DUBLIN

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE TICKET SEVEN DAYS -

BRIOCHE

51 Elm­wood Ave., Ranelagh, Dublin 6, 01 497 9163, ¤¤ 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.

HOP HOUSE

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.

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 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.

MUSASHI SUSHI

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 of their de­liv­ery menu is ex­cel­lent, recre­at­ing the restau­rant ex­pe­ri­ence, even if you don’t have the cute Ja­panese fur­ni­ture at home.

M&L CHI­NESE

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.

NEON

17 Cam­den Street Lower, Dublin, 01-405 2222, neon17.ie ¤ 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)

PROBUS WINES

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 soak­age. This tri­an­gu­lar spot has high ta­bles and some com­mu­nal benches inside, sur­rounded by a dis­tinct air of chaos – but that’s part of the charm. The deli counter serves de­cent sand­wiches and sal­ads (from ¤4 and up), with hot spe­cials ev­ery day (the chorizo stew is a win­ner) and ex­cel­lent piz­zas in the evenings for ¤12. The air dried beef pizza is a per­fect rea­son to stay for another glass of red. On sunny days you can bring a chair, wine and food out­side and lord it over the pint-drinkers at The Ginger­man pub across the road.

SCI­EN­CENCE GAGALLERY FLUX CAFÉ

Sci­ence Gallery, Naughton In­sti­tute, Pearse Street, Trin­ity Col­lege, Dublin 2, 01 896 4091, sci­ence­gallery.com ¤ An ex­cel­lent spot for lunch or early din­ner, the ground floor of the ever-evolv­ing Sci­ence Gallery is a buzzy, vi­brant spot. Many of the exhibitions spill over into the café, which you reach by pass­ing through the gift shop – avert your eyes or pre­pare to spend. In­stead, you can opt for a va­ri­ety of sam­bos, plat­ters, sal­ads and soups. Best op­tion is the stewp (no we’re not stewp-id, that’s how they spell it), a hearty hy­brid of stew and soup – and only ¤6.

TERRA MADRE CAFE

13, Bach­e­lor’s Walk, Dublin 1, (01) 873 5300 ter­ra­madre.ie, ¤ Food – and machismo – flown di­rect from Italy, Terre Madre calls it­self a café, but it’s a lot more than that. In a blink-and-you-miss-it tiny base­ment room on the quays, it serves au­then­tic Ital­ian dishes made with Lardo di Colon­nata, Cam­pofilone egg pasta, Porchetta carpac­cio and Terena Ascolana olive oil. We may once have or­dered the Si­cil­ian ca­per sprout br­uschetta for starters and then again for dessert…

VIN­TAGE KITCHEN

7 Pool­beg Street, Dublin 2, 01-6798705, thev­in­tagek­itchen.ie ¤ Yet another tiny restau­rant that it’s nigh-on im­pos­si­ble to get a ta­ble in, but when you do see what the fuss is about. Some of the best value cook­ing around, the lunchtime small and large plates cost just ¤5 and ¤10 but many of the “small” plates are full meals in them­selves. There’ll be no af­ter­noon slump with the spiced seafood chow­der or the risotto of pancetta, pea, chili & pars­ley. At night, the menu comes at ¤25 for two cour­ses, again great value. They have house wine by the glass or you can BYOB, and you can bring your own vinyl to play on their record player. Groovy

THE WOOLLEN MILLS

42 Or­mond Quay Lower, Dublin 1, Ire­land 01 828 0835, the­wool­len­mills.com ¤ Call­ing it­self an “eat­ing house” was right on the money, be­cause you’ll over-or­der here and still lick the plates clean. In a well-re­stored old mill build­ing with great views of the Ha’ap­peny Bridge, we hope the out­door ter­race re­mains as hos­pitable in win­ter. Cur­ried crab claws are de­li­cious, the ham hock, baby potato, black pud­ding and poached egg is a steal for ¤14.

777

7 Cas­tle House, South Great Ge­orges Street, Dublin 2, 777.ie ¤¤ We’ve known this place to be called 666, so dev­il­ishly strong are its mar­gar­i­tas, but if you fo­cus on the food, and stick to the spe­cials (Taco Tues­day: two taquitos for ¤4; on Sun­days, dishes cost ¤7.77), this is one of Dublin’s bet­ter Mex­i­can restau­rants. Try the soft shell crab taquitos, yel­lowfin tuna ce­viche and Mex­i­can-style sweet­corn, served with cheese, pasilla chillies, salt and lime. And go on, maybe one of those mar­gar­i­tas… just one mind.

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