As 2018 beckons, we asked three of those involved in Dublin’s food scene for their take on the city’s food and drink trends, the things we might expect to see next year and their own plans for the year ahead. *Spoiler alert – probably not insect burgers…
Chefs Ken Doherty and Gwen McGrath opened Assassination Custard, generally considered the city’s smallest restaurant, on Kevin Street two years ago.
What trends are you noticing around Dublin’s food and drink scene?
Irish people love to go out for dinner and spoil themselves a bit getting dressed up, but while they’re still interested in where their food comes from, I don’t think that people want to pay very high prices for food any more.
Where do you see things going next year?
I see a more relaxed approach to food from people. The formality of ‘dinner’ might be about to change. Everybody’s in it together when they go for lunch; there’s less expectation and it’s more democratic and a bit more relaxed somehow. People realise you sometimes have to pay for quality ingredients, but similarly they don’t want to pay outrageous prices for substandard ones.
The vegan thing is getting bigger here and there’s a lot of science behind it. You go to Italy and you have the classic regional dishes and the sides could be wilted chicory or dandelion leaves. That’s a hit and it’s also the sign of a good food culture where nothing is forced. We do lots of vegetarian dishes and at the end of the menu we offer fish offal or meat offal, which kind of surprises people. There’s a lot of waste that goes on with food, so we’re trying to get people to eat more of it.
What are your own plans for next year?
We’re looking at a possible expansion, but I don’t want to say too much or let the cat out of the bag just yet!
2018 in a nutshell…
Try more offal!
Assassination Custard, 19 Kevin Street Cross, Dublin 2
Fab Food Trails offers an opportunity to sample some tasty contemporary and traditional Irish produce while gaining insider knowledge about the culture and history of the city’s neighbourhoods.
Eveleen, you’re in and out of some of the most innovative artisanal Dublin eateries every week with Fab Food Trails. What new trends are you seeing emerging around Dublin’s food and drink scene?
This year we saw more terrific small cafés opening serving not just great coffees but good and easy food too. And fish, something we had resisted here on this island, has been making a very welcome comeback.
Where do you see things going next year? Do you think we’ll be seeing insect burgers on Dublin menus anytime soon?
Insect burgers… probably not quite yet! Natural wines are quietly making their way into our consciousness and our glasses following the trend set by The Natural Wine Movement in Paris and London.
What are your own plans for Fab Food Trails next year?
Our Neighbourhood walks, introduced earlier this year, are proving very popular and we have some good new routes planned for 2018. And a new tasting walk with a difference, not telling yet though, watch this space!
2018 in a nutshell…
Food, friends, surprise!
Following a busy few months Thom Lawson is looking forward to ramping things up even more in 2018. His plans include opening Lucky Tortoise in its first permanent home, experimenting with some innovative new pop-ups and organising a Chinese New Year festival to help usher in the Year of the Dog.
What trends are you noticing around Dublin’s food and drink scene and where do you see things going next year?
I’m still rather fresh to the Dublin scene, but with recent additions like Host in Ranelagh I would love to see more casual dining, interesting small plates, things to share, lots of fun stuff! I think the guys in Klaw do this quite well. I’ve also found dining in Dublin very expensive compared with London so I can see value becoming a big factor, not just in terms of portion size, but also in terms of quality and the whole dining experience.
Obviously the rise of vegan and gluten-free foods is one I think is going to grow. Delivery is another. The Hill Pub in Ranelagh has just launched delivery cocktails, something I think we’ll see more of. I’d also like to see some restaurants without walls, using technology to move the scene forward and more shared spaces/kitchens/dining areas to increase accessibility to the trade. Eatyard have made a great start offering a space for young businesses to get themselves off the ground and I’d love to collaborate with other independent traders on projects that don’t necessary mean permanent restaurant spaces.
Do you think we’ll be seeing insect burgers on Dublin menus any time soon?
I think the next move for the burger is plant proteins, though I actually collaborated on an insect cookbook a while back and whilst the feedback was good I don’t think it currently has the momentum or supply to be taking the city by storm. The interesting thing about insects is their versatility in making salts, flours and protein powders, adding flavours and complementing dishes. They’re incredibly high in protein meaning they are great for snacks. Cricket and mealworm protein bar anyone?!
2018 in a nutshell…
Better value dining.
Words: Martina Murray
Photos: Killian Broderick (Assassination Custard and Thom Lawson)
Brigid Tiernan (Eveleen Coyle)