DUBLIN

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS | EATING OUT -

in a small space on The River Lee, with about 12 seats. Ev­ery­thing is made in-house, and it’s all avail­able for take-out, apart from the dosa. I can see how the dosa might not sur­vive a jour­ney to a fi­nal desti­na­tion. Th­ese are large, del­i­cate crepes made from ground lentils, folded over to en­case a va­ri­ety of fill­ings. My onion dosa (¤6.95) comes with tiny pieces of diced red onion, ac­com­pa­nied by a thin sam­bar lentil curry, a yo­gurt sauce and a sweet, mango chut­ney.

The aaloo tikki (¤5) is a won­der of fried cau­li­flower, coated in a light bat­ter that takes on a mouth-wa­ter­ing crunch once fried dark brown. Th­ese lit­tle frit­ters are ac­com­pa­nied by an av­o­cado chut­ney, a creamy an­ti­dote to the del­i­cate spice of the bat­ter. My only prob­lem with the side salad of can­died fen­nel seeds, wild rocket and sprouted mung beans is that it’s so gor­geous that I am left want­ing more. But I’m just be­ing greedy; I have plenty on my ta­ble to get through.

The samosa chaat (¤6.50) is a bowl of two glo­ri­ously pudgy samosas that boast thick, heav­enly pas­try. They’re cov­ered in a salad of puffed rice and chick­pea curry. The Madras Thali (¤12.50), one of two larger dishes on the menu, ar­rives on a sil­ver tray built to carry a tast­ing plate of south-east­ern flavours. Bas­mati rice is paired with tasty lit­tle plates of cur­ries in­clud­ing a sam­bar, chick­pea rasam and a veg­etable salna, with a pop­po­dams for good mea­sure.

A ve­gan pome­gran­ate cake (¤3.50) is soaked in a sweet pome­gran­ate mo­lasses. It’s as­ton­ish­ingly moist. In­stead of coffee, a sweet­lyspiced chai tea (¤2) seems a more ap­pro­pri­ate way to fin­ish this meal. I’m about to leave when I no­tice the ve­gan dry fruit and nut lad­doo (¤2), balls of com­pacted fruit and nuts coated in co­conut or hemp seed, and grab two of them for the road.

Be­cause we or­dered pretty much ev­ery­thing on the menu, our bill came to ¤47.45. You could eas­ily come away from Iyer’s full and sated for un­der ¤10. It’s a gem, for ve­gans, veg­e­tar­i­ans and om­ni­vores alike. 9 Cam­den St, Dublin 2 de­sel­bys.com ¤ I get set­tled into DeSelby’s on a Tues­day morn­ing. The Go­ril­laz’s Plas­tic Beach is on the stereo, a wel­come dis­trac­tion from my daily dead­lines. Armed with the WiFi code and a su­perbly made flat white served in an ap­pro­pri­ately sized cup, I wait it out un­til lunchtime, re­sist­ing the temp­ta­tion to tuck in to one of the Arun Bak­ery’s lus­cious cin­na­mon buns on of­fer. The coffee is by Dublin roast­ers Roasted Brown and the tea is by Wall & Keogh just up the road on South Rich­mond Street.

Opened in Oc­to­ber 2015 by brothers Peter and Conor Sweeney, DeSelby’s has set­tled in well to Cam­den St. The art deco let­ter­ing on the sign above its door is re­flected in beau­ti­ful stained win­dows look­ing out onto the street. In­side, it makes a virtue of the high ceil­ings of the orig­i­nal build­ing that dates back to 1840.

Their reg­u­lar lunch menu, de­signed by head chef Sam Carey, in­cludes a pan-fried fish sand­wich on sour­dough (¤8), a Toulouse sausage sand­wich on brioche (49) and a seared tuna flat­bread with av­o­cado and chipo­tle (¤8.50). Four or five spe­cials change daily, de­pend­ing on what’s good in the kitchen pantry. To­day, I can’t re­sist the Crem Brie-lee (¤9) with red-onion jam and toast.

“It’s ba­si­cally a bowl of melted cheese mixed with cream,” says the friendly fel­low be­hind the counter, who turns out to be Conor Sweeney. “Sold!” I re­ply. It ar­rives a lit­tle run­nier than I would have liked, but it seeps hap­pily into the toasted sour­dough and the red-onion jam is ex­cel­lent. The soup to­day is a very green pea and broc­coli soup thick­ened with gen­er­ous hunks of ham hock (¤6). From the reg­u­lar lunch menu, I sam­ple the toasted Manchego cheese and ham hock sand­wich (¤8.50), a toasty el­e­vated to new heights of yum­mi­ness.

DeSelby’s, which also does a roar­ing trade at din­ner­time, re­cently posted a photo on its Face­book page of a peanut but­ter and jelly French Toast dish, part of its week­end brunch menu. Yes, please. DeSelby’s wine and beer li­cence means you can make it a squiffy lunch if the oc­ca­sion calls for it. This is a wel­come ad­di­tion to the neigh­bour­hood. I’ll be back for that PBJ french toast.

Cow­town Café

73 Manor St , Dublin 7 01-441-1118 Find them on Face­book € The Dublin bor­ough of Stoney­bat­ter has seen much gen­tri­fi­ca­tion in the past five years. Some of my favourite new cafes and gas­trop­ubs are on or near Manor St. With that in mind, I get a pleas­ant sur­prise when I visit Cow­town Café, be­cause it’s such a re­fresh­ingly straight­for­ward greasy spoon café. Opened in Oc­to­ber 2015, it comes com­plete with squeezy brown-sauce bot­tles, plas­tic chairs nailed to plas­tic ta­bles, and ging­ham cur­tains on the win­dows. Even the name Cow­town harks back to an older, dis­ap­pear­ing Dublin.

Pro­pri­etors Niall Ka­vanagh and Sinead Byrne also own Cin­na­mon Café in Smith­field, which has been on the go for more than a decade. “We opened a greasy-spoon style café be­cause we be­lieve ev­ery high street or town should have a cheap and cheer­ful op­tion,” says Ka­vanagh. “We re­ally do think a café like ours should be part of the lo­cal com­mu­nity and wel­come to ev­ery­one.” This rings very true and on my visit I no­tice how var­ied the clien­tele are, in both age and ac­cents.

Cow­town’s great­est as­set may be their staff. My server, who takes my or­der at my ta­ble, is the quin­tes­sen­tial Greasy Spoon Girl, and I mean that as a huge com­pli­ment. She’s friendly, she’s su­per-fast as she flies around with plates of break­fasts and mugs of tea, and she’s funny. “I keep los­ing my pens in my bun,” she laughs, as she searches in her hair for a biro to take my or­der.

But none of this would mat­ter if the food wasn’t up to scratch. What re­ally works for me is the op­tion of a large, medium or small fry. The small fry is ¤5 and is a sim­ple plate of a per­fectly fried egg, a de­li­ciously charred sin­gle rasher of ba­con, a sausage and a home­made potato cake, with toast and tea or coffee in­cluded. The potato cake is fluffy and re­as­sur­ingly un­der-sea­soned, ex­actly how my grand­mother would have made it. The sausage is a lit­tle on the thin side. A juicier, thicker banger would re­ally el­e­vate this brekkie in terms of flavour, but prob­a­bly also in terms of price. Break­fast is served un­til noon, af­ter which you can go for com­fort food such as fish fin­ger butties (¤4.95), BLTs (4.20), cot­tage pie (¤9.50) or Liver & Mash (¤9.95).

That ¤5 break­fast seemed wor­ringly cheap to me, so I was glad to hear that Cow­town Café keep their sup­pli­ers lo­cal. Their butch­ers are Shane and Paul from the Ma­hon Butch­ers on Manor St. Their fish comes from Mul­doon’s on Prus­sia Street and Kish on Bow Street, and their fruit and veg comes from Tommy in The Green Gro­cer’s on Manor St. They bake their own bread and scones, and get the rest of their breads and pas­tries from Thun­ders on Prus­sia Street, Pro­ject 12 and Arun Bak­ery on Ox­man­town Lane. The coffee is sup­plied by McCabe’s Roast­ers and, though an Amer­i­cano is on of­fer, I go for the more tra­di­tional diner-style brew. It’s so thick and strong that I won­der if my milk will be able to blend into it. This is, how­ever, the per­fect cup of coffee for this set­ting.

Cow­town of­fers WiFi for cus­tomers, but it seems wrong to sug­gest you might get a bit of work or brows­ing done here. In­stead, this is a spot for spread­ing news­pa­pers across your ta­ble while you dip your toast in a runny yolk, an op­por­tu­nity to slow back down to a pace of life as­so­ci­ated with a time when a neigh­bour­hood greasy spoon was a more com­mon thing.

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