven and two very small tables, but they’ve made the best of the available space outside to put another four or five tables outside, some of which are under an awning.

interior

Before I go on, let me just say that I have a deep affection for Camden Street. True, it’s a little run down but on what other street can you get your thesis bound, book a holiday, sort out your taxes, dance until 2am, get a t-shirt embroidered, play on a slot machine, buy a bike, get your computer fixed, hire a bike, purchase street art supplies, get a loan, visit a gallery, order your wedding stationery, have a bohemian mingle, eat well and eat poorly, and get muntered in any number of interesting pubs?

Back to Martino’s. You won’t get stuffed for your fiver here, but you’ll have a pleasant (very) light snack and you can people-watch to your heart’s content. They do muffins, pastries, coffee and, from well before lunchtime (they open at 8am, btw) pizza, calzone and arancini. They do paninis and so on too but at this stage I was hungry so I wasn’t in the mood to write out a list. Here’s the menu board:

menuboard

I ordered a slice of anchovy pizza and an Americano, sat down outside and waited.

Service was quick (and friendly). Not a massive slice of pizza. In fact, a very small slice of pizza …

pizza

… but it tasted pretty good. Thin base, decent cheese, not too much tomato sauce, and a generous helping of anchovies. The pizza is part of a meal deal: a slice of pizza and a drink for €3.95 (although a post on their Facebook page from January advertises it at €3.50 – that’s a 12% increase in a few months). In hindsight, I might have been better ordering 3 Arancinis for €4.50 or a couple of Calzones (although they were sold out of these by the time I got there).

Martino’s have just launched another deal recently: all you can eat pizza with a glass of wine for €15 and they plan soon to open until 3am, presumably to cater for the drunken sweaty crowds emerging from the Palace down the road. Good luck with that.

Not much more to say except that the coffee was pretty good. Martino’s seems to be part of an expanding enterprise. They have a Trattoria in Ranelagh. Unfortunately their website is impenetrably crap so I couldn’t work out whether they are anywhere else and their Facebook page doesn’t really say.

Summing up: pleasant helpful servers, tasty pizza, small portions, good coffee. Don’t expect to be stuffed but do expect what you eat to be tasty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mmmm … Buttery

I used to spend a fair amount of time in the Buttery. In fact, in my final year in college, I used to spend most Tuesday afternoons there, between lunchtime and after the tutorial I used to miss on a regular basis. In those days it was mainly a pub, with an added haze of marijuana smoke. It was also the place where I had my first legal pint of stout. Angela worked there. She wore socks, sandals and too much make-up. I remember the Buttery being pretty basic, a little dingy, with not great coffee but quite outstanding chocolate biscuity things.

It’s now HUGE … and bright. And it does food, and probably better coffee than it used to.

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For those who don’t know, this is the Buttery in Trinity College Dublin (shortly to become Trinity College, the University of Dublin). The entrance is located to the right of the steps leading up to the Dining Hall, the Buttery being in its basement.

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It’s actually quite a good space, with several (maybe 4 … ish) distinct areas and a variety of seating to suit individual diners/snackers and different size groups.

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The furniture is standard canteen but the Buttery is clean and well lit. One of the spaces, with vaults, has more subdued lighting and seemed today to be more popular than the others.

There’s a pretty massive selection of food on offer. At the lower end of the cost scale, there’s coffee, biscuits, cakes, sandwiches, rolls, paninis and so on. I didn’t really pay much attention to these, to be honest, although it’s hard to ignore the preponderance of signs for the Lavazza brand of coffee which must have a thing going on there.

For more substantial eats, there is a salad bar, with cautionary instructions …

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… and with a reasonable selection of cold dishes; most, however, involving mayonnaise to a greater or lesser extent.

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There’s also a fried food section,

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… the size of the sausages providing brief but significant temptation. And a hot food section with the following items, the first once being beyond my budget unfortunately:

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The idea of potatoes accompanied by potatoes didn’t really appeal to me although it was probably the slightly healthier option. However, my choice of the lamb casserole was confirmed when I saw the size of the portion being ladled on the plate of the customer in front of me and that the meat to sauce ratio looked pretty good.

Here’s my plate-full:

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A lot more potatoes were destined for the plate but I stopped the server just in time.

So, what have we got here? A good number of potatoes, small, roasted in their skins. A ladle and a half full of french beans. And a truckload of casserole. A fair feed for my €4.85.

Let’s remember two things here. Firstly, this is a canteen rather than a bistro. The Buttery is catering for a variable number of hungry students, some staff members, some people like me drifting in because we happened to know that there’s cheap food available, and people such as the older woman beside me who comes in at least once a week and gets a cheap but substantial hot meal. Secondly, this large plate of food cost less than a medium size Lindt Easter bunny.

The casserole, which contained quite a few lamb pieces, carrot, onion, and red pepper, was VERY tomato-ey. But there was lots of it and it was hot. The potatoes were lovely: soft inside, with an almost crispy and slightly caramelised skin. The beans weren’t great to be honest. the serving comprised a mixture of beans that had been in the bain-marie for some time and some that had been more recently cooked. They were a bit soggy. Edible but soggy.

But hey, I’m not complaining. This was a hearty feed in the centre of town for €4.85 and, if you don’t like the sound of the casserole option, there’s lots of other things to choose from for your fiver.

The evidence:

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Just Sayin’

McDChickMayox3

 

3 x €1.50 = €4.50

 

Back soon!

White Sole @ Fish Shop Blackrock

With the wind whistling outside, punctuated by violent showers, it was an obvious choice. Lunch al fresco.

To be fair to Fish Shop (which is at the back of the Blackrock Market but more easily accessed from George’s Avenue), it’s in a reasonably sheltered spot. And while not being in a building as such, there is a wooden structure with benches, a roof and (helpfully) some blankets in which you can eat your fish in comfort.

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I’ve mentioned Fish Shop before when, following a pub lunch with the spouse, I was seduced by a sneaky portion of slip sole (it’s at the end of this entry here). I didn’t really give it the space it deserved at that time so it was on my list of places to re-visit so that I could give it some more prominence.

Fish Shop is run by Peter and Jumoke (here they are in a pic from their Facebook Page).

P&J

It operates from what can only be called a shed. But it’s a shed of remarkable creativity and admirable simplicity out of which emerges food of superb quality.

Unlike your average chipper where solid slabs of battered fish lie palely waiting their oily fate, Fish Shop’s fish is taken gently from a fridge, lovingly dipped in light beer batter most of which is then removed, and carefully lowered into oil. The cooking process is timed to perfection, the batter emerging golden and crisp, its thin crust encasing moist tender flesh.

The choices today (and most days they are advertised on Fish Shop’s Twitter feed) were White Sole, Hake and Pollock. No mussels today, but they’re usually available, served with ajillo, a sauce made principally from olive oil, garlic and chilli.

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The older lad was with me today, his muscles feeling ‘a bit tight from the gym’. Poor fella. Tom likes his food and he does like a bit of fish.

We both chose the white sole because it cost a fiver. And because Peter suggested it would be a good choice. We did cheat a bit by ordering a couple of tubs of tartare sauce at a Euro each. My excuse is that I’ve had it before and that there was no point in trying to resist temptation. The sauce is hand made (in fact Peter was making up another batch while we were there) and is heavenly.

Our fish came with a slice of lemon and was served in a recyclable container.

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As usual, my photos do the food no justice. Sorry. But actually, I don’t think any photos would do this justice because the experience here was more about the eating than the looking. The thin light crispy batter giving way to the softest, freshest tasting white fish. When paired with the velvet textured tartare sauce, well … it was … erm … pretty exquisite.

And great value. Fish can be expensive to buy. I don’t know how Fish Shop can do these portions of fresh succulent fish for the price they do. But long may they do it.

Our joint verdict today was that this was a delicious lunch; well prepared and excellent value. Peter was more than happy to chat to us and answer all our probably tedious questions about where he gets his fish (Howth, from Doran’s), what white sole is (it’s a flat fish (obvs) and I think he said it was also called ‘witch’) and how Fish Shop is doing (OK and they have plans to expand the seating area).

If you live within an ass’s roar of Blackrock, and even if you don’t, try it and see what you think. It’s open from Tuesday to Sunday, 12 – 9pm and they have an arrangement with the wine bar in the market at weekends whereby you can order some fish to accompany your wine.

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Blackrock is also the home of the Blackrock Cellar, an enterprising, friendly and well-stocked off licence with an enviable selection of craft beers from Ireland and around the world (the spouse bought me a box full for my birthday) and lots of gin. They do frequent tastings, stock cheese from Sheridan’s and sell other interesting foodstuffs on occasion. If you’re looking for some alcohol in particular, they’ll order it in. It’s my new favourite booze shop. I bought the older lad a couple of bottles of stout. Just because.

 

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