Archive for October, 2014

Pig & Heifer: a celebratory feast

To celebrate the older lad’s engagement*, I thought I’d treat myself to a slap-up meal lunchforafiver.

I have Seán McElroy to thank for the venue. He emailed me a few weeks back and suggested that I try the Pig & Heifer, and another place down the road in Montague Street, which I now have on my list.

The Pig & Heifer has four branches in Dublin according to their website. The one I went to is in Charlotte Way, the street that links Camden Street to Harcourt Street. To be honest, I’d never thought of looking at the menu here. Not sure why. It just didn’t seem like an eatforafiver place.

From the outside it looks quite dull with a grubby stripy awning and really, unless you looked closely, you wouldn’t really notice the name.

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Inside, it’s dimly lit, with dull ochre walls and dark green trimmings. I couldn’t work out whether this was a style statement or whether it just needed a bit of brightening up.

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The colour and variety in the place is provided by the counter that runs along the right hand wall, the chalked menu behind it and the bustling activity of the pleasant staff.

inner

Behind the glass there’s a veritable cornucopia of fillings, salads, meats and so on, and on top of the counter there’s is an impressive variety of breads. Please excuse my, by now customary, crappy photos.

foodstuffs

The menu is huge, offering a variety of breakfasts (P&H opens at 8 on weekdays, 10 on Saturday, and closes at 4), salads, beverages, and then a massive range of meat, salad, cheese combinations to be placed between slices of bread, toast, bagel or wrap, or between two halves of a roll.

Click = big

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backpage_menu1

The vast majority of the items are priced between €4.50 and €6.50 and there are quite a few items in the €4.50 to €5 range, more if you want to take your purchase into the Autumn sunshine, or back to your place of work.

Seán (see above) told me that he had had a Chicken Paddy, that it had come with a portion of pasta and that it was tasty and good value. I thought I’d try something different, so I went for a Hot Pesto.

I was offered a choice of breads and rolls. I went for something orangey. This was halved and toasted and filled with a spread of pesto, some mayonnaise, leaves, tomato and some warm and melted mozzarella. I received it on a plate with a spoonful of couscous and raisins, onto which was applied some sweet chilli sauce.

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I handed over my fiver and took a seat.There’s plenty of seating, by the way (I didn’t count but, from memory, I’d say the place seats about 25 or so). Most customers took their orders away so there was plenty of space.

I found the couscous very sweet, especially with the addition of the sweet chilli sauce. I’m personally not a huge fan of sweet things with savoury things. But, hey, I’m not going to blame the P&H people for that. If I was paying more attention, I’m sure I could have asked them for some other accompaniment.

The filled roll was VERY good. The toasting gave the roll itself some texture, the garlic and basil of the pesto came through clearly, the leaves and tomato gave it a bit of coolness and the mozzarella gave it substance.

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Very tasty and, unsurprisingly, very filling.

I lingered for a while, watching customers come and go. Most seemed to come in knowing what they wanted so I’m guessing the Pig & Heifer has a loyal local customer base. Which makes sense because I’m not sure that it’s a passing trade sort of place.

Despite its relatively anonymous exterior and its dullish interior, The Pig & Heifer serves a massive variety of food, prepared by pleasant helpful staff. The food is tasty, filling and good value.

receipt

If you’re within an asses roar of Charlotte Way, give it a try. Thanks again Seán for the tip.

 

* The affianced …

T&N

 

 

 

 

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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.

Int02

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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