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).
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-andyou-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 …
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.
9 Exchequer St, Dublin 2, 01 633 4071, ukiyobar.com ¤¤ away to your heart’s content. The sizzling bulgogi beef strips (¤20) with all the Korean trimmings (lettuce, pickles, gochujang sauce and chilli) are great. Lunch specials are good value: the bento has three dishes plus rice, salad and miso for ¤10; the Korean/ Mexican burritos include steak with egg and pulled pork with nutty azuki beans (¤6.50).
7 Castle House, South Great Georges Street, Dublin 2, 777.ie ¤¤
THE GOOD ROOM
Rose Cottage, Adare, Co Limerick, 061-396 218 thegoodroomadare.ie, ¤