I hope I can be forgiven for not assuming that I would find great food in Ireland.
It’s not that I didn’t believe it would happen; I just didn’t think it would happen so often.
My first meal in Dublin was at a tasty spot called Hot Stove — all was good there, in a safe and tidy way. It was competent, and that is not an idle compliment. I’m unable to say that of probably three-quarters of the restaurants I visit.
The next day, we dined at a pub L. Mulligan Grocer. It looks like any other pub, but it is assuredly not. The food was spectacular.
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You’ll forgive that the blood pudding and the fish cakes in the photo are mostly eaten — they were too delicious to ignore. In fact, I found it impossible to delay eating them until I had photographed them — my highest praise, I’ll admit.
This is not only great pub food but it is great gastro pub food, though that rubric too is inadequate in the face of true excellence. Up until that night, I had loudly proclaimed Seattle’s Quinn’s Pub as my gastro-pubbing mecca.
No longer. Mulligan’s food was simple and traditional — if the menu was to be believed — but Mulligan’s execution was both flawless and curious, as only the most interesting food can be. It is attention to every single detail that separates the good from the great in the restaurant business. And here each morsel was prepared just so.
As should be expected, the beers were exciting and real, all from small, local producers. I will have more to say about this in the future.
Doug Frost is a Kansas City-based wine and spirits writer and consultant who for decades has happily educated the public about all things drink. He is one of only three people in the world to have earned the coveted titles of master sommelier and master of wine. He contributes a monthly wine column for The Star’s Food section.