They say no more austerity, the crisis is over – but even so, we still think that getting value for money is paramount on everyone’s minds.
Now that Dublin is returning to something approaching normality after the Great Recession, it occurred to me that it might be helpful to offer some tips for getting value for money when you’re looking for something to eat, a coffee, or somewhere to take a pint that feels just a little special. Value for money is the key element.
Dubliners love their tea or, increasingly, coffee, but there are numerous disappointments if you decide simply to wander into just any place with expectations high. Tea is tea, I drink it at home but on the odd occasion I have ordered it while out, it has struck me what poor value it represented. Coffee, on the other hand, varies wildly with far too many places offering bitterness in place of flavour.
So, my recommendation is Dunne & Crecenzi in South Frederick Street. They provide an excellent cappuccino for a reasonable €2.50 (or €3.75 when you add one of their delicious raisin Danish). The staff are all Italian and completely charming, if lacking a little in peripheral vision.
Out of town, and in my area, I love the recently opened Two Beans in Dun Laoghaire (pictured above), serving coffee with flavour rather than just strength and bitterness, in surroundings that have a modern twist. An oasis in something of a desert.
For lunch I have two options. Firstly, during the week, try the set lunch at Steps of Rome in Chatham Street, where you can have a mixed salad or a bruschetta with tomatoes and olive oli, followed by pasta or pizza with a glass of wine for €9.99, an absolute steal. Those of you who treasured the often unpredictable and rude waiting staff of yore will just have to get used to the charm now in evidence. When you are outside the lunch hour I recommend having two slices of their pizza (for me, the best in Dublin) and a glass of their, admittedly, over-priced house wine.
Alternatively, take yourself to the Market Bar in Fade Street and have soup and a wrap or sandwich for €7 (check out the #foodporn below!). Recently I had spicy lentil soup and a chorizo and Manchego cheese sandwich with some crunchy potatoes. Really bursting with flavour and great value. It is one of Dublin’s more interesting spaces to meet and eat in. Tapas dishes are also well worth trying.
So, now I have got you through the day and maybe you are thinking where you might like to take an Irish cocktail, or a pint, as we call it locally. Again, I am going to make two recommendations, both classics.
Back to Chatham Street (you could just toddle along from the Steps of Rome) and head into Neary’s. You know, at once, you are in good hands. Solid feel, oak lined walls, carpet (they never ripped it out to ‘age’ the place) and bar staff in white shirts and bow ties. Excellent Guinness at €5 and I believe they serve other drinks but I don’t know much about that. Incidentally, they do a very nice fresh salmon sandwich that goes perfectly with the pint.
Alternatively, head over to Poolbeg Street and into Mulligan’s where the pint of Guinness is €4.80. Make your way into the back room and enjoy the absence of music or television. This place is that little bit off the tourist trail and quite nice for that. Nothing wrong with tourists, but I want a seat.
Now, for the moment, that’s as much as I can do for you. Off with you but let me know what you find out as you explore dear old Dublin.
Dunne & Crescenzi
14-16, South Frederick Street
Two Beans photo via Two Beans website, all other images © Dublin Buzz