I’ve been in Dublin and environs for the past few days and the food has been somewhat variable.
The first disappointment was discovering that China House has changed its menu, and the interesting range of vegetarian dishes has been replaced with mixed veg in a choice of five very boring sauces. The next was the lunch menu at Juice, from which the scrambled tofu and mushrooms on toast, and practically every other vegan option, has been removed. There are now only two vegan main courses – a stir fry (yawn!) and a bean stew. The evening menu looks to be pretty good, and the mushroom wellington is still there. Disappointment the third was discovering that another Chinese place with an interesting veggie menu, the one by the International Bar, has closed.
My intense disappointment was compounded by the vegan meal prepared by the posh hotel restaurant (with prior notice), which after a good start – a mediterranean soup – degenerated into yet another bloody stir fry. This was a vegetable one, with the same vegetables served boiled as a side dish. The chef appeared to have added salt to the stir fry, even though the sauce consisted mostly of soy sauce. It was so salty, I couldn’t eat it. Dessert was a fruit salad – the raspberries were nice.
So, that’s the bad stuff out of the way. With himself busy doing other things, I was able to take myself to Cornucopia, a venerable vegetarian wholefood restaurant of the most worthy kind. It’s a cafeteria-style establishment, very similar to Henderson’s in Edinburgh. There are generally a couple of soups (both vegan on my visit), five main courses (three of which were vegan), about a dozen salads (all vegan) and there were vegan desserts too, though I never got there. Everything is labelled as to whether it is vegan, gluten-free, low-salt and many other things. I went for a layered polenta dish with fennel and squash, which came with two salads of the customer’s choice, and I was completely full.
This morning I was passing and noticed they were serving a breakfast menu, including items that the omni partner likes. A lot. So I texted him and we had brunch. He had the omelette of the day – smoked cheese and aubergine, I believe – which he declared to be okay, though he felt the aubergine was an odd thing to put in an omelette. I had the vegan cooked breakfast – two sausages which were clearly doctored Sosmix, stuffed mushrooms, beans, an excess of caramelised onions and toast. I’m typing this at four in the afternoon, and I’m still not hungry!
My other discovery so far is Cafe Irie on Fownes Street in Temple Bar. It’s a place that, if it were located in the UK, I would point out as the epitome of Britishness. It’s a reggae themed cafe serving Italian/American style sandwiches apparently run by people of East Asian ancestry. They have a lot of vegan options, mostly involving hummous. The vegan club sandwich provided a more substantial lunch than I was expecting and was delicious. I plan to head back and try the tofu wrap some time. Note this is not the same place as featured in this disturbing report – the Temple Bar branch was sold on late last year and is no longer related to the Thomas Street one. As a result of the stushie, the new owner is considering changing the name.
I have a couple of other places to investigate – Saba looks rather promising, as does Sinners, a Lebanese place on Parliament Street not too far from my hotel. There’s also a Filipino restaurant over the river with some vegan options on the menu. Finally, when I was getting annoyed at the lack of vegan lunch options, a man overheard us and mentioned that Gruel has a chef who used to be vegan and who enjoys cooking up something special for vegans.