Monday, May 26, 2014

[Review] Fade Street Social, Fade Street, Dublin 2

When Fade Street Social opened its doors in late 2012, I deliberately didn't review it. Firstly, it had only just opened and secondly it opened on the cusp of the manic Christmas season when everyone and his office dog goes out for meals. I don't enjoy dining in the pressurised run up to Christmas, so I was happy to leave it be. After several visits last year, I return with to the Gastrobar with my sister E in tow and we set about sampling the menu. To her everlasting shame, E had been in Croke Park jostling kids half her age at the One Direction concert and was in need of sustenance before putting her on a student-friendly priced bus back to Cork. 

We were seated in the middle of the Gastrobar, at a table with high, leather covered gym bars masquerading as seats. Being my usual graceful self, I managed to slide straight off on my first attempt, but gained a solid grip second time out. Once secure, I could see the bandana-ed chefs working behind the open kitchen, furiously grating parmesan over just about everything. The beautiful wood and leather interior is both reflective of, and an improvement on sister venue Rustic Stone.

It's rare enough that I get excited reading a menu, particularly one at a self-titled "Irish Restaurant". But the tapas menu at Fade Street Social would surely have the most jaded gourmand licking their sated lips. Subdivided into categories such as "Grill, Snacks, Carpaccio, Coated & Fried and Pastries", the dishes promise much intense flavour . The dishes are tapas in nature, with most sub-€10, although some are available as larger portions with larger price tags. 
Fried chicken and popcorn with sumac
Pumpkin macaroni
I kick off with a portion of salted popcorn and fried chicken, topped liberally with sumac (€5.50). It's quite moreish and we are quickly scraping the last fragments out while waiting for the next dish. E adores her portion of pumpkin macaroni (€8.00) which is vibrantly orange in colour and rich in flavour underneath a snowdrift of parmesan.

Both Himself and I have ordered large meat plates, the chargrilled point-end steak (€18.00) for me and the wild duck for Himself (€17.00). Bone marrow butter and a liberal application of flaked salt add intensity to my steak, which soothes my carnivorous cravings.

Crispy salt cod brandade comes with clever batter pieces of chorizo and a delectable pepper chickpea stew (€8.50) while a piece of pork belly on the bone is perfectly fatty with Asian spices and a tooth sticking peanut brittle coating (€10.50). My sister orders the very Irish sounding bacon and cabbage burger which is a dinky creation of pork belly, smoked black pudding and crispy cabbage, served in a mini milk bun (€7.50). 
Point end steak with bone marrow
Salt cod brandade
Wild duck
Bacon and cabbage burger
Asian pork belly
Skinny fries with brown onion puree and more parmesan
As it's Saturday, and we really have nothing better to do, we order desserts. E chooses basil sugar doughnuts with lychee and mango dipping sauce (€6.95) while we both order the adorable layered baby banoffi (€6.95), although I can't figure out the purpose of the decorative crisp perched on top. A carafe of AlbariƱo is a fresh and light accompaniment to the intense and varied flavours throughout the meal (€21.00).
Doughnuts and banoffee
Fade Street Social excites on many dimensions. It's buzzy and lively, with a mixed clientele spread across the variety of seating and the food is pretty damn good. In fact, it's very good. The upstairs Wintergarden allows diners to sit outside while drinking from a range of rather tweely Dublin-named cocktails, while the formal restaurant offers a menu of steaks, grills and flatbreads. 

I spent a while pondering why Fade Street Social would declare itself an "Irish Restaurant". The food is an eclectic mix of flavours and influences, but then I realised Irish people have embraced dining and therefore Fade Street Social is surely the epitome of an "Irish Restaurant". After all, restaurants are no longer defined solely by their cuisine, but more by the experience that they offer. And that is where Fade Street Social scores the highest. 

Fade Street Social, 4 Fade Street, Dublin 2
Tel : +353 (0)1 604 0066
URL: www.fadestreetsocial.com
Twitter: @FadeStSocial

Fade Street Social on Urbanspoon

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