Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Whirlwind New York - Day One

Back in November 2011, we recently spent a few whirlwind days in New York. I was passing through on my way to a week's work in North Carolina and I had managed to wedge in a short layover in New York. It was all decided in quite a hurry, which meant that we travelled to New York with no real plans. But as always, New York didn't disappoint.

After a hairy taxi trip, where the driver spent most of the time getting incomprehensible directions from someone on the other end of the line, we arrived at our hotel in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is changing rapidly into a cool spot, providing a nice alternative to staying on Manhattan. Following check-in we headed out into a bright but cold winter's day for a walk. We wandered along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade which has great views onto Manhattan Island. From there, we wandered northwards until we came to the magnificent Brooklyn bridge.
Underneath the Brooklyn Bridge
At this stage we were getting hungry, but thankfully we spotted Ignazio's Pizzeria, tucked in under the Brooklyn Bridge on Water Street. We were drawn in by the delicious looking pizzas served atop pizza stands. I've since seen these stands in many US restaurants and I think it's quite a clever way of serving pizza, as they free up a lot of table space. As drooling over other peoples food from outside a restaurant is never really socially acceptable, we headed inside, where the air was filled with delicious pizza smells.

My tipple of choice was a bottle of delicious Blue Point Blueberry Ale ($5), brewed locally in Long Island, while he enjoyed another native drink, Brooklyn Brown Ale ($7). We shared a simple starter of baked anchovies ($8) while waiting for our Sicilian pizza ($21). When the pizza arrived at the table, it was a riot of colour. Bright red tomatoes and vibrant green basil jostled for position, and the cheesy topping was grilled to crusty perfection. One pizza was more than enough between two of us, especially considering the thicker New York style base.

Blue Point Brewing Company Blueberry Ale

Pizza at Ignazio's, Water St, Brooklyn
Ignazio's Pizzeria, Brooklyn
Refulled, we headed back out into the cold air and continued our walk along Water Street. We entered the Brooklyn Bridge Park and eventually came to the foot of the mighty Manhattan Bridge. At this stage, the winter sun was starting to sink low, providing some lovely daylight for photos. Being down at the edge of the water provided a magnificent viewpoint to survey the city. Afterwards, we turned inwards, and headed south, passing underneath the huge, sturdy feet of the Manhattan bridge, where the air is constantly full of the sounds of passing trains and traffic. I'd reckon that living anywhere near the bridge would require either being a heavy sleeper, or a set of the finest earplugs.       
Manhattan Bridge
Later that night, we found ourselves having a few drinks in Eamonn Doran's on Montague St. That's the great thing about being Irish, there's always an Irish bar with an Irish barman. Even after only 12 hours in America, it was nice to hear an Irish accent.  With a few drinks onboard, we felt insulated enough to head out into a bitter cold night. We walked back down to the Brooklyn Promenade to see the New York Mahattan skyline at night. Despite the intensely bitter cold, this was a magnificent sight.

Himself is always hungry, so on our way back to the hotel we stopped at a Five Guys burgers outlet on Montague Street. Five Guys is a real success story, having grown from a single Virginia store in 1986, to over 900 outlets in the US. Their burgers regularly receive accolades, and there are apparently 2,500 possible burger combinations. Himself kept it simple ordering a bacon cheeseburger and fries.

The burger was very much an American style burger with two thin but juicy patties, oozing melted cheese. The fries were substantial, with skin-on and lightly dusted with a flavouring mix. This isn't a gourmet burger joint, but it is a fast-food joint where you can get a real burger. (Read this blog post for more about a similar chain, Jakes' Wayback Burgers).
Bacon cheeseburger at Five Guys
Fries at Five Guys

More to follow soon on Day 2 of our New York trip...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Jacob's Creek Wine & Dine Experience hits the road

Last year, I received an invitation to attend a pop-up wine & dine experience, courtesy of Jacob's Creek. Dinner was to be provided in a secret, unexpected Dublin location, and would be accompanied by loads of wine and games. And so it was that we found ourselves in the Crypt of Christchurch cathedral where we were treated to a meal from chef Clodagh McKenna and a crash course in wine education from David Whelehan. The whole evening was quite entertaining, and I developed a new appreciation for Jacob's Creek sparkling wines. You can read more about it here.

Due to the immense success of the first event, the Jacob's Creek Wine & Dine experience is back for 2012, and this year it's hitting the road with events taking place in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Waterford. Each location promises to be special (a 19th century gaol or a contemporary art gallery anyone?) and guests will be encourage to "See Beyond the Label" while learning something new about food and wine.

Once again, wine expert David Whelehan will be onboard to educate and entertain, while each evening's meal will be devised by top local chefs.

Dates are as follows
  • Dublin - March 27th
  • Cork - April 4th
  • Galway - April 19th
  • Waterford - April 26th

Places are free, but you have to submit your details to be in with a chance of attending. To request a reservation, visit and enter your details on the "The Wine & Dine Experience" tab. Alternatively, you can email with "Jacob's Creek Wine & Dine Experience" in the subject line, along with your name, contact details, date of birth and, most importantly, your preferred location. Places are limited and guests will be chosen at random. Make sure to get your requests in soon, as the first event takes place on March 27th in Dublin

The Wild Boar Pub, Stepaside, Dublin 18

Writing about restaurants is a pretty tough job. It takes some dedication, and a lot of my weekends involve planning for both lunch and dinner. Mind you, food blogging is not as hard as my real job, which has me visiting the US for yet another 3 weeks. It's tough being away from home and family for 3 weeks, compounded by the fact that an ocean separates you. The plus side, as a food blogger is getting to eat at a whole new range of restaurants.

Tonight, I found myself at the Cheesecake Factory. Love it, or hate it, the simple fact is that they do turn out decent, tasty food. Tonight, I ordered the beef burger, topped with sautéed mushrooms and melted cheese. Sounds simple, but the beef was juicy and tasty, cooked medium rare as requested, and those sautéed mushrooms turned out to be dark-skinned, wild mushrooms. This delicious burger, served in a restaurant that caters to literally thousands of people, got me thinking about a recent visit to a Dublin gastropub, where the burger was definitely not up to scratch.

The Wild Boar Pub shares premises with The Box Tree restuarant in the village of Stepaside. Both locations come from Eamonn O'Reilly, the chef behind of one Dublin's favourite restaurants, One Pico.  I visited The Box Tree for lunch before Christmas and enjoyed a very competent, well priced meal. Following that good experience, we had promised ourselves that we would return to this lovely venue for a more casual meal in the adjoining pub.

We returned on a cold & blustery February Saturday, when the pub was about half full. The  menu is simple, featuring variations on pub staples, along with a selection of soups and sandwiches. A chalkboard also lists some daily specials. I really like the clean, fresh look that runs throughout the Box Tree and Wild Boar. It's a pub alright, but with a really smart interior, and I especially liked the art deco style lamp shades.
Stitch and Bear - The lovely interior of the Wild Boar pub in Stepaside
The lovely clean interior of the Wild Boar pub
Himself chose the crispy fried chicken wings with blue cheese dip (€8.95), bulked up with a portion of skinny fries (€2.95). I chose the meatier option of the rib burger, aged Dubliner cheese with basil mayo, tomato relish and more skinny french fries (€13.95).
Stitch and Bear - Burger at the Wild Boar pub in Stepaside
Burger with Dubliner cheese, fries and tomato relish
Stitch and Bear - Crispy chicken wings at the Wild Boar pub in Stepaside
Crispy chicken wings with celery, blue cheese dip & fries
Presentation was quite attractive, with both dishes served on wooden boards, his plain and mine with an inset sheet of slate (I bet you that waiters are thankful for that). Sticks of celery stood to attention in a little holder next to the chicken wings, while the skinny fries came in little galvanised buckets.

But the dishes just failed to impress. The chicken wings had a nice crispiness, but no bite or spiciness. They tasted somewhat like they had been tossed in a sweet chili sauce from which the chili had long been departed. My burger had a dry, grainy texture, with the meat crumbling into small pieces as I cut it with my knife. There was no meaty juiciness and no flavour.

On the plus side, I did really enjoy the skinny fries. I'm sick to my back teeth of "chunky chips", particularly in establishments where thick solid wedges masquerade as chips. So well done to the Wild Boar for serving proper French fries. 

The Wild Boar has been feted as one of the new generation of gastropubs, but to be honest, I didn't find anything here that I couldn't find in any generic Irish pub. In a gastropub, I'd expect the burger to be epic, not dry and crumbly. I'd expect zingy American-standard wings, not their wishy-washy cousins. For me, the Wild Boar was a let down, particularly given the standard next door, where we could have enjoyed a two course lunch for not a lot more money (€18.95 each to be exact).

The Wild Boar Pub, Stepaside, Dublin 18
Tel: +353 (0)1 202 5208
Twitter: @TheWildBoarPub

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Dining Room at La Stampa Hotel, Dawson St, Dublin 2

Roll the dice and spin the wheel. Sometimes that's how it feels when dining at the Dining Room in La Stampa Hotel. Over the years there has been a series of executive chefs ranging from Jean Cristophe Novelli to home-grown talents Paul Fynn and the recently departed Conrad Gallagher. (You can read my 2011 review from Conrad Gallagher's stint at the helm here).

Now, this Grand Dame of the Dublin dining scene is in the hands of Ronan Ryan (of Town Bar & Grill repute), aided by long term head chef Malcolm Starmer. So how has Dublin's most beautiful dining room fared under the new regime. The room is lighter and brighter, with a more stripped back feel. To me it possibly feels a little too bare, but I like the brighter atmosphere. With Conrad Gallagher in charge, it was sometimes hard to see what was on the plate. The giant flower arrangement is also gone, replaced by a  headless statue of Nike.

We visited on a Thursday night and the restaurant resolutely remained very quiet throughout our entire meal. Not even the expected traffic from hotel residents manifested. Given that good Dublin restaurants are busting at the seams right now, I wondered was this quietness a bad sign?

Our set menu featured about 4-5 choices for starters and mains, and a bit limited for those of the vegetarian bent. Himself chose the warm salad of mackerel with cracked wheat, sweet potato and salted lemon vinaigrette.  This was a delightful starter with fresh, oily mackerel beautifully balanced by the sharp and salty emulsified dressing. A tribute to a humble star of the fish world. My starter of sliced roast pigeon breast was gamey with the liver taste expected from pigeon. For the life of me, I can't remember what accompanied the pigeon, and my photo of menu is illegible!
Warm salad of mackerel
Roast pigeon breast
My mains choice was the delicious sounding maple glazed suckling pig served with choucroute and prune, black pudding and walnut crumble. This piece of pork came with what was possibly the best crackling I've ever eaten in a restaurant. The pork itself was moist and tender, cooked beautifully, but I failed to pick up on the advertised maple glaze. The crumble mix was very good indeed, with dark rich and sweet flavours matching the pork beautifully. Himself chose the roast venison, one of the nights specials. It came beautifully served, with attractive pea shoots brightening up the plate, while the meat was cooked to pink perfection. 
Maple glazed suckling pig
Special - Venison
Despite the elegant presentation of the main courses, the portion sizes are quite substantial and so it was that we found ourselves facing dessert with a bit of apprehension. We wanted some light, refreshing options, so discarding the bread & butter pudding we settled on classic creme brûlée for himself and frozen nougat for me. The creme brûlée was served in a little square dish with shortbread biscuits and was exactly as expected. My frozen nougat was a single scoop of a silky smooth ice-cream substance, dotted throughout with finely chopped fruits and nuts. The accompanying blood oranges, honey & lemon syrup and spiced tuille were all a bit of overkill, proving too sharp and too sweet respectively for the amazing delicate milky creaminess of the nougat. 
Vanilla crème brûlée

Frozen nougat
We dined using a voucher from the Irish Times Rewarding Times, which gave us a three course meal for two, including a bottle of wine for €69 (worth €105). The bottle of wine was the weakest point in the meal, being a very dull Pinot Grigio, but otherwise, we were quite pleased with our meal. Service was a little too attentive at times (we nearly had to physically restrain our server from pouring the wine), but I suppose that's to be expected in a nearly empty restaurant. 

This is good accomplished cooking, but you'd expect nothing less in in such a magnificent setting from an experienced chef. The menu did seem a bit heavy, with only a handful of lighter choices available. Hopefully, as we move from Spring to Summer, the choices will change to reflect the seasons. Overall, there is a sense of steady competence in the food at the Dining Room. It's reliable, and maybe perhaps, too safe. Perhaps this old Grande Dame might like to live it up a little.

For early birds, a slimmed down pre-theatre menu is served tightly between 17.30 -18.30 Monday to Saturday giving 2 courses for €22.95 or 3 for €25.95.

The Dining Room, La Stampa Hotel, Dawson St, Dublin 2
Tel: +353 (0)1 612 7911
Twitter: @LaStampaDublin


Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Curious Feast with Brancott Estate and Pichet

Several weeks ago I posted details of a promotion where my readers could enter a raffle for tickets to a food and wine event, sponsored by Brancott Estate wines. Over the course of four nights, chefs from a selection of fine Irish restaurants were going to create and demonstrate a menu made up of unexpected food combinations.  Irish culinary duo Cully & Scully were going to host the nights which promised a series of fun sensory games and entertainment.

Following the deadline for entries, one of my friends got in touch afterwards to let me know that he had snagged a pair of tickets for the Monday event, where Locks Brasserie would be the guest restaurant. I'd love to know if any of my other readers were lucky enough to snag a pair of tickets, and more importantly, what you thought of the event.

I was kindly invited to attend an evening of my choice, and so I chose Thursday, the last night in the series. This turned out to be a fortunate choice on my part, as I fell sick with a very bad dose of influenza the week before and had only just returned to work the day before my Curious Feast.

Sully hard at work present
The Curious Feast was being held at the Sugar Club, not an obvious choice for a food event. Inside, a tiered dining area had been created with all tables facing towards a fully kitted out Siemens kitchen.  Across to our right, we could see through into the Green Room, where a team of chefs worked to plate up the meal. Following chefs from Locks Brasserie, Campagne, and Tankardstown House, our chef for the night was Stephen Gibson of Pichet.

Upon arrival, we were greeted with a choice of aperitifs (see below) and then we stepped carefully in the darkness to find a table with free spaces. The show quickly kicked off, with buckets of energy and innuendo issuing forth from the frankly whacky Cully & Sully. "Do you always toast your nuts Stephen?" being just one example. Once Stephen had completed demonstrating each dish, a veritable army of servers quickly delivered the courses and wines to each table.

The menu for the night was as follows
  • Aperitif Marlborough Pinot Grigio 2011 or Sauvignon Blanc Brut
  • Starter Rare seared tuna, Parma ham, pinenuts, pear & sherry vinegar paired with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011
  • Main Slow cooked short rib, pickled ox tongue and violet artichoke paired Marlborough Pinot Noir 2009
  • Desert Chocolate mousse with candied popcorn, salt caramel and banana paired with Sauvignon Blanc Brut
Pardon my photos below, due to the extremely low level of lighting (which forced a form of sensory deprivation), I had to use my camera flash, hence the somewhat blown out photos. 

Seared tuna with parma ham, pinenuts, pear and sherry vinegar

Slow cooked short rib with ox tongue and artichoke
Chocolate mousse with candied popcorn and salted caramel ice cream
The intention of the Curious Feast was to challenge the diner's perceptions, while creating unusual flavour combinations. I'm not entirely sure that Stephen's menu was very far out there, but it was pretty tasty. My favourite from the night was definitely the slow cooked short rib, which was rich with gelatinous meaty goodness. As Stephen demonstrated the candied popcorn, a mouth watering sugary smell filled the room. Served with creamy salted caramel ice-cream and chocolate mousse, it was a sweet finish to our meal. 

A large part of the night was getting to taste the selection of wines from Brancott Estates. The Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (of which I am generally a big fan) was typical of the genre, with light, crisp flavours. It's currently available from Superquinn for an attractive €10 per bottle. The Pinot Noir didn't really deliver the expected cherry and soft fruit flavours, with wood instead being dominant on the palette. However, given the fact that it retails around the €12 mark, this represents quite good value for money for a wine made from this delicate grape. The sparkling Sauvignon Blanc Brut is made from a mix of grapes, not overly sweet, with quite a dry finish. It's an interesting alternative to more conventional sparkling wines.

Some additional culinary star power was added to our evening by the appearance of Nick Munier, co-owner of Pichet, and a judge on Ireland's first Masterchef series. Nick participated in a wine-tasting challenge where players sampled wines served in black wine glasses, and had to guess the wine in question. This proved harder than expected with many players declaring one wine to be a red, when it turned out to be a warm pinot grigio.

A Curious Feast was an interesting and fun way of marketing Brancott Estate wines in Ireland. As part of the Pernod Richard group, there is plenty of money being invested in this brand (previously known as Montana in some markets), which was a sponsor of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Brancott Estate wines appear to be pitched at a good price point which will undoubtedly help the brand get traction.  A lot of effort and thought had been invested in the Curious Feast, and the large giveaway of free places to the public is to be appreciated.

Stitch and Bear was invited to attend the Curious Feast, courtesy of Brancott Estate. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

[Review] 777, South George's St, Dublin 2

The two hottest new restaurants in Dublin's fair city lie close to each other on Great George's Street. On one side lies San Lorenzos (yet to be experienced by moi), while nearby is 777 (or Triple 7 as the staff say).  A fun Facebook and Twitter campaign preceded the opening, offering a lucky winner free food for a year in return for posting pictures of themselves wearing a temporary 777 tattoo. It was pretty clear that 777 was going to be something different.

Fast forward to a week after opening, and we arrive for Sunday lunch. (Tip: If you book Sunday lunch at 777 via Twitter, using the hashtag #sundaze, then you will receive a free cocktail with your meal!). The exterior of 777 is determinedly plain, with only a discreet sign pointing the way. In fact, it even looks like something the Celtic Tiger left behind i.e. unfinished and closed. But inside, it's very very different.

Buckets of diffused light floods in through the big frosted windows, adding to the reflections from the engraved mirrors. Tattooed lovers embrace and Cadillacs vroom in feature panels on the tiled walls. If you've ever been to the Butcher Grill in Ranelagh, you'll recognise the vibe (in fact, 777 is the latest offering from the team behind Dillinger's and the Butcher Grill). A bright orange counter runs the length of the room, with leatherette high stools, while shelves groan with bottles of tequila and wines. In short, it's Kool and the Gang.
The stylish interior at 777
Place setting at 777 (love the cocktail recipe)
The barman was on the ball, because as soon as we were seated on our stools, we had two fresh cocktails placed in front of us. I belatedly stopped trying to spin myself on the bar stool (What is it about barstools that always turns me into a child on a roundabout?) and gave my attention to the house special cocktail (not featured on the cocktail menu) which consisted of fresh homemade ginger beer, spiced rum and lime. It was simply delicious, with a real mouth-warming, ginger kick. A definite favourite for summer evenings.

A starter of ensalada de betabel (€9.00) served in a old-fashioned enameled dish was a mix of grilled romaine lettuce hearts, regular and candy cane beets, dressed with cilantro yoghurt (no coriander here folks) and garlic crisps. I've heard of braising lettuce, but grilled lettuce was new to me. The charred warm exterior contrasted nicely with the crunchy interiors, which I swirled around in the tasty yoghurt dressing.

Ensalada de betabel (beetroot & grilled lettuce salad)
Torta cubana (€14.00) was a large grilled sandwich packed full of slow roasted pork belly, ham slices, avocado spread, habanero mustard and cheese. Red pickled onions are sharp and intense, cutting through the roast pork fattiness with ease. Vuelve a la vida (€11.00) came served in a sundae glass and was a mouth watering cold velvety smooth mix of spicy tomato sauce, cooked shrimp & clams with avocado and cilantro. It might have been a bit on the small side but it was refreshing and tangy good. 

As we eat, the barmen are working hard preparing cocktail ingredients for later service. After we're finished, a mug each is slid along the counter to us. Inside it contains a scoop of sorbet, margarita sorbet to be precise and it is delicious. Cool and crisp with typical lime and tequila flavours. I could eat gallons of this stuff. 
Torta cubana
Vuelve a la vida
There's no doubting that the food and drink at 777 is something special. It's an original and great addition to a city with an already cool dining scene. Outside, it looks like a closed or vacant premises, but inside it's buzzing. The barmen clearly know their cocktails and tequilas, but for the prices that they're charging, I wouldn't expect anything less. (Cocktails are generally around the €11 mark, rising to €13 for a special margarita). 

This brings me to the only fault I have with 777 - the pricing. Everything is just that bit too expensive. My (admittedly excellent) sandwich was €14 and a small salad bowl of lettuce and beets for €9 is hard to take. I thought cocktails that cost in excess of €10 had gone the way of Anglo Bank, but 777 clearly aren't with the new austerity chic. 777 only operates a reservations policy for tables of 6 and more. Thus, if you're eating as part of a pair, there is a high likelihood that you'll be seated at the bar.
Only a small sign points the way to 777
Pricing issues aside, this is seriously good food and drink. It's no more related to the common fajitas and nachos restaurant than I am to the Man in the Moon. It reminds me of great Mexican food that I've enjoyed in Calfornia tacquerias. With bucketloads of lime and coriander (sorry, I can't say cilantro again!) and rows of tequila bottles to choose from, this is a restaurant that will get your taste buds going.

777, 7 Castle House, South Great George's Street, Dublin 2
Tel: +353 (0)1 425 4052
URL: or visit on Facebook
Twitter: @777dublin
777 Mexican on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

All-Ireland Craft Beerfest, March 15th - 19th, Dublin

I was pretty delighted to hear that the All-Ireland Craft Beerfest will return during the 2012 St. Patrick's Festival, following a highly successful 2011 inaugral festival. I'm an enthusiastic supporter of Irish beers for several reasons, mainly because many of the Irish brews taste a good sight better than the generic mass-produced beers. 

Read on for more details of the All-Ireland Craft Beerfest...

Do you know your Bock from your Pilsner, your Stout from your Pale Ale? Discover the treasure trove of Irish Craft Beer at the All-Ireland Craft Beerfest, where over 25 of the top craft beers from around the country will be on tap at the event on George’s Dock platform from March 15th – 19th, as part of the St Patrick’s Festival 2012. Bringing together the top Irish craft brewers, the event will celebrate and showcase the best of Irish brewing and provide the true taste of Irish Craft Beer. Open daily from 12pm till late, the event will bring together craft beers, artisan foods and entertainment for all the family as part of the celebration of Irish culture.

The breweries involved in the event include O’Hara’s Brewery, White Gypsy, Eight Degrees, Metalman, Dungarvan Brewing Company, Porterhouse, Galway Hooker, Dingle Brewing Company, Trouble Brewing, Messrs Maguire, Franciscan Well and more.

“The art of brewing is experiencing a kind of renaissance in Ireland today with an increasing number of consumers enjoying craft beers. There are so many great craft breweries throughout the country producing world class beers and we believe the time of celebration of all things Irish provides the perfect platform to showcase their beers.” according to Seamus O'Hara of O’Hara’s Brewery and festival co-chair.

The event will open at 12pm on Thursday March 15th and will run until Monday March 19th, from 12pm till late daily, with live music and entertainment throughout the day including an opportunity to learn more about the history of brewing in Ireland.  Members of craft beer appreciation group Beoir ( will host a series of 30 minute presentations during Friday and Sunday on "Brewing Since the Time of St. Patrick", showing how brewing in Ireland has evolved over the ages with the opportunity to sample and discuss different beer styles.

Admission is €10 and includes a souvenir beer glass. Free admission from 12pm – 7pm Thursday 15th and Friday 16th; admission applies from 12pm Saturday and Sunday. for the facts

For more information please visit, on Facebook and Twitter (@irishbeerfest)

Friday, March 2, 2012

[Review] Musashi Noodles & Sushi Bar, Capel Street, Dublin 1

Mushashi is a newly opened Japanese noodle and sushi bar on Capel Street. It caught my eye a few weeks ago on a rainy and dismal night. As I walked past, the warm glow from the wooden interior made me long to be inside, warm and feasting on sushi. Regretfully, I had to walk on that night, but Mushashi had remained in the back of my head since then.

Roll on another Friday night on Capel Street, and we had just left the newly opened Black Sheep Pub, an establishment dedicated to craft beers on tap and from bottle. A sister pub to Against the Grain on Wexford St, the Black Sheep is still in the early stages, but it's absolutely brilliant to see new pubs opening, offering something different. After a few drinks, some food is always a good idea, and thus it was that we found ourselves opening the little door into Musashi.

The interior is simply and sleekly decorated with dark wooden floors, lighter wooden panelling and bamboo screens. There are loads of tables for two, which I think is great.  This means that the restaurant can easily cater for couples, or for bigger groups by pulling tables together. Little wooden stools, with an intriguing shoe shelf provide the seating, all topped with bright red cushions. There has been a lot of thought put into the interior of Musashi, which makes you actually feel like you might be in Japan (Disclaimer: this is imagination on my part, as I've never been to Japan. But now I know what it might feel like.)
Stitch and Bear - The sleek interior of Mushashi
The stylish interior of Musashi
Stitch and Bear - Cute little stools at Mushashi
Neat little stools
After being seated, we were presented with two cups of green tea (free) to sip on while we chose our food. We started with two sushi platters - Ume (sashimi or slices of raw fish) and Sakura (nigiri which is raw and cooked fish served on rice). They cost €12.00 and €7.00 respectively and were served on lovely bamboo boards with the usual pickled ginger and wasabi. Simplicity and precision really is the definition of good sushi, where the freshness of the fish and the sharpness of the chef's knife is put front and centre. There is nothing for bad sushi to hide behind. But sushi at Musashi has nothing to hide from. It was fresh and perfect. Special mention has to go the pickled ginger and wasabi which were above average.
Stitch and Bear - Sushi platters at Mushashi
Sashimi and nigiri sushi at Musashi
Himself decided to order two starters instead of a single main. A House Mix Tempura selection (€8.50) came served on a beautiful bamboo platter with the most perfectly cooked squid rings and crispy battered vegetables. The bamboo platter looked like a raft afloat on the table. A plate of Ebi Gyoza, or pork & chive fried dumplings (€5.95) were tasty and juicy, served with dipping sauce. 

Stitch and Bear - Mixed tempura at Mushashi
Mixed tempura at Musashi
I had chosen Teppan tuna teriyaki, which was served on a wonderful, heavy, earthenware plate. The organic nature of Japanese decor has always struck me as a beautiful contrast to their technology infatuated lives. The massive portion of tuna was seared to rare, as requested, and served atop a mix of stir-fried vegetables with rice on the side (€14.95). I would have liked more punch from the teriyaki sauce, as it was a touch bland, but to be honest, this is the worst criticism I have from this meal.
Stitch and Bear - Teriyaki tuna at Mushashi
Teppan tuna teriyaki
Mushashi didn't have any beer available on the night that we visited, but we were able to pop out to the local supermarket to purchase our own bottles. An opening charge of €3.00 was applied to cover the corkage on our alcohol. Service was efficient and lovely throughout, with the waitresses zipping about on the wooden floors with silent feet. The total bill came to €52.40 which I thought was pretty decent value. If you don't have a fetish for raw fish, you can leave the more expensive sushi out, resulting in an even more cost effective meal.

We didn't get to sample any noodles on this visit, but this omission serves to give us another reason to call again. In short, Musashi feels like the real deal. Things are definitely starting to get a lot cooler on the North side of the city.

Musashi Noodles & Sushi Bar, 15 Capel St, Dublin 1
Tel: +353 (0)1 532 8068
Musashi on Facebook Musashi Noodles and Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon
© Stitch and Bear | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Developed by pipdig