Archive for the ‘ Various ’ Category

Honest to Goodness 2.0

2011! Good grief. That was when I last visited Honest to Goodness. Then it was in the George’s Street Arcade where a load of other things have been since, none as stunningly successful as H to G.

It’s now in Dame Court, very close (too close: see below) to the Stag’s Head.

Out

It’s bigger. It’s brighter. And to be honest, it’s still excellent value.

In

You may remember Tim. You know, ex-hyperactive adolescent, now retired, lives in Bangkok. No? Well, here.

He’s over here for a holiday and a bit of relief from the relentless sloth of retirement. He’s good company and deserving of my munificence. A fiver’s worth of it anyway.

We met in H to G at 12.30. The place was already humming, with most tables occupied and a queue forming for take-aways. Attentive staff members poured water, told us about the specials (hot pot, crayfish salad, something else, and the fiver special: lamb kofte burrito) and returned at frequent intervals to see if we wanted to order. They weren’t rushing us, you understand, but it is a bit of an in-and-out sort of place, with a pretty rapid turnover of customers, so they were facilitating that … I suppose.

Apart from the specials, the menu is salad and sandwich based, with a selection of lurid juices on offer to accompany your food. Here’s a pic of the lunch menu (click x 1 = bigger, click x 2 = massive) …

Menu

… on which one writes with a water-based marker to convey one’s choice.

Looking back at the 2011 posting, I see that the speed of service was a bit of an issue in other people’s reviews back then. If it ever was really an issue, it’s not now. There was plenty of staff both behind and in front of the counter, buzzing around furiously, and productively.

We ordered our lamb kofte burritos and barely had time to draw breath before they arrived …

LK

My dining companion reacted variously …

T5

T1

T2

T3

Don’t ask me why they call them lamb kofte burritos. Although, what else might you call them? Essentially they were tortilla wraps, inside which was a generous quantity of spiced minced lamb, with a pinky mayonnaise type sauce, and a minty something in the background. They were served with a small heap of couscous.

OK. So we were chatting and I really wasn’t paying that much attention to what I was shovelling into my mouth. I tell you what though. It was tasty. And it was filling. And although kofte usually come formed into some sort of round or cylindrical shape, who cares, as long as it hits the spot. And who ever heard of a kofte burrito anyway? Job done. The spot was hit.

I like Honest to Goodness. It’s one of a reducing number of places that has kept a fiver option on its menu. The portions were decent and the food was good and I recommend you give it a try. Dame Court.

Post-lunch, the proximity of the Stag’s Head proved difficult to resist, so we spent the rest of the afternoon sculling back these lads …

Pint

Good times.

 

 

 

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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 …

food01

… with its salad

TheSalad

pickled chilli (I love those)

PickledChilli

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.

 

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.

A

 

B

 (^ 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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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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The Wexford Kevin Cuffe Nexus

More of a listing this time. (As ever, my poor quality photos get bigger when you click them. They remain poor quality, however.)

I had some things to do in town today and, as I now do, I was having a look at menus in windows. A sandwich board, tucked in a doorway caught my eye …

KSBsandsign

A tiny bit misleading as it turned out but interesting enough to investigate.

It was in the doorway of this place …

KSBname

… at the corner of Wexford Street and Kevin Street.

So, it turns out that this deal is for students only, with a card of course. Still, considering that it refers to this menu

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that’s pretty good. BETTER STILL is the fact that this …

KSBfiverfriday

… happens on Friday. For EVERYBODY, not just students. Haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t comment on the food but I’d say it’s worth a go.

Across the road is …

Sofia

… which has been there for a long time. It, too, does student offers …

Sofiastudentsp

… and for those of us ineligible for those, there’s the Sofia Breakfast …

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… and, if you’re feeling flush, a few other choices for a few more Euro.

Two doors down is Burritos and Blues…

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already written about in pretty glowing terms here. Although its Student Burrito is now just over a fiver at €5.50, it still does a Diet Burrito for €4.15.

Around the corner, in Kevin Street, is this place:

Goose

Not a huge selection for your fiver but, if you’re fond of omelettes, you’re in luck, and students get a general 10% discount:

Goosemenu

And then, just along from there, is Hot Chilli …

HotChilli

… with a burger and chips for under a fiver (sorry, I can’t remember exactly how much it is).

There you are now. Enough said. Knock yourselves out.

 

 

 

 

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