The Princess of Shoreditch (London)

I may or may not have mentioned this before but I’m not all that crazy about Sunday roasts. I know, I know. Practically treason in this country, no? But see, although I like them as much as the next person, I think I’ll always prefer Dim Sum Sundays simply because that was our tradition at home. Still, what better way to celebrate the birth of the new Royal Princess than by telling you all about the Sunday lunch at this little place called The Princess?

It’s part of the Noble Inns group, the sister restaurant of the Pig & Butcher, which I’ve waxed lyrical about time and again (see posts here and here), as well as Smokehouse and Bad Egg (both of which I WILL get round to posting about at some point), and it’s gotten quite a few awards to boot. Located in Shoreditch, just a few minutes’ walk from Old Street roundabout – once you’ve gotten your bearings right, that is. (Don’t laugh – I know I’m not the only one who gets confuzzled by roundabouts!)

Inside, it looks exactly like what I imagine a Princess of Shoreditch to look like – muted elegance combined with the rough-and-tumble style that is so very Shoreditch. H had booked in advance – always a good idea on Sundays, as it was packed by 1PM – so we got to climb the iron-wrought spiral staircase to the upstairs dining area, which I really liked because of the large windows and natural lighting. N, astute as ever, also pointed out that the upper storey is a little uneven, which you will notice as well if you pay closer attention.

The waiters were all very lovely and the service was relatively quick. Our food arrived pretty soon after we had placed our orders.

Pâté is such a classic starter when it comes to pub grub, and I always love me some liver.

Chicken liver parfait, picked grapes (£7)

Chicken liver parfait, picked grapes (£7)

I really enjoyed this! Texture-wise, it was smooth, creamy and rich but was still nicely whipped and airy. And I liked that this was paired with grapes instead of some sort of chutney because, although I normally object to uncooked fruit, the fattiness of the liver really needed this to cut through it and brighten it up a bit. The toast was a little soggy, which was disappointing, and we ran out of bread after we were only halfway through the mound of pate. But of course, me being me, I shamelessly asked for more bread teehee. Thankfully, our second serving of toast arrived freshly-toasted, which actually made the parfait even more enjoyable. I mean, just imagine the cool, creamy liver melting into the hot, crispy toast. YUM. Pâté party in my mouth!

For another great chicken liver parfait, try the one at Tramshed (see post here).

Moving on.

They serve all their roast dinners with duck-fat roasted potatoes, seasonal greens, Yorkshire pudding and gravy. H went for pork while N and I both got lamb.

 

Roasted Kilravock Farm pork rib-eye (£16.95)

Roasted Kilravock Farm pork rib-eye (£16.95)

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Roasted shoulder of Kentish lamb (£17.95)

Roasted shoulder of Kentish lamb (£17.95)

 

First things first, big thumbs-up for portion-size. A Sunday roast MUST smack of abundance as soon as it is set down in front of you. And now the taste.

Before I talk about the meat, I’ll just say that I found the trimmings quite disappointing. The roast potatoes were more hard than crunchy, their innards more mealy than fluffy, and overall, they weren’t too flavourful despite having been cooked in duck fat. The Yorkshire pudding was a little burnt and dry, so much so that I didn’t even finish it. And the greens were exceedingly normal.

But on to bigger, better things, like the meat! The pork was nice, not too fatty but still juicy. I found the lamb very good. Full of flavour. I love all the different textures you can get from different ways of cooking lamb. Roast lamb isn’t fall-off-the-bone tender like braised lamb is, but it isn’t at all dry, and it has a meatiness and sturdiness that I really appreciate about it.

I would say that overall, the lamb here is nicer than the Pig & Butcher and the Abingdon, but the accompaniments weren’t especially great, which is such a shame! In terms of the other roasts (chicken, beef and pork) though, I would still choose the P&B.

Anyways. You know the best thing about gastropubs?? Something like 80% of them do sticky toffee pudding. (Casually making up statistics as I write, as you do. Who needs Qualtrics when you can just IMAGINE?!?!) Which we ALL know, is the Queen Mother of all puddings for me. Say it with me, kids, ‘you can’t spell Steph without S-T-P!!!!!!’ 

So you might remember me saying previously that I’ve gotten much better at sharing food. Well. It is true, I certainly have. But I still can’t share sticky toffee pudding. And so we ordered 2, one for me to devour all by myself.

 

Sticky toffee pudding, bourbon toffee sauce, milk ice-cream (£6.25)

Sticky toffee pudding, bourbon toffee sauce, milk ice-cream (£6.25)

 

Now, this was by no means the best sticky toffee pudding. This pudding itself wasn’t as moist or dense as I normally like. You could definitely taste the bourbon in the toffee sauce, which I thought was quite nice, as it gave the STP a touch of booziness without being overkill, although I generally dislike alcohol in desserts, as my usual energy levels + sugar + alcohol = not a great combination (for my dining companions especially). Overall, not great, but an STP is an STP, and perhaps I am being a teensy bit biased here, but even a mediocre STP still trumps most other desserts in my books.

And therefore, another picture.

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I really wanted to try the other dessert on the menu, and so I ordered that as well. Hehe. Once a fatty always a fatty!

Chocolate financier, popcorn, salted caramel ice-cream (£6.50)

Chocolate financier, popcorn, salted caramel ice-cream (£6.50)

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I love financiers but apart from a chocolate-raspberry financier that I love to make, I don’t think I’ve had many chocolate financiers. Anyways, these were missing the delicious browned butter aroma that I like about the ones I make and they were a lot lighter and had a looser crumb than I was expecting. The salted caramel ice-cream didn’t taste very much of salted caramel. I wouldn’t order it again personally.

In general, I don’t know if I will necessarily come back for the Sunday roasts or desserts but I would return for the chicken liver parfait and also to try the rest of the pub menu. If you want to read more about Sunday roasts, see these posts here and here! And if you’re looking for some other great places to eat around Shoreditch, see these posts!

 

 

THE PRINCESS OF SHOREDITCH

76 Paul Street
London
EC2A 4NE

Monday to Saturday: 12–11pm
Sunday: 12–10.30pm

Pacata (London)

Pacata is a fusion restaurant in central London, located just a few minutes’ walk from Leicester Square station. I have been meaning to try it for FOREVER because I was extremely intrigued by some of the items on their menu and the deed is finally, finally done!

Inside it’s quite small but it’s really warm and cosy, and the staff are extremely friendly and attentive. I didn’t get a picture but they serve their tap water in Kilner/mason jars, which I’m pointing out only because I know that’s something that gets some of you guys really eggcited. Hahaha. To each his own, I suppose.

Their menu was apparently designed by Michelin-starred chef Yasuji Morazumi. It’s interesting, though, that there’s nothing really complex about it – provided the Asian terms don’t confuzzle you, of course – despite the amount of fusion that goes into each dish.

Off the bar snacks menu, I got the popcorn chicken and calamari because it was a FRY-DAY hahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!! (Not that I ever need a reason to eat fried food, or that I don’t actually eat fried food everyday…)

Popcorn chicken with tom yum powder - £6.90 (ginger-garlic marinade)

Popcorn chicken with tom yum powder – £6.90

I wanted to get this because it reminds me of the tomyum chicken that KFC in Singapore does from time to time. It’s not spicy but it has the requisite tang and flavour of tom yum. I would have loved for the flavours to be a lot more assertive but it was still good, not least because the chicken meat itself was marinated with ginger and garlic.

 

Calamari Thai-style with larb powder - £4.95

Calamari Thai-style with larb powder – £4.95

Larb is a sort of Thai salad that I really like because I find it very tasty – way tastier than any Western salad. The larb powder isn’t immediately perceptible here but it gives a little something to make the otherwise ordinary calamari quite yummy.

Then it was time for our mains!

Pacata Pasta - king prawns, squid ink tagliatelle, egg, beancurd, spring onion (£14.95)

Pacata Pasta – king prawns, squid ink tagliatelle, egg, beancurd, spring onion (£14.95)

Common fusion pastas that I’ve had are green curry pasta, kimchi pasta, teriyaki pasta, mentaiko pasta…

But here we have pad thai pasta! I don’t think it gets more fusion than this!

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I wasn’t actually expecting to like this as much as I did, seeing as 1) I’m not the biggest fan of pad thai – I know, I know, but there’s a lot of better Thai dishes out there, and 2) I had just had a lot of pasta the day before this visit. It’s interesting because it actually had that ‘wok hei’ aroma (if you’re Asian and eat a lot of street food, you’ll know what this means) of fried noodles, especially the prawns (and yes, I love eating prawn shells). Flavor-wise, it had all the flavours of pad thai, and thankfully wasn’t too sweet, which is something I dislike about some versions of pad thai. And like good pasta, it also wasn’t soggy or wet.

And what else do you order on a Fry-day besides pasta?? A burger, of course!

Pacata Burger - soft shell crab, sweet chilli mayo, sweet potato fries (£12.95)

Pacata Burger – soft shell crab, sweet chilli mayo, sweet potato fries (£12.95)

So there’s nothing incredibly inventive about soft shell crab rolls, but I ordered this anyway because I do really love soft shell crab, and I have had some good soft shell crab rolls in my lifetime. To be honest though, this was quite a letdown. Perhaps the burger bun was too much and overwhelmed the crab a bit, because i found myself wishing for more crab. Hmm. Maybe soft shell crabs are just best in temaki/hand roll form.

 

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The sweet potato fries were good though! Perhaps a little under-salted, though that was easily remedied by the dips provided. I would ask to have them tossed in either the tom yum or larb powder in future though! For the best sweet potato fries in London – which I know is a bold statement to make, but do give it a try yourself – check out Hache (see post here and here).

This next dish I ordered based on previous recommendations from friends. It was a very strange combination of Japanese beef yakiniku and Indian naan bread.

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Beef Yakinaku with Naan (£10.50)

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The beef yakiniku was good, tasty and tender, if a bit salty. I particularly liked the sweet, melty onions mmmmm. The naan wasn’t as oily, fluffy or aromatic as I would’ve liked. I may ask to switch out the naan for rice in future if I get it again. I’m terrible at this fusion thing, aren’t I?? But naan really isn’t the right vehicle for something as saucy as beef yakiniku.

Our final dish was a last minute addition to our order because we were still hungry! It’s apparently a popular choice here.

Soya Chicken - deep-fried chicken, onion, rice and fried egg (£10.95)

Soya Chicken – deep-fried chicken, onion, rice and fried egg (£10.95)

In case you were wondering, this is the basic formula for classic Asian comfort food – fluffy white rice, some sort of meat, and the perfect sunny side-up with crispy edges and runny yolk. It was very tasty but I wouldn’t say it’s something I couldn’t make myself. If you’re not a proficient Asian cook, though, I think you would like this.

 

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Then it was dessert time!!!!!!!!! I was extremely disappointed because I’d heard such a lot about the green tea brownie with green tea ice-cream but they no longer serve it. TRAGEDY OF TITANIC PROPORTIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And the only thing on the menu was ice-cream, so we got the ‘Ice Cream Assortment’, which was 4 scoops of ice-cream for £8. We got 2 scoops of green tea and 1 each of the Thai milk tea and peanut. Given how disappointed I was that there was no green tea brownie, it had to be some pretty damn good ice-cream in order to cheer me up…

Thankfully it was.

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All homemade, my least favourite was the peanut because, strangely enough, peanut ice-creams always have this doughy taste to me? I don’t know why. Having said that, it was still good and I would eat it again, so no serious complaint here. The vermillion-colored scoop was the Thai milk tea ice-cream, which I really liked as well! It definitely tasted like Thai milk tea, which, if you have never tried before, tastes kind of like… sweetened Chinese tea with condensed milk added?? Yes, that is EXACTLY how I would describe the taste. Despite the little shard of ice you can see in the photo, the ice-creams were all desirably creamy and not at all icy, I promise!

My favourite though? The green tea ice-cream. I love a good green tea ice-cream but it’s not something I would ever rave about, not least in London. Even some of my favourite gelato places here serve only passably good matcha gelato. This, however, was very good. The green tea flavour was a lot stronger than it is in most other green tea ice-creams…

So this is what it’s come to. Recommending ice-cream. But I insist the green tea ice-cream here really is some good stuff!

Truth be told, there’s been some really mixed reviews about the place – people either really liked it or really hated it – but I always believe you shouldn’t knock it until you’ve tried it for yourself, and HATERZGONHATE!!!!! Anyway I’m really glad I gave it a shot, because I definitely belong to the former group of people. Either way, I think it depends on how receptive you are to the sort of food they serve here. Don’t take my word for it though! I urge you to try it for yourself.

 

PACATA

4 New Row Street,
Covent Garden,
London,
WC2N 4LH

Opening times:

Monday to Sunday: 11AM to 11PM

DUBSTEP(H) – i.e. (for Ireland!) Steph goes to Dublin

In lots of ways, I see my sisters as built-in best friends, extensions of myself, and practice runs for when I have daughters of my own. Trust me, we have the love-hate relationship between mother and daughter down pat. (I love them, they hate me.) Jokes aside, visiting my sister in Dublin is something I always look forward to because, if it isn’t already amply clear by now, we are a family that just loves to eat. This is but a small compilation of our fatventures thus far – A LOT more to come!

 

San Lorenzo

I am big on brunch and I don’t think you can visit Dublin without stopping by San Lorenzo for their Brunch of Champions. It’s really popular, so even if you do have a reservation, do go early because the place was already buzzing and there were people queuing out the door when we bounced up. The place is styled to look like a trendy New York eatery with high ceilings and large windows, and they were blasting the most fascinating medley of tunes like Cry Me A River, Come on Eileen, Dance Wiv Me (yes, I did just spell it with a ‘V’), Arctic Monkeys… It was full of young’uns, as proof that there ARE young people in Dublin. The staff were extremely friendly as well, so in general, it had a pretty great atmosphere.

One glance at the menu will tell you that this is really not the place for clean-eating folk. I mean, this is a brunch created for champions, see, so if you are one of those who goes out to brunch and eats granola (which we all know is my pet peeve Numero Uno), then a champion you clearly are not. I myself was rather torn because I wanted to eat just about everything on the menu. In the end I went with the crab cakes, which seemed to be a very popular item with the other diners.

One thing I will say about this place is that the portions are anything but itty bitty. Even the chicken bruschetta, which I saw the girl at the next table ordering, came in a very sizeable portion.

 

Crab Cakes - crab cakes with char-grilled asparagus, home fries, 2 poached eggs, vine tomato, rocket and hollandaise (E13.95)

Crab Cakes – crab cakes with char-grilled asparagus, home fries, 2 poached eggs, vine tomato, rocket and hollandaise (€13.95)

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See, it actually took me an entire mini-series of photos just to show you everything in its full glory.

The crab cakes were hefty little things, plump and substantial, with a golden crust; well-seasoned and particularly good with a squirt of lemon. The home fries were very tasty as well, and the poached eggs with hollandaise, clumsy-looking as they were, were still wonderful in all their imperfection.

Now, this next dish is no longer on the menu but I still feel the need to tell you all about it because it was kind of awesome, and actually the whole reason I wanted to bring my sister here in the first place. Ladies and gents, I present to you the Duck Confit Hash.

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I may have mentioned before how much my sister loves duck. She insists on going to Gold Mine (see post here) for Cantonese roast duck every time she’s in London, so this dish was right up her street, and oh my goodness was it delicious.

What stole the show was the hashed potatoes, because potatoes in duck fat are probably the best thing since before the internet, and these were no exception.

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Even though you can no longer get this, I’ve just checked and they do have something similar in the form of a pulled pork belly hash, which I will definitely look into myself. After all, potatoes in pork fat are probably the best thing since before potatoes in duck fat.

The Brunch of Champions is available only on the weekend. The rest of the time they do an Italian menu, which looks rather delicious as well, but I can’t vouch for it personally as I haven’t tried it myself. I would highly recommend this place for a (very) hearty spot of brunch though!

 

SAN LORENZO

South Great George’s Street, Dublin, Ireland

The Winding Stair

Another place that has become an institution in Dubz is The Winding Stair. It’s apparently named after the Yeats poem, and yes, it does have a winding staircase (duh). It’s quite a small space, rustic and cosy. I’d called up in advance to book a table so we got a window-seat with a pretty gorgeous view of the river Liffey and Ha’penny bridge.

Sorry for the weird spots but I took this through the window!

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The menu is compact yet sufficiently diverse, and they are very keen to emphasise their use of locally sourced, sustainably farmed, high-quality ingredients. Obviously the menu has changed since our last visit but these photos are just to give you an idea of the sort of food you can expect here.

Don’t know about you but I’m a big fan of Irish soda bread.

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We got hot smoked salmon.

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A hearty celeriac soup.

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For mains, a rib-eye steak topped with truffle butter.

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And lamb shoulder steak with chickpea puree.

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As well as roast duck breast with pak choi and mash.

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Yum yum.

 

THE WINDING STAIR 

40 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1, Ireland
Lunch: 12pm-5pm, Dinner: 5:30pm-10:30pm

 

Brasserie le Pont

Housed in the pretty Fitzwilliam Hall, this French place was admittedly a little fancier than the other places we usually ate at, with plush, heavy furniture and thick, soft carpeting. Nevertheless, the staff were all extremely down-to-earth, charming and attentive, and the food is really quite reasonably priced, particularly if you come for lunch, where you can have 2 courses for €23. Maybe it’s because of the time we were here – weekday lunch, I believe – but it seemed to be popular with the well-heeled oldies and the suited and booted working crowd.

Again, the menu has changed since our last visit but you’ll notice that it’s a little bit more refined than what we were eating the rest of the time.

Yay bread! We were given a selection of white, walnut and raisin, and Guinness and walnut breads.

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Now, I may have mentioned before that my sister loves foie gras almost as much as I do, and I do believe it was the whole reason we came here in the first place, as we both needed our dose of fatty liver.

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This was perfectly done, meltingly tender and delicious with the crispy toasted brioche. They served it with wedges of sweet beetroot, crunchy salted almonds and, rather cruelly, thin slices of smoked duck.

Next up was one of the daily specials – grilled beef with couscous, yogurt and cucumber.

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I normally have reservations about eating meat any way other than piping hot, but the room-temperature beef, soaked in the cool and creamy yogurt, was actually delightful. The baby spinach was tossed in a honey mustard vinaigrette, but the couscous was forgettable.

For mains, my sister ordered the duck confit (surprise surprise). It was good. Our only gripe was that it could have been fattier. The mash and the accompanying veg were tasty as well.

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I ordered the pan-fried hake with clams and cassoulet.

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This was very good. The fish was crisp-skinned, perfectly cooked and flakey. The creamy bean cassoulet actually tasted very much like the sauce that comes with my favourite crab raviolo at Medlar (see post here).

For dessert, we got the chocolate fondant, because – ok fine I’ll stop going through the whole charade of how it’s not my favourite dessert – that is Sister’s favourite dessert. (You’re probably learning a lot about my sister from this post.)

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It comes with cherry compote, which I asked to be served on the side because I hate cherry anything, and we switched out the pistachio ice-cream for vanilla because Sister doesn’t do pistache. The fondant itself was alright but the vanilla ice-cream tasted disappointingly shop-bought.


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Would I come back here again? Yes, I would. It’s not an everyday kind of dining experience, but it’s well worth trying out if you’re after something a little fancier.

 

BRASSERIE LE PONT

26 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2

Tuesday – Friday serving lunch from 12 noon – 2.30pm

Tuesday – Saturday serving dinner from 6pm

Closed Sunday & Monday

 

Or fancier than pub grub at least. Of which we had A LOT. In fact, we even have a favourite pub…

 

Gleesons

It’s listed as one of the best gastro pubs and won the All Ireland Pub of the Year in 2012. Inside it’s big but almost always packed, the waitresses are a friendly bunch, and the food is good, as far as pub food goes anyway.

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I find that, wherever you go, it’s always great to have at least one pub with dependably good food in your arsenal of food places, and I’m glad my sister has this!

 

GLEESONS OF BOOTERSTOWN

44 Booterstown Ave
Blackrock, Co Dublin

Breakfast from 8am 6 days, 8.30am Sun
Food served til 9.30pm 6 days, 8.30pm Sun

 

The Counter

Anyone who knows me know that I’m almost evangelistic about my at-least-once-a-week burger ritual. The Counter, which is an American chain, came highly recommended, so we decided to check it out one afternoon. Even though we came here at an odd time, it was still crowded, so we had to wait a while for a table.

We decided to get the buffalo wings because they seemed really popular with all the other diners, and with good reason, as they were some rather tasty wings.

The Counter Chicken Wings - with blue cheese dip and celery (11.95)

The Counter Chicken Wings – with blue cheese dip and celery (€11.95)

I know €11.95 may seem like an exorbitant price to pay for chicken wings but trust me, I hadn’t seen a pile of chicken wings as large as this in a pretty long time. Definitely good for sharing between a few people.

You can build your own burger, and the options are pretty extensive so you can get any number of permutations and combinations you desire. I chose not to customise my burger this time, and instead, ordered their signature burger, figuring that, if it’s good enough for them to put their name on it, then it’s good enough for me.

And it certainly looked promising enough!

Counter Burger - 1/3lb beef, provolone, crispy onion strings, lettuce blend, sautéed mushrooms and tomato, sun-dried tomato vinaigrette (10.95)

Counter Burger – 1/3lb beef, provolone, crispy onion strings, lettuce blend, sautéed mushrooms and tomato, sun-dried tomato vinaigrette (€10.95)

Unfortunately, I was really quite disappointed. It sounded quite perfect and indeed, the various components by themselves were good, particularly the crispy onion strings, which you can order as a starter or side. However, the patty itself was overcooked and tough, and given that I like my beef quite, quite rare, this was quite the let-down. Such a shame.

My sister got one of the specials, which was something like a breakfast burger, complete with fried egg and bacon.

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Again, I think her burger patty was quite overdone, not to mention that fried egg! Nothing as disappointing as a rubbery sunny side-up ugh.

I think I was disappointed because I wanted so much to like the burgers, which had all the makings to be quite awesome but were just let down by poor execution. To their credit though, their starters and sides almost made up for it. Almost. Besides the wings and fried onion strings, the sweet potato fries were good as well.

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If I come back in the future I will definitely be asking them not to overcook my burger, and I’ll definitely get the wings, fried onion strings and sweet potato fries to go with! I do also want to check out Bunsen, Bobo’s and Jo Burger though!

 

THE COUNTER

20 Suffolk Street Dublin
Dublin City Center 2
Ireland

Opening times:

Mon to Thurs: 12-10PM

Fri and Sat: 12-11PM

Sun: 12-9PM

 

But that’ll do it from us today! I hope you’ve enjoyed this post as much as I’ve enjoyed doing it for you! Sorry it’s been such a long time coming, and even then I’m still saving the rest – there’s a lot more goodness to come – hang tight for another post!

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