It’s been a summer of extremes, from the record-setting rain that’s left all of Ireland in a slump, to the wildfire-fuelling heatwaves somehow making us feel lucky by comparison.
One of the reasons we love to periodically pick out the best seasonal dishes in the city is to remind ourselves that everything should not be available all of the time. The consumerist drive to get around that with artificial conditions and endless importation is part of what’s led us to such extremes, which ironically now endanger so many harvests of all our favourites. So let’s embrace the fresh and fleeting, the local and limited, the food worth wolfing down while it’s here and waiting another year for afterwards...
Courgette flower, Volpe Nera
The humble courgette is a great example of a vegetable we’ve gotten used to seeing on shelves year-round, but it’s right in the midst of peak season now. With that comes its beautiful flowers, with paper thin leaves just begging to be stuffed and fried. Volpe Nera have done just that, with a ricotta filling and truffle honey glaze bringing out the best of these fresh summer flavours.
Custard and peach cinnamon rolls, BaaBaa
There’s no complimentary combo we love as much at this time of year as ripe peaches and thyme, so we went wide-eyed with interest to see Chapelizod’s BaaBaa working the two together in a cinnamon roll. The fluffy dough and thick, thick custard is topped with rose petals, lemon zest and a sprinkling of pistachio - we’ll take a tray, please.
Sea bream with ajo blanco & green tomato, Note
Tomato is another ingredient we’ve come to expect - even demand - all year round, and as much as a creative chef can bring out these fruits’ flavours out of season with a few tricks up their sleeve, nothing beats the genuine article at the height of summer, simply sliced. Note have paired a green variety with sea bream and ajo blanco for a dish to bring out their very ripe best.
August salad, Daddy’s
Cast your mind back to childhood days of rolled-up ham slices and spoonfuls of coleslaw - nothing says summer quite like an Irish salad. Daddy’s have a little more refinement to theirs than that weird old fridge platter of yore, with marinated courgette joining cannellini beans, jammy eggs and a fennel seed cream cheese (for realz) for a truly pretty plate.
Pear and caramel cruffin, Noisette
It’s not even funny how many times a month we catch sight of one of Noisette’s perfect pastries in the feed and feel motivated to make a beeline straight for Rush. Pears are another fruit we’ve (wrongly) stopped thinking of as seasonal, but these underrated pomes are coming into their own right about now. Baked in a cruffin oozing with caramel is one of the best ways we can think of eating them.
Tuna carpaccio, A Fianco
Tinning has ensured tuna is thought of as another year-round bounty, but its season kicks in only over the summer, so it’s a great time to get the best of freshly-caught fish. No better place to enjoy it than A Fianco, who’ve leaned into the summer theme with almonds, watermelon and (get this) an aubergine caviar. We won’t say no to that Sicilian bottle of wine either.
Nameko mushrooms with summer truffle rice, Hang Dai
Chances are you think of truffles as a winter thing, but while some of the most prized specimens show up in the colder months, summer brings its own species, with an intense umami flavour that’s not to be sniffed at. Hang Dai pair them with nameko mushrooms, rice and thinly-sliced spring onions for a fresh, complex dish with all the flavours.
Courgette bialy, Bread 41
Bread 41 have been having fun playing around with the Bialy, a Polish bread not unlike a bagel, and they’ve given them a summer makeover with (yes, even more) courgette. It’s spiralled up atop a filling of ajo blanco and finished with the salty goodness of sea purslane, in a creation that gets full marks for originality.
Pork and gooseberry, D’Olier Street
The tart tang of gooseberries has been disappointingly scarce on the scene so far this year (the great Breadman Walking was one notable exception). They’re an endlessly versatile ingredient not often enough given the chance to shine on a savoury plate. D’Olier Street have paired them in sauce form with pork and a gremolata-topped charred cabbage for a simple presentation that lets these little beauties shine.
Bilberry donut, Flower ‘n’ Bean
What-berry, we hear some of you say? Flower ‘n’ Bean have done up a duo of sweet treats with this many-named fruit, a bit of a rarity across Dublin dishes. Tart and acidic, they’re at their best offsetting richly sweet flavours, so perfect for the sugar-coated donut and icing-drizzled brioche bun that’s been cooked up here.
Courgette, burrata and peach, Pichet
The versatility of many summer fruits is one of the things we really love about the season - for all the joy of a sweet peach dessert, it’s savoury dishes that really brings out this one’s complexity. Pichet get it, and their combo of bitter leaves, spiced pistachio and burrata, along with a few healthy shavings of courgette sounds like an alluring combo.