Like myself, I think what most people want in a restaurant is unpretentiousness and comfort — a bit like home, except without the hassle of cooking and washing-up.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a whine. Having so many places to choose from is actually a pleasure.
31 LENNOX 31 Lennox St, Portobello, Dublin 2 4.5 Stars Food: €26.25; Drinks: €8.50
And one of the nicest pleasures is sampling the delights of small start-up eateries. I don’t really mind if the menu is littered with the usual run-of-the-mill suspects — burgers, pizzas, and chips with everything — so long as the grub is cooked well and the place is not a rip-off, it merits a visit.
Like myself, I think what most people want in a restaurant is unpretentiousness and comfort — a bit like home, except without the hassle of cooking and washing-up. Throw in a soothing glass or two of vino, and we’re all there.
Weather permitting, dining outdoors under a shady awning isn’t just a meal, it’s a state of mind — especially when it’s not overly crowded. It’s nice to see and be seen.
Brunch at 31 Lennox, with its uncomplicated Italian/US-influenced menu, is such a place. I first discovered meatball subs years ago in Boston. Slathered in a rich marinara sauce that dribbled all over the shop, it was a super-messy eating experience that required fistfuls of face wipes to stop me looking like a half-starved loon. A trick I quickly learned was to cut the sub in half, turn both halves over, and with soggy sides now facing upwards, devour rapidly.
It’s a tactic which helped enormously at 31 Lennox. Filled copiously with slurpy marinara, vintage cheddar, yogurt mint and rocket, their meaty lamb wonder-sub is completely irresistible.
Next up, some mac and cheese — a petite portion, mind you, for research purposes. There was a time, not so long ago, when mac and cheese was looked down upon, something you might grab last-minute from a supermarket chill cabinet. How food fashions change.
As a main course or a side, this American carb-fest has become a must-have in so many top restaurants. 31’s gorgeous mix of macaroni, creamy cheese, a hint of spice and pesto, and finished with a Parmesan crust is, to my old taste buds, a damn fine example.
Somehow I found room for a tiramisu. Few things give me greater pleasure than this simple little Italian classic. Did I like this offering? Unfortunately not the best I have tried — a little too long in the fridge perhaps? Still, I finish the lot. I’m sitting back watching the world pass by and enjoying a soothing glass of Inzolia organic white. The sun is shining, the food has been good and the service friendly and professional. Total comfort food is how I would describe eating here.
31 Lennox is not just another one of those pared-back modish-looking gaffs indifferently lashing out ill-considered food just because they think it’s the ‘latest’ thing and looks pretty on a plate.
This restaurant is unashamedly a solid neighbourhood restaurant where real people go to for good food. It’s also now a go-to favourite of mine. So if you’re feeling peckish anywhere near Portobello, consider giving it a try.