Restaurant review: Paolo Tullio at The Farm, Dublin 2
Many years ago, I did one of the more intelligent things in my life. I remember it, because it's not as though there's a whole lot of intelligent things that I've done to remember.
What I did was this: after Christmas, I went to the sales and bought all my Christmas presents for the following year.
I sat back then, basking in my cleverness, and realised that from now on I'd always be doing my festive shopping in the post-Christmas sales, saving me money and, more importantly, saving me from that frenetic pre-Christmas madness in the shops.
We all know about the best-laid plans of mice and men.
Sure enough, the next Christmas found me on my uppers. I had all the presents I needed for my loved ones, but no money for the post-Christmas sales.
It was back to square one, and that's where I've been ever since.
Still, I'm as attracted as the next man to the idea of buying something cheap, so the sales are still a draw for me. The sales can be every bit as hectic as the pre-Christmas rush, since I'm not the only one who likes a bargain.
But if you're shopping in the city centre, you can at least take a break from the madding crowd and find yourself somewhere to sit down, put your feet up, and eat something good and inexpensive.
And that's easier to do than it used to be -- there are plenty of places in the city offering decent food at reasonable prices.
Parallel to Grafton Street is Dawson Street, and it's here at the Nassau Street end that you can find The Farm. It has a fairly narrow frontage, but it seems to go back forever.
I arrived at lunchtime with Gerard Carthy of Taste of Ireland, and the first thing I noticed was a sandwich board outside with the day's specials.
We got a table easily enough and got the menus. There's a mission statement that tells you what The Farm wants to do. It reads: "Affordable, tasty, homemade and locally sourced. As much organic and/or free range as we can, healthy vegetables and fresh herbs."
Now that's entirely admirable, so all we needed to know was if it lived up to the aspiration. It's simply done inside -- nothing fancy, but comfortable enough.
The menu had plenty of 'homemade' listings and was very moderately priced, as well as giving information about the provenance of the food.
All the starters were less than €10 and the majority of the mains were less than €15. For starters, we ordered the goats' cheese tart for Gerard and the homemade hummus for me, and we followed that with the organic Farm burger for Gerard and the Spanish omelette for me.
Other dishes that we could have ordered, all less than €15, were a fish pie, an organic loin of pork, an organic steak sandwich or a mushroom risotto. Organic salmon was also available, but it was the most expensive main course on the menu at €18.45.
Of our two starters, the goats' cheese tart, which was made with Ardsallagh cheese, was by far the better of the two. The flavour was very good, the texture worked well, but it missed perfection by having slightly overcooked pastry. Still, a very good dish.
My little ramekin of hummus was also fault-free, as was the spoonful of tapenade that topped it, but since it was accompanied by just a few strips of vegetable crudités and pita bread, it looked a little too plain on the plate.
Gerard's organic Farm burger looked very good on the plate. It came with organic bacon atop a burger already topped with a mature Cheddar. There were slices of ripe beef tomato, an onion marmalade and huge, square-cut chips stacked at the side.
My Spanish omelette looked less complicated, but it was well done and tasty. It's time to make plea for the return of the omelette, a great lunchtime dish that's easily dickied up. It's nourishing and not too filling.
I was glad to see it making a return on this lunchtime menu.
We finished up with an Americano for Gerard and an espresso for me, which brought our bill to €66.35.
Value for Money: 8/10
3 Dawson Street,
Tel: 01 671 8080