Discovering Irish Heritage Food All Over Again in the Heart of Temple Bar – Gallagher’s Boxty House Review
It’s always wonderful to know that in Ireland we are blessed with excellent produce, of which we are very proud when dining out at home but also when abroad. What’s even better is how many restaurants across the Emerald Isle use only the best, often local ingredients that’s then well reflected on their menu and on the plate too.
Therefore it’s very intriguing that this Dublin restaurant not only wants to invite the public to discover Irish cuisine, but also to embrace the Irish staple, the humble potato. Set up by chef Pádraic Óg Gallagher, Gallagher’s Boxty House delivers traditional Irish food that teaches the diner more about the origins of traditional boxty, a potato pancake. “The Humble Spud Made Beautiful” is the ethos of this restaurant, which uses natural ingredients from artisan food producers in Ireland.
You’ll easily find this restaurant in the famous tourist area of Temple Bar, parallel to the River Liffey and a short walk from the main square of the busy district. If you’re a local to the capital city, don’t let the area discourage you from trying these boxty specialities, as once you enter it’s really somewhere to remember.
Walking in, we were instantly welcomed by the smiling staff including head chef and manager Dave Power, within comfortable and cosy furnishings, alongside a wooden bar area – it was as though we had stepped into a countryside eatery rather than one amidst the hustle and bustle of Temple Bar.
Wooden tables, chairs with wicker and snug sofas, the rooms are decorated with accents of Irish culture. On one wall there is also a unique collage hanging on the wall – made up of a Bodhrán, kitchen utensils, a road sign and St. Bridget’s cross, all painted in white. Potted plants, quirky figurines, flowers in vases, and old style lampshades dotted the room, that was notably filling up with American tourists but also visitors from around the world.
To start our dining experience, we were each offered the Beer Tray by Jack Smyth Stouts & Ales (€6.90) that includes a taster of the Stout, Gold Ale and Red Ale. These expertly crafted beers hail from Gallagher’s Boxty House’s own brewery and their kitchens in Tallaght, Dublin, to deliver strong flavours that differentiate from your typical pint. Each of the beers were strong and heady, but also very tasty.
The stout had a slight chocolate hint to it, the gold ale was more refreshing with a subtle fruity taste to it, and the red ale had caramel notes that reflect its deep caramel hue. Of the three I would say the Gold Ale is my favourite, which also complimented the boxty fries below. While sipping on these beers, we had a look over the menu that has a lot of inviting dishes for both the starters and the mains.
After studying the menu a few minutes, I opted for the Boxty Tasting Slate (€12) as my starter, which featured three different type of boxty specialities. The first of these included two slices of toasted Boxty Bread, topped with St. Tola’s Goat Cheese and cherry tomato. The duo of boxty loaf had a brilliant consistency and texture, with a crisp crust but a soft centre in the middle. The goat cheese was very smooth and full of flavour, which was well complimented by the herbs and the fresh tomatoes. Though as a starter, two slices are a tad much when you’re trying to keep room in the belly for the next course.
In the middle of my starter slate was a bucket of delightfully crispy Boxty Fries, served with a rocket and garlic dip on the side. We all know and love chips, but once you’ve had a taste of these boxty fries you’ll think twice about the traditional French fries. Plentiful and crisp, they were very well-flavoured with olive oil and salt – so there’s no need to add any extra, and that is always a plus. The accompanying aïoli was truly perfect, with rocket to compliment that strong garlic punch.
Finally the starter also consisted of Boxty Dumplings with honey and chilli, which was a petite bowl of goodness with a good kick of sweet chilli, amped up by the chopped garlic, spring onion and parsley. Similar to gnocchi, these were rather addictive and I shamelessly devoured the whole portion. If the heat of the chilli is too much, the fries’ aïoli also compliments these dumplings and helps bring the spice back down.
My guest decided on a vegetarian option to start, and ordered the Irish Mozzarella Salad (€7.50). On arrival, I was very impressed with the colour presented on the plate, with vibrant mixed fresh tomatoes topped with toasted pine nuts. The Irish Toonsbridge mozzarella was very creamy but it worked well with the accompanying basil dressing and salad leaves. And the nuts added a good crunch and contrasting texture to the dish, that overall was light and a refreshing start to my meal at Gallagher’s Boxty House.
I was very much looking forward to my next dish as it consisted of both boxty and my favourite kind of meat. Ordering the Gaelic Boxty (€22), this main course featured medallions of Irish Fillet Beef within the pancake. The chef delivered on cooking the beef to my liking, medium rare, smothered in creamy mushroom and peppercorn sauce. This was strong in mushroom flavour, both within the sauce and with the large sautéed slices, the latter of which were also perfect for layering atop the beef slices for extra flavour in every bite. I must admit that I love that this sauce was a combination of the two classics usually served with steak – easily better than having to choose between the two.
Irish beef is renowned, and this cut was reflective of our nation’s high quality meats. Great in flavour by itself, the meat fell apart with ease and really brought the whole dish together. I had not yet tried boxty with beef before, and wouldn’t have thought of putting a pancake with fillet beef but this really worked.
There were complimentary textures, and the black peppercorns infused in the sauce also gave a good kick of spice, which was quite the contrast with the house salad on the side. Made up of cabbage, carrots, red onion, and golden sultanas sitting atop dressed salad leaves, it gave a sharp, acidic and distinctive addition to the dish. Overall, this main course was truly delicious and rather unique, and I would happily order it again.
Opposite me, my guest ordered the Chestnut Mushrooms with Boxty Dumplings (€18), a beautiful array of vegetables, topped with freshly grated Corleggy Drumlin cheese. As a vegetarian dish, this was remarkably strong in both colour and flavour, and was also a very filling dish. There was an intense flavour from the added kale, that really added to the sautéed chestnut mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and the boxty dumplings. The contrasting textures of the two potatoes was very good too, and definitely helped to ensure this was substantial main course.
Though there were generous shavings of the Irish goat cheese, I found the flavour quite subtle, and enjoyed how it melted with the heat of the vegetables. I do think this a great option for those who don’t include meat in their diet, but also if you’re in the mood for something lighter.
Although the two of us were nearing defeat, we still opted to share dessert and ordered the Lemon Tartlet (€6.90). Beautifully presented, the tartlet was accompanied by Pistachio Dust, Vanilla Cream and a Blueberry Compote, and it was quite the sight. It had such a delicious filling that was silky smooth, creamy, sweet but not overkill and had a great zing of lemon – just what you want when ordering a citrus pudding.
Encased in a very well-baked tart, which kept its structure without any spillage, the two textures truly went hand in hand. The vanilla cream had a subtle flavour and was very airy, the perfect accompaniment for such a tasty tart, though the pistachio dust was slightly over-toasted adding a contrasting bitter note to the dish. Blueberries and lemon are easily complimentary of one another, evident by the generous compote on the plate.
We were offered a drink to finish the meal and which I opted for a Baileys (€5.50), served on the rocks. Discussing all of the food we’d just eaten over the digestif, we were in agreement that we had been spoiled with traditional and delicious Irish cuisine. I was delighted to have tasted a variety of potatoes, including the traditional boxty pancake. The service was excellent, the staff are very friendly and informative, and the ambience of this restaurant is very relaxing.
If you want to take the restaurant home with you, you actually can as they sell the Boxty Potato Pancake Mix (€3) in-house, which is great for the tourists returning home, and is also gluten-free.
It’s extremely safe to say that a return visit will occur, as the hearty food on offer here is one of my favourites styles, and following the delicious delivery of each dish I know that my next meal will be just as good.
This early dinner for two, including the drinks, cost €85.70.
Gallagher’s Boxty House
20 Temple Bar
T: (01) 677 2762
An enthusiastic foodie with a sweet tooth and love for spices, Nirina is open to a lot of food from many different cultures. A mixed background from Ireland and Madagascar, she loves tweaking recipes, dining at new restaurants, tasting new cuisines or just a good glass of wine. Basically she really, really loves her food. Coming from a family of avid cooks, learning how to whip up the perfect tiramisu, spice up Indian curries or serve homemade samosa was a given.