Fitzers is the Burt Bacharach of restaurants - v. middle-of-the-road. It is relatively inexpensive and most people find something they like on the menu. All nice safe reasons for choosing a place to eat. I can't imagine anyone fantisising about the food they eat there but I couldn't imagine people refusing ever to go back again. I went with a gang from work for lunch last week. I had lamb lasagne (£8.50) which was fine if a little underseasoned. It was accompanied by what was described as a salad but which was really just a garnish. Even though I knew (I have been there before for all the nice safe reasons mentioned above) the Lasagne was substantial, I ordered Buffalo chips (£2) as well. I can give no excuse for my gluttony other than the Monday munchies. Moreish, lightly-salted wedges. Yum. I tasted Karen's Chicken Cajun Salad (£8.50). It consisted of breaded chunks of chicken on a bed of mixed leaves. Again this dish was more than adequate. The tomato and goat's cheese quiche was my favourite. The mildly sweet taste of the cherry tomatoes complemented the strong flavour of the goat's cheese. This is what I will order the next time… If they let me back after this lukewarm review. Only one of us got dessert ( Weightwatchers weigh-in was the following day) - the rest of us lustfully watched her devour the baked cheesecake (£3). The service was excellent which regrettably is rarer and rarer in Dublin these days. Fitzers is a suitable restaurant for a group - mid-range, good service, varied menu and I probably will be back. However, being an ultra-critical curmudgeon it's not in my top five Dublin restaurants.
So you all know by now that my holiday in Dublin was not an unqualified success. Let me clarify - it was a great success, fun and relaxing and loads of that, but it was marred by a couple of B-A-D encounters: I suffered a bout of food poisoning from a supposedly reputable restaurant, and a taxi driver nearly swindled us out of a decent amount of cash (sorry Ken, no offence to the category - I'd have done better to look out for your cab, but you were on your hols). Otherwise, it was a great stay - the city is lovely, and the surrounding countryside is simply awesome. And the rain was a welcome break from the 35-40 degrees back home! Ever one for looking on the bright side of life (or not, depending on my mood...) the food poisoning incident, after grounding me for two full days, meant that when I re-ventured into Dublin cuisine I wasn't ready to risk any further. So I opted, thanks to the guidance of my infallible Time Out guide (never travel without one - so much more than a guide!), for the Fitzers restaurant, a few steps off from our hotel (so poor sickly me didn't have to trudge at length) in the Temple Bar area. Now the location is good and bad. Fitzers is right on a square where youngsters gather to sit on the floor, sit and consume obscene amounts of Guinness. That's ok if you're 14, I guess, but it can get a bit chaotic at times (ie. read: in the evenings) - and Fitzers' large windows overlook this square. There was a queue to get in, although it was a weeknight, and since a good number of patrons were not tourists but Dubliners, that augured well for the quality of the food. The maitre d' - an enchanting if slightly blustered lady - found us a table by one of the windows, and we settled down to our surroundings. Now Fitzers is a Dublin "independent" having four eateries in the city. What sets it off from other restaurants is that each outlet is completely customised to the surroundings: thus th
e eatery in the National Gallery is sombre, the one on Dawson Street is chic and French, while the Temple Bar one is more funky and "vibe"-ful. This is reflected in the decor (thus we had the de rigeur blue and cream tones and suffused lighting strategically placed on asymmetrical soffits), but more importantly it is reflected in the food. We also visited the Dawson Street restaurant, so I could personally verify that the menus and food style and content are indeed different. The Temple Bar restaurant had a selection of interesting starters, though my still-recovering stomach commanded me to steer clear. So I watched my dinner companions order and devour their dishes. Very interesting concoctions: none of the pasta dishes usually present in Mediterranean cuisine (I confess I had to get used to that!), but this was more than made up for by the fish and veg concoctions in original though light sauces. Then came my culinary highlight for the evening (also my only dish...): the main course. I opted for a fillet steak on Guinness jus (what else?!), while my companions opted for a salmon dish. The fillet was not only cooked exactly as I'd requested it (medium-to-rare, in case you're interested... no you're not, ok), but also of very good quality - not the rough and dry excuse for meat served in certain places (not only in Dublin, I hasten to add!). The Guinness jus was... well, divine! The usual veg and potatoes thingie on the side was presented with some originality, inasmuch as originality may be claimed with a veg and potato melange. The salmon dish, though I didn't actually try it myself, I was assured was equally scrumptious. It certainly looked tender, not over-cooked, and with appetising herbs on top. There is nothing worse than drowning the taste of fish with overly-elaborate sauces - this was kept very simple, just a dash really. Meanwhile the place remained just as busy as when we'd entered. A con
stant buzz kept the restaurant lively and "with-it" - it definitely felt cool and fun to be there. Notwithstanding the crowds, though, the waiters lived up to the deserved reputation of the Irish as ultra-friendly people. I've never been to another country where every single citizen was friendly, courteous and bending-over-backward to help. The waiters joked, asked questions about our holiday so far, and small-talked in general to make us feel more at ease. Of course this also served the double purpose of enticing us to sample their dessert menu. And sample we did - even my then-delicate digestive system clamoured for sweets. And Jill, you should've tasted the chocolate do. Wow! That kind of chocolate fudge that leaves you breathless, and your taste buds konked out in ecstasy. Washed down with fresh cream (the thick whipped kind), I should add. Oh oh oh! Coffees were at par with the rest of the evening - "real" espresso, not the instant variety. You'd be surprised at the number of places that thought they could get away with a cup of heated instant black coffee masquerading as an espresso shot. Tut tut! Then of course, I have to conclude this op by mentioning the assessment of damages made by the meal to our holiday funds. Obviously such a restaurant doesn't fall into the McD price range. Some of the dishes are quite expensive, and it's easy to top the 20 IRP per person estimate. Yet if you're in Dublin and you want to splash out on that special meal, you could do far worse than trying out Fitzers in Temple Bar. Mmmm, that Guinness thing... ah!