Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland

Raising the Bar

And Sadie, you’re going to be the one that saves me.

Oasis (maybe)

Oasis are belting out their pub standard and I’m putting my own spin on it.

Of course, it’s not the actual Gallagher brothers themselves, but three hipsters who make up the house band, and one of them is on a banjo!

And it’s not a mega stadium, but just off the Liffey.

‘Cause after all, this is Temple Bar.’

And it’s Valentine’s Night so every tune is a rousing anthem.

I’ll have my usual

While you and your loved one may have been gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes in your favourite Italian restaurant last week, and maybe even in a restaurant in Italy, I had taken my beloved to Dublin’s party hub

Obviously hoping to spend it in a sports bar… Celtic were playing that night.

Rush hour

And they’ve even got the Scotland flag out

Now before I have the massed regiments of womenkind taking up arms against me, we did do the romantic dinner bit.

With an eight-course tasting menu at the Morgan Hotel before we went out on the town.

I had arrived from the office with seconds to spare for our sitting, after working up to the wire.

All overheated from a lower walk from my work in Ballsbridge, three and a half kilometres away.

Herself? She was as fresh as a daisy.

The refurbished Morgan is sat plumb on Fleet Street, next to the Hard Rock Cafe, but is a haven from the throb of humanity that populates Temple Bar, day and night.

Like much of Temple Bar itself it’s multi-national and its staff are bursting with life.

All the world is here

Busting a move: With Oliver St John Gogarty

I joke with Spaniard Sonya at reception when she tells me that my wife is upstairs and I ask if she is alone.

And then there’s our waitress Anastasia who smiles patiently as we dither over cocktails…

A special Valentine’s frothy concoction just whets our appetite for another with ‘Mother Gin’ Herself trying out a Ruby made from Ha’Penny Rhubarb Gin, apple, lime and lemon juice with a basil leaf.

All on medicinal grounds you understand… as she was quick to point out that it had said on the drinks menu.

Now, clearly we don’t go in for tasting menus at home… because somebody’s specified chores are dish-washing.

Catch of the day

Melt in the mourh

But there is something particularly civilised about taking small portions, and your breath, between dishes.

The dishes at the Morgan restaurant, 10 Fleet Street, are beautifully created and almost too good to eat.

But eat we did, mackerel, salmon, duck, roast pork cheek, and king scallops and bream, and even the Baby Beet Salad they slipped in there when they didn’t think I was looking.

Glowing from our cocktails… and with some credit in the bank from giving Herself my uninterrupted attention for once at dinner time I went in search of my football match.

Surprisingly though, for all that Temple Bar is Party Central my attempts at finding a pub with the game on were proving fruitless.

The Temple Bar hostelry was jumping, but not with rowdy football supporters but good-natured music-lovers, cooing couples and young people just there for a good night out.

The best bar none

Every hour is cocktail hour

And while I half-expected the playlist to be all diddly-aye music, the band’s set was rockier.

They are an eclectic bunch in the Temple Bar tonight…

We share holiday reminisces with Amsterdammer Sandor until he either tires of my attempts at engaging with him on the Ajax game the previous night.

Or because he is diverted by a pair of brown eyes.

Now Temple Bar isn’t cheap and it is wise to pace you drinking with a pub crawl perhaps the best idea.

It also helps you clear your head.

Buskers, our next stop, strikes me as a little too modern for our lining… and what do you know, the singer is only playing Wonderwall.

Hat’s not fair

Something for the palate

The Oliver St John Gogarty is perhaps the best-known pub in Temple Bar and for research purposes we end our night there…

Probably because to go on would have meant having to sell a vital organ to afford another drink.

It’s busy, yes, and loud, ditto.

But the Temple Bar revellers are mostly good-natured, although if a fatter ‘Phil Mitchell’ tries to meet your vacant gaze by the side of the stage then it might be best to find another place to stand.

That, or be prepared for a delicate spot of diplomacy to get your hat back.

Perhaps feeling guilty at the prices of their drinks they did hand out little bowls of chips and a sausage roll.

Because eight courses back in the Morgan was never going to be enough.

*The Morgan Hotel 1 643 7000. The Morgan is running a spring offer of 30% off room-only rates on bookings until March 31 (valid on stays until December 31) from €150 per room.

This article was first published in the Irish Daily Mail in 2019.

The Menu

Rose petal: Absolut raspberry vodka. Chambord, rose syrup, lime jice pineapple foam.

Torched cured mackerel fillet: Cured mackerel filled, dried lime, caper berries, lime gel, lime oil.

Gin & Juniper Cured Salmon: Cucumber escabeche ribbons, pepper drops, fennel sour cream, rye crisps.

House smoked rare duck: Bumblebee mixed leaves, yellow pepper coulis, heritage tomatoes, lavender, lavender oil.

Baby Beet Salad: Beetroot yoghurt cream, beet brittle, pomegranate, orange segments.

Slow Roast Pork Cheek, King Scallops: Sea salted baby kale, garlic baby carrot, blackberry & basil gel, port jus.

Baked filled of bream: Sweet potato crisps, orange cauliflower, sweet pepper dressing.

Whiskey smoked pear: Caramel droplets, cardamon infused saboyon.

And if you want to check out a great Dublin institution in rugby heartland then here’s my review of the InterContinental Rugby central, it’s the InterCon… what a Ledge!.

*This article was first published in the Irish Daily Mail in 2019.

What’s your favourite Dublin hotel? Let me know and we’ll share.

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