Saturday 10 December 2016

Dublin's Casual Food Revolution: 21 ideas for your next foodie trip

Food & Travel

Aoife McElwain

Published 20/03/2016 | 02:30

A Waterford blaa, served at Hatch & Sons, Dublin.
A Waterford blaa, served at Hatch & Sons, Dublin.
Brother Hubbard
Best bites: Forest Avenue
Fish Shop on Queen Street. Photo: Damien Eagers
Fumbally
Irish Rail

Cheap 'n' cheerful eateries have come of age in the capital. Aoife McElwain cooks up a magical mix of food and travel.

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Forget beef and Guinness stew.

Visitors taking a bite out of Dublin's contemporary food scene will soon discover a culinary landscape rich in diversity, blossoming with confidence and bursting with local produce and ideas.

 From game-changers like The Fumbally and 3FE to firm favourites such as Chapter One and The Cake Café, our capital city has become a very tasty place to visit. 

Here are our hot tips!

Brunch & Lunch

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Hatch & Sons (hatchandsons.co) is right in the middle of the action, just steps from Grafton Street in the basement of a Georgian house on St Stephen's Green. Set beneath The Little Museum of Dublin, it specialises in blaas - the soft floury baps from Waterford. Try the pulled spice brisket with kimchi made by the Cultured Food Company (€7.50), a fermented food company based in West Cork.

In the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, you'll find a balcony filled with the smell of freshly baked bagels and sweet coffee cakes. That's The Pepper Pot (thepepperpot.ie), famed for its roast pear, bacon and Mount Callan cheddar sandwich served on thick, fluffy slabs of their homemade batch loaves.

On Pleasant's Place, check out The Cake Café (thecakecafe.ie, above) hidden behind Daintree Paper Shop. Michelle Darmody and her team have been serving up outstanding treats on vintage porcelain tea sets since 2006, and cafe's savoury offerings - such as petite tarts stuffed with creamy leek and Cavolo Nero with melted Durrus cheese, or swede soups served with housemade crisps - are just as good.

If you've worked up an appetite browsing the centuries-old books of Marsh's Library on St Patrick's Close, eat off the beaten track at Assassination Custard (facebook.com/assassinationcustard) on Kevin Street Cross. This teeny café serves tasting plates for lunch that can include bowls of tenderstem broccoli with 'nduja sausage topped with Irish-made ricotta (€4).

Just around the corner is The Fumbally (thefumbally.ie), run by Aisling Rogerson and Luca D'Alfonso, supported by their extended team of cooks, bakers, fermenters and baristas. Last year, The Fumbally launched its Wednesday dinners, a weekly, late-night opening where one staple is featured, in both meat and vegetarian-friendly form, for around €15 a dish.

Coming up in March are suppers celebrating ramen, pinxtos, Korean zigae and tacos. Try to visit mid-week, as the Saturday queues can be intense (The Fumbally closes Sundays and Mondays).

Not too far away on Harrington Street is brunch and lunch hotspot Sister Sadie, little sister restaurant to Brother Hubbard on Capel Street (brotherhubbard.ie).

The latter is famed for its cinnamon scrolls, exemplary coffee and Ottolenghi-inspired salad enthusiasm. They also open from Wednesday to Saturday for evening suppers from 6pm. Try the Middle Eastern sharing platter meal, which will see your table filled with saucers of beetroot hummus topped with dukkah, bites of sumac-sprinkled lamb cutlets and small bowls of hake tagine.

Casual Suppers

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If it's quick and casual you're after, the pizza in The Bernard Shaw pub on South Richmond Street might be just the ticket. Cooked in a converted double-deckerbus in the beer garden (facebook.com/thebigbluebus), try its Pick The Pear pizza, a celebration of fruit on pizza with hunks of gorgonzola (€9.50).

Temple Bar's best pizza spot is Skinflint (skinflint.joburger.ie), run by restaurateur Joe Macken, whose other eateries include Jo'Burger, Crackbird and Bear. One of my favourite pizzas is The Maria, its flatbread-style base topped with potato, truffle oil, mushrooms, mozzarella and cream (€9.50).

If you're craving sushi, Musashi (musashidublin.com) on Capel Street is the place to go, thanks to its quality nigiri sold at a reasonable price.

The best Korean restaurant in the city, and one of my favourite places to eat in Ireland, is Kimchi (hophouse.ie) on Parnell Street. Warm yourself with their Bibam Bap (€10.90), a combo of freshly shredded vegetables mixed with meat or tofu, a raw egg and the magic ingredient of spicy gochujang sauce, all served in a piping hot earthenware bowl.

Planning a visit to the Jameson Distillery or Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield? Well, you'll be right around the corner from one of the city's best gastropubs, L Mulligan Grocer (lmulligangrocer.com) in Stoneybatter. Also worth a visit in Smithfield and Stoneybatter are Fish Shop (fish-shop.ie), Slice, (asliceofcake.ie), Cotto (cotto.ie) and coffee shop Love Supreme (lovesupreme.ie).

Something Special

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The food at Forest Avenue (forestavenuerestaurant.ie, above), run by John and Sandy Wyer, is exquisite, for lunch or dinner. Saturday's tasting brunch menu (€26 for five courses) is one of the best meals to be had in the city.

New kid on the block, Luna (supermisssue.com/luna), is inspired by the retro days of late '60s gangster chic, with head chef Karl Whelan serving up rich dishes like cuttlefish crudo with pig foot carpaccio (€14). Luna lives downstairs from Super Miss Sue (supermisssue.com), and both are part of restaurateur John Farrell's tasty empire, which also includes buzzy taco bar 777 (777.ie).

Fabulous Food Trails

Dublin's Fabulous Food Trails (fabfoodtrails.ie) do a two-and-a-half-hour walking and tasting trail that takes in some of the city's best independent food businesses, at €55pp.

Full disclosure - I'm a Fabulous Food Trail guide, so perhaps it will be me showing you around some tasty spots on a Saturday morning!

Other options include Delicious Dublin Tours (deliciousdublin.ie; €45pp), and Historical Walking Tours' Story of Irish Food (historicaltours.ie).

Get there

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You can reach Dublin by train (irishrail.ie), pulling into Heuston or Connolly Station and picking up the LUAS Red Line from either to whisk you into the city centre.

Busáras is also served by the Red Line - check fares and routes on buseireann.ie.

See visitdublin.com and dublintown.ie for more ideas.

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