Dog owners and cocktail lovers will already know the charm of MVP on Upper Clanbrassil Street in Dublin 8. Thanks to chef Matteo Griscti and barista Dee Kelly, this pub is set to become a beacon for food lovers, too.
Chef Griscti grew up in Malta surrounded by the influence of his food enthusiast parents. He’s lived in Ireland since he was eleven and has been into cooking since as long as he can remember. In the last few years, he got his chef chops while working in the kitchens of Fia with Keith Coleman in Rathgar and at Two Pups on Francis Street. Kelly works with Shane Palmer and Charlotte Leonard Kane of Scéal Bakery, and Katie Sanderson and Jasper O’Connor of White Mausu, helping both of these exceptional businesses to manage their busy market stalls.
Griscti and Kelly were friends and colleagues for about a year before they became a couple. They went into business together as Grálinn, operating a food truck and catering company, three months later. “We’ve always worked as a team so it seemed pretty natural to us,” says Kelly. “Plenty of people thought we were mad though.”
When it comes to sharing a table at Grálinn, a good approach is to order everything. The menu has a few starter snacks and around four or five small plates, with usually one choice of dessert. On a recent visit, my table of four shared deep-fried artichoke hearts with a rich garlic dipping sauce. A spiced pumpkin dip was scooped up with Scéal Bakery’s exquisite bread. We share plates of sweetly singed kaibroc, a sensational strain of short and stout broccoli heads, served with a roasted almond cream (€6).
A large shard of grilled pointy cabbage with hazelnut aioli (€7) is bafflingly good – how? How can cabbage taste this good?! Little pillows of beetroot and ricotta gnocchi with brown butter are divine (€8) and a plate of glistening tenderstem broccoli is accompanied by a tasty Romanesco sauce (€7).
The only dish we’re not completely crazy about is the roasted Haokkaido pumpkin with a sweet and sour sauce known as agrodolce; the dish is ever so slightly imbalanced in the direction of overly sweet. Dessert is simple, seasonal and slightly savoury; poached quince with pistachio and a dollop of almost salty creme fraice (€6).
The menu changes weekly and it’s often unobtrusively vegetarian. This celebration of vegetables is led by Griscti and Kelly’s relationship with their key supplier, McNally’s Family Farm in North County Dublin. They’re not vegans or vegetarians themselves, and meat does pop up on the menu from time to time. This pair are committed to examining their food ethics and to practice strict codes of sustainability in their kitchen; consuming less meat is a really easy way to reduce our carbon footprint.
Serving up a mostly meat free menu also suits the confines of the tiny kitchen that’s tucked into the upstairs bar at MVP. Perhaps most importantly, it’s the produce that makes this fluid policy a no brainer. “The vegetables from McNally’s are amazing and it honestly makes our job pretty easy,” says Kelly. “It’s nice to show people that vegetables can be delicious and varied too, probably more so than meat.”
Grálinn is a mash up of two Irish words: Grá meaning ‘love’ and Linn meaning ‘with us’. “We both wanted an Irish name and one that could express the story of our business. For us it’s about people coming together and good food and coffee are the best way we know how to do that. We like to think of a dinner table as a communal space where people are free to just let it out,” says Dee. It can be a heated discussion, sharing grief or pain or celebrating. Gathering around the table is so central to so many parts of life. We think sharing good food and wine and coffee helps harvest connection.”
You can work with MVP and Grálinn to host your Christmas parties. In the new year, Grálinn will be launching a series of supper clubs.
29 Upper Clanbrassil Street
Words: Aoife McElwain
Photo: Killian Broderick