Archive for the ‘ European ’ Category

Bangers and Mash at Kiltipper

At the risk of sounding like an oul’ fella (which, in actual fact, I am, I suppose), I remember Kiltipper Road (near Old Bawn) when it had a few cottages, a pitch and putt course, the post office sports club and a couple of travellers’ caravans. That was 30 odd years ago when I used to cycle/motorcycle/drive (it was, even then, a long-term relationship, you see) up it to visit my girlfriend (now my spouse).

Now it seems like it’s one big housing estate with, I guess, a fair amount of negative equity contained within its not so leafy avenues.

In the middle of it is Marlfield Mall, with a Eurospar, a Ladbrokes, a few shuttered premises and the Kiltipper Café Bar, my venue of choice for today. They had included eatforafiver.com in a tweet, you see, and said that they’d been doing lunches for a fiver for the last four years. So, I thought I’d give my usual city centre ramblings a rest and head up the hills to see what was going on.

When I found it (turn right at the roundabout half way up Kiltipper Road and keep your eyes peeled), it didn’t look promising. Utilitarian and a little bleak-looking.

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Inside, however, I found a vibrant, warm, well-run, dynamic restaurant-cum-bar.

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The place was heaving with young families, groups of women and some elderly people. A few older men sat at the bar with newspapers and pints but, for the most part, groups sat at tables enjoying lunch and a chat. Servers whisked around, taking orders, carrying plates of food, clearing and wiping tables, cleaning up spills. The place is pleasantly lit, with several TV screens showing a variety of channels, but none too loud to be obtrusive.

Whoever runs this place has a purpose and that seems to be to make Kiltipper Café Bar a social hub for the area. Their food offerings are cleverly packaged to suit a variety of tastes and pocket depths. They also have a decent range of vegetarian and gluten-free dishes. They serve breakfast, lunch and bar snacks throughout the day, have a carvery on Sunday and have themed nights, including this … (click = big)

Holy God - but probably great fun

Holy God! But probably great fun.

It’s a pub, yes, but the emphasis is very much on food, or drink accompanying food. And it seems to work, in large part thorugh a busy kitchen and the fastest moving group of servers I’ve seen for a long time. Despite their busy-ness, the servers were attentive, efficient and friendly.

There are two fiver offerings on the lunch menu: bangers and mash with a spring onion gravy and chicken and mash with a different gravy (sorry – I’ve forgotten its flavouring). I had seen the bangers and mash on their Facebook page and I went for it.

My food arrived soonish with a glass of water: three BIG pork sausages, three scoops of mashed spuds and a ladleful of gravy with some wilted chopped spring onion.

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You know that I describe rather than critique the food on eatforafiver.com. I’m only spending a fiver after all and, although I absolutely love it when I get something super-tasty and complex, I’m pretty happy when I get a decent plateful of food. This was a good feed. I might have preferred the spuds to be a bit more buttery and the sausages a little less done but, hey, it was tasty, there was plenty of it, this is a pretty busy place and it cost a fiver.

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Good stuff.

Dublin city is awash with niche eateries at the moment and there’s a real PR battle going on for the hearts and minds of the eating public. With all that going on, we can forget and underestimate the value of a suburban pub restaurant like Kiltipper. It’s not serving Michelin star food and it’s not pretending to be anything it’s not. It’s providing a warm cheery venue with lots of activity in a relatively featureless suburban environment. It’s feeding people a variety of affordable dishes and it’s doing pretty well by the looks of it. And those servers. They can move fast.

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Mingleopolis Stew

(Note: The Mingle Marcade moved to Camden Street since this was written. I had a little wander around it just after it opened but it’s too soon to say what their food offerings will be. Il Siciliano, mentioned below, is staying in Thomas Street where the  market will open again under new owners.)

A few weeks ago, I was thinking that maybe I was near the end of the fiver offerings in Dublin. Then along came Garwin Liu with some Talbot Street and Parnell Street suggestions, Dublin by Mouth with a Dark Horse in Blackrock, and a Fringe-related wander through Merchant’s Arch, leading to Monday’s South American adventure.

Today it was my intention to go back to Merchant’s Arch to try a salad box from Staple Foods but a chance glance at some old notes on my phone diverted my attention. Eighteen months ago, I tapped in ‘Ferocious Mingle Market’ and nothing else. I had a vague idea it was near Vicar Street but that was about it.

Googling it today led me to its Facebook page, its location and a thought that maybe it might be worth a visit to see if there might be foodforafiver therein.

There was. Lots.

The Ferocious Mingle Marcade (sic) (FMM) is at 72 Thomas Street, close to the junction with Francis Street, beside a bus stop.

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You might miss it if you weren’t paying attention and it only opens from Thursday to Sunday.

I like markets. And I liked this one. It was quiet but I suspect it gets busier at the weekend. It’s got a Gothic sort of thing going on and has stalls selling jewellery, vintage clothes, incense, objets d’art, hats, art and more besides.

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One of the stalls in the FMM

It’s dark(ish) and the music is mostly 70s rock/pop. Oh, I nearly forgot. It’s got a seating area with a cinema screen showing old black and white movies.

Food-wise, there’s Il Siciliano (selling a variety of traditional Sicilian delicacies, including Cannoli [on Sundays]), a vegetarian stall called Happy Food by the YogaHub (which may or may not do Broccoli Burgers) and the Mingleopolis. The first two will feature in future posts.

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This was my choice today.

The menu …

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The style …

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The stew …

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… served by Jade, a helpful and charming woman who, while I was eating, was making the stall spotless and who, after I had eaten, explained that the Mingleopolis was owned by the people who own the FMM itself.

The food, as you see, was simply but elegantly presented. The bread was freshly cut and that’s real butter on it. The tiny salt cellar was a nice touch.

The stew was lovely. Generous chunks of beef, potato, carrots, onion and swede in a rich peppery tasting sauce. It was a good helping, perfect for lunchtime. Actually, perfect for anytime. And it was nice and hot (steamy hot, that is), so I could take my time eating it.

Super value for €4.50. Really super value. I recommend it. Wholeheartedly.

I’ll re-visit the FMM because I do want to try the other two places I mentioned above. I may need to pay an extra visit on a Sunday to try the Cannoli, as an added extra.

 

(Sorry Alberto. I couldn’t resist.)

 

Flavor on Camden Street

I feel a lyrical wax coming on.

I’ve written about Camden Street before. I like it. Sometimes better than others. The best times were in the mid 1980s. But it’s still got character and variety and an extraordinary range of shops and services.

Flavor (yes, no u) is next to the Bank of Ireland, on the stretch from Pleasants Street to Camden Row or, in pub terms, from Devitt’s (which I will always think of as the Cusack Stand) and Ryan’s. It’s where Yum Yum used to be.

My attention was drawn to it the other day by a curious combination of a board outside advertising Tuna Melt for a fiver and the sight of four young woman at the window table tucking into enormous cooked breakfasts. Who could resist?

I have to confess that I wasn’t sure what a Tuna Melt was. I asked Ruth (who works with me and knows many useful things) and she told me it was a combination of tuna fish and melted cheese, most probably contained within some sort of bread or toast. I’ve had that before and I remember not being sure about it.

Flavor looks like this on the outside …

out

Inside, it’s quite green and deceptively spacious, seating maybe 36. It has some blank walls that cry out for something on them to soften the look a bit.

In addition to the board outside, there’s a huge blackboard inside (actually one and a half blackboards) with Flavor’s offerings …

You'll be able to read it if you click on it

You’ll be able to read it if you click on it

Sarah, who was welcoming, friendly (with all the customers), attentive, very helpful and very informative, told me that Flavor had been open for about two months. It’s open seven days a week, from breakfast time (this is a fudge – I can’t remember what time she said it opens) until about 4pm. She told me about the breakfast menu (several breakfast offerings cost a fiver or less) and the daily specials (costing a tenner for A LOT of food and a beverage). She also confirmed the composition of the Tuna Melt, more of which below. Every café/small restaurant should have a Sarah.

My Tuna Melt arrived and here it is …

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Again, my poor photography on a phone camera does not do this justice. That’s a big plate and quite a substantial side salad.

As Sarah explained it, Flavor’s Tuna Melt isn’t just tuna and cheese. It also contains finely chopped peppers and sun-dried tomatoes. The cheese was tangy (finely grated and lightly melted) and the tuna plentiful. The toast (you can have a choice of brown or white: I chose white) was made with fresh bread and was lightly toasted so that it was exquisitely crunchy on the outside and soft inside. I can’t believe that I’m writing like this about a sandwich but, actually, this was GORGEOUS. The side salad was pretty good too. Fresh leaves, some red onion (could have been sliced a little thinner) and strips of roasted pepper. Tasty and filling. €4.95. Oh yeah.

I felt comfortable in Flavor and, encouraged by Sarah’s description of a ‘healthy’ muffin, I broke my own rule and ordered one, with an Americano. The coffee was good and the muffin delicious (cranberry and orange with lots of seeds to justify the ‘healthy’ description). Coffee and muffin cost just €2.95.

Stuffed, I paid, said goodbye to Sarah and left.

Flavor is one of those places I’d love to see do well. It’s unpretentious, serves good value decent filling food which is nicely presented, and has welcoming, friendly staff.

It could do with an internet presence just so as people know it exists.

If you’re in the Camden Street/ Wexford Street area, please give it a go and see what you think.

 

 

 

I have to admit, today might not have ended well.

You see, I cycled into town with the intention of eatingforafiver. In my post-Christmas/NewYear state of subcutaneous plenitude, I knew I didn’t want to eat noodles, anything battered and deep fried or anything reheated in oil. I didn’t really feel like cycling over to the North side of the city either, so my search was kind of limited to the South inner city area.

On my way, I passed Buffalo 19 (see review here). It doesn’t open at lunchtime any more and there was no sign in the window about its previous €5 offers. I passed Ambala (see here). Its Masala Dosa now costs €5.50.

I thought about the little place (Café Sophia) next to the big motorbike shop at the bottom of Wexford Street. It has some all-day breakfast offers for a fiver that I might try some other time but not today thanks. There was another place I passed, at the junction of Camden Street and Kevin Street, which used to be Fafie’s crepe place. It’s called something else now, something to do with goose or geese. It (still) does crepes but nothing that said ‘eat me’.

Next stop, Clanbrassil Street. There’s an Asian restaurant there near Kebabish that specialises in Asian sweets. It also does non-sweet food and, driving past it recently, I thought I saw a fiver offer. It wasn’t open.

It was now after two o’clock. My hunger thing was very much on and I was descending into mild grumpiness. I cycled back to Camden Street.

On a recent bus journey, I had seen what looked like a new place near Carvill’s off licence at the top of the street.

outside

This is it – Camden Rotisserie. They have a Facebook page: here. As you might guess, it specialises in chicken: roasted, not fried. And (yay!) it had something on the menu for under a fiver. Tick.

I LOVE chicken. I mean I REALLY LOVE chicken. So this place is right up my street. I’ll let the menu speak for itself:

Camden Rot menu

Click a few times to make it big enough to read – it’s worth it

A quarter chicken for €4.25? OK. Feed me and we’ll ignore the strangely placed apostrophes (wings’s and side’s) for now.

The decor is pleasant. Four long tables with benches either side. Bright but not harsh. A large blackboard on one wall (on which you are invited to draw your own chicken). Kitchen area at the far end. Service is friendly and attentive.

inside

There were eight diners including me there. All men, which was strange but probably coincidental (although you won’t see many women on their Facebook page either). But there’s nothing overly masculine about the place, so … well, I don’t know.

My quarter chicken arrived.

food

Excuse the terrible photo. It actually looked a lot better than that in the flesh, so to speak.

The salad/ garnish was unexpected but gorgeous. Baby leaves, red onion, cherry tomatoes with a nice, subtle balsamic-based dressing. Perfect, actually. And I don’t often say that about a garnish.

The chicken was good. Very good. It was, as you can see, a wing and accompanying piece of breast-meat. The skin was crispy and barbecue-blackened in places which was good. And the chicken tasted of chicken, which is not always the case in restaurants. This was a very tasty lunchtime meal in a pleasant, clean restaurant, for €4.25. It ticked all the boxes.

Camden Rotisserie is now firmly on my list for a further visit. It’s not a place for a long romantic dinner a deux but it is good value, it serves healthy food (I like the look of their omelettes too), it’s clean, it’s friendly and it’s on a street I like.

I was put in a good mood by my eatforafiver experience today. So I was encouraged to be more observant on my way home about future eatforafiver venues. I spotted three: the Aussie BBQ on South Richmond Street (loads for a fiver or less), Burdocks in Rathmines (Monday and Tuesday specials for €5 and €4 respectively) and, if you are a school student (in uniform), the Jaffa Thai, opposite the Garda station in Rathmines, at certain times of the day.

I was going to have a rant about the state of cycle lanes. But I won’t.

 

PieMan in TempleBar

I think a lot of people are put off the Temple Bar area by apocryphal stories of violence, licentiousness and anarchy. The only unpleasantness I’ve ever come across in Temple Bar has been that ‘comedian’ David McSavage doing some tired and lame routine that involved the public humiliation of some poor unfortunate passer-by.

The place is a bit of a mess (especially Temple Bar Square) but I still enjoy wandering around it during the day, especially some of the streets leading from Dame Street, and its little nooks and crannies. And beyond Parliament Street, the area around Essex Street West has been newly developed and now has a theatrical interest with the brave redevelopment of Smock Alley Theatre. Temple Bar also houses the Elephant and Castle to which the spouse and I retain an emotional attachment from its early days.

Anyway, today’s Temple Bar-related adventure was almost serendipitous. The young lad and I were heading for gyozas in Capel Street led on by the Irish Times suggesting at the weekend that a plate of them could be had for less than a fiver. We found, however, that they came in at €6.50.

Undeterred, we headed across the river to a place I had spotted just before Christmas: The Pieman Café on Crown Alley, the street that leads from the back of the Central Bank to Temple Bar itself.

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From outside, it looks bright and interesting. Offers are displayed clearly on the window and the sign board on the pavement.

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Inside is inviting and comfortable, with interesting artworks, photos and postcards on the wall.

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It’s quite narrow but the restaurant seats about 22. It’s been there for just over a year and has a Facebook page: here.

They offer a pie of the day and bangers and mash, each for a fiver. Otherwise, they have a selection of pies and one other non-pie main course for €6. You’ll also see some sides on the menu, some for less than €1, which I think is pretty impressive (having recently seen a bowl of basmati rice offered in Terenure for a shocking €5.50).

menu

You may need to click this twice to enlarge it

The guys behind the counter were friendly and enthusiastic about the place. That really makes a big difference to the atmosphere of an eatery.

We arrived early and the bangers and mash weren’t quite ready but we were immediately offered an alternative, for a fiver, without any fuss. Now that’s good and thoughtful service. The alternative, which I chose, was Boeuf Bourguignon with mash. The young lad opted for the Chicken and Mushroom pie.

Nice big glasses of water were brought to us and the food arrived pretty quickly.

We’ll start with the young lad’s pie. A lot of people don’t like pies and I’ve had some pretty poor ones myself, with thick tough pastry, soggy bottoms and insipid fillings. This pie, however, in the words of the young lad, was ‘awesome’.

piewhole

Piewhole

The pastry was thin and quite crispy, with sesame seeds on the top. Inside was a piping hot rich-tasting filling comprising lots of chicken, mushrooms, onions and sauce. It was very good indeed and came in a quite manageable lunch-size portion.

pieopen

Pieopen

My Boeuf Bourguignon was delicious. Really delicious. Bacon, beef, tiny mushrooms, onions, carrots and herbs in a rich wine-based sauce, with smooth mash. And plenty of it. Delightful altogether.

boeuf

We ate and left soon afterwards because we both had other places to be but it is the type of place where you could quite happily linger with a cup of coffee.

This place is certainly worth a visit or five (they have a loyalty card). Don’t be put off if you’re not a pie person. That Boeuf Bourguignon was delicious and I’d say from looking at their Facebook page that their other non-pie offerings are pretty tasty too. If you are a pie person, then this is a place you need to try.

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Post-pie satisfaction pic

 

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