In this month’s Dublin Dining Guide, the folk at Paella Bar & Co., talk to us about their mission to bring an authentic taste of Spain to Dublin.
“If Mexico can bring burrito bars to Ireland, why can’t Spain bring paella bars?”
Can you tell us a little bit about you and how you came to establish Paella Bar & Co.?
We saw a gap in the market when we realised that there was nowhere in Dublin offering fresh paella the way it is offered in Spain. Paella is one of Spain’s best-known and most popular dishes but it has transcended Spanish borders and is now known internationally. We thought if Mexico can bring burrito bars to Ireland, why can’t Spain bring paella bars? With paella as our hook we decided to extend our menu to other authentic and traditional Spanish dishes served as tapas and some as full mains, hence the ‘& Co’.
Our tapas portions are bigger than what’s currently available from other Spanish restaurants in Dublin and our customers pay less because we believe if people are going to want to taste Spanish food like in Spain then we should try and keep the prices and portions similar to what people are used to in Spain too. Our paella, which is served in the traditional wide flat paella pan, called paellera, starts at €9 for the meat paella and €12 for the seafood for a single portion. Our tapas, which are really ‘raciones’ or large tapas, cost €8.50.
What is the secret to a perfect paella?
The secret to a perfect paella is a combination of the rice used, the stock and how it is cooked. The rice has to be round with a perfect starch composition. Our rice comes straight from the home of paella, Valencia in Spain. The stock for our seafood paella, which is what we find most Irish people think of and order when they hear paella, is prepared with fresh seafood. The rest of the formula for this and our meat and vegetarian paellas are close kept secrets! Finally, the way you cook a paella is key. The cooking temperature of the stock, the boiling point and the length of time you cook it can mean the difference between a really good paella and an one that is just okay.
What dish and drink would you recommend for a first time visitor?
I’d recommend Paella Marinera which combines two of my favourite things – seafood and rice. Cooked in our special stock, with a squeeze of fresh lemon to finish, it’s a dish that will have you coming back for more. I would also recommend three of our new additions.
A favourite on menus across Madrid and in Paella Bar & Co. is our slow braised beef cheek cooked in red wine sauce, our Salmon al Cava and our Rioja style cod – all of which offer a real Spanish food experience. Our Rioja Ramón Bilbao is great with beef cheek and the Albariño Paloma de Plata would be my drink of choice to accompany the rest of these tasty dishes.
What excites you most about running a food venture in Dublin at the moment?
Ireland is a multi-cultural society with so many well-travelled people open to new experiences when it comes to food. We are excited to be the first restaurant in Ireland to specialise in Spain’s signature dish at a price point accessible to most and in showcasing some of Spain’s more classic dishes.
Where is your favourite place to dine in Dublin when you are not at work?
My favourite place to dine is at home with friends and family, where we love to come together in typical Spanish style to eat lots of different dishes, both Spanish and other ethnic dishes. We do like an Indian. We get to discuss everything from politics to our latest hobbies, and all very passionately! Our passion can often result in raised voices which is why we prefer to eat at home. If we were in a restaurant we’d probably be thrown out!
32 Pearse Street