147 Parnell Street, Dublin 1, 01-872 8481, facebook.com/ 147deliparnell ¤ Forget your soggy Spar sandwich, for some real love in the soup- and-sambo field, you need a place like 147 Deli, where they take the lunchtime staples very, very seriously. There isn’t a meat they won’t smoke, slow roast and cram into a sandwich here (this week it was slow-roasted beef topside, pulled and served in a toasted wholemeal wrap with chipotle slaw and pineapple hot sauce, ¤6.50) Or a recent humdinger, a pimped-out ham & cheese (home smoked and shredded ham hock with gruyer, spring onion and mustard béchamel on toasted sourdough, ¤6.50). Or the Reuben, which could very easily pass itself in Katz’s Deli in New York (not sure they’re as chilled about faking orgasms on Parnell Street as they are on the Lower East Side though). Soups are hearty: think Indian cauliflower and lentil or Mexican pork & bean, (you can get a sambo and portion of soup for ¤7.50) and if you work in Dublin 1, they’ll even deliver to your office.
The Chocolate Factory, 26 Kings Inn Street, Dublin 1 01-873 6022, blascafe.ie ¤ Based in the art gallery, event space and creative community of The Chocolate Factory, Blas Café is a new venture in a gorgeous room on the ground floor of the building. It’s all high ceilings, low hanging lightbulbs, artwork, communal tables and comfy chairs. For now it has a basic menu: soup, sambos (two meaty, two veggie) and a hot dish. Sandwiches come on fresh Tartine Bakery bread, and include fillings such as artichoke with parmesan, grilled peppers and courgette (¤5.95) and chicken chipotle served with salad (¤6.95). There are impossibly beautiful cakes from the Wild Flour Bakery and housemade lemon slices. Hot dishes change all the time but you can expect treats such as eggs Berber with Merguez sausage and lots of warming stews. It’s open from 8am on weekdays, and you can get a pot of porridge for just ¤1, with toppings of Greek yoghurt, raspberry coulis and granola for an extra 50c to ¤1.
BRASSERIE LE PONT
26 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2, 01 669 4600, brasserielepont.ie ¤¤¤ A lovely spot for a special Last week, we looked at healthy eating during the season of excess. Now that’s out of the way, let’s get down to the serious business of the Christmas catch-up. Over afternoon pints, mouth-scalding toasties, bowls of piping hot chowder, the next two weeks are cozy chat prime time. And there’s no better way to welcome home emigrant siblings, catch up with old school friends or get the goss from your flatmate that you saw . . . oh, two hours ago . . . than over a creamy pint and one of Ireland’s finest culinary offerings: the toastie.
First port of call in Dublin has to be Castle Lounge (15 South William Street, Dublin 2, 01-677 9320) which has long been regarded as the best spot in town for a pint and a toastie, and with good reason. With no TV, no music, just wall-to-wall characters, sometimes questionable art and possibly the smallest toilets in Ireland, Grogan’s is an institution, and their toasted special (ham, cheese, tomato and onion on the whitest of white bread, ¤4.30) is a winner. Served with a pot of Coleman’s English mustard, there may be nothing fancy about them, but boy are they satisfying. Up the road is (1 Johnson Place, Dublin 2, tel: 01-679 3347 peterspub.ie), a great little pub that can barely hold the crowds that try to cram in here at Christmas. It will be standing room only when you order a ham and cheese special on brown or white bread (¤4.90). Be warned, you might have to suck in your stomach afterwards if you plan on staying put.
For some other suggestions, we love illustrator Eoin Whelehan’s excellent Toastie Map of Dublin, see iti.ms/1sdpA0f
For cosy pints, there’s a new app called that has just launched (pubswithafire.com), pointing you in the direction of pubs with . . . you’ve guessed it. It’s mostly Dublin-based for now, but you can send suggestions via Twitter (@pubswithafire) to help
Pubs With a Fire,
occasion, Brasserie Le Pont is in a great location the corner of Fitzwilliam Place, Leeson Street Bridge and Wilton Terrace. Head chef James Doyle serves up classic French cuisine in this calm, understated dining room (it also has one of the loveliest terraces in Dublin). Expect black sole meuniere style (fried and served in a brown butter sauce with lemon), seared king scallops (¤27), an excellent 8oz fillet steak (¤33) and you can be sure duck will make an appearance. Desserts are typically French: crème brûlée, chocolate pots, French cheese. There’s a pre-theatre menu (¤25 for two courses, ¤29 for three) but lunch is your best bet to take advantage of that terrace (the set lunch is the populate the Google Maps-based app. Of the entries so far, we heartily agree with in the Central Hotel, in Clontarf and the
on Blackhorse Avenue, beside Phoenix Park, for a quiet afternoon pint after a stroll in the park.
If you’re still peckish, a bowl of steaming chowder is about as Dublin as you can get (save a bowl of coddle) and you’ll get a great offering at (32 Pembroke Street Lower, Dublin 01 676 2980, mattthethresher.ie). It can be pricey here, and has a crowd to match, but its excellent chowder makes it worth a trip. A
Bar Byrne’s Hole in the Wall
same price as the pre-theatre menu).
CARLUCCIOS The Library
Matt The Thresher
52 Dawson Street, Dublin, Dublin 2 01-6333 957, carluccios.com/ restaurants/dublin ¤ One of an international chain of Italian restaurants owned by Italian-born, UK-based Antonio Carluccio this bright blue corner spot is loud and bustling from the get-go, with breakfast starting at 7.30am on weekdays and 9am on Sundays. Try the large, sweet slices of toasted panettone, the irresistible Italian fruit bread (¤3.95), or you can join lunchtime rush clambering for take aways from the grocery and deli at the front – we recommend the caponata, a dense, oily Sicilian aubergine salad. For dinner, the indecisive will love the trio di pasta – where you can share your choice of three of the 12 pasta dishes on the menu for ¤27.95. The Giadriniera with courgette, chilli and fried spinach balls is good, and all pasta dishes are available gluten-free.
large bowl, packed with generous lumps of meaty white and smoked fish, mussels and served with excellent malt brown bread, is a meal in itself for ¤7.50.
(2–3 Drury Street Car Park, Drury Street, Dublin 2, 01 679 9009 email@example.com) also does a great bowl of chowder. You won’t be able to linger as long here, as tables are at a premium, but for ¤7, the SMS Chowder has liberal amounts of salmon and mussels sitting in slightly soupy creamy sauce. Plus, you’re smack in the centre of town once you’re done for an easy transition to the next venue. – Rachel Collins
Super Miss Sue
15 Fade St, Dublin 2, 01-6718484, duck.ie ¤ You know what you’re getting into in a place called Duck. No messing. Just eat the duck. And so we did, in this little Hong Kong BBQ joint on Fade Street. The duck comes out of a “bullet oven” , which roasts hanging meat in such a way that leaves it juicy on the inside, with shiny crispy skin on the outside. Roast duck, pork and chicken cooked in the bullet with rice, noodles or veggies costs ¤6.95 or ¤8.95. Sides include duck pancakes (¤4.95) and Hong Kong-style noodles (¤3.95). Or you can get large meat-only boxes (which we did) with traditional duck for ¤20/¤13, char siu pork (¤10), soy chicken (¤15) or crispy pork belly (¤10). The duck, chopped into chunks with a cleaver, comes with hoi sin sauce (lots of condiments here, including plum, chilli oil, sweet chilli). On the night we visit, the duck is too fatty with too much bone and gristle. The pork belly, however, was excellent, with the crispiest crackling and an intensely meaty broth for dipping. Perhaps they might consider a name change to Pig . . .
EAST SIDE TAVERN
104 / 105 Leeson Street Lower, 01-678 9529, eastsidetavern.ie ¤¤ New kid on the block, East Side Tavern (in the old Alfie Mulligan’s pub on the on the corner of Leeson Street and Stephen’s Green) opened just last month and promises a “restaurant-standard kitchen” with a New York-style east side bar. It’s riding the wave of craft beers and whiskeys (more than 250) and certainly channels east Village bars, with exposed brickwork, leather seats and lots of distressed and salvaged interiors.
They’ve got an express lunch from noon to 2pm – three courses in 45 minutes for ¤16 (soup or salad to start, mains including pie of the day with triple cooked chips, beer battered cod or lamb ragu, and desserts including churros and “beeramisu”) All this in 45 minutes is a brave promise. It will be interesting to see if they can follow through when it’s busy. The dinner menu takes a jump in price with pan-fried hake, pressed potato, root puree and almond and brown butter (¤22) or spaghetti marinara (¤24). They’ve a nice charcuterie selection, including Gubeen chorizo with pickled raisins (¤8), pressed pork croquettes with black pudding, lardo, apple and fennel salad (¤8.50) and a ham hock terrine with carrot mousse (¤5). On the cocktail front, their Old Fashioned has already garnered praise.
65 Dame Street, Dublin 2, 01 764-5722, facebook.com/ hailankorean ¤ We’ve been hearing good things about this Dame Street offshoot of the Capel Street Korean restaurant of the same name and finally made it there last weekend. Despite the foul weather outside, there was a queue out the door, and with good reason. We had a very good bibimbap (a Korean favourite of rice served in a stoneware bowl with vegetables, fried beef, a soft fried egg and a pot of gochujang chili pepper paste to season it, ¤9.90). Dumplings come in fives and 10s and can be steamed or pan-fried – the courgette and prawn (¤9.90) were the tastiest of the ones we tried. The hit of the evening was a sizzling dish of fried pork and kimchi, the Korean national dish of fermented cabbage (¤12.50). The spicy, wafer thin strips of pork were of the “so good I don’t mind burning my tongue” variety. Portions are large, staff are unfailingly friendly – a real gem. Book ahead.
MOURNE SEAFOOD BAR
Millennium Tower, Charlotte Quay, Dublin 2 01-668 8862, mourneseafood.com ¤¤ This is the latest in the stable of Mourne restaurants (there’s one in Belfast, one in Dundrum, Co Down). They source all their shellfish from their own beds at Carlingford Lough, Co Down, so oysters and mussels feature heavily on the menu. A great location, overlooking Grand Canal Dock – it was standing room only on the terrace when the bar opened this summer, but the winter chill has helped to calm things a bit. It’s split into a bar area and more formal