Trying to get a table for dinner in The Vintage Kitchen proved a little more challenging than I had first anticipated. This is an incredibly popular restaurant that requires booking well in advance in order to secure a much sought-after table, especially if you wish to dine on a Friday or Saturday evening. I eventually managed to get a booking for an early Tuesday evening sitting but was warned that my table would be required again at 9pm. Despite this, I was looking forward to dining there and to trying the food for myself.
The Vintage Kitchen is located in the heart of the city next door to iconic Dublin pub Mulligan’s and is not far from O’Connell Street and the River Liffey. The restaurant has thirty five covers but given the Lilliputian size of the premises, it’s hard to believe that it is possible to fit that number in at one sitting. Tables are placed extremely close to each other but this, along with its retro-kitsch décor, is part of the charm of The Vintage Kitchen. Dining there is like stepping back into your Granny’s kitchen to a time when Formica was all the rage.
The restaurant operates a very appealing BYOB policy charging no corkage, provided you order at least two courses, including a main, from the menu. Doubtlessly, this plays a part in its popularity but the real test of a restaurant is the quality of its cooking and the food that it serves.
The dinner menu, which is available from Tuesday to Saturday each week, is well-constructed and full of tempting classic comfort food dishes. I would quite happily have ordered any of them. As we waited on our starters to arrive, we nibbled on slices of a very respectable Malted Wholegrain Loaf that came with a pleasant Hummus dip and we chatted with an American couple who were holidaying in Ireland and were dining at the next table.
I loved my Boilie Log Goat’s Cheese Parfait starter which included a very generous portion of mild goat’s cheese that was delightfully creamy to eat. Sweet and earthy roasted beetroots accentuated the flavour of the cheese whilst slices of fresh apricot provided welcome freshness on the palate. I particularly liked the inclusion of caramelised red pearl onions which imparted a wonderful bitter-sweet stickiness that was hard to resist. For me, the slow-cooked tomatoes were redundant and added nothing to the dish but overall it was a lovely way to begin the meal. A warm and spicy wasabi dressing was something a little different and worked well.
Erica’s starter of Donegal Smoked Haddock Chowder, Chorizo & Wild Samphire came presented in an individual soup tureen/bowl with its own lid which, when lifted, allowed the seductive aromas of the chowder to escape. With the smokiness of the fish and the spiciness of the chorizo, this was a dish that it would have been quite easy to get wrong but it was an incredibly well-balanced and perfectly seasoned dish. I really enjoyed the addition of the samphire with its gentle flavour of the sea. Put simply, this was one of the most delicious chowders I have ever eaten and looking at the expression on Erica’s face I could see that she agreed.
My main course of Pan-Fried Atlantic Cod, White Beans, Roaring Bay Mussels, Cajun & Tomato Bisque with Lump Fish Caviar was another substantial dish but one that was packed full of flavour. The flawlessly cooked cod came away in generous flakes which were lovely with the braised cannellini beans. The dish was beautifully presented and came served with a spoonful of lump fish ‘caviar’ which was placed on top of the cod in a scallop shell. The saltiness of the caviar helped balance out the sweet spiciness of the dish and provided a further layer of flavour.
Erica decided to go for the vegetarian main of Baked Crêpe, Carlow Field Mushrooms, Gorgonzola & Spinach which was served with sautéed baby new potatoes. Here, the crêpe had been placed in a small dish which was used as a receptacle into which the rich filling of blue cheese, spinach and sautéed mushrooms was placed before being baked. The dish arrived piping hot to the table with the cheesy filling bubbling away, enticing us to dig in immediately. This was comforting and delicious food and the type of dish you would eat to warm you up on a cold and wintry evening.
Portions are large in The Vintage Kitchen so, feeling quite full, I considered skipping dessert. However, the allure of the Lemon Cheesecake proved too much for me to resist, so we decided to share one between us. Served in an individual Kilner jar this was a surprisingly light mousse-like interpretation of a cheesecake which was topped with a thick layer of tart lemon curd and some boozy Autumn berries. It was delicious. Between us, we polished it off. It was the perfect end to a hugely enjoyable meal.
Service was extremely efficient and was delivered in a charming and engaging fashion. The Vintage Kitchen is quirky and a fun place to dine in. Most importantly the food is fabulous and the dinner menu at €28 for 2 courses or €34 for 3 courses is extremely competitively priced.
The Vintage Kitchen
Niamh believes Ireland produces some of the best food in the world, and travels around the country; seeking out the best food producers, and places to eat.
An accomplished cook and baker, Niamh is also a previous MasterChef Ireland finalist. During the competition she had the opportunity to cook in some of Ireland’s top restaurants and experience life on the other side of the kitchen pass.
Working with TheTaste allows Niamh to write about her experiences and to share her passion for food and cooking with a wide audience.
Visit Niamh’s blog The Game Bird Food Chronicles.