Today, we launch a new category on Cheapeats: dinners under €10. In particular, we’re talking about proper, sit-down meals, so we’re leaving out fast food options. We’re excluding lunches: it’s easy to find a lunch under €10. Also out of consideration are early birds, one-off special offers and meals bought using coupon sites such as Groupon. The place has to offer more than one full main course throughout the evening, all week, for €10 or less.
I’ll kick off this feature with a review of The Pygmalion restaurant in Dublin’s Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, and we’ll write more about dinners for under €10 over the next few weeks.
Last weekend, the management at the Pygmalion restaurant in Dublin’s Powerscourt Townhouse centre invited us for a complimentary dinner. It is, I think, about the fifth time in over three years that we’ve been invited for a free meal. I gave the usual warning: full disclosure must be given, and if the place isn’t up to scratch, I will give a bad review.
I’d breezily ignored the Pygmalion for over a year as I sailed past on the way to one of my favourite cafe spots, The Pepper Pot, or as I wandered into the Pygmalion pub.
My friends Simon and Paul joined me for the meal, and we were instantly surprised, first and foremost, by the prices. They started at €5 for a tapas dish and rose to €15 for the surf and turf.
I went for the specials: marinaded anchovies with salad and bread (€5), and a portion of ribs (€6.50). Both were fantastic, especially the anchovies. These are often served cold, but here they were hot, bursting with the flavours of garlic, chilli, and of course my favourite food, the anchovy itself. The big, generous portion was served with an aioli which I didn’t bother touching; sorry, it may have been great but the anchovies packed enough punch. My patatas bravas (€3.50) retained their crispness against the weight of the tomato sauce and aioli. The sticky ribs (€6.50) were sweet and tender and meaty. Either the anchovies or the ribs would have sufficed as a main with a portion of patatas bravas, bringing the meal in to €10 or under, but we got the extra portion for sampling/ sharing.
My friend Paul went for the surf and turf (€15), which he thoroughly enjoyed and found full of flavour. I’m not a fan of sirloin, which can be tough and difficult to tenderise, but Simon backed Paul up and joined him in a lengthy elegy to the wonder that was Pygmalion’s steak. Simon himself went for one of the daily specials, the Pollo Negro (€12), a beautifully presented blackened chicken served with a tangy sauce and fresh grilled tomatoes. The quality of the meat stood out here.
There was a substantial cheese board for just €4.50 – a snip that we couldn’t even attempt to fit in our bloated bellies, so we passed. The other desserts were really reasonably priced: we got a zingy lemon tart with a caramelised top, and a custard and cinnamon tart that caused Paul to make scary pleasure faces, for just €3.50 each. The cocktails are probably one of the more expensive options, with the Mojito coming in at €10. Still, it was strong, with a high rum content.
The total bill, for two mains, two large tapas, one small tapa, three cocktails, an Americano and a macchiato, two desserts, and a bottle of beer, came to €86.50.
The Pygmalion reminds me of how The Market Bar’s food used to be (although, to be fair, I haven’t eaten in The Market Bar since I gave up and abandoned it over two years ago). Best of all, it’s quite easy to eat on the cheap in the Pygmalion restaurant: the patatas bravas and the ribs were one of just many options which allow customers to have a substantial sit-down meal with friendly, smooth and efficient service for €10 or less. That’s hard to find in Dublin.
Have you eaten in the Pygmalion restaurant? What did you think? And where have you had a good, sit-down meal for under €10 in Ireland? Let us know and we’ll do our best to check it out or write about in the coming months.