Neighbourhood nook with a cosy fair deal


HAPPY NEIGHBOURHOODS are all the same, as Tolstoy the town planner might have written. One thing they have in common is a small friendly restaurant where good things can be eaten a short stroll from home, feeding the longing to connect and belong.

Dublin’s Fairview needs all the cosiness it can get, being a neighbourhood with a dual carriageway running through it. It has the lovely expanse of Fairview Park and an unlovely expanse of traffic. Five lanes of it pass by the outside of Kennedy’s Food Store and Bistro. At the tables outside you can sit and play the spot-the-11-number-plate game.

I’m having a catch-up dinner with a good friend in the bistro part of this small place, which is upstairs above the food shop. They’ve crammed a lot into this small redbrick building, with a handsome old clock set into its front above the canopy. I’m given a table with a seat in a nook in the wall. There are big windows where you can see the double-deckers pass by and it’s quiet at this early stage of the evening.

Claire’s spinach soup arrives in a large white bowl with a white dollop of goat’s cheese in the centre. It’s simple, summery and tasty. My broad bean and mint pate starter is excellent.

I’m a little obsessed with broad beans, having podded and peeled a quantity recently. They involve some labour so maybe that’s why many restaurants ignore them. But they are as high-summer as the screech of swallows in a late bright sky.

In this starter, the beans have been left unpeeled in a small pile. The rest have been blended with cream cheese and mint into a pate served as nice quenelles and crispy sourdough toast.

I’ve asked for a recommendation for the main course and “cous cous cakes” is the instant response so I’m expecting good things. Unfortunately, they don’t work for me, a little too gritty on the outside and not enough flavour inside. The upside is they come with a delicious velvety steamed spinach and roasted red peppers.

On Claire’s plate there’s another different complaint. “I was only going to take one of these and now I’m going to have to eat them all,” she says. Described as boulangere potatoes, they are the best wedges either of us have had recently, sliced into thick-skinned melon-wedge-sized pieces, floury, dense and crisp, and they come with a tasty aged Angus beef rib eye. The butter sauce has been helpfully put in a separate dish so you can choose to go all out or just have a taste.

We round the meal off with a shared portion of the strawberry tiramisu, which brings the three courses in at €21.95, and the two courses at €17.95 at the week-night early bird offering. Two glasses each of the house white and red wines and a peppermint tea complete the dinner. It’s a proper, well-cooked summer menu that is priced at not much more than a splurge at the local takeaway.

Dinner for two with four glasses of wine and tea came to €64.40.

Kennedy's Food Store and Bistro

5 Fairview Strand, Dublin 3, tel: 01-8331400

Facilities:Small and swish

Wheelchair access: No

Music:Piped background pop played low Food provenance: Cheesemakers such as Crozier Blue, Bretzel bakery breads and free-range meat is specified on the menu