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Brunch at Odessa, Dame Court

7 Jun

Odessa is widely regarded as one of the best spots in Dublin for some brunch of a Saturday morning. So recently myself and my mother headed in to Odessa before we started a slightly mad dash around town.  We arrived shortly after it opened and I’m glad we did- soon it started to fill up.

Odessa is on Dame Court, just off Exchequer Street. It isn’t the easiest to find- it has a pretty nondescript entrance, but persevere and make sure you find it. I had eaten here before at dinner time- where they do plates of differing sizes for €5 and €10 euro respectively as well as other stuff on the menu. There’s value to be had.

Food. On a plate.

Food. On a plate.


On this day in question, I opted for some huevos rancheros and the mother went for a Vietnamese salad. The brunch menu reads very well it has to be said- there are a lot of tempting options.  My eggs were served nice and runny, with corn tortillas, home fries, salsa and guacamole. There was also sour cream lurking on the plate somewhere. All of this was thoroughly enjoyable. Mum enjoyed her salad, I found it lacking a bit of zing- I felt it fell a little flat. I also thought the leaves were a little tough.

Brunch with two fresh orange juices and decent service came to €30. Odessa is definitely worth a visit. Especially for brunch.

Jo’Burger Town, Castle Market, D2

31 May

There are those evenings where despite your culinary inclinations, you just couldn’t be bothered cooking. My visit recently to Jo’Burger was on such an evening.  The sister was late finishing work, so I agreed to meet her in town for some nosh. I think this is her first appearance on the blog as a dining companion actually. None of the ‘nicknames’ I call her at home are fit for publication, so I’ll just leave it with Debs.

She was in the mood for a burger and some sweet potato fries. Jo’Burger was the best candidate to provide this, so we toddled along and we were seated amongst the hipsters and trendies, as the ‘cool-but-just-alternative-enough-that-you-don’t-know-it’ music wafted over us. What I like about menus in the Jo-empire is whether you are eating in Crackbird, Skinflint, BEAR or Jo’Burger- the menus don’t try to do too much. They do their own individual thing and they stick to it. I wish more places in Dublin would take a page from this rather than trying to please everyone and falling short.

Debs went for the Phiri burger, while I opted for the Bari. Both were cooked as we ordered them. I’m still phobic of a burger that is less than on the well side of medium-well. The peach curry sauce on mine could have had a bit more oomph maybe, but was a nice peach sauce. Topped with Emmenthal it was a good burger. Debs enjoyed her burger with red onion marmalade and rocket. We split a portion of  ruby coleslaw and sweet potato fries. Bother very well executed and generous in quantity. Also the Jo’Burger ketchup/table sauce is delicious. I’m still trying to figure out what’s in it. I have hunches…



My only quibble with the whole experience is that I don’t like towering burgers that look as if the chef once had ambitions to design skyscrapers, but sadly didn’t get the points for engineering. The burgers here fall into that category. Fair play to anyone would could eat them only with their hands and gob. To be fair though, they do offer an option to get it with half/no bun. So I know what to do next time. Also the lettuce on mine took over the plate, such was its size and it wasn’t particularly nice. A more delicate/shredded leaf would be preferable in my book.

I finished with an espresso and Debs had a mango, something, something  herbal tea- which was all sorts of fruity and delicious. With two of their home-made soft drinks (both very good), and some excellent, really friendly service, the bill came to €44.

WJ Kavanagh’s, Dorset Street

26 May

Dorset Street is hanging down with food outlets. If you peruse the lists of any takeaway website, you will see the array of eateries one can order from. There is some serious value out there too- a kebab and chips for a fiver! Despite these tempting deals, I managed to walk by the takeaways and wandered into WJ Kavanagh’s recently and shortly afterwards was joined by a good friend from college. He’s from outside the pale so is a good fella to dine with, as he doesn’t see Dublin as being divided by the Liffey. Dorset Street would not phase him. An adventurous sort.

I arrived first and settled myself at the bar and took in the array of beers/gins/whiskeys on offer. Impressive. The barman offered me a few to try as I wasn’t sure. Something I always appreciate. I settled on a very fine beer from Waterford, from the Metalman brewery. Himself arrived (looking like a George Michael tribute act, a comment that didn’t go down well, but he did- I blame the sunglasses.) We chose a table and leafed through the menu.

Meatarian board

Meatarian board


We started with a sharing platter for “Meatarians.” It was a very pleasant board of food. Various meaty delicacies, highlights being the terrine, which had good hammy flavour and wasn’t overly dense. Another favourite was the bacon jam which was very unctuous and sweet. Delicious. Served with some warm (good) bread and some piccalilli and pickled carrots of some variety- it was eaten in its entirety.

Two cocktails were ordered, for sampling/blogging purposes. The things I do for you people. George’s Daisy Cutter was grand, but I hit the jackpot with a ‘No.2’. Gin, elderflower, rose-water and citrus. Stunning with perfectly balanced flavours.

"No.2" in all its deliciousness

“No.2” in all its deliciousness

Mains were boar burger for him and bangers and mash for myself. A side of mac and cheese was also ordered, but we felt it was a little dry. Mac and cheese should be the sort of consistency you could lose a limb in. The boar burger was happily eaten, I even got to try some and it was very tasty- served in a good bun. My bangers and (black pudding) mash were served with an oniony sauce, but the mash was a little bland and didn’t really deliver on the black pudding front. All the same it was a tasty plate of food.

This is where a very pleasant dining experience took a turn. It was roughly an hour between finishing our mains and desert arriving. We were left with empty plates for (conservatively) 25 minutes. It wasn’t even that busy. It took so long we started to question whether or not desert would be ordered.

We did in the end- I ordered the fondant ( I was told it would take a while as it was done from scratch- he should have known at this stage we were a patient lot.) Himself went for a liquid (Redbreast, 12 year old) third course and enjoyed it. The fondant seemed to have had some sort of accident en route from mould to diner, so wasn’t intact, but was sufficiently gooey. The booze soaked cherries were potent and “Tasted like Christmas” according to George. The sea salt ice-cream was a first for me and was delish. The date purée seemed to have been replaced with a butterscotch sauce of some sort, and I left it be on the plate.

All of the above came to €73.  WJ Kavanagh’s has great drinks, very pleasant food, but unfortunately the service wasn’t up to the standard that the rest of the experience set. I’d still go back mind. The quirkiness of the place got to me, from the way the menu is written and presented, to the graffiti in the gents, but I think it was the chocolate fingers that accompany the bill which swung it.  Dublin needs more fun places like this, especially north of the Liffey.

Wahaca, Covent Garden

13 May

Guacamole and chips.

Guacamole and chips.

I found myself in London recently. One recommendation that came through on twitter and from friends over and over was Wahaca. So I made sure I tried it for dinner one of the night’s on my trip. I met with a friend from college, who had never eaten with a food blogger before. She did very well, and waited for photos of the food to be taken before going near anything.

We arrived not long after 6, and there was already a wait for tables. We used this time to grab a refreshing beverage- and soon our buzzer was going telling us that the table was ready. We ordered some guacamole and chips while we perused the menu. The guacamole was very pleasant. It had some coriander and wasn’t too heavy-handed on the red onion. Very tasty.

Pork pibil

Pork pibil

I left most of the ordering in my friend’s hands, having been before but my influence did extend to the pork pibil, which was first to arrive. Tender marinated pork, served on soft tortillas, garnished with some pickled onions. It was very tasty but perhaps it lacked a little punch. This may have been due to the heat coming from my beer– which owing to a slight mix up in ordering, was served with chilli and all sorts of other stuff. Interesting and quite spicy.

There was a herring tostada which was sour and a little bit smokey. Delicious. We went for both the taquitos on the menu, the winner here was the sweet potato and feta one. A triumphant combination of sweet and salty. There was also a very flavoursome mushroom quesadilla, which had an earthy taste.

All of this was rounded off with a split order of churros, doused in cinnamon and sugar. Tip (from my mate): order a side of dulce de leche with the chocolate it comes with. Pretty tasty combo. Service throughout was helpful (for us first timers), not rushed and very friendly. In short, the food’s very good, it’s great value and it is a fun place for some casual dining and a few drinks. I just hope they don’t over-extend as they are expanding at quite a rate.

Wahaca, Covent Garden.

66 Chandos Place.

Phone: +44 (0) 207 240 1883 (but they don’t take bookings.)

Kimchi Restaurant, Hophouse, Parnell Street

8 May

As the review tab of the blog will tell you, I’m working my way through Dublin 1’s Asian eateries. Having spent a considerable amount of time in the north inner city in years gone by, it is thoroughly refreshing to see it with a new lease of life and this is something I never tire of. I had heard good things about Kimchi and having not eaten much Korean food before/the prospect of pickled vegetables featuring heavily- I was eager to try it.

Myself and a friend arrived to a fairly busy restaurant for midweek and took our seats. It is an interesting set up. There are Korean bits of artwork on the wall and a few of these proved to be somewhat unsettling to my dining companion. We started with four chicken dumplings which were very tasty. Crisp and with a delicate interior, they were heavily flavoured and we were just sorry there weren’t a few more on the plate.

Chicken with some lurking pickles...

Chicken with some lurking pickles…

I opted for Dakgalbi. Pan fried chicken, in a chilli sauce. It was served with three ‘side dishes’ and some cabbage kimchi as well as some steamed rice.  The side dishes consisted of some fried tofu, pickled bean sprouts and pickled cucumber. The cucumber was by far the best, providing a sharp bite of contrast to the chicken. The sprouts didn’t benefit from whatever treatment they had received and myself and tofu had a falling out some years ago, and any hope of a rekindling of that relationship is unfortunately misplaced. I enjoyed the dish, but it was a little one-dimensional after a while.

The other main at the table was Bulgogi, which thanks to a helpful asterisk on the menu informed us it was a signature dish. It was a dish of thinly sliced beef, and had a nice flavour (soy sauce and Korean seasoning.)  My partner in dining felt it lacked any wow factor, and wasn’t sure the side dishes were in any way connected to it.

With 2 beers and some basic service the bill came to €42 ish. Kimchi is not bad, but nothing special.