Lunch for a tenner
In the search for a reasonably-priced meal, it’s hard to go wrong with Coppinger Row’s lunch deal, writes CATHERINE CLEARY
A late great friend had an inner thrift fairy she called Vera Value. Even as the cult of Sally Spendthrift took a grip on the rest of us, her Vera moments were small and funny triumphs over a world that was out to fleece us. Value is a good way to look at the search for a reasonably-priced meal.
Cheap food is everywhere. Cheap bad food. But good restaurants have never given the diner a better deal. Vera and Victor Value are in charge these days and the restaurant that doesn’t cater for their needs will lose out to the competition.
Coppinger Row sounds like a place Dickens might have written about, but it’s a small busy restaurant on the pedestrian side street in Dublin of the same name. Brothers Marc and Conor Bereen are the owners and by the time you read this their new venture, the Damson Diner in the nearby South William Bar will have opened, adding yet another new restaurant to Dublin’s busiest eating quarter.
But I’m here at the mothership restaurant. When it opened, Coppinger Row was a sapling in an open space, its only other match was Le Gueuleton, both revolutionary for their time. Now there are half a dozen lookalikes sprouted around it.
It’s a metro-tiled wooden floored room with metal angled lamps, a bar and an open kitchen where you can watch the busy chefs. The best thing is their lunchtime deal when a €10 note will get you the “menu del dia”, a main course and dessert.
The back of the restaurant has a cosy book-lined feel to it. The front is buzzier and all the better to be seen in. Outside they’ve beefed up the exterior tables with a more solid awning, blanket, heater and wall arrangement.
Today’s tenner special is a venison ragu with linguine, Parmesan and rocket, with a dessert. Frankly it’s too good a deal to give the lunch menu more than a passing glance but in the interests of reviewing we go on-menu to order the €11 plate of garlic and chilli prawns and get one of my favourite side dishes in town, the bowl of green beans with mustard mayo, at a cost of €3.75.
This makes green vegetables as moreish as a bowl of chips. Their flavour is reason enough to gloss over the fact that green beans aren’t exactly in season round these parts in November. Lightly steamed or boiled and then buttered, they are best eaten with fingers, three-at-a-time, dipping one end of the clump in the yellowy mustard mayo.
Jeremy’s gambas are fine but there’s a little too much oil on the plate. Some good bread on the side would be a welcome addition to the dish.