The Picky Eater hits D8

by Gazette Reporter

THE sounds of rejoicing can surely be heard for miles around in the streets of Dublin 8. The enclave of Kilmainham – where artists and hipsters, townies and bourgeois professionals who fancy themselves a little bit urban meet has finally got itself a decent restaurant, and this is a crowd that likes to eat out!
Having lived in the area myself for many years and being in the game and all, I had long daydreamed of opening my perfect “neighbourhood” joint there. Alas, I wasn’t in a position to do so and didn’t really have the experience or backing then and it has taken another six years for someone else to cotton on.
It still amazes me that none of the city’s main players ever took a punt of the grittier end of D8. A stone’s throw from town at the end of Thomas St and boasting some of the inner cities most visited attractions such as IMMA, Guinness’s and The Gaol, not to mention an imbalanced quota of the pink pound. This is an inbuilt market if ever there was one and Union 8 on the corner of South Circular and Old Kilmainham Road is prized to cash in.
I still spend plenty of time in the area thanks to my friends there, so trekked over from my current home in D6 last Saturday to check it out with the locals.
On a miserable January Saturday night the sparkly newness and subtle lighting had transformed this derelict old corner, which was formerly an 80s social welfare office, into something you might see in Shoreditch.
Huge awnings and large picture windows give you a view straight into the uber- hip and modern industrial style space which was already buzzing on opening weekend. We sat just inside the door in a comfy little lounge area looking into the open bar and kitchen and taking in the brickwork, painted steel and mid-century furnishings. Staff where super relaxed and attentive and we were seated soon after arriving, though I expect the queues will get longer.
There were four of us and we opted to do a roundup of the menu and share the lot. So here goes: Really lovely charcuterie and a beautiful, creamy and delightfully savoury white onion soup, a perfect tart and sweet beetroot and sheep’s cheese salad and wonderfully succulent spiced lamb breast started us off and took a swipe at our unrecovered post Christmas hunger pangs.
A nice break of 15 minutes allowed us to enjoy our seriously good Tempranillo and give us an appetite for mains. The swapping of plates continued so here goes again: Beef cheek that was tender and flavoursome in its ubiquitous dark unctuous gravy, crispy fatty and soft pork belly was utterly beautiful, a surprisingly moist and moreish supreme of chicken which was delicious and delicate with an outstanding dark meat pie and a perfectly cooked loin of venison with a fondant potato that was as nice as I’ve had!
We shared a chocolate fondant with salted caramel ice cream which was beyond lush.
Prices for starters are €7-9 and mains are an extremely fair €17-27. With four bottles of wine and a couple of coffees are bill was a satisfactory €242, minus tip.
Only fair to say that food of a less fancy variety is available up the road in the bar of the Hilton and the auld Italian above the Patriot does a mean pizza – I’ve put a way a few in my time – but it’s great to see such a cool little establishment breath some gastronomic life into the area …finally.

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