A Taste of Ireland for Carnivores and Herbivores
Our first night in Ireland, the Brawny Sherpa and I stumble upon Le Bon Crubeen at the recommendation of the front-desk attendants at our nearby hotel. I was skeptical of their recommendation, one, because the two at the front desk, just judging by our banter, don’t exactly seem like foodies, and, two, who has ever heard of French-Irish food? Is this jaunt going to feature fish and chips and some attitude?
Clearly, I am tired and cranky and also hungry. The place is close to where we are, so I do not quibble.
The first time we visit, we are there late in the afternoon and have no problem getting seated without a reservation. We order a Guinness and are amused by the bartender’s banter with a couple of locals. Ireland has a way, we are about to learn, of easing in to a traveler’s soul. The gift of gab, the easy friendliness of everyone we encounter, here and elsewhere on this journey, make this a country and a restaurant to which we plan to return. In fact, we circle back here to Le Bon Crubeen on the last day of our trip to dine again.
On this first day of our Irish adventure, we marvel at all things Irish, beginning with the slow pour of our beer. Getting a pint of Guinness is a process, during which our pint gets to rest for a bit. The anticipation—and the wait—are all worthwhile. Here, we have the best Guinness ever.
Our beer is soon paired with the best brown bread ever, which the Brawny Sherpa willingly shares as he enjoys his seafood chowder. For my first course, I choose a stuffed mushroom. French-Irish food at this place draws meat lovers and pescatarians as well as those more herbivorous in their pursuits. Next, we have a course of beef stew and mashed potatoes for him and chickpea ratatouille for me. The young men at our hotel’s front desk have served us well, as have the kind folks at Le Bon Crubeen. My only regret is that we have ordered too much food. Servings here are large even on an American scale.
Our first meal, our first afternoon, in Dublin is a success. We enjoy the place so much that as we are making our way back to the United States, we return again, this time on a Monday night for which I am grateful we have the foresight to make reservations. The place is hopping. This time around I have a beet crêpe, an incredibly good mushroom wellington, and, for dessert, baba au rhum, a personal favorite.
Fortunately, I do not google the meaning of crubeen until the end of our last dinner. I am thinking it clearly must be some French pastry of which I am unaware. Wrong! Crubeens are apparently pigs’ feet. Sigh. I’ve never tried them (even though my Italian great-grandmother also made pigs’ feet, but I cannot remember what she called them) and do not plan to, not being a meat eater. On the plus side, though, that more parts of an animal killed for food are being used for food is, at least, good in my view.
Le Bon Crubeen, 81-82 Talbot Street, Dublin 1