Meal Box Review: A comforting taste of normality

'A dinner you might cook at home, but when all the work is done for you, it really is a treat'

When you step into The Fumbally, and see the array of produce displayed on tables, crates of vegetables from Elmhurst Urban Farm, McNally's, and Garryhinch Mushrooms; jars of White Mausu, Harry's Nut Butter, and Fumbally Ferments; a fridge with cheeses, cured meats, and olives from Lilliput Trading; and an impressive selection of low intervention wines lined up on wooden shelves, it feels like this is how the space has always been.

Aisling Rogerson and Luca D'Alfonso's cafe has, of course, been evolving since it opened in 2012, although the past 12 months have accelerated that to a dizzying speed. They were among the first to offer takeaway meals, quickly adapting their Wednesday dinner to a takeaway format. The market, which had previously been held in the Fumbally Stables on Saturdays, was moved into the larger cafe space, and it now opens from Wednesday to Saturday.

The menu changes weekly, with updates announced by email on Mondays, so yes, you should sign up for their newsletter as they are not on social media. Generally, there are two dishes to choose from, one meat and one vegetarian, except when the dish is something like aubergine Parmigiana, as it was on the day I ordered. The Friday lasagne (€13.50), has both meat and vegetarian options.

The Wednesday dinner (€18), includes a salad and slice of focaccia to have with the main course, and a dessert. The salad is fennel and blood orange, the fennel shaved into fine shards, the mixture of leaves are from McNally's, and the blood orange has been cut into rounds. The juice from the oranges is nearly enough to dress this simple but wonderful salad, but I find that a drizzle of olive oil is a nice addition. The focaccia is Instagram worthy, a dark outer crust, plenty of large holes and just the right amount of chew.


Parmigiana is a sum-of-its-parts dish – aubergine, tomatoes, mozzarella, and grated Parmesan to dust on top. For me, the key thing is having the aubergine cooked properly. Not everyone is a fan of this vegetable; I love it, as long as it’s not pallid and undercooked. Here, there’s just a little caramelised note from when it was fried before the dish was assembled, so it holds its own nicely in a rich tomato sauce with a touch of garlic, oregano and basil.

Typically, Italians serve this dish warm rather than piping hot, but it's artic outside; and away from the watchful eyes of any Italians, I go for the hotter option. So, as I dig into it, I get the joyous elastic pull of Macroom buffalo mozzarella, which has a nice bit of chewiness, and adds so much in terms of texture to this dish. It's nicely seasoned, substantial, and comfortingly delicious.

A tart compote of redcurrants, raspberries, and blackcurrants layered through whipped mascarpone and topped with a crumble of buttery biscuit makes for a fresh dessert, and very pleasant end to this meal. It is very much a mid-week dinner, the sort of dinner you might cook at home, but when all the work is done for you, it really is a treat.

To make it more special, add on the spicy roast Valencia almonds (€5); and the wines are well worth exploring as they are priced at off-licence level, and include some cult favourites, such as Testalonga's Baby Bandito Keep On Punching, a Swartland Chenin Blanc (€28). Orange wine fans will like the Baglio Antico Catarratto from Sicily (€21.50); and the keenly priced Brich, a Barbera from Piemonte (€18), is crunchy and delightfully quaffable.

The plan is to keep the shop format for at least a year, and incorporate a cafe space into it when restrictions ease. In the meantime, these very tasty takeaway dinners are available two nights a week, and you can do a spot of shopping when you pick them up.

A Wednesday dinner for two was €38.

Where does it come from: The Fumbally, Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8;
The verdict: 8/10 A comforting dinner for a mid-week break.
Difficulty factor: Reheat and eat, all the work has been done for you.
Food provenance: Organic just about everything, it doesn't come much better than this
Vegetarian options: Yes, there's a vegetarian option, and it comes as a single portion.
Delivery: Click and collect at The Fumbally.

Three to try

Ted's Gaff
Dublin 6; food truck; phone and collect, 089-965 1246; Thursday to Sunday, Instagram @franksdublin
Parked on Washerwoman's Lane behind SuperValu in Rathgar Village, this new truck from Frank's, the hip wine bar on Camden Street, will be serving their much loved chipotle chicken wings, pork dumplings with kimchi and chicken ramen; as well as La Cocina Cuevas tacos, burritos and wraps. Open Tuesday to Sunday for 3fe coffee and treats.

Dublin 6; click and collect; Friday and Saturday;
Locks are back with meal kits, ranging from €70 to €80 for four courses, with dishes like spiced lamb rump and braised shoulder; Thornhill duck a l'orange and salt aged côte de boeuf. The vegetarian meal kit for one, €32, also has interesting main courses, with a spinach and mushroom wellington, with Noilly Prat sauce, featuring recently.

Beach House
Tramore, Waterford; click and collect, Thursday; €10-€15 delivery nationwide, Friday;
Heat at home ready meals are the latest offering from the Beach House, with delivery nationwide. Starters range from €7.50 for country pate to €13 for crab mayonnaise; mains have included braised squid, Comeragh lamb, and vegetarian options, €9 to €14; and desserts are along the lines of almond tart, and chilled custard with Agen prunes €6.50.