Homemade - Dec 2012 Issue
There is no better eating experience in my opinion then a relaxed Sunday lunch in a gastro-pub.
A few Sunday's ago, I headed to The Magpie Inn in Dalkey, Co. Dublin run and owned by the lovely Rachel Clancy. Rachel and her team have nailed everything that makes a gastro-pub what it should be. The atmosphere relaxed as it should be, and the service akin to any fine restaurant in the city.
We enjoyed a delicious 3 course dinner including the sweetest and freshest mussels cooked in a creamy white wine sauce and chorizo and also of course gastro-pub staple bangers and mash which were delicious served with caramelized red onions, and finished with a plum crumble. All together with a great bottle of wine the bill came to €86 for the 2 of us - such great value. If you are a lover of artisan beers, they have a great selection - one that I would recommend is the Blue Moon.×
Lucinda O’Sullivan’s Ireland - Little Black Book of Great Places to Stay and Eat
How to get there:In the centre of Dalkey, facing up Castle Street,
Good to know:Opening Hours: Lunch served 12pm - 5pm. Dinner served 5pm - 9pm
Cuisine: Gastropub - Restaurant style food, with lots of seafood
A La Carte: Mains €15 - €24
Sunday Lunch: Saturday & Sunday brunch 12pm - 5pm
Children’s Menu: Yes
Wheelchair Facilities: Yes
Credit Cards: Yes
Private Dining Facilities: Lounge upstairs (parties etc)
About The Restaurant
Ever more we are veering towards the casual relaxed value dining ethos with good Tapas, Italian, and Gastropubs all flying. We have always wanted to dine like our Continental neighbours on a regular basis on reasonably priced simple food and now, with an abundance of casual eateries, particularly in Dublin, it seems many are doing so.
Gastropubs are judged now by diners as severely as restaurants – they are not any much cheaper than bistros or brasseries so the grub has to be wholesome and cooked with a certain flair, unlike the old pub grub world of meat and two veg. However, there is a place for that too – unlike some I don’t turn my nose up at the carvery – many people love it and use it as a daily staple. However, the subject of my attention is a new Gastropub in the upmarket celebrity village of Dalkey, Co. Dublin, home to Bono and Pat Kenny et al and they all like to eat out too!
The Magpie Inn has been taken over recently by Rachel Clancy, originally from Kilkenny, who has been involved in the Dublin restaurant scene for some fifteen years or so and knows what she is about. We really liked the atmosphere created in the Magpie and there were an awful lot of local faces tucking in there. “The lamb is really fantastic” wheezed one of them unsolicited as she stood outside the door puffing a fag between glasses of vino with her girlfriends. She should know being married to a one time prominent figure of the restaurant industry.
Starters included fish cake with citrus and chilli served with capers and lemon mayo, whilst seatrout and mackerel terrine had citrus cream cheese. Chorizo, red onion, Cashel Blue, chickpea ,and wild rocket salad was a whopper with diagonally cut shards of chorizo laid on the ample compound ingredients listed and would make a fine lunch in itself. Brendan’s somewhat unusual starter of paprika confit of pork belly had me salivating. Succulent slices of caramelised crispy belly sitting on pickled red cabbage topped with apple marmalade. I can see the doughty men of Dalkey doffing their cap to Ms Clancy to be fed with this.
A dozen Mains had pan seared hake fillet on sweet pea and chorizo risotto; Moroccan organic lamb burger, sesame yogurt, tomato, lettuce and chips; whilst split gambas came with chive butter, seasonal vegetables and spuds. Brendan immediately hopped on Tempura of haddock, thick chips, chunky tartar and pea puree but I had been lured by the “fantastic lamb” which was a slow roast rump served with seasonal vegetables of carrot and broccoli with mash potatoes red wine & Dijon sauce . Despite the inclusion of chickpeas in my starter, and a Moroccan lamburger on the menu, I hadn’t up to that point copped on that the chef here is Hadi Fahes who is Lebanese, and whose food I have had and enjoyed before, and on realising this I asked for a stirfry of vegetables with a good whack of hot hot harissa paste added. A delicious melange of peppers, red onions, mushrooms, and green beans, ensued topped with sublimely tender tranches of rump, seared on the outside, and pink in the middle. Puds were sensibly priced and I had an interesting lemon carrageen moss pudding with glazed rhubarb and ginger and rhubarb ice-cream.
There is a comprehensive interesting lunch menu and brunch at weekends and you are likely to find me hanging out there too. I really like The Magpie.×
03 DECEMBER 2011
When it comes to restaurants, this has become a very uneven recession. While the majority of restaurants are struggling to keep their customers by slashing their margins, there are others that defy the norm and are busy.
Not only that, there are brave people who open up new restaurants, despite the obvious trading difficulties.
A few weeks ago, I went to the opening of The Tramyard Gallery in Dalkey, which has just moved from Castle Street into the Tramyard itself. After the opening, I went with Marian Kenny to find something to eat.
Two new places have opened up recently in Dalkey: The Dispensary, which is in the building recently vacated by McDonald's, and The Magpie, a gastropub at the end of Castle Street, Dalkey's main street.
We walked into The Magpie and there wasn't a seat to be had. Undeterred, we crossed the road and tried The Dispensary, where we were greeted by Jackie Rafter, who is running the front of house. Once again, not a seat to be had.
We ended up with a takeaway from the excellent Spice Cottage in Sallynoggin, and a desire to try one of Dalkey's new arrivals as soon as possible.
So, this week, we walked into a slightly less busy Magpie and found ourselves a corner table -- Marian, her son Max the chef, and me.
Before I turned to the menu, there were the drinks menus to look at. The first one I picked up was a pretty good wine list, far better than you'd expect from a pub, with a couple of pages of wines in the €18 to €35 bracket, then another page of well-chosen wines running up to just under €80.
That in itself was unusual for a pub, but it was the other drinks menu that really caught my attention. It was a three-page list of beers. The first page offers 16 different beers on draught all priced at around €5 a pint. The other pages have 32 bottled beers, which are also priced at around €5.
With Marian unanimously elected the driver, that left Max and I to try the beers. There's a growing market in Ireland for artisan beers, both Irish and imported.
These beers tend to have a great deal more flavour than the big brands, which have been designed to appeal to the broadest possible number of people.
This is achieved by making beers that are essentially quite bland. This really isn't the case with these micro-brewery artisan beers -- you get a real mouthful of flavour from them.
Max started with a German lager, the Fischers Helles, while I went native and chose an Irish beer, the Galway Hooker pale ale. I didn't taste the lager, but the Irish ale was superb, brimming with flavours of hops and toasted barley.
Marian had to content herself with a Diet Coke and we studied the menu.
The dinner menu is longer than you'd find in many restaurants, with a choice of 10 starters and 12 main courses. The starters range in price from €7.50 to €10, which gets you tiger prawns or fishcakes.
The most expensive main course is €24 for an aged rib-eye steak, and eight main courses are under €20, so it's right in the main stream for value for money.
Between us, we had starters of pork belly, a warm St Tola goat's cheese and a daily special of mussels. The pork belly was done with paprika and came with pickled red cabbage and an apple marmalade.
The goat's cheese came with toasted home-made bread and some tasty sugared grapes, just warmed and very succulent. The mussels were done in a classic Meunière sauce, which was so well done I had to ask for a spoon to finish what was left in the bowl.
As you can see, this was uncomplicated food, but it was done well and looked good on the plates. If this kind of food is the result of recessionary eating habits, then something good may have come out of these hard times.
There's a kind of honesty to food like this -- it's unpretentious, approachable and, above all, affordable.
This same theme of honest goodness ran through the main courses as well. There was a special of fresh mackerel, one of the finest fish from the sea, and Max chose that. Marian decided on a lamb burger and I went traditional with a fish pie.
When they arrived at the table, like the starters, they looked, well... , good enough to eat. The mackerel had been chargrilled and was served whole, on a bed of mash with accompaniments of lemon and broccoli. Frankly, there's no better way to have fresh mackerel -- unadorned, unflavoured and simply left to taste of what it is.
A well-made and juicy lamb burger made Marian happy, but she really enthused over the chips that came with it. And rightly too. These were chips the way I like them as well: golden in colour, crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy inside.
I had an individual fish pie served in a plain white bowl with a topping of mashed potato. All too often, fish pies come with an abundance of farmed salmon and not much else, but here the pie was filled with a good mix of fish, smoked and unsmoked, plus the odd shellfish as well. An excellent pie.
Max and I went back to the beer list and we ordered a Blue Moon weiss beer from America, and a Scottish 5am Saint.
It's worth mentioning that many artisan beers have odd names. This week, thanks to www.beerheaven.com, I've tasted Shepherd's Watch, Santa's Butt and 5 Wold Rings.
We finished with two desserts -- a classic bread and butter pudding and a lemon carrageen moss pudding. These two good desserts finished what had been a very good meal, and with a final bill of €116.90, it had been good value as well.
VALUE FOR MONEY 9/10
featured in: Dublin’s Best Gastropubs, 2nd June 2013
In the pretty village of Dalkey, Co. Dublin, Rachel Clancy’s Magpie Inn is a hot favourite with locals and visitors alike. There is always a buzz here and it even had the real James Bond himself, Pearse Brosnan, propped up at the counter a few weeks ago not to mention being the haunt of other local celebrities.
At The Magpie they use free range and organic produce when they can and are great supporters of local Irish artisan producers. With a great selection of Starters and Small Plates as well as Great Salads, Mains & Big Plates, you can eat as lightly or as fully as you wish. The chef here, Hadi Fahes, is originally from the Lebanon, so there is an additional interesting element to the food with tagine dishes, a mini mezze selection of hummus, artichoke hearts, avocado and pistachio tapenade and red pepper tapenade. Carlingford Oysters are served Rockefeller style whilst crab and crayfish salad is with fresh radish, mango salsa and crispy oat biscuits. Great chargrilled 28 day aged rib eye steaks are with chunky chips (sweet potato ones if you wish) and rack of lamb is with wild mushroom polenta, Balsamic red onion puree and mash.
I love the Moroccan spiced lamburger with Harrissa yogurt, crispy pancetta, tomato, lettuce and chips. It’s also a great place for brunch at weekends – think Eggs Benedict with smoked bacon and crushed paprika potatoes. Expect lots of daily fish and seafood specials, not to mention fabulous fabulous lobster, and delicious Gathabawn icecream from Kilkenny. www.magpieinn.ie×