CheapEats.ie - a blog about food and value

Bloggers Recommend: The Beer Nut

Bloggers RecommendAfter a few weeks break, our Bloggers Recommend series is back. Today, our top tips for the best places to eat out come courtesy of beer enthusiast John from The Beer Nut blog. The Beer Nut blogs about the best beers and drinking spots around Ireland, with a special focus on European beers.

The Beer Nut’s Favourite Cheap Eats

The Bull and Castle Gastropub and Beerhall, Christchurch Place, Dublin 2

FXB's The Bull and Castle

FXB's The Bull and Castle

The Bull and Castle is at the epicentre of Ireland’s growing craft beer trade is also a superb steak restaurant, owned by the FXB chain. There’s something for every
occasion — from tasty beer snacks of cocktail sausages or chicken wings, through to pub grub classics like pies, steak sandwiches and bangers and mash, right up to the full T-bone or fillet steak. The meat from FXB’s own farms is as delicious as might be expected. The back of the menu recommends beers that can be paired with the different types of food, and the vast selection of top-notch Irish brews and quality imports mean there’s a beer here for everyone.

The Winding Stair, 40 Ormonde Quay, Dublin 1.

A survivor of the Thomas Read meltdown, and one of the very few restaurants in Dublin to take beer seriously, The Winding Stair offers solid, unfussy food of a very high calibre. The à la carte is perhaps outside the CheapEats scope though worth it for an occasional treat, but the lunch menu is excellent value, and the fresh fish has been a particular favourite of mine on past visits. The beer list includes a couple from the excellent St Peter’s Brewery of Suffolk. A seat by the window offers lovely views over the Liffey at Ha’penny Bridge.

Diwali, Castle House, South Great George’s Street, Dublin 2.

One of my favourite lunchtime venues, Diwali offers a superb two-course lunch for €11.95. The Monday-to-Wednesday edition is particularly good, with the lamb garlic chilli a highlight. The service is always very attentive.

JD’s Steakhouse, 4 Rathfarnham Road, Terenure Dublin 6.

It appears that the people who run JD’s have bought a book on how to buy and cook beef perfectly. I’ve been coming here since it opened in 2006 and have yet to be served less-than-tender steak. I’m also seriously addicted to the house pate, served with a cumberland sauce and lots of toast. Prices are very reasonable, and quite amazing when  you look at what they’re serving up for it. The core carnivore-oriented menu is supplemented with specials and some superb desserts.

Pintxo, 12 Eustace Street, Dublin 2

From the same team who run The Port House, Pintxo is that bit easier to get a seat in, though the lunchtime hours can be a little erratic. The menu offers a variety of reasonably-priced (for Dublin!) tapas, from €2 up to about €6. The lamb caldreta is always wonderfully tender, the calimari is always fresh, and I love the sinfully boozy meatiness of their chorizo al vino. All of this is best washed down with one of the Basque beers they stock, with the Zunbeltz stout the best of the lot.

The Beer Nut’s Wishlist

Good beer in more restaurants

Top of my wishlist is for restaurants of all persuasions to take beer more seriously. It bugs me when I go somewhere with a varied and well-thought-out wine list, but just one or two yellow lagers representing the entirety of beer. Beer goes wonderfully with all kind of foods — much better than wine does when it comes to chocolate or cheese — and every restaurant should at least have a strong and complex Belgian ale (eg Westmalle Dubbel, Duvel) and a hoppy American beer (eg Goose Island IPA, Brooklyn Lager) as high-quality alternatives to wine.

More good-quality low-alcohol beers

The low-to-no alcohol market is very poorly served in Ireland, consisting mostly of adulterated versions of mainstream beers that aren’t very good to begin with. Yet in the UK there’s a tradition of complex and tasty bitters and milds in the 2.5% – 3.5% ABV range. Why can’t we have tasty, naturally-produced, beer at this sort of user-friendly strength?

Irish craft beer in more pubs

Brewers like Galway Hooker, Carlow Brewing, Franciscan Well and White Gypsy are producing beer that’s much better than the factory-made offerings of Ireland’s foreign-owned megabreweries Diageo and Heineken. I’d love to see more beer drinkers seeking these beers out, and more licensees willing to stock them. Ireland once had dozens of individual local breweries — we can return to this diversity if we think a bit more about where our beer comes from.

5 Comments

  1. I have to say I love the bull and castle, the meet is fantasic and the chips chunky and cooked to perfection, real potatoes too! My boyf is another craft brewer and loves the beer too!

  2. Hear hear, on the beer. For a long time I complained about the lack of Irish microbreweries while sipping my generic lager/Guinness, but after doing some research and seeking them out I’ve discovered that there’s actually a decent range, with the enthusiasm and expertise to expand if the market would support them. I’ve started asking pubs and offies about their Irish beers – there isn’t often a great response, but if nothing else it might put the thought into their heads that people would buy if given the option. The couple of summers I spent in America did wonders for my beer education – there are some wonderful breweries in the Maine/New England area where I spent most of my time (Magic Hat, Shipyard, Seadog, and of course Sam Adams) – it opened my eyes. Try new beers, and ask your local about new varities… there’s a world of deliciousness out there.

  3. Thanks for the comments, guys.

    Aidan, asking pubs and off licences to stock a better variety of beer is definitely the best strategy, regardless of the response. Many retailers will insist “there’s no demand” so anyone who wants things to get better has to go out and show that there is, it’s them, and they’d like a pint of something better, please.

  4. I’ll Have something BETTER please Bar Person,
    what do you mean Budweiser is the best you have?,

    may i speak to the manager?,

    what do you mean they won’t speak to un-important
    little people like me?

    Right that’s it i’m off to ___________ (insert name of good beer bar/restaurant)

    If education fails

    Vote with your feet

  5. also hear hear for the beer!im just back from a month long beer break in australia and im heartbroken over the lack of decent beers available here apart from a select few places!however o briens off licence near botanic rd do stock a really good range of world and craft beers so the blow has been softened somewhat!