There’s intimate restaurants, and then there’s Brioche, where you’ll not only know what your neighbours are having for dinner, you’ll know the intimate details of their lives and can score them on their table manners. But if you put your blinkers on, it’s a lovely spot. It serves French tasting plates (they recommend two to three per person) such as seared Thornhill duck breast, celeriac purée, and cherries or bacalhau style fillet of hake, red pepper ragu. Wines by the glass are good value and you can’t beat the warm, buttery brioche you get on arrival.
EDEN BAR & GRILL
7 South William Street, Dublin 2, Ireland, tel: (01) 6706887, edenbarandgrill.ie ¤ A good brunch spot, Eden Bar & Grill (the offshoot of the original Eden on Meeting House Square) has all the brunch bases covered: a good window seat for people watching on South William Street, comfy banquettes for those who are incapable of sitting upright, and a very bright, high-ceilinged atrium out the back for the perky post-pilates and yummy mummy brigade. On the plate, things are more consistent. Dishes all hover around the tenner mark (we refuse to pay ¤16 for eggs) and include salt-baked beetroot with goats cheese, poached eggs and wild mushrooms and wild asparagus omelette with almonds and Cashel Blue.
60-61 Parnell Street, Dublin1, 01 872 8318, hophouse.ie ¤ Korean food is all the rage these days, but the Hop House was serving it before your granny could say Kimchi. It’s all a bit crazy, with noise from the bar next door spilling through to the restaurant, but it’s the only place to go for authentic Bibimbap (a hot stone bowl filled with rice, assorted vegetables, Gochujang chilli pepper paste, slices of marinated beef and a raw egg yolk). Their flashing disco pitchers of Korean beer are worth the trip alone.
77 Mespil Rd, Dublin 4, 01 660 8616, kanum.ie ¤ Kanum’s green signage has become a ubiquitous sight at festivals and markets in the past couple of years, but the tiny premises on Mespil Road
11 Fitzwilliam Street, Ringsend Village, Dublin 4, Ireland, 01 598 4000, artisanparlour.ie € The exterior of Artisan Parlour tells you all you need to know about what’s going on inside. Unassuming matte black, retaining the shape of the home it once held, with “FOOD & DRINK” painted in enormous letters high on the front wall. The shop’s name is almost an afterthought, discreetly placed beside the wooden front door. Because food and drink are what they’re about offers far more than festival staples of Pad Thai and curries. Fast, efficient take away service, but you can eat in on high benches or at tables outside. The Pad Prik Haeng with cashews, onions and whole chillies is excellent, as is their spicy Tom Yum soup – perfect as the weather gets colder. Also in Rathgar.
LEMON CREPE & COFFEE CO
60 Dawson Street, Dublin 2, 01-672 8898; 66 South William Street, Dublin 2, 01-672 9044, lemonco.com, ¤ Many moons ago, as I queued in Lemon, a man wandered in off the street looking for lunch. “You mean you put meat on pancakes?” he roared, “Are you mad? Nobody’d eat that.” And off he stomped in search of some carvery... How wrong he was. Irish people are mad for a crepe, and Lemon’s are still some of the best in town. The Club (streaky bacon, roast chicken breast, tomato and dressing, ¤6.95) and the veggie here. Simple. But while the fare may be simple, the flavours and quality aren’t.
It’s a neighbourhood grocery cum deli cum home-style parlour, serving comfort food in the truest, comfiest sense.
Toasties hide chunks of sweet home-cooked ham and oozing slightly tangy globs of Culatin cheddar. Sandwiches have fillings of Liscannor crab dressed in crème fraiche, with thin slices of apple and lime and chilli mayo.
There are interesting daily lunch specials, including a “veggie wedge”, reminiscent of a muffeletta – the Louisiana sandwich made by stuffing ingredients inside a round loaf, Power Plus (buttered nutmeg spinach, cheddar, garlic butter mushrooms, creme fraiche and garlic mayo, ¤6.95) are a delicious, and filling – a triangular take away dinner. We’ve yet to try the Pepperoni Calzone but anything that mixes pizza and pancake gets the thumbs up around here.
15 Capel Street, Dublin 1 01-532 80 68, musashidublin.com Unit 2, Burton Hall, Custom house Square, Mayor St Dublin 1 01-55573 73, ¤ Dublin’s best sushi restaurant broke our hearts when it opened in far too small a room on Capel Street a few years ago. No bookings, scant space, you had to elbow your way in to try their delicious Ebi Tempura Masago rolls, slivers of spicy tuna or sashimi selection named after Japanese flowers. Thankfully its newer, larger sister restaurant in the IFSC makes it easier to access this taste of Japan. And the quality
drizzling in olive oil and leaving overnight. In Artisan Parlour, they’ve used chargrilled vegetables, pesto and mozzarella inside a chewy Firehouse sourdough (¤5 with salads). These include a healthy quinoa, lentil and barley mix, and a sweet salad of ribboned carrot, peppers and spring onion with sesame seeds.
A warm tortilla with pata negra chorizo and salad is a savoury steal for ¤4.50.
In the evenings, “Tay” is served, with coddle for ¤9.50 and the PBLT (slow-roasted pork belly, lettuce, tomato) for ¤7.50. You can also get wine – heavy on the Spanish – with charcuterie and cheese boards until 8pm of their delivery menu is excellent, recreating the restaurant experience, even if you don’t have the cute Japanese furniture at home.
13/14 Cathedral St, Dublin 1, (01) 874 8038, mlchineserestaurant.com ¤ Claiming the spot as Dublin’s “most authentic Szechuan restaurant”, M&L has garnered a cult following thanks to its seemingly endless list of tasty, MSG-free dishes. Fans speak in hushed tones of the “Chinese-language menu” that (most likely doesn’t) have extra specialties on it. No matter, the English language one offers delights such as braised seabass in hot and spicy sauce and steamed razor clams with rice noodles. The spicy beef is about 50 per cent chilli – only for the brave of constitution. 17 Camden Street Lower, Dublin, 01-405 2222, neon17.ie ¤ during the week, 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Up front the shelves are packed with a variety of Irish artisan produce such as Improper Butter, vying for room with Mediterranean specialities such as Villani Salame Abruzzese and jars of Spanish artichokes.
Artisan Parlour, tucked behind Ringsend library and alongside Clyne’s craft butchers, is a real push back against the glass-fronted convenience store chains and bookies’ offices creeping into the area – and it’s helping to bring back a village feel to this corner of Ringsend. A welcome, tasty addition.
– Rachel Collins It’s a real bone of contention, the optimum technique with which to pull the biggest ice cream cone. Hours of rowdy research have gone into it (and an old Saturday job pulling endless cones for tourists may have gone unmentioned). Neon brought this all on themselves of course, with their clever idea of giving you a free, empty cone with every meal and letting you loose on their ice cream machine. Gimmicky, yes. But free ice creams do not a Thai restaurant make, so just as well their food is as much fun. Fast, spicy Asian favourites of noodles, curries, soups and wok-fried dishes, plus an excellent, explosive duck larb salad for just ¤6.50 (the ice cream comes in handy afterwards)
OUZO’S FISH SHACK
Dún Laoghaire East Pier, 01-210 1000, facebook.com/OuzosDublin ¤ Watching the sun go down over Dublin Bay while munching our way through fresh crab claws, lobster rolls and fish and chips is on our top-five list of death row meals. This fish shack on the Dún Laoghaire’s East Pier has all of the above (but no death penalty required to sample them). Prices below a tenner, open from midday to sunset.
58 Grand Canal Street Upper, Dublin 4. (01) 664 3658, juniors.ie/paulies-pizza.php ¤ Pizzas just like Mama used to make them (if you share your Mama with Joey Tribbiani, that is). Bustling pizza joint serving up New York-style chewy thin-crust wood-fired pizzas with a wide range of toppings – the ‘Junior’ uses butternut squash puree – some classic Italian pastas and sides.
1 Denzille Lane/26 Fenian Street, Dublin 2, 01 6629649, probuswines.ie, ¤ Although technically a wine bar and craft beer store, Probus does a roaring trade in