Irish Times Food & Drink Club: Dublin hot spot Little Mike's

Meet The Chef series continues with an Irish beef and lamb evening with chef Gaz Smith and butcher Rick Higgins. Here's how to get tickets

Chef and restaurateur Niall Sabongi with members of the Irish Times Food & Drink Club  at the Meet The Chef event at The Seafood Cafe in Temple Bar.  Photographs: Nick Bradshaw

Chef and restaurateur Niall Sabongi with members of the Irish Times Food & Drink Club at the Meet The Chef event at The Seafood Cafe in Temple Bar. Photographs: Nick Bradshaw

 

They were the fastest selling seats in town when the Irish Times Food & Drink Club held its first Meet The Chef event at The Seafood Café in Dublin’s Temple Bar recently. Only seven tickets were available for an intimate evening of seafood and stories, hosted by chef and restaurant owner Niall Sabongi, and they were snapped up in minutes when the monthly newsletter was emailed to members on Friday, May 10th.

The next event in the Irish Times Food & Drink Club’s Meet The Chef series takes place on Wednesday, June 26th at 7pm. There will be 15 seats available at the new Little Mike’s wine bar in Mount Merrion, Co Dublin, when chef proprietor Gaz Smith will be doing the talking, and the cooking, alongside one of his key suppliers, Sutton butcher Rick Higgins.

Tickets for the evening, which will include a five-course menu and a welcome drink, are €40. They go on sale at 7.30am tomorrow (Friday) morning and a link to the Evenbrite page where they can be reserved will be included in the monthly newsletter being emailed to members tomorrow morning. You can join the club here.

Unusual cuts of Irish beef and lamb will be explored – and eaten – and you can expect a lively evening to unfold. Beef fat tomato bruschetta and charred vegetables and dips will be served as guests arrive, followed by a tasting of Spinalis Dorsi (ribeye cap), or the butcher’s secret cut of beef, served with onions and Bearnaise.

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A tasting plate of Irish summer lamb, cooked two ways, will come with baby potatoes, roast aubergine and salsa verde. For dessert there will be butterscotch mousse, and a sliver of Young Buck cheese to finish.

Niall Sabongi introducing his sustainable seafood to Irish Times Food & Drink Club members

For the opening event, The Seafood Cafe's  bar counter was reserved for club members, and Sabongi welcomed guests with a glass of Prosecco, and oysters from both the east and west coast – Harty’s from Dungarvan and Flaggy Shore from Co Clare.

Yellowtail crudo with pickled baby turnips, yuzu aioli, sesame and kelp, was the first of the seafood courses, followed by whipped smoked cod roe with Drummond House asparagus, poached egg and a dusting of Sally Barnes’s innovative new product, wild Irish salmon bottarga.

Going back and forth between the bar counter and the grill, Sabongi explained where each shellfish and fish was sourced – right down to what boat caught it, and where.

Marie-Claire Digby (left) with club members Bernie Collins, Molly O’Dwyer, Raymond Magourty, Kevin Cooney, Hannah Barkhoff, Madeleine Gervais and Susan James, and chef Niall Sabongi
Marie-Claire Digby (left) with club members Bernie Collins, Molly O’Dwyer, Raymond Magourty, Kevin Cooney, Hannah Barkhoff, Madeleine Gervais and Susan James, and chef Niall Sabongi

Two more fish dishes were then served, family-style, the first being grilled red mullet with heirloom tomato salad and Boyne Valley goat’s cheese. Then it was Kilkeel brill, in a creamy sauce of Fingal Ferguson sobrassada, and Lissadell cockles. On the side were dishes of stir-fried Irish Shiitake mushrooms and leaf spinach.

For dessert, rum and raisin ice-cream was served with a shot of espresso on the side, ready to be turned into affogato.

Sabongi, who also runs a wholesale fish business, Sustainable Seafood Ireland, supplying more than 50 restaurants, cooked and plated up each dish in front of the group and fielded questions about sourcing and cooking a variety of fish, as well as the small producer vegetables, distributed by Sean Hussey, which were part of the feast.

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