Seafood on Good Friday will always be in high demand.
We eat fish on Good Friday because Jesus said so. Or at least the Bible did, at some point. So we were brought up being told Jesus was executed on Good Friday. He sacrificed his flesh so we could galavant and still get into heaven. And that meant fish for dinner.
These days it’s less about what the parish father tells us we should do and more about tradition. As the twenty-first century chugs on, most rituals are becoming purely social. Of course, all human cultures have rituals— and a disproportionate amount of ours came from the church. But even without fear and reverence for a deity, these rituals can reinforce a sense of community.
Way back yonder, Dubliners would go out to the coast on Good Friday and handpick shellfish to eat. Fortunately, we don’t have to put in so many hours these days. So if we want to engage in this socialised formerly religious tradition, we can go out.
If you want to eat fish today, Good Friday, check these places.
It sounds like an obvious way to go when you say it out loud, but we never really associate sushi with Good Friday. This spot is all kinds of perfect because it’s Dublin’s oldest sushi spot, and it’s big enough that there’s nearly always space to accommodate everyone, even if you don’t have a booking.
This is a fish and chip shop where you can get a bowl of juicy clams with a sherry vinaigrette so good it will leave you craving a glass of Fino. The specials are chalked on the wall, and the list gives you the provenance of your fish. The “Filet O Fish Shop” is a towering brioche stuffed with great battered fish, crisp lettuce, apple and fennel slaw; and is the perfect Good Friday treat.
You can engage with this whimsical social tradition even if you’re vegan. Vish shop is a spin-off from Veginity, and it does the best vegan fi*h and chips in the city. Vish shop makes their plant-based fish alternative from Cassava, and Wild Irish Seaweed battered and cooked to perfection. You can get it in all kinds of styles. The MVP of the menu is their Smokey Vish, which comes with homemade Kimchi and Tarte Sauce.
If you want to put a French, or more accurately Belgian, twist on this classic Irish tradition, then Moules et Frites is the way. Dublin knows this signature dish well and it is perfect for the day in it. A light and creamy but unique way to get into the holy spirit of things.
If you want to be top of the game, then the Raw Bar Tasting Menu at Saltwater Grocery in Terenure is the way. It gives you the chance to dip into various shellfish and seafood in an intimate setting. It’s not all raw: there can be cured and cooked fish dishes that you’ll see prepared right in front of you. What’s on the menu always comes down to what’s fresh, seasonal, and available. This tiny spot is a destination restaurant that gives a Good Friday feeling.
Elsewhere on Char: Char’s Guide to Dun Laoghaire