February 28, 2013

37 Dawson Street: A Dine in Dublin Experience

Yesterday evening I took advantage of one the great offers that are available as part of Dine in Dublin. 37 Dawson Street is a fantastic bar and restaurant which previously used to be Ron Blacks. The decor in the bar area is on the far side of quirky with animal skins attached to the walls and multi coloured chairs in the bar. For any whiskey lovers out there 37 also has a fully stocked whiskey bar tucked away down the very back of the building. It is a quiet, intimate space, is plushly decorated and is randomly where I watched a play as part of the Fringe Festival last year!

Furnishings in the Bar Area
The restaurant itself is located upstairs and is just as quirkily decorated.One of my friends exclaimed that it reminded her of a Gentleman's club but for ladies! We were particularly taken with the handbag chandelier.

The 37 Dine in Dublin menu had a good choice with four starters and five mains to choose from. One of the girls decided to go á la carte as she didn't want three courses which wasn't a problem with the staff. To begin though we were given our cocktail which was included in the price. It was a gin based cocktail mixed with tomato juice, basil and balsamic. You may think uggh as my friend did but then you would regret not getting one just as she did!! Though she did make up for it with her two White Ladies. 37 don't have a cocktail menu but they can make you anything you want. A claim I may have to test out next time I am there!

For starters I got the Rye field Goat's cheese, beetroot, candied walnuts, pickled fennel & rocket salad with lemon & thyme dressing. It was great starter not too heavy and the candied walnuts gave the salad a nice sweetness.

Rye field Goat's cheese
Miss M went for the seasonal soup which was Cauliflower and Parmesan cheese. She said it a was little too thick for her tastes and a little too heavy as a starter. Maya went for the Crunchy Calamari and Asian salad with chilli, ginger, coriander & lime dressing. The dressing was fairly hot but was nicely calmed down by the cocktails!
For the main I went for the Confit of Duck, braised red cabbage, celeriac dauphinoise & black cherry jus. The main was delicious though the only problem I had with it was that it was served on a board which made it difficult to use the sauce to full advantage as I would have liked to pour it over the duck.

Confit of Duck and Black Cherry Jus
Miss M's main dish was the Cajun sweet potato & Goat’s cheese filo served w/chickpea Cassoulet which looked delicious. Cassoulet is one of those perfect winter dishes.

Chickpea Cassoulet
Maya went for the Prawns a la Plancha- tiger prawns with garlic, chilli, parsley, olive oil & white wine served with white crusty bread. The prawns came with their tails which made them easy to eat and perfect for sharing. Maya lost a few off her dish when her back was turned!

Prawns a la Plancha
To finish we got a trio of desserts: Sticky Toffee Pudding with Hot Toffee Sauce, Blue Berry & Almond Tart, White Chocolate Ice-Cream & Chocolate Sauce. There was also a dollop of cream to eat with the tart. I love desserts like this, as I can never decide on what I want, and this is the perfect solution. In France, they call this Café Gourmand and it comes accompanied by a coffee or tea. This would be my dessert choice each time if all restaurants served them!

Three Desserts - Bliss
So how much did I pay for all this?? 25 euros is all and it is wonderful value. The dishes off the á la carte cost 7 euros for the calamari and 22 for the prawns. The bill in total came to 99 euros which was for two Dine in Dublin menus, the dishes off the á la carte, two White Lady's and a tea. So if you are looking for a great night out Dine in Dublin lasts till Sunday but if you don't feel like a meal just go and try 37's cocktails!

Check out the Dine in Dublin 37 Dawson Street menu here and for their regular menu click here.

February 26, 2013

Bang Restaurant: A Pleasant Surprise

Dine in Dublin is an twice yearly initiative run by DublinTown.ie. It is a week long event which aims to promote and showcase the best of city centre dining. A colleague only recently asked me what was so special about it - sure couldn't you eat out for €25 in a lot of places these days if you go early enough she said. She is right of course, it is easy to eat out for less these days if you are prepared to go early enough. The great thing about Dine in Dublin is that it is for the full seven days and is not restricted to a certain time. It's a great chance to try out some new places, on a Saturday night if you wish, and not break the bank. I already have 37 Dawson Street and The Exchange booked for this week!!

Another restaurant which is participating in the event is Bang Restaurant. Their Dine in Dublin offer is a Special 5 Course Surprise Tasting Menu for €39.95. I recently got to try out this menu for Valentine's Day and have been told that the courses on the Surprise Tasting Menu depend on which local and seasonal ingredients are available at the time so you won't know what you will get till you are given it!

For our surprise tasting menu we started the meal off with an amuse bouche which consisted of Fivemiletown Goats Cheese, Beetroot in various guises, Sunflower Seed Brittle and Truffle Honey. I have adored Fivemiletown Goats cheese ever since I came across it in Salt. It is smooth, light and went perfectly with the beetroot which was both pureed and pickled.
Amuse Bouche

Next was the fish course which consisted of Seared Castletownbere Scallops, Crispy Pork Cheek, Celeriac Puree and Caper & Raisin Dressing. The scallops were perfectly cooked, lovely and plump and the whole dish worked very well together.

Fish Course
Then it was onto the main course which was 14 Hour Slow Cooked Beef, Rainbow Carrots, Celeriac and Champ Potato. It didn't photograph too well but dear god it was delicious! The beef just fell apart and it was melt in the mouth. The Guinness and red wine sauce complemented it very well.

Meat Course
By now I was starting to feel full but Bang have thought of this and the next course was the cheese plate. The cheese plate had another of my favourites on it, Durrus, and a slice of Comte. Both of these were accompanied by some homemade cheese crackers whose only bad point was that I covered the table in poppy seeds!

Cheese Course
The meal was finished off with a Dark Chocolate Mousse and Passion Fruit Sorbet with Salted Caramel dotted over the plate. For some reason I don't have a photo of this because I thought I took one, but I am known to get very distracted by any sort of chocolate put in front of me! The chocolate mousse was a good end to the meal as it wasn't too heavy and the portion size was perfect. The salted caramel was practically licked off the plate but I restrained myself!
So if you are a bit adventurous and have always wanted to try Bang, then this would be the perfect week to visit and give them a go.

Bang Restaurant is located at 11 Merrion Square. To see the Dine in Dublin Menu for Bang click here.
Bang on Urbanspoon

February 13, 2013

Afternoon Indulgence at Fota Island Resort

Afternoon Tea - what's not to like about it!? Dainty sandwiches, pretty cakes and fancy coffee all eaten in the afternoon when you could probably be doing something much more productive. But you're not, you are eating cake in the afternoon while gossiping with friends - amazing!!

Recently I travelled to Fota Island Resort for a wedding with a friend as her plus one. I didn't know the couple very well but am very easy to entice with promises of a spa day and lots of cake! To start our weekend off we settled ourselves into the big comfy chairs in the Amber Lounge and ordered afternoon tea which was included in our Afternoon Indulgence spa package. Like all good afternoon tea outings we began with tea and coffee which was swiftly followed by an enticing three tier cake stand filled with goodies. This afternoon tea was slightly different to normal as it was a healthy options version due to it being part of the spa package. 

The first tier consisted of smoked salmon on brown bread, shots of tomato juice and a deconstructed caprese salad.

This was followed by a second layer of fresh scones with pots of butter and raspberry jam to lash on top of them. Afternoon tea was then finished off with slices of lemon cake and a nutty type sponge slice both of which were lovely. We were well and truly full by the time we finished and were totally relaxed and ready for our treatments. 

The spa in Fota Island is also one of the nicest I have ever been too. The whole experience was wonderful and worth every penny. The staff were knowledgeable and polite and the spa itself was well kept and very clean. As a former employee of a day spa I have very high standards when I am paying for a treatment and Fota lived up to all my expectations. They catered to our every need and made us feel like we were paying a lot more for the experience than we were.  The Afternoon Indulgence Spa Package cost €65 and includes a range of options which you can view here. If I lived closer I would be taking advantage of their special offers on a regular basis though I have been dropping lots of valentine related hints so fingers crossed!!

Find out more about Fota Island Resort here. 
Fota on Urbanspoon

February 05, 2013

Musashi Noodles and Sushi Bar

I have been hearing about Musashi since last year from bloggers such as Stitch and Bear and The Silver Chicken but haven't had a chance to try it until recently. Since my first visit just after Christmas it has now become my go to sushi place and I have tried to entice every friend I have to come with me just so I can keep going back!

Musashi is situated on Capel Street, a road I have generally bypassed on the way to the Italian Quarter or to Henry Street, but now I know better! Musashi is an unassuming restaurant which you could easily walk by if you weren't aware of it. Once inside though, the decor consists of long wooden tables and low wooden backless seats which help create an authentic Japanese atmosphere or as close to it as I imagine Japan to be!

The menu can be confusing with a lot of different choices for sushi and sashimi but the waiting staff are very helpful and will explain anything on the menu if you ask. For this visit we started off with Miso Soup which was quickly followed by an array of different dishes. We felt the best plan of attack was to just order lots of food and share it between us.

Miso Soup
Next up was Maria's choice of Agedashi Tofu. I have never really come around to the idea of tofu. I have always found it a bit rubbery but this was nice. It was lightly fried and its texture was more melt in the mouth than rubbery.

Agedashi Tofu

The tofu was followed by some Crab Cucumber Rolls and Ebi & Tuna Nigiri. The rice was wonderfully sticky and the fish tasted super fresh. One of the things I love most about sushi is that you can really taste all the ingredients that make up the dish and the sushi at Musashi is some of the best I have had in Ireland.

Crab Cucumber Roll
Ebi and Tuna Nigiri
We then tried some Tako Sunomono which was seaweed topped with octopus. I expected this to be like the seaweed that you get in Chinese restaurants where it has been fried. This was fresh and delicious and didn't taste at all like I expected it to. I personally would prefer it without the octopus as I find it rather chewy but that is just me.

Tako Sunomono
One of the last dishes we ate was the Ebi Gyoza which are essentially prawn dumplings. I adore Gyoza but they can so frequently go wrong and can end up tasteless and soggy. These were perfect, packed full of prawn and were just on the right side of crispy.

Ebi Gyoza
We finished off dinner with some frozen yogurt which is a lovely dessert after all that food, which I might add was eaten by only two of us! The food at Musashi is amazing, it is authentic, fresh and full of flavour and surprisingly not that expensive. For all that food, including a glass of plum wine, the total meal cost us €42.40.

Musashi is located at 15 Capel St Dublin 1. Their website is here and you can find them on Facebook here. It is also BYOB but this is only for wine as far as I can gather as they now offer beer on the drinks menu.

Musashi Noodles and Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

February 02, 2013

February Food Festivals and Events

Dublin Chinese New Year Festival: Dublin, 1st - 9th February
2013 celebrates the Year of the Snake. Established in 2008 the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival (DCNYF) showcases the best of Sino Irish Culture in Ireland and 2013 marks the sixth year of this internationally recognised festival. There is lots to see and do including the Carnival on Chinese New Year’s Day, Traditional Dragon and Lion dances, a Sino-Irish Business Seminar, a Children’s Programme, an Arts and Music Programme, Martial Arts and much more. Check out the Taste of China section where recipes will be uploaded daily. There are also special lectures and demonstrations with Cooks Academy and with Chinese food writer Julie O'Neill from Shananigans blog.
The Foodie Forum:
Galway, 5th February
The Foodie Forum is an interactive one day experience which will showcase the abundance and variety of food on offer in Ireland and in particular along the West Coast. The day will include a series of Master classes with leading chefs and food & wine workshops by leading wine experts.

Winter Ale and Casks Festival:
Co. Cork, 15th - 17th February
Cask ales and seasonal winter beers from all of Ireland's micro breweries. It all takes place in a heated tent with an all day BBQ on hand to help with all the sampling. And admission is free!

Also check out the Bia Sásta blog for some great local events happening in Cork throughout February and March. Click here for more.