There are times in your life that define how you eat. Students living on beans and own-brand “bread” to save money for socialising; years spent working abroad while picking up a lifelong appetite for gildas and sherry; new parents unconsciously switching to a diet of foods that can be eaten with one-hand while they coo and rock a restless infant. Not only does what we eat shape our lives, but how we eat it plays a part too, and we seriously hope that the way we’ve eaten in the past 15 months does not form a large part of this tapestry.
Sure, we’ve cooked and ordered in and have eaten many, many, lovely meals, but how we’ve eaten them hasn’t always been joyful - click and collect pasta served in a plastic tray and eaten quickly in the car before it goes cold and unyielding is a memory that many of us would like to repress. The good news is that there’s an end in sight. With outdoor dining drawing us back and a return to indoor service imminent, we’re so happy to see food being served on humble plates yet again and, best of all, you don’t even have to be the one who washes them afterwards. This is what we want to leave the house for this week.
1) Beetroot Risotto from Nannetti’s
The second opening from the gang behind Cirillo’s, Nannetti’s had to battle through a few false starts but are now open on Dawson Street complete with outdoor seating at the front. At €35 for four courses, the terrace menu is fantastic value and this beetroot risotto with Young Buck cheese and almonds looks incredible.
2) Spiced Lamb Flatbread from As One
Thanks to the large area outside their quay-side doors, As One is pretty much designed for outdoor dining so we’re really looking forward to seeing what they’re serving this summer, hopefully doused in sunshine. If this spiced lamb shoulder with preserved lemon hummus, pickled red onion, raita, salad and harissa on a homemade flatbread is anything to go by, we’re going to be spending a lot of time watching the world go by on City Quay.
3) Mackerel Taco From The Green Hen
We’ve seen lots of fish tacos over the past few years, but this one hits different thanks to fillets of Dalkey Island mackerel. The Green Hen’s outdoor terrace on Exchequer Street is open seven nights a week for walk-ins only, so plan your return to crockery civilisation accordingly.
4) Pappardelle with Fennell Sausage Ragu from Sprezzatura
We’ve missed Sprezzatura. Big plates of excellent pasta at very reasonable prices meant it was one of our go-tos in town and we know you felt the same because you spent the last few months telling us. So nobody was surprised when online booking for their outdoor area opened and tables got snapped up immediately. Thankfully there’s always a good chance of getting a walk-in table if you’re happy to wait a while, and who wouldn’t wait if the reward was this plate of homemade pappardelle with a ragu of Jane Russell fennel sausage. The outdoor area is also exceptionally cute, so expect to see a lot of it all over Instagram. Get down there if you can and avoid the FOMO.
5) Soy Cucumber from Volpe Nera
While at-home kits and take away has served us well, nothing compares to being handed a menu and finding a side dish that adds so much more to the meal than anything we can make ourselves. From Volpe Nera, this new side of lightly spiced, soy-marinated cucumber with endive and onion ash is the bright food on white plates that makes us feel like we’re finally getting a bit of colour back into our lives.