Sometimes, often times, you just don’t want to eat a full meal. Something informal is what fits the bill. Something like a sandwich.
It is way harder to get a good, well priced, sandwich these days, with some honourable exceptions. Just the other day I paid €7 for a toasted sandwich. Nice enough, but that’s just too much money. It seems, after a recession that brought prices down to a decent level, that charges are on the way back up. You really notice this when you are in another country.
So, to Il Panorama in Howth. This is a tiny place with a bar and a window shelf (looking out on the harbour) to take your food. Some tables outside afford more conventional seating for groups of up to four people. It is owned and run by Darren Fitzpatrick, an Australian, but the staff and food are Italian. It has a lovely friendly atmosphere, something that is impossible to manufacture, no matter how much money one might throw at a business.
There are platters of antipasti and, word has it, great pizzas, but I’ve come for the sandwiches. They are named after Aussie cities, so you order, for instance, “a toasted Melbourne“, but they are filled with salami, mozzarella, sundried tomatoes and the like. Served in ciabatta bread and toasted or untoasted, they are provide a deliciously filling lunch. They start at €4.20 and rise to just north of €5. That’s great value. I had a glass of Prosecco, a sparkling wine that stands comparison with champagne. €5.50 and excellent. I saw Prosecco priced at €9.50 a glass in a Blackrock eatery just the other day. Now maybe this latter Prosecco is something quite remarkable, but somehow I doubt that.
I had two glasses of the house Merlot at €4.90 per glass. Well, I was celebrating something. A Wednesday, since you ask. Now the fact that they can make a flourishing living selling at these prices should tell us something. What I take from it is that we are generally paying over the odds for food and drink. The defence is that costs are higher here. Excise duty, insurance, staff costs are all the usual culprits. Well, I don’t really expect someone to tell me that “I’m just a bit greedy and want to make my money quickly. I’m not in this for the long haul“. I suspect that this is, at least in part, the reason. We don’t have a food tradition like many other countries. I would guess the longest running restaurant in the country goes back no more than 30 years. More usually, restaurants come and go in very short order. In contrast, restaurants in Italy or France usually have very long pedigrees.
However they have done it, Il Panorama have cracked it and provide great food and wine at affordable prices. Lucky Portmarnock will be the next location to benefit.
Il Panorama Café
1a Island View
Tel: 01 839 7282
All images courtesy Il Panorama Café