For the second year in a row, I popped along to the Taste of Dublin in the Iveagh Gardens yesterday at the kind invitation of the organisers. As soon as it kicked off, the sun came out and the event’s enjoyability was notched up a level. With live music and entertainment, there’s always a very enjoyable ambience at Taste; it’s an interesting way to sample some of Dublin’s best restaurants and check out some of Ireland’s food producers; and you can have a few tipples as well.
But there’ll be plenty of other sites and newspapers reviewing Taste this weekend. I assume that CheapEats readers want to know if it’s value for money. As with last year, tickets cost about €28.50, although you can still pick up Friday lunch tickets for €15 plus a €3.50 booking fee. There’s almost 20 Dublin restaurants taking part this year, including Chapter One, Bon Appetit, Diep le Shaker, Pichet, and Venu Brasserie, each offering a sample “signature dish” for between €5 and €8. There’s also many wine, beer and drink sellers, all keen to sell you a reasonably decent glass for between €3 and €6.
My friend Sarah and I were keen to neck as many free samples as we could – eminently possible with cheese, chocolate, and sausages, but not so easy when it came to boozing: the wine sellers were guarding their bottles with zeal. After stuffing our faces with freebies – I especially recommend a trip to the Superquinn tent where they will hopefully continue to be generous with their sausage and cheese samples – we found our bellies filling faster than we planned.
But since when has being full an excuse for not eating? After a browse around the Iveagh Gardens, we decided to try out Conrad Gallagher’s Salon de Saveur restaurant. The big man himself was on hand to meet and greet curious diners, and the signature dish we tried – Roasted Scallops with a duck confit, mango coulis, and a foie gras lollipop – was really brilliant. Yes, it looked like Gallagher had just decided to just throw all the fancy foods at us and hope that we were blindly impressed, but it worked. I’ll definitely try out the Aungier Street restaurant while it’s still around.
We also tried the China Sichuan, which is due to reopen soon. Although I really enjoyed the chicken salad, remarking on the quality of the meat and the subtleness of the sesame dressing, I wished I’d gone for a hot dish instead. Highlight of the day, once again, was the Saddle Room’s steak frites and chips: a perfect piece of meat with thin, well-seasoned chips.
Time flew by and all of a sudden our lift Philip was here to pick us up. We brought him a portion of the Saddle Room’s steak and chips, which he duly inhaled. All in all, we spent about five hours pottering about and had a very enjoyable day. Still, as Jean pointed out last year, Taste is really more of a treat than a bargain. Even if you just went for two signature dishes, you’d be hard pressed to leave only €50 lighter. Add in some more purchases from the stalls and a few drinks, and you could spend anything up to €70 – fine if you have it. Still, it’s not too bad for four enjoyable hours in the sun, especially if you appreciate good food and outdoor fun, and you can come home with some good bargains from the stalls.
Friday 11 June, 2010 at 2:44 pm
Thats way too expensive. Id rather pay more for a ticket and then be able to eat and drink what i liked
Friday 11 June, 2010 at 11:55 pm
The first year I went (maybe 3 years ago?) it was great – all the restaurant stuff was a fiver or under. I’d prefer if they cut down on the fancy ingredients (nearly every restaurant had something like scallops or foie gras last year and I see that someone’s decided to go the whole hog and have both this year) and made it a bit more affordable to try lots of different things.
It doesn’t take a great chef to make expensive ingredients taste amazing – some of the nicest restaurant dishes are made with cheaper cuts of meat (eg pork belly or lamb shanks) cooked really well.
Sunday 13 June, 2010 at 10:31 am
Hi…I visited on Fri evening and enjoyed it but the prices on at some of the restaurant stands were was overpriced. My husband paid 8euros for a tiny scallop and sides at Conrad Gallaghers stand, way too much. There was very little to be had for 5 euro and under. However v large crowd there on Fri enjoying alot of wine & didnt seem to be too put off by the prices.
Sunday 13 June, 2010 at 7:37 pm
Hi, I was one of the lucky winners of your Plenty Competition! I’m just back from Taste of Dublin this evening – we really enjoyed it, despite the weather. Obviously, we were able to splash out a little bit because of our free tickets – otherwise I’d say it would be an expensive outing.
Sunday 13 June, 2010 at 8:05 pm
I have to say the pricing would put me off completely – can’t see myself going under the current format.
Monday 14 June, 2010 at 8:53 am
I was lucky enough too to get “free tickets” to the Taste of Dublin for yesterday evening. While I enjoyed the atmosphere (despite the rain), I am sorry to say that like most other comments above, I thought it was way too expensive. I bought €20 of Florins and spent 14 on them for 2 dishes in Diep la Shaker, for basically what looked like a tablespoon full of curry and rice and a bit of sea bass (both were very tasty though) The entertainment with “Spring Break” was great and had a festival appeal. But unfortunately the pricing wouldn’t encourage me to return next year.
Monday 14 June, 2010 at 4:21 pm
i also won 2 free tickets for yesterday afternoon….it was most enjoyable despite the rain and Spring break really rocked…however myself and my sister in law both agreed it was far to expensive for food!there was some drink bargains to be had (2 bottles of sol for €5) the best value had to be the steak frite which was only 6 florins!lots of bargains were also to be found later on as most places wanted to sell off all their stock, i got lovely Dunns hot smoked salmon,smoked salmon,small prawn cocktail and a Paul Rankin brown bread for €10!
Monday 14 June, 2010 at 9:17 pm
They are promoting their food and they expect you to pay for expensive samples. Get over yourself. Any other event like this that I’ve been to in the states or Europe they’re delighted to have a captive audience.
Monday 14 June, 2010 at 9:45 pm
“Get over yourself”, says the man who got the free tickets for the second year running, and doesn’t want to rock the boat for 2011…
Monday 14 June, 2010 at 10:17 pm
Marie, are you referring to me (Peter who runs the blog and put up this post)? If so, I’d like to point out that the “get over yourself” comes from a namesake commenter, not myself. And in any case, the other Peter is clearly having a pop at the event.
Monday 14 June, 2010 at 10:21 pm
I went one year when I got a free ticket. I won’t go otherwise because it feels too foolish to pay to be advertised to, and to pay for the right to pay for your food.
It’s a good event, apart from that big hit at the gate.
Tuesday 15 June, 2010 at 7:34 am
I am so happy I got free tickets to A taste of Dublin!!!!!!!!!!!
The reason is I would have been sick if I had paid for them. I cannot understand how this event can be called a Taste of Dublin when every second stand was for some form of alcohol the portions of food were so small. I have had more free samples of food at local markets where you feel the producers are getting their share. I wonder how much the exhibitors paid for their pitches. Being seen there seemed to be the biggest draw for most people.
Tuesday 15 June, 2010 at 1:01 pm
I went last year and thought the dishes were nice, but way overpriced, especially of you bought four or five samples. I had free tickets this year but didn’t bother going for that reason. My only regret is missing the awesome SPRING BREAK
Wednesday 16 June, 2010 at 11:00 am
I went to meet friends there on Sunday evening and paid for the €45 package which included 28.50 entry fee plus 20 florins (euros) to spend inside. (thought it would be nice to taste restuarant quality dishes from places you wouldnt normally go to.) First taster from Saddle Room (Steak & Chips) was delish but steep enough for the portion size (7 florins). Got lamb cutlet from Chapter One, lamb was tasty but tiny, was 6 florins I think. Final dish I paid for was tandoori chicken from Jaipur, v disappointed with this one 🙁 Overall, felt I got v poor value for €45. One of the restaurants (a v high profile one with a v opinionated owner/chef) even started selling (soggy) chips & mayo for 3 florins when they ran out of a signature dish – made it all look like a bit of a joke really given that it was supposed to be about a gourmet food experience. Was offered 2 free tickets on the way in and nobody asked to see the one Id bought when I arrived so there were obviously loads of freebies on the go (presumably subsidised by my €45!) Overall most of the people there seemed to be on freebies or corporate gigs (i.e. slugging champers and looking cool).
Had fun but left feeling pretty ripped off and wouldnt go again unless it was free….
Wednesday 16 June, 2010 at 11:38 am
I went last year, and would never ever attend again. You’re essentially being double charged – once to enter and again for food and drink. Plus, unused florins could not be refunded. It is not a celebration of Irish food and drink, but rather a chance to line the promoters’ pockets.
I was genuinely surprised at the amount of bloggers, food critics etc who continue to support/recommend this over-priced event.
Saturday 11 June, 2011 at 12:26 pm
I think the pricing of this so called taste of Ireland is a very bad refection of the Irish food industry .
we are in one of worst depression in the country history and here we have a so called public event costing a basic 28 E .
This event should be open to all not a show off to have s
have not.. i can spend end 28 euros more wisely and