Make a beeline for Brazilian BBQ on Bolton Street
What's the story?
Brazilian couple Bruno Amado and Thaís Eloá started B Skewers in 2019 to "democratize barbecue", by setting up stall at various food markets. Having worked in hospitality in Dublin running restaurants for other people (Bruno for places including The Intercontinental and Pacino's) they decided they wanted to be their own bosses, and after dipping a toe in the BBQ market and getting the reception they were looking for, they felt confident enough to look for a permanent site.
B Skewers opened on Bolton Street in early 2021, and rather than pitch themselves as a Brazilian BBQ shop initially, they said they wanted to showcase BBQ street food techniques from around the world (this now seems to have flipped back to Brazilian BBQ). That kind of catch all approach, as well as the strong focus they had on delivery apps, didn't initially get us fired up, but over the last year we've seen more and more chefs and laymen (whose opinions we take seriously) descend on B Skewers for steak on sticks, charcoal-grilled chicken hearts, and what several were calling the best burger in Dublin. We were in.
Where should I sit?
This place is teeny, with three high tables, five counter seats and some tables outside. We didn't realise that you can book online, and when we arrived there was nothing free, but the resourceful staff just lifted a table in from outside and sat us beside the till, then moved us to a high table when one became available. You've got to love a can do attitude.
The counter seats are perfect for a quick pitstop, allowing you to peer into the kitchen as you eat, and the outdoor tables will do the job if you want to sit in the fresh air, even if it's not the most glamorous set up in town. Our pick would be the high tables looking out onto Bolton Street.
What's the food like?
The menu consists of skewers, burgers and sides, and the prices make it feel very accessible (and easy to over order, but you can always take extras home). Also be sure to check out the combo deals where you can mix and match it all, even if a substantial amount of brain power is required to decipher the best way to order what you want.
We asked the owner Bruno what he recommended, which was a good decision because he loves to talk about food as much as we do. Basically, "everything is amazing", but he really wanted us to try the pork belly, the steak, the chicken legs, and the cheese and onion sausage. We wanted to try the burger after seeing it all over the 'gram, and the chicken hearts for offal novelty. He also gave us a substantial amount of interesting information about their sides and sauces, and where the dishes and recipes come from, including cassava/yuca prepared three different ways.
They suggested we start with the burger and "fried yuca snacks", and if this dish hasn't been created with the 'gram in mind it was a very happy accident. Cutting it in half and flashing each side back on the grill for those all important grill marks manages to make it look that much more appetising.
The burgers (fresh from FX Buckley each morning) are dripping with meat juices and cheddar cheese, have a slick of herby mayo, and are served medium-medium/rare - brave in today's health and safety obsessed society but they feel their sourcing is good enough to go for it. Once you've had a non-overcooked burger it's hard to go back, and it's very difficult to find one outside your own home these days, so we just hope this one manages to stick around.
Yucca (or cassava) is a carbohydrate filled root vegetable, from the same family as potatoes, sweet potatoes and taro. It's native to south American and consumed daily in Brazil in numerous forms, including flour. Here it's on the menu in three different ways, including these deep-fried balls of silky smooth, starchy yuca snacks, with small chunks of smoked sausage mixed throughout, and a crunchy shell keeping it all in tact. Beer snacks don't get better.
There are nine skewers to choose from and you could forego the burger and try them all between two, but with limited stomach space we picked four. The best were the beef (tender, marinated Angus) and the pork belly (melting and sweet), both tasting like something straight from a São Paulo Churrascaria.
The cheese and onion sausage is made especially for them by a Brazilian sausage maker in Dublin, and has chunks of melting cheese amongst the salty pork, but as sausages go it didn't leave a lasting impression. The chicken hearts are for offal aficionados only, and we didn't love them, but you might. Bruno also recommended we try the boneless free-range chicken legs, and we meant to order the halloumi but forgot in all the excited discussion about the menu. Two of many reasons to go back.
While the steak was filled with flavour on its own, it was taken to a new stratosphere by the addition of some "vinaigrette" and farofa. The vinaigrette is a tangy, mouth-puckering mix of tomato, onion, spring onion, olive oil and lime juice, and does the same job (probably better) as a spoonful of chimichurri with a nice slab of Bife de Chorizo.
In Brazil they often sprinkle farofa (another form of cassava with a texture similar to polenta) over barbecued meats, and while you might wonder whether its necessary to fling additional carbs onto some perfectly good meat, we have now discovered that it is. A chunk of steak sprinkled with farofa and topped with a spoon of vinaigrette made for a massively memorable mouthful of food, and really highlighted how little additions can take a meal from good to great.
For cassava #3, it was a mashed version, similar to very smooth potatoes, but also creamy and cheesy. It had more depth of flavour than potato, and tasted more savoury, and it would be very easy to just eat this by the spoon (which we did).
We also tried the buttered sweetcorn which was a bit sweet and a bit spicy, although we felt it could have had a bit more of a bite.
There are five sauces to choose from and we ordered the salsa verde (tangy and full of fresh herbs) and the garlic pâté (like a very good garlic mayo made with roasted bulbs). They also brought us an African pepper sauce to try, saying they had been working on the recipe for ages, and this is one for the chilli chasers, but despite its heat it's fruity and rounded. Just don't eat too much in one go.
There's only one option for dessert - a dulce de leche stuffed toasted brioche bun, and while no one needs a dessert like this, sometimes a bit of indulgence is required. It's excellent dulce de leche in an excellent toasted bun, and while at first we thought it needed some ice-cream, there was something OTT in a good way about carb on carb. If you can eat a whole one of these you've got a higher sugar tolerance than we do, so we recommend one to share, between four.
What about drinks?
It's no surprise that the drinks list is basic, but they do a mean Aperol Spritz, as well as Campari spritz, a Spanish beer called Madri, and some unexciting but drinkable wines. When we arrived we liked the look of the Aperol Spritz but they had no ice so we ordered prosecco instead. About 20 minutes later we saw some ice arrive, and before we even had a chance to ask, two ice-cold glasses were delivered to our table FOC. This kind of generous hospitality feels very rare these days, and seems to sum up what the place and its owners are about.
How was the service?
From the first smiles on walking in, to the generosity of time and spirit in explaining the food and menu, to the warm farewell on departure, it felt like being a very welcome guest in someone's home, and a genuine opportunity to learn about new foods you may not be overly familiar with - something that's not possible in the same way without the right, wholly impassioned people serving it.
And the damage?
Around €65 for two with one drink each on the bill and leftovers to take home. In a world of rising prices, we think places like this which can deliver such sincere, delicious food at such great prices are going to ride high for the foreseeable future.
You know when you leave somewhere you liked so much that you can barely wait to tell someone about it? That was us with B Skewers, phone in hand before the door shut had behind us. We were completely endeared by the whole, heartwarmingly honest operation, the people behind it, and the new flavours and ingredients they're serving up to infatuated customers, sick of the same old dishes citywide, although we'd love to see a stronger focus on provenance and quality ingredients - they've told us it's on their agenda. We've never found a Brazilian BBQ worth shouting about, and although there's another currently on our to try list, right now we've got all the love for Bruno, Thaís and their little Brazilian BBQ on Bolton Street.
47 Bolton Street, Dublin 1 www.bskewers.com