Chanoy Honeymoon: Dublin, February 2016

Note – photo gallery at the bottom of this post.

You know how when you go travelling, there’s almost always an ‘Irish’ Pub located in the centre of town no matter what city you’re in? It doesn’t matter if it’s a Paddy O’Reilly’s, or an Auld Limerick, or a Seamus Fitzpatrick’s – whatever the name, there’s almost certainly an Irish pub somewhere in the city decorated with green shamrocks and offering Guinness on tap.

Walking into Dublin city on our first day was like walking into a foreign city with not just one, but a million Irish pubs. While I’d always thought of an ‘Irish pub’ as a tourist trap overseas, it was remarkable to see just how many pubs there are around Dublin. Sure there’s some that are clearly geared at tourists like those in the Temple Bar area, but once you venture out of Temple Bar, there’s still nearly a pub on every second corner. There’s certainly not shortage of pints of Guinness, bowls of Irish stew, or plates of bangers and mash in Ireland!

That’s not all Ireland has to offer from a culinary perspective though! Sure, we had some Irish stew and some traditional pub meals, but there’s also a great burgeoning modern dining movement that saw us have some great meals at places like Phx Bistro. There’s a move towards casual daytime dining as well with soups and paninis on every cafe menu – Avenue in Maynooth is one example. Still you can’t go past some traditional Irish meals – fish and chips at Leo Burdock and a full breakfast at Brendan’s Coffee Shop.

It might be difficult to know where to get started in Dublin. While it’s not an exceedingly large city, there is lots to see and it was made all the more difficult by the non-stop construction that was happening at the time of our visit. To make things easier for yourself, join one of the free walking tours around Dublin to get a good overview of different parts of the city. We joined a great one that went for three hours, and was lucky enough to get a guide who was an amateur local historian who was able to make history come to life as we walked around the city.

Once you’ve done the tour, you can always go on to do more exploring by yourself. I loved walking around the beautiful old buildings of Trinity College, not to mention going into their Book of Kells exhibition and – my personal highlight of Dublin – visiting their famous Long Room. You’ve probably seen photos of it before on the ’10 Most Beautiful Libraries in the World’ lists on Buzzfeed. If I died and went to heaven, I imagine it would look a little bit like the Long Room. I’m not even embarrassed to imagine that I started tearing up with pure joy and happiness when I was in there.

We also decided to rent a car for a few days to get out of the city and see a bit more of Ireland proper. This meant that we could travel to Trim, west of Dublin, to meet K’s Irish second cousins for the first time ever. While there, we also spent a few hours at Trim Castle, the oldest surviving castle in Ireland. If you ever visit, it’s worth taking the guided one-hour tour for the paltry sum of 4 Euros per person – our guide Karlos was incredibly well-informed on Irish history, on medieval history, on castle architecture…plus as a bonus, he looked like Henry the Eighth which lent an additional historical note to our visit!

We also drove our rental car up north, over the border to Northern Ireland to visit Belfast for lunch at Avoca (scones! scones! scones!) as well as a burger at Five Guys Belfast before heading to the Antrim coast to see the wonders of the Giant’s Causeway and the Carrick-O-Rede rope bridge. Words can’t even begin to describe how stunning the Irish countryside and coastline really is – next time, I think we will need to rent a campervan and do a proper driving holiday around the island, stopping in all the quaint little towns along the way.

K is keen to visit Ireland again – being 1/4 Irish, I think he feels a certain affinity to the Irish people and the Irish way of life. I’ve told him that we need to bring his parents with us the next time though – his mother is half-Irish and she’s never visited Ireland (or anywhere in Europe!) before, and I think it would be great for her to meet her cousins as we did. We’ll keep trying to convince her…

Review: Brendans Coffee Shop, Dublin Ireland

Have you ever heard of the term greasy spoon diner? While it originated in America, I think that there are equivalents located all around the world. In Ireland, they take the form of the cheap little coffee shops that boast linoleum floors, seats at the counter, and a cheap traditional ‘fry’ – what most of us would probably know as the full Irish Breakfast. There’s plenty scattered around the country, and it’s one of those things you absolutely have to experience when you go to Ireland – it’s the traditional working man’s big meal of the day to keep them full throughout the working day.


We dropped into Brendan’s Coffee Shop in the Smithfields region of Dublin for a traditional breakfast on our last morning in Dublin. What better way to finish our stay in the Emerald Isle? Brendan’s is a favourite with the local workers at the fruit markets, opening around 5am in the morning to cater for the workers and closing by the early afternoon. The menu is pretty simple, with variations on the ‘fry’ (large, medium or small), and a variety of sandwiches involving fried bacon, sausages or eggs.


Most of the customers seem to eat at the counter so they can chat away to the cook and waitress, but we chose to move to one of the tables in the adjourning dining room. Each ‘fry’ comes with a complimentary tea or coffee (served black and strong unless you request otherwise), and a little shot of orange juice. Two condiments are available with every meal – the perennial tomato ketchup and the undescriptive bit-of-everything Irish ‘brown sauce’, better known as HP sauce.


A few buttered slices of toast come with each meal – unfortunately not traditional Irish brown bread or Guinness bread which I’ve discovered I’m a real fan of, but just plain white bread. Still, it serves as a good base for the large fry to come.


K enjoys black pudding, so he ordered the Large Breakfast (8.50 Euro) of bacon, egg, sausage, tomato, black pudding, white pudding, mushrooms and fried potatoes. I refused the black pudding but tried a slice of the white pudding which I enjoyed – plain pork meat and fat mixed with oatmeals is a surprisingly tasty combination! I also enjoyed the plump mushrooms on his plate, and stole more than my fair share.


I chose the Medium Breakfast (7.50 Euro) of bacon, egg, sausage, tomato and fried potatoes. The crispy bacon served at Brendan’s is superb – extremely thick-cut, salty and tasty with a healthy sliver of fat on each piece. If you’re not looking for a full meal, I would definitely suggest dropping in just to get a bacon sandwich as a snack! The fried potatoes are also excellent – cut so thinly that it’s almost like eating chips/crisps instead.


If you’re anyone other than a middle-aged Irish man, you may feel somewhat out of place as you walk into Brendan’s and receive a few curious looks. Everyone is very friendly though, and very familiar with each other with customers are greeted by name as they enter. It’s the type of local joint that’s very popular with blue-collar workers, so you know that the food is cheap and tasty. For a no-frills traditional Irish breakfast, you can’t do much better than Brendan’s!

Brendan’s Coffee Shop is located at 10-11 Marys Lane in Dublin, Ireland.

Review: Leo Burdock, Dublin Ireland

Fish and chips are a quintessentially English dish, but of course, the Irish will try to lay claim to its origins. It’s just like how Australia and New Zealand will argue over who first invented the pavlova (obviously Australia), but will both try to get rid of Russell Crowe.

Leo Burdock Fish and Chips in Dublin (there’s a few different branches) claim to have the best fish and chips in Dublin, in Ireland, in the British Isles, and even the world. Their fame has spread far and wide, attracting luminaries from all around the world who are now immortalised in the Leo Burdock Hall of Fame.


We dropped into the Temple Bar branch of Leo Burdock’s while in Dublin, as K had a hankering for old-fashioned fish and chips, without any frills or fancy trimmings. There’s definitely nothing fancy about Leo Burdock – while they offer some extras like burgers and fried chicken strips, plain old fish and chips is the main item on the menu. There’s not that many varieties of fish to choose from either – in fact on the day that we went, only a smoked cod and a fresh cod were available, so we ended up getting one of each.


K’s Smoked Cod Fish and Chips was a case of there being too much of a good thing. While smoked cod in smaller quantities can be extremely delicious with a salty smoky flavour, eating an entire battered fillet of it ends up being much too salty on the palate especially as the batter is also flavoured as well. When dining at Leo Burdock, I think it makes more sense to choose a fresh fish as the batter they use is quite tasty already with a good amount of salt used throughout.


With that in mind, my Fresh Cod Fish and Chips was a much more enjoyable meal as it was flavoured just right, and enhanced by the drizzle of tartare sauce I put over it. I loved the chips as well – they were short, stubby and full of the flavour that can only come from a fish and chip shop’s deep-fryer. This is definitely the meal to order, but keep in mind that it is a huge serving that can probably serve two people if you’re not feeling particularly peckish!

Leo Burdock is a traditional fish and chip shop in the very best way possible – they don’t deviate too far from the classics and don’t mess the menu by doing too many different things. They stick to what they know, and they do it well. Make sure you order the fresh fish options when you go, and don’t be shy about asking for lashings of tartare sauce to go with the fish!

Leo Burdock is located at 4 Crown Alley in Temple Bar, Dublin Ireland.