Subscriber OnlyRestaurants

Taza, Dublin: This northside restaurant is a gem. Try the Molly Malone masala

Review: This Pakistani restaurant in Artane proves dinner in the suburbs needn’t feel like a consolation prize

Taza
    
Address: 2 Ardcollum Avenue, Artane, Dublin 5
Telephone: 01-5582866
Cuisine: Indian
Website: taza.ie
Cost: €€€

Social media spats come like rain storms these days, ferociously intense and then gone over the horizon like spent forces. So it went when someone thought it would be funny to joke about the George Bernard Shaw move to the northside with a meme on gentrifying the locals from hoodie-clad menaces to chilled out hipsters one craft beer at a time.

“Someone needs to tell them: ‘Lads. It’s Glasnevin,’” my northside friend says, after relating the row. Her point is simple. Northside digs fall flat when your hinterland is leafy Victorian streets and the people roaming in packs tend to be senior counsels rather than disaffected youths.

Tonight a hungry pack has converged on Taza, a Pakistani restaurant in Artane which celebrated its eight month anniversary last month. It’s as busy as any city centre curry house, with the kind of pep to its step that you might not expect in a suburban restaurant alongside a pub named after a roundabout.

Taza means fresh in Urdu. It's a big statement of intent to make the name of your restaurant, but Taza delivers in spades

Taza, which means fresh in Urdu, is a partnership between chef Arshad Ansari, who spent 16 years with Kinara Kitchen, and publican Padraig Connellan, who bought The Roundabout pub four years ago.

Only an Irish-Pakistani partnership could pull off the cultural appropriation that is the small plate called the “Molly Malone masala”. And still this could go wrong seven different ways, especially in a place as busy as Taza is on a Saturday night, so let’s see.  The noise level is rising around us, and the happy birthdays are being sung. Apparently everyone in Artane was born in November, a great big crop of Valentine’s babies, for romantic boomers back in the day.

Fresh is a big statement of intent to make the name of your restaurant, but Taza delivers in spades. We snack on terrific lime pickle with snap-crisp poppadoms and a mango chutney side to ping pong from sour heat to sweetness.

And the Molly Malone masala is all the good delicious things, beautifully cooked. There are juicy mussels and cockles with a few chunks of salmon, all of it served in a velvety spiced coconut milk and tomato sauce, with dill to remind you that you’re having a curried chowder, without the spud.

Anne has the vegetable pakora, chunks of freshly chopped vegetables doused in spiced chickpea flour for a nutty perfect batter and deep fried, with more dots on the plate of heat, sweet and tang in the form of house chutneys.

Her Palak Soya Methi is tender chunks of lamb wrapped in spinach and creamy fenugreek, given more notes with fresh coriander and ginger. Steamed rice is simple, and peshawari nan has bright pink innards like someone melted down a bag of Haribo and stirred it with the dessicated coconut.

The manager is the kind of class act that a lot of city centre restaurants should send their front-of-house staff to observe in action

The paratha is a less sweet bread option, to turn into scoops to eat my delicious house dhal. A layered wholemeal bread made in the tandoor oven, this wilts under its weight of butter delightfully, so you have to fold it into a chute to convey the dhal – topped with chunks of spicy paneer and spinach – safely to its final destination.

Nothing dips in the service or the flavours throughout our visit, despite the Heuston Station vibe that’s built up around us at our table near the bar. The manager is the kind of class act that a lot of city centre restaurants should send their front-of-house staff to observe in action.

In blue suede shoes, and the ends of his salt and pepper moustache waxed into perfect tips, he’s a blend of orchestra conductor, dancer and magician. And his young team is a delight. When we’re too full to finish some of the paratha, our server only takes it away after we reassure her that there was nothing wrong.

We share a raspberry sorbet made with lime juice. It’s supposed to be “topped with cashew nuts”, but the kitchen sends it out with two raspberries on top. If there had to be a glitch I’ll take that level of adlibbery.

Dinner in the burbs can feel like the consolation prize, but you’ll probably eat better here than between the canals. Word of mouth has made Taza a hit with the locals. I won’t be thanked for spreading the news south of the river. Glasnevin can wait. Artane is where it’s at.

Dinner for two with two beers and two teas came to €84.90

  • Verdict Molly Malone would approve
  • Facilities Chilly but good
  • Food provenance Limited. Dingle ice cream and an "All our beef, lamb and chicken are 100 per cent Irish"
  • Music Christmas tunes, made mercifully inaudible by chattering
  • Vegetarian options Good
  • Wheelchair access ★★★★★ Fully accessible room with a wheelchair toilet
Catherine Cleary

Catherine Cleary

Catherine Cleary, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a founder of Pocket Forests