The notion of an al fresco summer supper appealed, but with Arctic weather on the day, the perfect answer turned out to be Mykonos, a new Greek taverna on Dame Street. With wall-to-wall enormous, vibrant murals of diners on a terrace overlooking blue Aegean waters, Greek music playing, and summery Greek food, it was reminiscent of Shirley Valentine.
On sitting down at a table with my friend Paul, I discovered that Mykonos is the new venture of Adam Kritidis, who previously had Corfu on Parliament Street (now under new ownership), and Eri Shore, who will be familiar to regulars of Residence, on St Stephen's Green. Eri, who is from Athens, told us he had always wanted to set up his own restaurant, and Mykonos, which only opened a few days before our visit, is the result.
The menu majors in mezedes (€4-€9), with an extensive range under the categories of salads; dips; legumes; fresh fish; meat; vegetarian; saganaki (small dishes cooked in a two-handled, heavy frying pan); and home-made pies. Scattered throughout that broad spectrum, were Greek favourites such as spanakopita, a savoury pastry filled with chopped spinach, feta cheese, onions and seasoning. Fresh mussels are served with home-made tomato sauce, extra-virgin olive oil, feta cheese and oregano, while artichokes are cooked on a charcoal grill with extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice.
It's a great place for vegetarians, with their selection of giant or green beans cooked in casseroles with garlic, onions, and tomato; plus their vegetarian vine leaf dolmades, stuffed with long grain rice, fresh herbs and seasonings.
The fresh fish selection included chargrilled octopus; fresh prawns with garlic, white wine, extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice; as well as sardines and whitebait. If you want to go down the more 'solid' route, mains (€13-€27) included meat or vegetarian moussaka; a mixed grill platter; lamb chops; and the popular Greek stalwart of kleftiko - a baked lamb dish - which is melt-in-the-mouth tender. The steak man is also catered for by way of 8oz sirloin and 12oz T-bone steaks with all the trimmings.
Making up our own mezze selection, we kicked off with a dish of hummus (€4), mashed chickpeas mixed with Greek honey, fresh lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil and fresh garlic; it was certainly a far cry from the supermarket variety. We mopped it up with pitta bread (€1.50), before turning our attentions to a trio of vegetarian dolmades (€6), and a dish of beetroot salad (€8) topped with feta cheese, more extra-virgin olive oil and basil.
Our next three dishes were from the saganaki section. Saganaki prawns (€8.50) in a tomato sauce with feta and kefalotyri cheese, topped with ouzo, were delicious. Scallops (€9), were also excellent, cooked in the same manner as the prawns, and served in a scallop shell. What really surprised us, and a dish we loved, was a traditional kefalotyri saganaki (€6) dish. Kefalotyri is a Greek-style Parmesan cheese, and in this dish a good block of the cheese was dredged with flour, fried in the pan, and flamed at the table with ouzo. By way of greenery, we also had a smashing rocket salad (€5) which sported grilled halloumi, avocado, onions, tomatoes, and balsamic.
We rounded off by sharing baklava (€4.50), a traditional sweet filo pastry dessert, layered with chopped nuts and soaked with honey or sweet syrup, which is popular all over Greece and the Middle East. This baklava came with a scoop of ice cream, but we found it a bit dry, not very sweet, and perhaps the only let-down of the evening.
All in all, it was thoroughly enjoyable. With a large bottle of water (€3.50) and a glass of KirYianni Petra 2014 (€6.50), a crisp, fresh wine from northern Greece, our bill with optional service came to €68.50.
76 Dame Street, Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 561-3745
FALLON & BYRNE
Tel: (01) 230-3300
Style: This pretty, glass-sided Victorian pavilion is perfect for summer suppers
Price: A la carte, €7.95-€26.95. Fixed-price dinner menu Sun-Thurs, one/two/three 1/2/3 courses €19/€24/€29
Try: Roasted monkfish with leeks, pearl onions, brown shrimp and beurre blanc, €24.95
Drinks: Wine from €24. Bubbles, port and cocktails
Coolbawn, Midleton, Co Cork
Tel: (021) 463-2771
Style: Marog and Sally O’Brien have added a garden room to their fabulous Farmgate. Enjoy the vino and Ballycotton shellfish, and Should raindrops dare to fall, the sliding roof will roll into action
Price: A la carte, €5-€30. Early evening shellfish platter for two in the wine bar or garden room2, €30
Try: Roast loin of spring lamb, summer vegetables, €26
Drinks: Wine from €22. Full licence, bottled beers
The Malting Tower, Clanwilliam Terrace, Grand Canal Quay, Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 662-4199
Style: Bag a terrace table at Ross Lewis’s new citified Italian eatery. Nibble on cicchetti and follow up with fresh pasta, wood-fired pizzas or house specials
Price: €5-€22.50. Pre-Theatre two-course for two2, €40
Try: Chitarra vongole spaghetti, clams, garlic and chilli tomato, €19
Drinks: Wine from €25