Visiting friends always make the best excuse to eat in new restaurants (well, new to us anyway) and we took advantage of it recently to check out an Indonesian restaurant not far from our place. Restaurant Indonesia – I know, not the most imaginative of name but does the job perfectly – is just steps away from Luxembourg Garden, thus location-wise, it’s central and a walk in Luco after lunch would have been a good option. When it is not raining, that is.
The restaurant is long and narrow, and upon arrival we were warmly welcomed by the sole server(!) waiting on all the tables in the dining room. On a Saturday afternoon in a restaurant full of diners, that was an impressive feat. She left us to peruse the menu at our leisure – a small basket of prawn crackers was also deposited in the centre of the table so we can snack in the mean time – and we decided to go for the rijstafel (i.e. rice table – a Dutch word in origin, bearing in mind Indonesia was formerly a Dutch colony) where we would have a selection of dishes to share between us instead of restricting ourselves to just a handful few main dishes.
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I was crossing Île de la Cité to get to the Left Bank when this sight caught my attention. First of all, yes, it’s very picturesque. However, more strikingly, is that the terrace is empty. Empty! That’s unlike Paris that I’m seeing everywhere, where tourists and locals alike (ok, maybe less locals) jostle for a spot outside, all year round. And Île de la Cité is right smack in the centre of Paris! The signage indicates that this is not a mere café or restaurant, but also a guesthouse (auberge). In fact, it is auberge depuis 1594. Truly befitting the name “At Old Paris” then.
I can only postulate the reasons for it being this quiet: (1) it was closed (but a quick search online says it’s open daily), (2) it was a bit chilly (although not overly so to discourage outdoor coffee intake), (3) it was not yet opened for the evening (it was, afterall, not yet 7pm), (4) they don’t serve just coffee and snack (afterall, it is more of a restaurant), (5) questionable quality (but reviews online had plenty of positive things to say that I’m curious to try it out) and (6) it is not well-known (not everywhere is Le Precope or Café de Flore or Les Deux Magots).
The food challenge continues and this evening I even managed to round up a few partners-in-crime for a spot of Brazilian food in the northern neighbourhood of Notre Dame de Lorette. It was fun to have a girls’ night out like this, chit-chatting over dinner, and for some, a lot of giggling after the potent cocktails they served – you know who you are ;)
We were also mildly amused with the decor within. A whole lot of thongs hanging from the ceiling – not string underwear thongs but flip-flops thongs, painted murals, bedazzled figures, multi-coloured disco-lights in toilet, carneval footage on (silent) tv screen. And of course, a whole lot of photos of people we don’t know all over the walls. Un peu bordélique…
I don’t think I have mentioned in this blog yet, of my current culinary project: Resto A-Z. The concept is simple enough. Take an alphabet, pick a country’s name based on the alphabet, choose a restaurant that serves the relevant cuisine and eat out. It’s quite fun really, and a very good way to explore international dining experience within the city.
I started with A a few weeks back with an Afghani restaurant, then Ethiopian for E and I’ll be going to a Brazillian restaurant tomorrow in honour of B. Tonight though, it’s C for Cuba. I know, it’s not in alphabetical order, but say, imagine if you’re hankering for some Thai food – do you really want to wait all the way to T? No, right? Having said that, I’ve also done French, Indian (and Italian), Japanese, Lebanese, Moroccan, Thai and Vietnamese so F, I, J, L, M, T and V are off the list too. Pretty good going :D
There are two Moroccan restaurants in Dublin city centre – perhaps the whole of Dublin, or Ireland even? – and since we had a farewell party in mind, we went to Dada on South William St. I’ve been to El Bahia on Wicklow St once a few years back and it just wasn’t too spacious. Our group was initially meant for 12, then 14 plus a baby, add another, minus another (sort of). And the baby was a real angel all through the evening.
We started with a selection of appetisers to share, which included grilled merguez (I <3 merguez) among the 6-7 items on the plate. For my main, I chose the lamb tagine which was generous in portion and I couldn’t quite finished. With a bit resting time, I was then ready again for dessert, when which we were served a selection of sweet pastries and ice cream, complemented with Moroccan mint tea.
A big massive thank you to all my friends who made it out for the evening for my going-away do (and the lovely presents). It does make it so hard to imagine leaving them in mere few days from now.
Roly’s is a place pretty close to my heart. Situated in Ballsbridge, it was here where many a celebration have take place, from first day of college to birthday parties to no-excuse-needed “just because” meals with family and friends. However, since the departure of the Chef Patron Colin O’Daly, I haven’t been to the restaurant. With my imminent leaving on the card, why not a going-away meal there?
I was mildly surprised at the changes the place have undergone. There’s now a more informal cafe on the ground floor, with table service as well takeaway option of ready-made meals. The space upstairs remains reserved for restaurant service, with menu that hasn’t changed too much over time. The prices also remained of good value.
The food portion at Roly’s has always been on the generous side – methinks this is one of the winning factors for many customers – but this visit, I found it simply too much for me and my dining companions. However, the tragedy, in our opinion, came in the form of desserts. If you know me, you know I love my sweet course. Does this make me hard to please? Maybe. This is what we found. The Pavlova pillow was saccharine beyond words, the Paris-Brest heavy, and the pear and almont tart barely got a couple of bites out before being abandoned. Ooops…
The phone started buzzing early in the morning. It was my aunt, and the next I knew, I have an invitation to (free) breakfast. Yay! We went to Donnybrook Fair on Morehampton Road. The restaurant sits above the food grocer and deli of the same name, accessible via a spiralling staircase near the main entrance. I can’t think of a better start to the day with an order of Eggs Florentine and a glass of smoothie.
I admit it, I am a fan of Donnybrook Fair. They have delicious fresh ready-to-eat meals over at the deli, they stock a good range of organic produce and products, they sell goodies not found elsewhere in the city (Amedei chocolate immediately springs to mind) and they also run cooking and wine tasting classes. It’s an enviable playground for a foodie.
To top it all, the restaurant serves great seasonal food. Sure, buying at the grocer and/or deli comes with a price tag that may not suits all (look out for their frequent promotions to get better value of your Euros), but the menus of the restaurant are fairly priced for Dublin. I’d highly recommend it.