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Jet Lag, Food Allergies and Curry Chips

March 11, 2011

The second day of our Ireland adventure started a little late. No, it wasn’t the Guinness from the previous night’s Oliver St. John Gogarty adventure. Instead, the unfortunate phenomenon known as jet lag was to blame. By the time we got up and moving it was already time to start thinking about lunch. We decided to take a walk through Temple Bar while looking for a restaurant and figuring out what we wanted to do with what was left of the day. We walked by a lot of restaurants. Maybe it was just the time of day, maybe we were being picky, but we struggled to find something. When we spotted O’Shea’s bright yellow doorway and their sidewalk chalkboard promising fish and chips, we were tired of wandering… and we were hungry.

By the time we sat down for lunch it was late and B and I were the only table in the place aside from a French couple seated in the corner. It’s a tiny restaurant with a very limited menu, but our server was very nice and fish and chips sounded like a perfectly fine idea to both of us.

Fish & Chips at O'Shea's

 O’Shea’s was undoubtedly the worst meal of the trip. That, of course, is not to say that it was terrible because there really wasn’t anything wrong with it. The food was good. I know, that’s the least imaginative sentence written in the history of food blogs (or maybe blogging in general), but it’s truly the most apt description possible for these fish and chips. Nothing special, but nothing disappointing. We left O’Shea’s in search of our next Dublin adventure totally satiated and ready to keep on walking.

As far as tourist destinations, I was most looking forward to visiting the Trinity College old library Long Hall. It was really, really beautiful. I wish I could have taken photos of my own, but photography wasn’t allowed in the Long Hall or the Book of Kells exhibit. Admission was a little expensive for the length of the experience at EUR 7.50, but totally worth it.

 We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the city taking photos and being very happy for the dry (though cold) weather. B even found a comic book store. Before we knew it, the day was gone and it was time to get ready for dinner. While walking around the day before, J suggested Market Bar as a good option for dinner. Given my total lack of preparation for choosing a restaurant, we decided to take her suggestion. Though she’d given us general directions, we decided to ask at the front desk staff how to get there as well. They sent us in a very different direction from those we’d traveled thus far. Our route definitely wasn’t as well lit or populated as the way we’d been going. What it comes down to is that a city is a city no matter where in the world you are. You just have to find the right path.

We came to the end of our directions right in front of a Japanese restaurant… Not exactly the tapas we were looking for. We wandered around the general neighborhood for awhile, trying to remember the map we’d looked up online. After about 10 minutes, though, it became fairly obvious that we weren’t going to find it. We started looking for other options. Thus ensued more wandering. It was becoming a clear theme of the trip. Add to our general disorientation the fact that it was a Friday night and finding a restaurant became a bit of a challenge. Another 10 minutes passed and still no luck. That’s when we saw it. The menu looked safe, we could see a nice interior through the window so in we went to the Chatham Brasserie. Such a cute space! They were busy enough that I wasn’t too worried about eating there, but we were still able to get a table.

Their website says they are a New York-style diner, but it felt more French than American. I also don’t think I’ve been in anything this nice that called itself a diner. For starters, B had the seafood chowder and I had the Steamed Irish Mussels. For dinner, he chose the Stuffed Chicken Supreme with smoked bacon and leek risotto, crisp Parma ham and vine tomatoes. I had the Pan-Fried Stuffed Free Range Pork Chop, caper and white wine cream and champ potato. We finished our meal with the Affogato. Everything was amazing.

Seafood Chowder

Steamed Irish Mussels

Stuffed Chicken Supreme

Pan-Fried Stuffed Free Range Pork Chop

Affogato

 Something I noticed throughout the trip, but first at Chatham Brasserie was how much better and more aware they are about food allergies and lifestyle food choices. Though I should always steer clear of wheat, I am often lazy about it. During this trip, I tried especially hard to be aware and avoid it. I really didn’t want to risk feeling sick. Eating in most American restaurants, you sort of have to look at the menu and figure it out for yourself. There are exceptions, of course, but food allergy awareness isn’t really the norm. Starting with Chatham Brasserie, nearly every restaurant we ate at had some sort of legend on the menu indicating which items were “Safe for Coeliacs,” or vegetarian, containing nuts, etc. Most of the restaurants not only had gluten-free choices, they had several. It was just really nice to not have to worry about it and still choose something that sounded really good instead of settling for what was available.

After dinner, we set out on another wandering journey, searching for someplace to have a drink. I was pretty set on visiting as many of the old pubs as we could. Being Friday night, though, we struggled to find anywhere that wasn’t standing room only. Having a drink while standing in the corner unable to even really see the environment didn’t sound like fun. Eventually, we found a seat on the 2nd floor of Sheehan’s.

Sheehan's the next day

 Nearly every place we went into had an upstairs bar in addition to their main floor. In a city centre where space seems to be at a premium, this is definitely a good thing. Sheehan’s was quieter than a lot of the places we visited, but that wasn’t a bad thing. We sat and had our drinks before we decided to try someplace different. We found our way into Neary’s.

 Neary’s was on my list of historic pubs to visit. Neary’s history is as long and interesting as many of the pubs around Dublin, but perhaps their greatest claim to fame is as a rebel stronghold in the Easter Rising of 1916 . I read a few bad reviews online that made me think we would be walking into a stuffy little pub with an unfriendly staff, but I still wanted to visit. While it wasn’t my favorite pub on the trip, I liked it. The staff wasn’t the friendliest, but it was getting very close to closing time (unbeknownst to us pubs close much earlier in Ireland) and they were jam packed. While we didn’t stay long, I’m glad we had the chance to visit.

From Neary’s we started the walk back to the hotel. On our way we walked right by a food truck selling pretty much the same food you’d find a late night food truck in the States offering… with one noticeable difference. They had curry chips. We wanted an order, but weren’t hungry. Away we went without curry chips. We got back to the hotel and I went about uploading the day’s photos. While I was waiting, I commented about the chips (or lack of) on a friend’s Facebook page. Fellow food blogger, CB, followed with a comment to the effect that we’d missed out by skipping them. It’s not like she was trying to talk us into going back for them, but 5 minutes after that, we were practically running the 3 blocks back to the food cart. I’m so glad we did! They were awesome and totally polished off by the time we got back to the hotel room door.

Curry Fries 1:45AM

 Our second day in Dublin started late and ended late. It was a great day… and there were still 4 more full days to come.

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