Archive for the ‘ Pub Food ’ Category

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).

 

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A Dark Horse in Blackrock

Guest post. The older lad (Tom) waxes eloquent about his visit to the seaside in the company of his Ma (the spouse). Read on.

Right, enough sitting on the sidelines and eating the spoils, time to get involved at the business end of this crazy adventure.

Like a lazy fisherman, I’d been sitting in my boat waiting for an opportunity, and one just jumped out of the water and landed in my lap. The Mammy is currently working out in Blackrock and she suggested a place near her office that does lunch for a fiver. So, on the condition that I join her for lunch and do the write-up, the MilkyBars were on her.

The place in question is The Dark Horse, located on Carysfort Avenue, a short walk from the Frascati and Blackrock shopping centres. I parked in the Frascati car park (€1/hour) and wandered over.

DH01

The place is, I’m guessing, a refit of an older pub, with a smaller ‘bar’ side and a more spacious ‘lounge’ side, in which the food is served. This is where we chose to sit.

DH02

As you can see, the place was busy enough at lunchtime. We were handed our menus and offered drinks. In keeping with eatforafiver tradition, we ordered a glass of tap water each and cast our eyes over the menu. The Dark Horse offers a full menu of regular pub food but this is the part we were interested in:

DH03

Special menu: Monday to Wednesday only

I was eyeing up the pulled pork wrap, but the Mammy said she was going to have that so, in the interest of variety, I opted for the chicken bap. We were offered the optional chips or soup, but considering how some recent posts have played fast and loose with the rules, we decided against them.

The food took a while to arrive, so we took in the décor on the walls and tables. The walls are covered in posters advertising lesser known and craft beers. Their beer menu reads like this:

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and the wine list has this on it:

DH05

More of that later. The food arrived. The Mammy’s pulled pork wrap:

DH06

And my roast chicken bap:

DH07

As you can see, both came with a small side salad of mixed leaves, red onion and what I suspect were peppers that came from a jar. It came with a sweet and sticky balsamic dressing. It was fine and complemented the food nicely. Now down to business. The Mammy comfortably won out on this occasion. The pork in her wrap was tender and seasoned (as opposed to smothered) with a BBQ sauce that was mild and tangy. The wrap also contained the right ratio of coleslaw to meat ie. More meat than slaw, but enough slaw so as to taste it.

My bap was grand. It was about what you’d expect. A floured bap,with shredded chicken, garlic mayo and spring onion. There was enough of it, it was tasty and it filled me. That is all.

We finished eating and paid. Here’s the proof of €5eachness:

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The Mammy headed back to work (along with pretty much everyone else in the place) and I was left to do a little research.

I got chatting to Alan behind the bar who was keen to tell me about the pub and its hopes and dreams. The Dark Horse is a member of a collection of pubs (of which there are nine), in Galway and Dublin. The pubs are operated by Galway Bay Breweries. Their aim is to turn people onto enjoyment of moderate amounts of craft beers, in place of binge drinking mass produced lagers and stouts. Alan told me that most of their pubs have pool tables and board games instead of TVs so as to encourage people to interact with one another.

Being in rugby-mad Blackrock, The Dark Horse is an exception. They also serve Guinness and Heineken in order to draw in custom from those who prefer more mainstream tipples. The rest of the taps are filled with craft beers from around the world and those produced by the Galway Bay brewers themselves. Alan showed me a bottle of award winning ‘Two Hundred Fathoms’ stout (see pic) of which he had the only remaining case in Dublin. By his account it had been flying off the shelves. As you can see from the label, it’s 10% ABV. 10%!!! I can see why they’re trying to move people away from having a feed of pints when the beers are that strong!

DH09

Anyway, Alan preaches the word of craft beers well, and he seemed fairly passionate about it, which certainly helps get the message across. I’d consider going back for the pulled pork wrap and a bottle of stout, as long as I didn’t have to operate any heavy machinery afterwards!

 

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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Just a few for later

No eatingforafiver today. But if you’re a bit short and looking for somewhere to nibbleforthatfiver, here’s a few suggestions:

Mama’s Revenge, 12 South Leinster Street (which is what Nassau Street turns in to when it gets closer to Lincoln Place). It’s ‘Tex-Mex’ and you can get a Value Burrito (no meat) for €4, Chili Con Carne with rice or nacho chips for €5 and, if you’re a student, a Basic Burrito for the same price.

The older lad told me about the next two:

Pablo Picanté (Clarendon Market). A bean and cheese burrito will set you back €4.50 and, if you’re a student, you can have a choice of burritos for a fiver. The student offer doesn’t seem to be available in their Baggot Street branch.

The bar in the Plaza Hotel, Tallaght, just beside the Square, is called McClafferty’s. Their online menu has a range of starters for €4.50 including chicken wings or coriander and seafood broth with pan fried prawns and string noodles.

I haven’t tried any of these yet but if you have, please feel free to post a comment. (I moderate the comments just to make sure that no spam gets through, so there’ll be a bit of a delay before any contributions appear.)

 

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.

out

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.

interior

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 …

mine

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.

 

 

Pie and Chips Royale

My faith in austerity eating has been restored!

Crossing from South Great George’s Street into Aungier Street, I’ve often wondered about the guest house I’ve seen out of the corner of my eye on Upper Stephen Street. Upper Stephen Street is pretty dilapidated, unfortunately. Its main feature, purely because of its size, is the headquarters of Dunne’s Stores, itself a mish-mash of modern and what looks like 1960s functional architecture. Close by (ish), ignoring the plethora of undistinguished hotels and modern office blocks, however, are Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, the Iveagh Buildings and the duller Church of Ireland cathedral, St Patrick’s.

Directly opposite Dunne’s is a hairdressers, a neat looking lunchtime restaurant and the Restaurant Royale …

… today’s eatforafiver venue of choice.

The restaurant part is physically at the far end of what turned out to be a surprisingly busy bar, on the ground floor of the Snug guest house. The bar is very small but today at lunch time contained about thirty men and two women, all (let’s say) over 45 and all drinking pints.

Part of the bar

Many seemed to have been there for some time, judging by the conversation volume, the occasional staggering and the frequent outbursts of singing. The atmosphere reminded me of a few pubs (The Bunch of Grapes and Larkins, in particular) my spouse and I used to frequent on Clanbrassil Street in the 1980s before they were demolished to make way for the current dual carriageway.

The pints in the Snug/Royale, by the way, are €3. That’s THREE EURO. Probably the cheapest pint in Dublin.

One poor man, by his own weary account, was in charge of the bar and the restaurant. The restaurant wasn’t busy, but he was.

The menu is basic. There are a lot of breakfast items and then steak, chicken, fish, salads and chips. The items costing a fiver comprise most of the breakfasts (which I think they serve all day – certainly I saw one man eating one at lunchtime); caesar, tuna or warm chicken salad; barbecue chicken wings and drumsticks; and a steak pie and chips. I ordered the latter, with a glass of water.

I didn’t have that long to wait.

My pie and chips

OK. So, the pie was a pretty standard issue microwaved steak pie. Because it was microwaved, the pastry was a bit  soft and the contents burned my tongue. Ouch. But that was my fault. It had plenty of meat in it and the meat tasted like beef. Yay!

The chips, as you can see from the first pic, were chunky. They may have been part cooked before-hand, but they were pretty good: hot and spuddy, and there was a generous portion of them. For a fiver, this was OK and there were other choices for your fiver, which is good too.

The only other people eating were evidently regulars: lunchtime breakfast guy and two elderly people.

I’ve been trying to think what circumstances would lead you to eat there. I mean, it’s not a first date sort of place.

It’s not really a student-y place. And you wouldn’t really come across it in the normal course of events, either. It’s really, I suppose, mainly a local pub for local people (mainly from the Whitefriar/Golden Lane area), that does a bit of food. Anyway, it’s another option if you’re in the area, hungry and a bit short of cash.

I had a bit of time left on my parking disc so I wandered across to the Asia Market on Drury Street in search of Encona Pepper Sauce. The place was heaving – people mainly buying provisions for the Chinese New Year, at a guess.

They’ve always had a great range of frozen seafood there, including 1kg bags of huge prawns for half nothing. Today they also had fresh razor clams (which are on my must-try list), and whole live crabs for €1 each. ONE EURO! I love crab and live ones tend to be difficult to find. You can easily buy crab claws in Dublin but not the rest of the crab and I remember hearing some time ago that many crabs are de-clawed at sea and thrown back in to die. I find that a bit unpleasant.

Oh, I nearly forgot. The bill from the Royale …

The damage

Three Euro a pint … Cheers.

 

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