Showing posts with label Dublin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dublin. Show all posts

Monday, February 13, 2017

Darwins - The Origin of the Steak

Darwins - The Origin of the Steak
Steak
 If you’re on the prowl in Dublin and looking for steak, then head to Darwins Restaurant in Aungier Street. While you’re waiting for your order, take a peak at those big guys on the wall, your ancestors, the origin of the species.

When that steak comes, you’ll straighten up immediately as the aromas waft up from that fillet. Indeed, you’ll have a good choice of cuts here: Dry-aged Strip loin (14oz); New York Strip loin steak (14oz); Rib eye steak on the bone (20oz); Rib eye off the bone (12oz - it was a big bone!); that Premium eye Fillet steak (10oz); and Centre cut T-bone steak (20oz).

Darwins have something of an advantage in that their steaks are sourced from their own in house butchers. “Before it’s delivered to you it is hand selected, aged to perfection and hand trimmed. It is then seasoned, seared and cooked to order over a very hot grill to seal in the flavour.”
Lamb
 All the steaks are served with a potato mash and there is a choice of sides including House Chips, skinny or chunky. And no shortage of sauces either. The usual suspects such as Pepper sauce, blue cheese sauce, garlic butter, Sauce béarnaise, and mushroom sauce are on the list but you’ll also see one or two rarer ones such as Barolo jus.

I had all that to pick as I went through the menu and my final combination was that Premium Eye Fillet with that excellent Barolo jus along with a side of the chunky chips. Steak heaven!


Steak is not the only meat they do well here. Wicklow Lamb is another speciality. You won't have as much choice as with the beef but do look out for this one: the Assiette of Wicklow lamb, half rack and eye fillet cuts, buttered mashed potato.

Deconstructed cherry cheesecake,
definitely destructed a few minutes later.  
This, their award winning lamb dish, is served with a Barolo and dark chocolate jus and it is served pink “but if you would like to alter the temperature just let us know”.

In fairness, they let you know in advance and you’ll see this temperature chart on the menu so do have a look and then you’ll know exactly what is coming up.
Blue: slowly warmed through, takes the longest to prepare
Rare: 52 °C very red cool centre
Medium rare: 55 °C very red, warm centre
Medium: 60 °C middle of the steak red, pink surrounding the centre Medium well: 65 °C pink in the centre of the meat, brown towards exterior
Well done: 71 °C cooked through tends to be without moisture.

My steak was medium and was perfect. CL asked for the lamb to be medium as well. Both were as ordered and each dish was a delight, washed down with Reserve de L’Aube, a fruity and easy-drinking Syrah/Merlot blend from the Languedoc. But they do have a good choice of wines and also a bunch of craft beers, mainly from O’Hara’s.

Darwins
80 Aungier Street 
Dublin 2
Tel: 01-4757511 
Fax: 01-4758942
Hours: Dinner: Monday – Saturday, 5pm – Late.
Closed Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

FX Buckley. Exquisite Steak in Dublin City

FX Buckley
Exquisite Steak in Dublin City
No shortage of beef here!


Ended up with James Joyce in Dublin the week before last.

Just name-dropping, really. I was in the FX Buckley Steakhouse in Pembroke Street, another Dublin institution, and had just finished an exquisite steak dish. No room for dessert but certainly room and inclination for their James Joyce cocktail made with Powers Pot Still Whiskey, Triple Sec, Rosso Vermouth and lime juice.

Francis Xavier Buckley opened his first butcher shop on Moore Street in 1930 and this soon became a well-known Dublin institution. Since then it was part of a natural progression to open their own steakhouses around the city and serve their famous beef from their butchers to your table. You’ll find them in Pembroke St.,  Crow St.,  Ryan's Parkgate St.,  Bull & Castle (near Dublin Castle) and at The Pub @ FXB Monkstown.

With large glass-fronted fridges behind me, I thought my 8 ounce fillet looked a bit lonely on the plate with its little pot of pepper sauce (30.00). Of course, I could have had ordered a larger size or more sides than just their Beef Dripping Chips. But is was perfect. Exquisitely so. Tender and full of flavour and big enough too, a succulent sufficiency. And those chips. Must be the best around!
Meanwhile, CL was tucking into her Six ounce medallions of fillet beef, served with spring onion mash, shallots, mushroom and red wine jus (23.00). With all the steak dishes, you can order extra sides.

The Irish “grass-fed heritage steaks” are normally Angus or Hereford but from time to time, they may have Dexter or Irish Moiled meat available. All will have been aged for 28 days by the time they reach your plate.

The only steak that features on the A La Carte starter list is the Fillet Steak tartare. There are some great choices here including Black Pudding Croquette; Carlingford Lough Oysters; Asparagus, poached egg and Hollandaise; Foie Gras and Duck liver Paté.
CL was delighted with her Kilkeel Harbour Scallops, served with a Buckley black-pudding, with crushed mint peas and hollandais (13.50). A terrific combination with, surprisingly, the peas playing a starring role.

My choice was the FX Buckley cured salmon blini, with chive crème fraîche and mustard honey dressing (9.50). Went through that one fairly quickly, I can tell you, very tasty indeed.

What to drink? We had been at a wine-tasting that afternoon so settled on beer in Buckley’s. The fact that they have their own ale helped. It was a nice one too though I preferred the large bottle of O’Hara’s Pale Ale. By the way, there is no shortage of wine here. It is a massive list with the reds in the majority, some very expensive, some very affordable.

And no shortage of cocktails either. When it came to making up my mind, I decided to stick with the locals and Mr Joyce. And I enjoyed his company very much indeed.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Dunne & Crescenzi. The Friendly Italian

Dunne & Crescenzi
The Friendly Italian


Tagliatelle con pancetta Tuscana
We were in the mood for Italian, food that is, in Dublin one night last week. We had Dunne & Crescenzi on our short list and a recommendation from Joanne (@dudara on Twitter), a Cork “exile” in Dublin for the past nine years or so, sent us off to South Frederick Street and a lovely meal.

Quite a big crowd in, though the two rooms weren't full and that gave us the chance to have  a look at the Italian wine (over 200 types, I think), stored in shelves on all the walls. We settled on a Valpolicella Classico Biologico La Corte Del Pozzo (8.00) and a Rosso di Montepulciano Fossolupaio DOC (8.50), both smooth, both perfect.

Just as well we weren't ordering a bottle - we could have been there all night, such was the extent of the list. As it was it took a quite a while to read through the menu, pages and pages of great choice. We had been nibbling at earlier venues so a small starter was in order and we found just the thing under the Stuzzichini heading.

The word means snacks (approximately) but still the plates were large enough, reasonably priced at six euro each. They were also very appetising. One was Porzione di salumi misti (Portion of Emilia Romagna charcuterie) and the other Porzione di Speck di Trento (Portion of smoked prosciutto). Big tasty snacks!

The "snacks" and Vinsanto

They had a couple of specials on the board and the translation was done with a friendly gusto - service overall was excellent.


I picked one from the board: Tagliatelle con pancetta Tuscana, olive taggiasche, carciofi e pecorino (15.50), that is, if I remember rightly, Tagliatelle with Tuscan bacon, olives, artichokes and pecorino. I loved it, every little bit, loved the colours, the textures, the flavours, not least the olives that added a salty contrast.  
CL went for the Salsiccia senese e fagioli borlotti, Slow cooked fragrant Tuscan fresh sausage, tomato and borlotti bean casserole (13.50). It was a cool enough night and this was a warming dish, that beautiful sausage and a small mountain of beans.

As I mentioned, we had been "grazing" elsewhere earlier, so reluctantly left the Tiramisu and the other desserts alone. Instead we settled for a delicious glass of Vinsanto Tuscany. This well balanced sweet wine was dispatched slowly, sip by sip, postponing all the sweet while our exit into the cool night. The hotel though wasn't too far away.

If you're looking for an Italian around Grafton Street or the Stephen’s Green area, then Dunne and Crescenzi is Very Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Summer Days in Dublin. Capital Food and Fun

Summer Days in Dublin
Capital Food and Fun
View of Dublin Castle and surrounds from rooftop garden of Chester Beatty Library

 Just back after a terrific trip to Dublin in the sunshine. And I enjoyed every minute (almost!)  of the three sunshine filled days. On the fourth day, it rained and we met our one and only grumpy taxi-driver of the break, but we were then starting on our way home. Before that, we had very courteous humorous taxi-drivers and the fares seemed reasonable throughout.


Our first trip though was by Luas and that took us close enough to our base, the Trinity Lodge. Didn’t know much about it when we booked a few months back. It is very convenient for the city centre, situated on Frederick Street (just off Nassau Street), next door to Dunne & Crescenzi.



Dublin Castle and State Apartments yard
It is spread over four Georgian houses. There was no lift in our building and the breakfast room was across the street. But everything was up to scratch. Very welcoming and helpful with city information (including maps and taxi calls), a good choice at breakfast (no buffet here - cooked from scratch), there is free Wi-Fi and security is excellent and an Air Coach stop is just 50 metres away.

That afternoon we headed for the Teeling Distillery (€14.00), a new operation in the heart of the Liberties where we had an excellent tour and tasting.
St Patrick's
Next stop was at the nearby St Patrick’s Cathedral. Admission here is five euro. The present building dates from 1220. The Cathedral is today the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland (a church of the Anglican communion) and also serves as a popular tourist attraction in Ireland.

No shortage of history here as you'd expect and there are busts of Douglas Hyde and Erskine Childers (both Irish presidents) and Jonathan Swift ( dean of the cathedral). There too you’ll see the Boyle monument, erected by Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork, in 1632 in memory of his second wife.
Queue for Book of Kells
 Then the mood lightened as we reached Grafton Street and its entertainers. This became a daily stop such was the high standard on offer. All kinds of fun on the street including music, magic and acrobats. You know you're in a capital city when you have to slow down to stroll through the crowds. Later, that evening we had a capital meal, and a great welcome from Cork chef Ross Lewis, at Chapter One .


The sun continued to shine on day two. After a stroll around St Stephen’s Green, we entered Trinity College (€13.00) to see the Book of Kells . We took the general tour - you sign up just inside the main door. It costs just a few euro more than the Book of Kells admission and is well worth it. Our guide, Johnny, took us around the grounds, explaining the buildings, the place and its people (past and present) with no little humour.



Arnaldo Pomodoro's 'Sphere Within Sphere' at Trinity
We had to join a “five minute” queue tour for the book itself. And it was crowded inside as people squeezed in around the display. Might be better to come here in the off-season! The famous Long Room in the Old Library is also part of the tour. Here some 200,000 of the library’s oldest books are stored, the heaviest on the bottom shelves, and all are overseen by a great collection of busts that include Mr Swift again!

The afternoon was spent at the Chester Beatty Library (free). Here the emphasis is very much on the Middle East and Asia, the source of the world's main religions and, in the permanent displays, you'll see a massive collection of related books and other materials (including the “armour” of a Japanese warrior) illustrating the religions and the cultures of that part of the world.
Grafton Street

The current exhibition is Damsels for Dinner: Tale of Oeyama. The Chester Beatty’s mid-17th- century version of the story, produced in a set of three magnificently illustrated scrolls, is on display in the ‘Arts of the Book’ gallery until January 2016.  

Downstairs, you'll find the highly rated Silk Road Café which offers a range of mouth-watering menus from Afghanistan, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Morocco and Palestine, as well as Ireland. You will, of course, pay for your meal but there is no admission charge for the library itself.



Ely Dessert
That evening, on the way to the 3 Arena, we called to Ely at CHQ for their fabulous Early Bird. Great value too at €22.95 for two courses. The restaurant - they have another one in Ely Place, off Stephen’s Green - is noted for using local produce (much of it from the family farm in Clare)  and its fabulous wine list. Highlight was the main course of Braised Beef Cheek with a vegetable tagine and butter beans, tender and delicious. Very convenient for the arena, and other venues, but well worth a visit in its own right.


There was a great buzz there on that Friday evening, packed upstairs and downstairs. The vaults downstairs reminded me of the old bond in Cork. Wonder would Ely be interested in taking that over?



Diamond's forever
Off then to see Neil Diamond. Think I'd have been better off if I had booked dinner, rather than Early Bird in Ely. But I must also say that mine was very much a minority opinion. The place was packed with fans and he told them they loved him and they enthusiastically agreed. Good finish with Sweet Caroline but lots of the earlier songs, even those from his new album (one of which, Art of Love, took five years to write!), sounded old. Glad to get out in the fresh air.


Got a taxi up to the fantastic Botanic Gardens (free) on Saturday morning and had a great couple of hours there. Read the account here. You can walk through a gate from the gardens to the Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum. Here we saw the graves of many famous Irish men and women. We’ll call again as there is much to take in. Time was running out for us, otherwise we'd have taken a guided tour.




Tower marks grave of Daniel O'Connell
 After getting the bus back to the city and working our way through a protest march, we felt we deserved a beer. And we got a very good one from the micro-brewery in Sweetman’s Pub on Burgh Quay, just at the south side of O’Connell Bridge. They have seven of their own beers on offer but I settled for the outstanding Pale Ale. Great buzz there and very highly recommended. Oh, by the way, they do sell other craft beers and some ordinary beers as well!


Another call to Grafton Street and its entertainers on the way back to the Lodge before heading out that evening to a splendid finale at Restaurant Forty One where we absolutely enjoyed the meal and a little chat with chef Graham Neville. A great way to finish a fabulous few days in Ireland's capital city.



Glasnevin grave of O'Donovan Rossa
Chapter One Restaurant
National Botanic Gardens



Friday, July 10, 2015

Chapter One. A Chef and His Suppliers

Chapter One
A Chef and His Suppliers
Japanese Pearl Tapioca
When visiting a restaurant for the first time, I look at the suppliers list. Quite often, I need look no further. Here’s why: Our location on the Northside of Dublin was a notoriously difficult place to trade. Yet people who cared about food came, and suppliers who were passionate about their uniquely Irish produce came too – integrity of produce was what united us. We rely on their drive, passion and determination to achieve so much of what we do here.

The words in italics are from the website of Chapter One. So, okay, I'd have to be living in cloud cuckoo land not to have heard of Ross Lewis, the chef there. But I know him, met him for the first time late last year, and met him again the other night where his restaurant is;  the location - under the Dublin Writers Museum - explains it name.
Chilled Clarenbridge Oysters
But I have known most of his suppliers for much longer and it is they who give me the confidence to go to Chapter One and to many other restaurants around the country. As Ross says, the influence of the suppliers cannot be underestimated. Check here for a full list (and some photos) of the Chapter One suppliers.

But Chef Lewis brings the produce to another level here and so we come, and so do so many more, to the basement at north end of O'Connell Street. Lots of little stories here, including the fact that Mary Robinson met her husband-to-be in the National Ballroom more or less next door. Those of us of a certain age have our little and big stories of the ballrooms - I credit The Freshman with mine, but it's a long, many decades long, story!
Jumbo green asparagus
But time now for the food and the wine, the superb tasting menu and the matching wines at Chapter One. Service, as you might expect, was impeccable.

We started with the Japanese pearl tapioca with matured Gabriel cheese, peas and truffle and the wine was Lustau, Los Arcos, Dry Amontillado. Lustau is perhaps my favourite sherry producer and this was a magic match.
****

Lobster
Course Two was Chilled poached Clarenbridge oyster with Mulloy’s smoked haddock, seaweed jelly. Domaine Chatelain, ‘Les Charmes’ Pouilly Fumé 2011 was the excellent wine, matching the dish.

Then came the Roasted jumbo green asparagus with shellfish and lemon butter.
Heinz W, Joseph Gruner Veltliner, Kamptal; the Austrian wine, a favourite of ours and of our server, was just perfect with the asparagus.
*****

Loin of rabbit
Course Four was Lobster with fermented horseradish and cauliflower. This was an upgrade from scallops and the stunning young Burgundy, Domaine Jean-Baptiste Ponsot, Rully 2013, which was aromatic, fresh and delicate, enhanced the flesh.
****
Now we were back on Terra Firma (almost!).  Pig’s tail stuffed with Fingal Ferguson’s bacon and Dublin bay prawn, basil purée and citrus mustard fruit. Patrice Cacheux et Fils, Hautes Côtes de Nuits ‘Tilles’ 2013. Some terrific wines all through but this Pinot Noir was outstanding.
Irish Coffee on the way!
Last of the meat was Loin of rabbit and Parma ham farce wrapped in pancetta with parsley and barley risotto, roasted balsamic carrots, poached spring onion and crumble. The Simone-Joseph, Beaumes de Venise ‘La Vigne Corbée’ 2012, was fruity, dry and refreshing and boasted a long finish. Just the job for the delicious rabbit.
****
The gorgeous sweet course was Baked lemon curd with praline mousse, meringue crisps, buckwheat ice cream and hazelnut tuille and that was accompanied by Miguel Torres, ‘Nectaria’ Botrytis Riesling, Curico Valley 2009.

Might have expecting a sweet Beaumes de Venises after the previous wine but we were in for another lovely surprise with this Nectaria, highlighted in a shortlist by Evan Goldstein in his Wines of South America (2014). What other treasures has Chile in store for us? This is a gem worth seeking out.

****
Jack McCarthy (left), one of Chapter One's suppliers,
pictured with Yours Truly in Kanturk.
Jack's castle is in the background!
As we nibbled our way through the chocolate rich Petit Fours, we gave thanks to Mr Lewis and his friendly and efficient staff, front of house and in the kitchens, to the suppliers up and down this land - again I quote from the Chapter One website - a land that is the inspiration “that enriches the work of poets, artists, farmers and chefs”.

Long may the customers continue to come to the door of Chapter One. They will be well fed and fed well in this Michelin starred restaurant.


See also:
The National Botanic Gardens visit
Teeling Distillery visit
Dinner of Delights at Restaurant Forty One

Saturday, March 1, 2014

44 Hours in Dublin

44 Hours in Dublin
Well over 2000 years between the Meathman (below) and Jedward. But look at the hairstyles. Gel (probably imported from Spain or France) was used, certainly by the Meathman! The Meathman, one of bodies recovered from Irish bogs, may be seen in the Museum of Archaelogy, Jedward in the Wax Museum (Dublin) 
I spent a pretty “busy” 44 hours in Dublin this week. My base was at Albany House, an elegant Georgian guest house just off St Stephen's Green. The 3 star establishment, about one hundred yards down Harcourt Street, was so well placed for the events I needed to get to and at a total of €108.00 for the two of us (two nights B&B), it was also very economical.

They do not have an elevator in the building, but offer all the other amenities you would expect from a modern 3-star city centre guest house. Well kept clean rooms (much bigger than you'd find in city centre hotels in Paris or Rome) include free Wi-Fi throughout. An extensive continental breakfast is available every morning, and is included in all room rates.


That breakfast, by the way, is taken in a gorgeous room. You’d easily imagine you were in Ballymaloe or Fleming’s but for the green Luas purring by on the street outside. There is 24 hour reception and the staff are very friendly and helpful. Easy to reach too from Heuston Station. If you have some baggage, you'd be better off to get the 145 bus to the green; travelling light, and with time on your hands, you might opt for the red Luas to the city centre and then cross the river and stroll up through Temple Bar and Grafton Street.
No blogger was harmed during taking of this photo.

Our first call (after a 2.00pm check-in) was to the Wax Museum in Temple Bar. Spread over four floors, it is pretty cramped but very interesting. It has a children's section (with a crawl through tunnel), an eye-opening hands-on Science and Discovery Room (a tribute to the many Irish pioneers), a Chambers of Horrors, even a recording studio, all included before you reach the Grand Hall of Fame, the museum’s best display and a tribute to the stars of movies and music. There is an admission charge.

That evening, we headed off to the other side of the green towards Ely Place and dinner at the ely Wine Bar. See separate post here.

Wednesday was to prove a packed day. First up was the Liberty Wine Portfolio Tasting in Fallon and Byrne. After a pleasant couple of hours we left there and made our way past the green to Leeson Street Lower and eventually to lunch at the Forest Avenue Restaurant, see post here

Ardagh Chalice

Our next call was the National Museum of Archaeology in Kildare Street, again quite close to Stephen’s Green. No admission fee here but there really should be. It is a superb building - take  a look at the ornamented interior doors as you go around and do look up at the magnificent domed ceiling in the entrance hall.

There are many enthralling exhibitions here including The Treasury (which includes rare finds such as the Ardagh Chalice and the Derrynaflan Hoard) and Ireland's Gold (an amazing amount of it, and in so many amazing shapes, including huge box earrings!)


Gold Collar (Co. Clare), 800-700BC

Perhaps the outstanding section is the Kingship and Sacrifice exhibition that concentrates on a number of recently found bog bodies dating back to the Iron Age. Here you come face to face with your ancient ancestors, some of them cruelly dispatched.

The evening ended on a much lighter note, some very high ones actually. We went to see New Jersey Nights at the Gaiety, the story of Frankie Valli and the four seasons, song and dance from start to finish, including numbers such as Oh What a Night, Bye Bye Baby, Sherry, Rag Doll, Walk Like a Man, Big Girls Don't Cry. Lots of big girls in the audience too - they outnumbered the much quieter fellas by about nine to one, out-sang them too. Great night out and then it was a short stroll back to Albany House.