Words: Shamim de Brún
Images: George Voronov
Ireland has been raising the localised culinary culture bar for years, turning once-dismissed neighbourhoods into must-visit destinations. We have teamed up with Hop House 13 to celebrate local businesses in some of our favourite neighbourhoods. Next Up: Rathmines
Rathmines ‘was one of the great residential suburbs of the British empire’. As anyone who saw ‘Oliver Cromwell’s Really Very Sorry’ at Dublin Fringe last year will tell you, the tyrant and his troops came here to duke it out with the Royalist forces at the Battle of Rathmines on August 2 1649. 5,000 men died and the battle put Cromwell in charge of Ireland.
Rathmines, like Ballsbridge, started as an elegant residential town for wealthy Dubliners in the mid-19th century. It was an unofficial gay-bourhood at the time because women like Kathleen Lynn and Madeleine ffrench-Mullen lived with their partners in an enclave of women of a similar inclination. The dream did not last, unfortunately. The once grand townhouses were split into hundreds of tiny flats in the 1960s and 70s and Rathmines got nicknamed ‘Flatland’. The cheap flats brought students and immigrants from all corners of the world. With them came the kind of cosmopolitan innovation that has made the neighbourhood unique.
These days, Rathmines is having a moment, and honestly, good for her. Three years ago, people looking for tacos or even a Rueben would be fresh out of luck. Now, you can throw a stone in D6 and find all those things.
Rathmines has become a beacon for those seeking affordable and fun places to dine and socialise. It’s an area that has attracted artists and the “cool kids” alike, with its diversity, liberal atmosphere, and excellent transit accessibility. Rathmines is now the place to be.
On any given night these days, Rathmines is bustling. Folks are teeming off public transport and into its several restaurants, bougie health food stores and bars that are filled with people looking for artisanal woodfired pizza, MacNally’s organic produce, and a glass of pet-nat. Several coffee shops are packed with people nursing tiny cups of fancy V60 pour-over. It’s hard to know where to start, so that’s where this guide comes in.
The perfect way to kick off a day in Rathmines is with a freshly roasted drip filter made by the same baristas who roasted it. When it comes to coffee, Two Fifty Square takes their craft seriously. The visionaries behind this café have honed their love for coffee in Melbourne. Melbourne is regarded as the homeland of third-wave coffee culture. The duo behind Two Fifty Square brought that Australian coffee passion back to Dublin with them from the Antipodean food and coffee capital.
They offer a coffee lineup as diverse and whimsical as the Barbie movie, from classic cappuccinos to V60 and cold brew. Each cup gives you a better chance to explore the intricate nuances coffee enthusiasts and baristas rave about. Toasty, bitter, sharp, earthy, fruity, nutty, and fragrant. They’ll chat you through it too if they have the time and you have the inclination to learn.
Two Fifty Square is an obvious go-to destination for coffee aficionados. But it also has a beautiful brunch and lunch menu.
“Shaku Maku” literally translates to “What’s the story?” or “Cád é an sceal” for Gaeilgeoirs among us. This recent addition to Dublin has made its home in the heart of Rathmines and has been a beacon in the community. While Dublin has known falafel for a few years now, Shaku Maku brought something more nuanced and comfortably Middle Eastern.
Walking into Shaku Maku is like taking a culinary journey to the heart of the Middle East. The ambience is enriched with vintage movie star posters from the 1940s and 50s, and traditional music sets the perfect backdrop.
Adnan Shabab, the visionary behind Shaku Maku, opened this Middle Eastern gem in Rathmines at the start of 2022– a dream 25 years in the making. One of the standout dishes on the menu is the “zibdieh with garlic shrimp,” a tantalising creation topped with a flavorful tomato sauce, garlic, and chili. It brings a delightful kick of spiciness and can be enjoyed with bread or rice. This dish hails from the coast of Palestine, delivering an authentic taste of the Middle East. Adnan’s vision was to bring the rich culture of the Middle East to Dublin, and it’s evident in every aspect of Shaku Maku.
The star of the show at Shaku Maku is the mezze platters and griddle dishes served with flatbread, cooked to perfection on what they call a “Josper” grill. A Josper grill is the hottest indoor grill on the market – literally – so it cooks food very distinctively. According to the Shaku Maku menu, this grill is a unique hybrid of grill and oven, ensuring a distinct flavour and texture while preserving the natural juiciness of the meat. They also hit hard with veggie and vegan options.
Under the collaborative ownership of Domini Kemp (known for Itsa Bagel, museum cafes, and the restaurant in BTs) and Brian Montague (of The Winding Stair group), Lottie’s is a real treat in Rathmines. It landed on the scene in March with a flourish, embracing a mid-century, millennial-pink, modern aesthetic. But it has made its name on being both affordable and unafraid to experiment with bold flavours.
Everyone has been talking about their octopus dish, which features soft, barely charred tentacles that are tender and easily cut with a knife. Adding gochujang, samphire, and crispy potato makes it a must-try dish.
The kitchen is helmed by head chef Tudorel Ostache, whose extensive experience includes stints at Pichet and Mister S. Their suppliers include mainstays such as Andarl pork, Norwegian trout, North Atlantic langoustines, JJ Young free-range chicken, Irish beef, Keelings, and La Rousse.
It’s no surprise it’s quickly become the darling of food reviewers the length and breadth of the country. And while Rathmines had never had any shortage of places to eat, something of Lottie’s calibre and elegance is new to the neighbourhood. A real “have you been yet?” kind of place.
Kodiak, is low-key one of the best bars, not only in Rathmines but in Dublin at large.
If you’re looking for somewhere with space for all of your mates, Kodiak is the place. It’s got three different areas with enough seats to sustain even the largest gaggle of gals in the land. It’s beautifully furnished with little alcoves that make it feel like you’ve stepped into a Mad Men episode. There’s also an open-spaced outdoor area that is cosy even in the lashing rains of a Dublin evening. Perfect place to have a crisp pint of Hop House 13 after a long day.
Like Bonobo before it, Kodiak does pizza and beer and it does them well. There are two pizzas on the menu that you can’t get at Bonobo. These signature white pizzas are both rich and refreshing. The first, the veggie one, truffle and orange zest, is a dance of sweet and salty with an excellent balance of truffle to honey. The Mortadella & Pistachio is a winner for the more carnivorous among us. Adding the cured Italian-style ham brings this pizza to ‘maybe just one more slice’ level.
Dublin is in its golden cocktail era. Gone are the days of the some-sort-of-pink-alcoholic juice. Now, we know the drinks we want as a nation, but we’re also fearless in trying something new. Kodiak is well aware that for a cunning Dublin drinking audience, they had better have a cocktail list and a good one.
Here, they deliver at market rate. You could pay the same twelve euros for less in many places. There’s a whole page of options, but allow me to save you some time and recommend the Blooming Heather.
Listen we can’t cover them all so here’s our long list just in case you are looking for something a little different try Flaneur, Sprezzatura, Manifesto, Uno Pizza, Voici Creperie, El Grito, Blackbird
Please drink Hop House 13 responsibly.
visit drinkaware.ie for more info