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Taste of Dublin Festival

tasteofdublin-steak-lolly

I know it looks like something you'd get at Funderland, but this was seriously good steak and chips.

Peter and I attended the Taste of Dublin Festival yesterday, at the generous invitation of the organisers, to have a look at the treats on offer.  We had a lovely evening, tipping around the Iveagh Gardens in the sunshine, picking up lots of tasty little samples and enjoying the general ambience.  We know what you guys want to know though: is it good value for money?

I’d have to say that the Taste of Dublin is more of a treat than a bargain.  Tickets start at around €28 (although there were specials for €15), which covers entry into the festival. VIP tickets are also available for €82, for those who’ve completely lost their minds.  You do get lots of freebies on entry: loads of samples of food and booze are available, including some that you can take home, and you can also attend cooking demonstrations with well-known chefs.  When it comes to meals, however, you do have to fork out again.

The food setup is quite nifty: top Dublin restaurants offer little taster dishes, ranging from €5 to €8 in price, which apparently represent their signature dishes.  Do keep in mind that the dishes are generally quite small, and if you intend to have dinner at the festival, you would need to purchase at least three dishes to ensure that you’re properly fed, leaving you very little change out of fifty bucks.

Peter and I tried to be strategic with our dishes, trying as many different restaurants as possible.  Here’s a quick rundown of where we ate, with dishes and verdicts:

  • Restaurant fanciness on a plastic plate for €6.

    Restaurant fanciness on a plastic plate for €6. Good times.

    Town Bar & Grill: Crab Salad with Apple Jelly. Small portion, but tasty crab. The apple jelly tasted precisely of nothing.

  • China Sichuan: Tea Smoked Duck. The duck was excellent, with a rich and complex smoked flavour. Why did it come with a tower of boring white rice?
  • Locks: Roast Lamb Meatloaf with Harissa and Hummus.  The disappointment of the evening. It was perfectly fine but as Peter said, like something you would get in a kebab place and not at all like what you would expect from an acclaimed restaurant like Locks. There was no trace of harissa in the sample that we got.
  • Diep Le Shaker: Stir Fried Chicken with Veg, Chilli and Light Soya.  My first impression on tasting this was SALT! but then the other, delicate and delicious flavours came through.  Very good indeed (if salty), with a lovely aroma of kaffir lime leaves, or possibly star anise…something subtle and aniseedy.
  • The Saddle Room: Lobster Cocktail and Steak Frites with Bearnaise Sauce.  The Steak Frites: WIN.  Perfect crisp, melty chips, beautiful sweet bearnaise sauce, and a funny little lollipop of steak.  Very very good indeed. The Lobster Cocktail was a bit underwhelming however, like a slightly fancy version of airplane food.

Other things that we really enjoyed: free Thai massage (amazing!) at the lovely Taste of Thailand stand,  the Chilli Beer stand and the Lavazza coffee stand, where they were extremely generous with the samples.

Overall it’s generally a very pleasant and relaxed event, and very well suited to foodies: you do get the chance to try out small dishes from a number of really excellent restaurants.  Be aware that it’s just quite a fancy and high-end event in general: there was more fake tan, blonde highlights and loafers there than I’ve seen in one place for quite a while.  Our reader Will commented that he thought that just going directly to one of the above restaurants for a special offer lunch would be better value, and I have to say that this is a sensible alternative.  But if you love food, outdoor fanciness and have a few quid to spare, you’ll probably really enjoy the Taste of Dublin.

Let us know if you head along to the festival this weekend, and your thoughts on it.  And we’ll have a picture gallery later today, with snaps of many of the menus so you can see in advance what’s on offer.

2 Comments

  1. I attended the taste of Dublin for the third time this year, the first year it was excellent, last year was pretty good, this year it was very disappointing. It was certainly more expensive than previous years at €90 for two (incl 20 euro food vouchers each). Hard times have certainly hit the vendors with little or no free tasters (except sausages and chocolate) and the cuisine on offer to buy was very disappointing, in previous years restaurants made a conscious effort to showcase what the dining experience in their establishments was like to encourage punters to try the real deal with quality mini versions of what you would expect in their restaurants.

    This year I felt that most of the restaurants were solely in it to make a quick buck, with cheap finger food such as fish or steak and chips and burgers on most stalls – where has all the haute cuisine disappeared to? I felt it was a poor advertisement for Dublin’s so called fine dining restaurants.

    Finally, having went in at 2pm on Sunday and then to be herded out like sheep at 4pm was the icing on the cake for what has clearly become a money grabbing venture as opposed to a celebration of food on this Island. As you might expect I will not be attending next year.

  2. I really enjoyed the Taste Of Dublin.My self and my three friends attended on Saturday evening.The whole ambience of the event was very professional.We were sitting in the sunshine at the VIP tent and were directly opposite the wonderful and really entertaining staff at the ChiliBeer.ie stand.They really had the crowds amused and they were the only real team offering generous samples of that fantastic Beer they call Cave Creek ChiliBeer.Boy do you feel the heat but its a great heat,The other stand we also enjoyed was the Lecrevian bbq.The Event was great and we really enjoyed the night.Well done Taste we will be back next year