Select: In search of comfort food
Summer came and went in a soggy blur, so seek out soothing meals as the seasons change
The Pepper Pot Cafe in the Powerscourt Towncentre: home of excellent eggs
The Butter Chicken from Madina Desi Curry Co on Mary Street will set you right. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Turkish eggs Menemen from Brother Hubbard and Sister Sadie
Now that the country has regained most of its faculties after the Electric Picnic you’ll have noticed that the summer – soggy as it was – is well and truly over. Tempting as it is to hide indoors until spring, surviving on a diet of take aways, beans on toast and box sets (we won’t even go there with “Netflix and chill”), we’ve rounded up some ideas for soothing comfort food to ease you into the new season.
While the ultimate comfort food is always, always cooked by your mammy – or there are some of us here in the Ticket who swear by Koka noodle sandwiches with cheese and coleslaw – these places offer a hug on a plate.
A good bowl of pasta can fix quite a few of the world’s ills. The Rigatoni alla Norcina (€14) at La Dolce Vita (5 Cow’s Lane, Dublin 8, 01-707 9786) is a go-to for one of the Ticket team. This classic Umbrian recipe consists of a creamy mix of crumbled Italian sausage, tomato sauce, pepper and mascarpone spooned over al dente tubes of steaming pasta. Other pasta favourites include Linguine alle Vongole (€15.50) in Il Vicoletto (5 Crow St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, 01-670 8633, ilvicolettorestaurants.ie), a tangle of pasta and clams so comforting, you’ll fall asleep in your bowl. Or the pappardelle with wild boar ragu alla Toscana in Terra Madre (13 Bachelors Walk, Dublin 1, 01-873 5300). Made with pasta imported from Italy, drenched in a thick sauce of tomato and wild boar, it’s great with lots of Parmesan on top. Just don’t ask for salt or you’ll incur the wrath of the establishment.
Another good Italian spot to try is Er Buchetto (71 Ranelagh Village, Dublin 6, 01-4967584), a tiny little corner cafe in Ranelagh. But don’t go for pasta, instead try one of its very good Buchetto sausage sandwiches (€6.95), which are stuffed with Hicks Italian sausage , grilled peppers , Edam cheese and mayo. The coffee is good here too.
If you prefer your sausage served in flaky pastry, you can’t go wrong with a sausage roll (€2) from the Green Bench Café (18 Montague Street Dublin 8, 01-549 8229). With seriously tasty sausage meat from O’Mahony’s Meats and the right ratio of butter:flakiness in the pastry, these guys are only available on Fridays so it’s always worth getting down before the lunchtime queue to nab one.
For a gentle start to the day, try the Turkish Eggs (€9.95) at Brother Hubbard (153 Capel St, Dublin 1, brotherhubbard.ie). A soft, luxurious mix of scrambled eggs with tomato, roast peppers, chilli, red onion and herbs on sourdough toast, there’s also some creamy feta and a dollop of black olive yogurt to soothe what ails you. Add an extra serving of chorizo for €2.95, or smoked salmon (€2.95), or pulled pork (€3.50). And for true comfort, this brunch dish is served until 5pm every day. You can also get them at Brother’s southside sibling restaurant, Sister Sadie (46 Harrington Street, Dublin 8, sistersadie.ie).
Another good brunch option is the pulled pork belly hash (€13.95) at San Lorenzo’s(South Great George’s St, Dublin 2 01-478 9383, sanlorenzos.ie). If you can get over the fact you’re probably the least cool person in the place, this mix of fried cubed potato with shredded pork belly and spring onions comes with a pot of Boston baked beans and is topped with two runny fried eggs that demand to be mixed into the spuds. Pretty, it ain’t, but we’re after comfort here, not couture.
Ribs are another one of those warm, eat-it-all-better comfort foods. Skinflint (19 Crane Lane, Dublin 2, 01-670 9719, joburger.ie/skinflint) is best-known for its pizza menu but hidden in plain sight are the some of the best, gnarliest ribs you could hope for. Slow-cooked, covered in a sticky, rich sauce, served with a tangy apple slaw; it’s comfort on a slate for €13.95. The Washerwoman in Glasnevin (60 Glasnevin Hill, Dublin 9 01-837 9441, thewasherwoman.ie) does an excellent take on baby-back pork ribs (€19), cooked to melting, slathered in a barbecue sauce and served with spicy slaw and chunky chips.
Curry and pizza (not together) are real comfort-food classics. For your curry hit, try the Butter Chicken (€9.95) in Madina Desi Curry Co (60 Mary St, Dublin 1, 01-872 6007, madina.ie). This mild curry is made with almonds, butter and cream – comfort comes with a calorific cost – and you can opt to have it spicy or sweet. Try it with an aromatic coriander and garlic naan (€2.49) or a roghni naan, which is topped with sesame seeds (€2.49).
For pizza, Paulie’s (58 Grand Canal Street Upper, Dublin 4, 01-664 3658, juniors.ie/ paulies-pizza) still does some of the best in town. The wood-fired oven churns out a never-ending supply of wafer thin, chewy-crusted pizzas. It’s hard to get a table here, so be sure to book. Try the Junior’s (€16) which has a slightly sweet butternut squash puree instead of the usual tomato sauce, and is topped with salty pancetta, parmesan, mozzarella, goats cheese and fresh rocket.
The best scrambled eggs we’ve had in Dublin can be found at the Pepper Pot Café (1st floor, Powerscourt Town House Centre, South William St, Dublin 2, 01-707 1610). These creamy, pillowy eggs are served all day – who knows when comfort will be needed? – and you can get them with sautéed mushrooms and toast for €7.50. A sandwich with Mount Callan cheddar with bacon and roast pear on soft bloomer (€6.50) is also a good bet here.
Finally, the mother of all comfort foods: chips. How can something so delicious be so divisive; to vinegar or not to vinegar? Skinny or chunky? Dunked in Heinz or Chef ketchup? With – gasp – mayo or not? For the ultimate in indulgence, we prefer chips slathered in something particularly unhealthy.
Think bacon and cheese fries with extra fried onion (€4.95) from Eddie Rockets (eddierockets.ie); chunky chips with mushy peas (€5) at Bóbó’s ( 50-51 Dame St and 22 Wexford St, Dublin 2, bobos.ie); or the sounds so wrong, tastes so right curry and cheese chips from Camden Exchange (72 Camden Street Lower, Dublin 2, 01-559 9028, camdenexchangedublin.com). If you’re willing to deal with the indigestion, a three-in-one (chips, fried rice and curry sauce) is a disgustingly addictive hangover remedy. Try this foil tray of stodge at Treasures (2 The Hill, Stillorgan, Co Dublin,01-283 6066, €4.80).
– Rachel Collins