Archive for the ‘ Italian ’ Category

I Believe in Cheap Food

The eatforafiver cogs have been stationary for a while. The day job takes over in April, May and June and the opportunities for taking a jaunt into town or elsewhere in search of cheap food are limited.

Last October, a helpful man called Sean McElroy pointed me towards a few places in the Camden Street area. One, I tried soon after but the other has been gathering dust in my inbox ever since. Until today.

In the 1980s, I worked in Montague Street, a narrow street that connects Camden Street with Harcourt Street. It’s home to a few casinos, a post office, the National Youth Council of Ireland (where I used to work), a few sandwich and pizza places, Gerry’s …


and Credo, the location for today’s extravaganza.

I haven’t eaten in Gerry’s since I worked in NYCI but it has to be one of the best value restaurants in Dublin. It’s not cutting edge cuisine, fine dining, fusion or, indeed, anything other than meat and two veg, cooked plainly and well, served quickly and designed to satisfy your mid-day hunger. And all for well under a tenner. I’ve hesitated and I don’t really want to do this but I’m going to call it an institution, unless by the time I’ve finished this post, I can think of something better and less hackneyed to call it.

Credo is a little further towards Harcourt Street beside the very popular Green Bench Cafe.


The link above will bring you to Credo’s lunch menu. Credo is also on Facebook (where its page features daily specials) and is reviewed on Yelp.

For its size, Credo has a pretty good range of offerings: pizza, pasta, soup and sandwiches, to take away or eat in, the latter in a small (seating about 16-18), but not cramped, room beside the serving area.

Here’s the inside out view …

window from in

My lunch companion today was PJ, a friend with multifarious interests and multiple talents but for whom wheat is a thing to be avoided.

We entered, and consulted a most helpful woman (with a most eye-catchingly attractive tattoo) behind the counter who explained the options and offered various suggestions for wheat-free eating. Sean (see above) had mentioned that Credo does a pasta option for a fiver. Today there were three pasta dishes on offer, two of them costing €5. One was a fettuccine dish with a creamy sauce, spinach and green beans, and the other rigatoni with a tomato sauce, aubergines and spinach. The aubergines swayed me towards the latter.

PJ chose a Caesar salad without croutons but with a little extra protein thrown in to compensate, for €4.50.

We paid and took our seats. Our food arrived soon after, served in boxes, nicely presented on paper-covered boards. Condiments and cutlery were available close by.

Of the rigatoni, there was plenty. The sauce was rich but otherwise unexceptional (I’m describing, not critiquing, you understand). There was spinach and there was aubergine. And there was a good sprinkling of grated parmesan. It was tasty and filling.


PJ’s Caesar was a revelation, his container filled to the brim with dressed leaves, both lettuce and spinach, with some tomato and a generous helping of chicken and bacon, also sprinkled with parmesan.


Here he is, getting outside it …


… and, having done so, he pronounced himself satisfied.

Credo was busy and, by the time we were leaving, there was a small queue outside. Most people ordered to take away but we weren’t alone in the dining area.

Do have a look at their Facebook page (link above). Some of those sandwiches and salads look very appetising and are excellent value.

If you work in the area, or study in DIT down the road, put this place on your list.

(It’s only when you write one of these things that you realise how important commas are.)




Hawker by the Dome

My intention had been to go to Burdock’s in Rathmines for a battered sausage and chips. It was a reluctant intention, to be honest. Christmas has left me rounder than I’m supposed to be and chips would be unlikely to help.

In the back of my mind when I got to Rathmines, however, was a place that I thought was in the old civil defence fire station nearly opposite the library. This place is now called the Mart and is an art space/gallery which I thought, wrongly, had a café in it. So when the reluctance got the better of me, I turned right rather than left and headed to it.

It was empty and café-less but a sign suggested that the café part of it was located further up Lower Rathmines Road. So that’s where I headed.

The place I was looking for is next to the big church with the green dome, at the canal end of Rathmines Road. I think it’s where the Blackberry Market used to be some years ago, so called because of its proximity to the attractively named Blackberry Lane.


The Martcade is a multi-purpose space. Its entrance opens into a corridor on either side of which are small rooms which seem to be artists’ studios. At the end of the corridor is a large space containing Hawker (the café I was looking for), a variety of chairs and tables, a large screen, board games, a games console and other bits and pieces.




The place is bright (a little too bright really) and the walls are decorated with large brightly coloured round face-like shapes.


A4 sheets tacked to the wall advertise cinema nights, a father and kids group, a clothes swap shop and an exhibition at the Mart.


It has free wifi and, once I got used to the brightness of it, I found it a pleasant relaxing space to be in.


Hawker Café offers a good variety of coffee offerings, pastries and other sweetmeats, soup, salads and sandwiches.



Taking the advice of the helpful man behind the counter, I opted for a Veggie Sandwich. Now, as regular readers will know, I don’t usually do sandwiches in eatforafiver, so I was in two minds as to whether Hawker was going to end up in this blog.

What I witnessed being assembled with some care, however, was not just a sandwich but a work of culinary art. Well … I’m exaggerating of course. It was pretty good though, and was made, thoughtfully, in several stages. The bread with the roasted marinated vegetables and slices of pecorino was heated in a panini grill. Lightly dressed rocket leaves and a thin spreading of garlic mayonnaise were then added before the resulting creation was presented to me on a small tray.

Here’s the finished product:


And a closer look:


It was an unpredicted riot of textures and taste. Crispy crust. Soft yielding bread. Slightly warmed succulent vegetables. Fresh rocket leaves. And the gentle tang of the pecorino. Really tasty. And very filling. Messy too, in a good way. In other words, it didn’t destroy my shirt but there were lots of bits to hoover up after the main part of the sandwich had been eaten. Lovely.

The fiver exercise over, I went back to the counter to order a flat white. I spotted cannoli. I succumbed.


Oh sweet ricotta …

Here’s a link to the Martcade website. It’s interesting: a new type of commercial social space offering opportunities to create, meet, relax and consume.

This is the brochure. You’ll have to click on it a couple of times to be able to read it.


Oh … and you can bring your dog …



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.


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.


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:


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 …


… 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.








Tara Street Fiver Friday Feast

The older lad is over on a short visit. It’s been nice to have him around. He’s a fit lad and it’s always a pleasure to see him stuff his face with food (see below).

McThurkels or McTurcaill’s pub was the target for today. As I mentioned last time, they do a Friday Fiver Special which had, unfortunately, run out the last time I went there. This time, despite battling through pretty nasty weather, we arrived at just after 1pm. It’s on the corner of Tara Street and Townsend Street, just opposite the new Irish Times offices.


There’s a carvery set-up in the pub with a choice of joints, fish, chicken curry, vegetables and the Friday Fiver deal which, yesterday, was Italian Meatballs with Tagliatelle. Most of the other dishes seemed to be about or just under a tenner and I saw some very handsome and generous slices of meat being dished out so, overall, this is somewhere you might put on your list for a cheap but plentiful lunch in town.

The place was busy when we arrived so we joined the queue. McTurcaill’s is quite a big pub but it’s on different levels with several nooks and crannies so it would seem to be suitable both for a quiet pint and a session. There was at least one large television in evidence but the volume wasn’t excessive. Staff were helpful and empties were cleared away quickly.


We ordered. Food was served in pasta bowls. Generous helpings of tagliatelle and a good spoonful of meatballs and sauce each. We were offered some chips and, in the interests of research, we accepted the offer gratefully. We handed over our fivers and found a table.

These were generous portions indeed …


This was mine. Underneath all that tomato sauce lurked two and a bit BIG meatballs.

So, how did it taste? Good. The sauce was well flavoured and nicely seasoned with evidence of herbs, peppers and onion. It had none of that nasty aftertaste that one associates with cheap tinned tomatoes. The meatballs were lovely: again, nicely seasoned and flavoured. I’ve eaten plenty of meatballs in the past and I know that these ones were not just rolled up lumps of mince thrown into a sauce. There was some thought put into them.

The older lad stuffing his face

The older lad stuffing his face

This was an eatforafiver experience that I’d put close to the top of the list. It’s limited to Fridays and you’d want to get there by 1 or so to make sure there’s some left. On other days, however, the food they put on for the Friday Specials is €7.50 and, even at that price, this is very good value. You can follow them on Twitter, by the way, at @McTurcaills.

The evidence

The evidence

So, we left (full) and we were just investigating Yan’s Deli, a sushi place on Townsend Street that seems to have some interesting sub-fiver deals, when we both got soaked by a passing taxi driving through a puddle. Now, I’m not a suspicious person and I generally think well of people but I felt that this soaking could have been avoided by the driver without too much difficulty. The older lad evidently felt the same and he showed quite an extraordinary turn of pace (fuelled in part by the protein/carb combination just consumed) to try to catch up with the driver in question to convey this feeling to him. Unfortunately, or fortunately (maybe), he didn’t succeed.




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