Jerk chicken & goat curry come to Dame Street
1A Baggot Street Upper, Dublin
What’s the story?
A couple of weeks ago we came across an article in the Dublin Inquirer about a new pop-up in Berlin on Dame Street - Ruby Tuesday's Jerk Chicken. Previously home to Lucky Tortoise, the bar has been playing host to some interesting kitchen concepts over the past year, and the promise of a secret jerk sauce recipe learnt from a Jamaican relative was too much to pass up.
The Ruby in question was born in Brixton to Ghanian parents, and anyone who's been there will know it's a thriving hub of Caribbean families, food and music. She came to Dublin for the weekend 14 years ago and loved it so much she moved here. She worked in telecommunications before debuting her cooking at a music festival 10 years ago, but only seriously looked into making it a career after being made redundant last year. She started serving food in Berlin in November, and you can read more about her in that great Dublin Inquirer piece.
Where should we go for a drink first?
It is in a bar, albeit one without an inspiring drinks selection, so it depends what you're after. There was a decent martini made, but they won't be winning any awards for their beer, cider or wine selection. If you're particular about your drinks (*waves*), you might want to walk 5 minutes to The Sidecar in the Westbury (below) for brilliant cocktails which come with fat, juicy olives, mixed nuts and teeny glasses of prosecco while you wait (swoon). For wine, Piglet and Loose Canon and both less than a 5 minute walk away, and for a good old fashioned pub you're just a stone's throw from The Stag's Head.
Where should we sit?
The bar has two main sections, one with the door out onto Dame Court which had a DJ blasting 90's hiphop on a Tuesday night, and the other where the Dame Street entrance and the kitchen are (thankfully you can still hear the 90's hiphop from here - JLO + LL Cool J + Jerk chicken = good times). We'd sit on the kitchen side for obvious reasons, ideally on the banquettes.
What's good to eat?
This is very inexpensive food, so we ordered way too much of it, and with enough left for two take home boxes, it came to €17 a head. What we didn't realise was that a lot of the ingredients are in the same dishes so we ended up with four lots of fried plantain and a lot of uneaten rice, but we do like to try all the food. The plantain was surprisingly one of the highlights, and we all struggled to stop eating them - like a marginally healthier version of bar crisps. Ruby was not divulging what they were fried in, despite our pleas, but this is good stuff.
From the snacks we also ordered the jerk chicken wings and the Jamaican beef patty. The patty was another resounding win and disappeared as quickly as it was put down. We'd go back for this alone. The jerk sauce on (mostly under) the wings was great, but we'd have preferred them to be cooked low and slow to render the fat down, making the skin nicer to eat, although this didn't bother others.
We tried four of the mains, and the Jerk chicken with jollof rice and more of those fried plantains was the unanimous favourite. This time the fat was mostly rendered and the chicken was falling apart. So many good flavours and a nice kick of spice balanced by the milder rice and the sweet plantain.
The oxtail stew with dumplings, butter beans and carrots, served with more rice and the meat on the bone, was a really rich, comforting dish with layers of flavour - this was obviously not cooked in a hurry and just what you'd want on a cold night.
The other two dishes were fine, but wouldn't have us rushing back. Caribbean fishcakes were a bit 'nondescript fish and potato', and Jollof rice with Caribbean salsa and more fried plantain was a bit of a damp squib - but maybe we were rice and plantained out by that stage - certainly the vegans will be happy to be included.
We were totally gutted to find out that the curry goat is only available at the weekend and plan on going back for that. We definitely over ordered with three snacks and four mains between four, but they do have takeaway boxes so you can take leftovers home - which you definitely should, down with food waste.
What about dessert?
There are currently no desserts on the menu, so you could head back down to Loose Canon for a cheese plate, or across the road to the recently opened Sweet Churro in Temple Bar, for the South American version of doughnuts filled with dulce de leche or chocolate.
And the drinks?
As stated earlier, it's not the most inspiring drinks list in the city. If you're happy with the usual suspects or spirits and mixers you'll be fine, otherwise you may want to get in, eat, and get out. We would have loved to see some Caribbean inspired drinks on the menu to go with the food, and think they're missing a trick.
And the service?
Ruby is like the mother hen, lavishing food on people and simultaneously blushing and giggling when they tell her how much they loved it. Bar staff were equally lovely. Our only complaint was that all seven items arrived to the table at the same time, which was way too much for the table to hold and for us to try to eat without a lot of it getting cold. So if you want snacks first followed by main after, make sure you tell them that.
"Authentic ethnic food" which also tastes great (not always a given, there are plenty of bad Irish stews made in this country on a nightly basis) is the holy grail for pavement pounding food-aholics. This tasted both authentically Caribbean and very tasty, and when you add in fast and cheap it's definitely worth using a meal token on. You could come out of here well fed for €10, and have a new cuisine to add to your repertoire. And if you go at the weekend, get the goat curry.
Ruby Tuesday's Jerk Chicken
Berlin D2, 14-15 Dame Lane, Dublin 2 www.facebook.com/RubyTuesdayJerkChickensaucedublinstyle