Over the past few months you will have noticed that I have not posted much. One of the reasons is because I have not visited many new restaurants. Visiting restaurants I have already reviewed on here means I can’t review them again. However this does not mean that I did not visit anywhere new. So this means I have two mini reviews for your delectation.
Both mini reviews are different but they have one thing in common, they showcase great food and meals in Ireland. You will also see what I have been up to and why my first mini review is just that. Earlier this year there was great anticipation as the Dublin culinary scene awaited the opening of Hawksmoor an upmarket steakhouse. Just before Hawksmoor officially opened, I paid it a visit and that is my first mini review.
Hawksmoor – my first mini review
Hawksmoor is an upmarket steakhouse that started in London in 2006 by founders Will Beckett and Huw Gott. Since then Beckett and Gott have opened eight more restaurants in the UK plus another in New York. Their latest restaurant, in College Green Dublin, is in the former National Bank building which recently had the US retailer Abercrombie & Fitch.
For those of you wondering why the restaurant is called Hawksmoor, it is named after the English architect Nicholas Hawksmoor. He contributed to the design of various notable buildings including St Paul’s Cathedral and the Gothic Christ Church Spitalfields. The latter one is very close to the first Hawksmoor restaurant in Spitafields.
Before Hawksmoor officially opened, they had a soft launch that you could apply to book a table. Those who managed to get a table got their meal at half price, something you can’t turn down. I managed to get a table for and my old college friend William. As it was a soft launch Hawksmoor were still ironing out the finer details, hence the mini review. I felt a proper review could be done at a later date, when everything is in full swing.
Walking into the building you can see that they have kept the kept the character and ambience of the building.
The seats were not too cramped and also not too close together which to some people is important.
What I had
For starters we both shared some sourdough bread with butter. The bread is supplied by the excellent Dublin Bakery, Bread 41 and the butter Cuinneog, is from Castlebar in Co Mayo. The bread was excellent and tasted like good sourdough bread should and the butter was the perfect match. As you can see below the bread looked as good as it tasted.
For my main course I had the rump steak which was accompanied by triple cut chips and pepper sauce. The rump steak which you can see below was cooked well done, was also tender and tasty.
My steak was flavoursome and the pepper sauce I had with it was perfect and one of the best I have had. My chips were perfectly cooked as you can see below and not at all greasy.
William had the Hawksmoor hamburger which came with triple cooked chips and he really enjoyed it.
To accompany my meal, I had a bottle of Stiegl. A cool, crisp and refreshing Austrian lager and a lovely beer that went well with my steak.
For deserts we both finished off with one scoop of the salted caramel ice cream which you can see below.
What did my meal cost?
My Stiegl larger was €7.00, my rump steak was €26.10, my peppercorn sauce was €3.50, my triple cooked chips was €6.00 and my ice cream was €3.50. After the soft launch 50% discount my final bill was €26.95.
Hawksmoor, 34 College Green, Dublin 2 D02 C850
My second mini review is something a little bit different. Instead of reviewing a restaurant, I decided to review a foodies paradise, Taste of Dublin. Every year in mid-June since 2006, Taste of Dublin has taken place in the Iveagh Gardens, and it has gotten bigger.
Taste of Dublin – my second mini review
I first attended Taste of Dublin in 2012 when a good friend of mine won tickets for two. As well as the tickets we also enjoyed a fabulous meal in the Clifftown House. Our two tickets gave us entry to the festival. We also got some Florins, the festivals currency that allowed you to buy food and drink from the various festival stalls. Naturally, a return visit to Taste of Dublin was definitely on the cards.
This years Taste of Dublin took place over four days, from the 15th to the 18th of June. Having looked at the schedule of the festival, I wanted to get value for money. The 18th of June stood out to me, due to the live music on that day. As well as been a foodie paradise there is also live music every year. Spring Break and Mac Fleetwood, an excellent Fleetwood Mac tribute band would be playing.
Various ticket options
There are various ticket options available for Taste of Dublin, and the more you pay the more you get. So, you can get three different tickets. A Standard ticket at €26.50, a VIP Suite ticket at €55.50 or a VIP Suite ticket with 2 Signature Dishes.
The VIP Suite ticket guarantees you fast track entry, a glass of champagne and a second drink. If you have the high end VIP ticket, you can get 2 Signature Dishes too. You, also get access to a VIP area, a cloak room and VIP toilets. These ticket prices were for Sunday afternoon and on other days they can cost more or less. I chose the standard ticket as I did not need a VIP area to enjoy myself.
Since I was last here, Florins have been replaced by contactless payments or pre-loaded Taste of Dublin vouchers. So depending on your ticket you may be able to get 2 free drinks and 2 Signature Dishes. There are also two types of dishes available. A Signature Dish at €6 or an Icon Dish at €10, €11 or €12. The Signature Dishes offer you smaller portions than the Icon Dishes.
Things to do
As I mentioned earlier there was also live music. On the main stage Spring Break and Mac Fleetwood seen below played.
In other areas of the festival there were other bands and DJ’s playing, so you were spoilt for choice. There were also various masterclasses that you could attend with some well-known chefs, like Rachel Allen, Erica Drum, and JP McMahon. The masterclasses were either cooking demonstrations or talks.
Artisan producers also had stalls offering products such as cheese, honey, mead and much more. Products that you might not be able to find in your local supermarket.
Food and drink
There was thirteen restaurants offering their Signature Dishes and Icon Dishes. So, no matter how fussy an eater you are, you are catered for. I had already planned out in advance where I wanted to get food from. However, one of my choices, Bar Italia always had ridiculous queues on the day. Which left me with two restaurants, Hakkahan and Nan Chinese, and Pickle.
The first stall I went was Hakkahan and Nan Chinese, and you can see what I had below.
The pork ribs had a lovely spicy kick to them and they were not to tough eat. They did not fall of the bone but it was close enough.
The second restaurant stall I went to was Pickle, which I had reviewed last year. I had high hopes for Pickle as I had a stunning lunch in their restaurant. You can see what I had below.
The Hunters Lamb Masala is Traditional Jaipuri Lamb Diced & Mince. Slow cooked with Star Aniseed, Bay Leaf & Long Pepper. It was served with Flaky Griddled Bread. The Hunters Lamb Masala was not too spicy and was delicious. The Flaky Griddled Bread was the perfect bread to soak up the Hunters Lamb Masala juices.
If you are a foodie, then Taste of Dublin is well worth a visit. You won’t be disappointed as you sample different restaurants dishes whilst not breaking the bank.
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