I am aware that this might make me sound a little hipster, or that I am straight out of an episode of ‘Portlandia’, but I do love an independent restaurant that has great ethics.
Herbsteet Restaurant was advertised as just that, with glowing reviews and a passion for sustainability I was excited to see that it was located at the Grand Central Dock, just around the corner from our Dublin hotel.
Despite it only being a short walk the weather was not on our side and I arrived completely soaked through. Soggy and ravenous my heart sank when I saw that the doorway was already filled with eager punters waiting to grab a table. Maybe it was sheer luck, or perhaps the waitress could see my desperation, but whatever the reason we were miraculously seated straight away.
The interior of the restaurant was simplistic but with character in a what I can only describe as a Scandinavian style. Though the walls were a a matt grey there were pops of colour and natural elements scattered throughout. One of these quirky colour features was the lighting: 109 LEDs were placed within a tubular system made from recycled conduit which used the same amount of power as a 100 watt bulb, not only environmentally friendly but also an interesting decorative piece.
Though the lighting had a futuristic look there was also a homely feeling created using plants and Harry Bertoia chairs covered in cutesy animal prints. This place was a wonderful mix of contemporary and natural, which was also emulated in their food.
The restaurant took a modern twist on classic dishes, using ingredients sourced from as close a proximity as possible to minimise the carbon footprint and that were also derived from sustainable sources.
I am going to be honest, after spending way to much time in the Guinness Storehouse the day before I would have eaten one of their display plants, even if it came from the furthest corners of the Earth. Unfortunately my alcohol addled brain is not as eco friendly as my fully sober one.
Once I had a deliciously strong coffee in hand I was ready to leave the shrubbery alone and tackle the main menu. I was, as always, indecisive so my boyfriend and I shared 2 dishes and swapped half way – as is now standard when we eat out.
The place was extremely busy, and as all the food was cooked from scratch it gave me enough time to quietly let the caffeine seep into my veins and transform me into a human once again.
The first dish I tried was the Eggos Mexicalos, a construction of 2 baked eggs on a spicy habanero tomato sauce, spring onions, fresh chopped tomatoes with Swiss cheese and steamed baby spinach. This layered dish was oozing with delicious runny eggs and cheese which combined together in a wonderful tasty mess. To take this one step further we also ordered a side of zesty guacamole.
I enjoy eating with my hands as I feel it creates and additional sensory element, and is also much more sociable. So I was pleased that the meal was finished off with a side of the lightly salty chips which made for a convenient scoop to gather all the ingredients.
Despite the skies remaining grey outside the Mexican inspired flavour combination in this dish made me feel like I had been transported to summer.
Next was to move onto the Sautéed Wild mushrooms on toast, which was served in a light roasted garlic and truffle cream sauce, on thick cut toasted brioche, finished off with a pile of rocket and roast cherry tomato. The fresh crunch of the salad balanced out the incredibly rich creamy mushrooms perfectly. Both dishes were incredibly different from one another yet equally palatable.
Though I was initially looking for somewhere close by to help my hangover subside I got much more from this vibrant little restaurant with great values and food to match.
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Grand Canal Dock