28 August 2013

Dining Out in Dublin

I have never heard Dublin recognized as a city with great restaurant/food choices. So when heading out there for my last trip, I'll admit, my expectations were rather low. This is not always a bad thing -- in the immortal words of Lloyd Dobler, "If you expect the worst, everything else seems like a nice surprise."

So imagine my surprise when, on my recent trip to Dublin, we found not one, but two places serving good (non-pub) food in really cool spaces. My travel partner, A, who knows good food much better than I, gave these places his stamp of approval, as well!

Things seem to close really early in Dublin, and on a Friday night, we found ourselves wandering in the City Centre, starving and being turned away from restaurant after restaurant. We were ready to give up, when straight ahead of us we saw a chic-looking place that appeared to: 1. Still be open, and 2. Still be serving food.

This is primarily a steak-house, with various cuts I'd never really heard of. We, of course, ordered one, but what really stood out were the sides. We started with the mushroom & thyme duxelle, which was delicious. I could have scraped the little jar clean. We followed with the beetroot salad and some onion rings -- I think we were a little ambitious but it was all really, really good.

Apparently Anthony Bourdain stopped by Bear, as well!

Fade Street Social - Gastro Bar
This one may have been my favorite meal. I had dined at Fade Street Social earlier in the week, but at the restaurant. I found the food there good, but it was really loud and service terribly slow. But, looking for a decent meal in a city I didn't know well proved tough, so we took a risk on the Gastro Bar.

We didn't really think we could top Bear from the night before -- in my opinion, we were wrong. The Gastro Bar offers a wide selection of small plates, and there is something for everyone's palate. The two special dishes to me were the lamb carpaccio and the Irish Mushroom with celeriac and cep dressing. The lamb was a totally new dish to me -- I am always a bit wary of carpaccios...could be because I spent so much of my life not eating meat that eating it raw seems strange, but also because it needs to be really high quality! This dish was spot on. Very well seasoned, perfect portion size. And the mushrooms, like those the night before, were perfectly done with some sort of pastry strip (or something) around it. To top it all off, they had a full cocktail menu, which was nice to take advantage of after a week of beer.

Last I was in Ireland, my diet mainly consisted of grilled cheese sandwiches and fries (or, chips, as they are called across the pond). What a change this was!

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