Grub Spy: Smash hits

For a flavoursome new twist on the burger (and a welcome break from brioche), this central Dublin eaterie is far from pedestrian, writh Grub Spy Alan Kelly

The eye-catching exterior

A double smash burger

Dining al-fresco

Sunday World

I’ve only just discovered that Capel Street has been permanently pedestrianised. It seems lessons were learned from the temporary closure during Covid-19. From a street roiling with hellish traffic to a comfortable thoroughfare filled with funky bars, unusual eateries and lots of down-to-earth businesses, this inimitable Northside street has finally sussed it out.

In fact, after my latest visit, I have to say if you want to experience lashings of Dublin craic with a cool variation, Capel Street is your only man. Brilliant stuff altogether. And hats off to Dublin City Council for helping to make it happen.

DASH BURGER 159 Capel Street, Dublin 1 4.5 Stars Food: €13.95; Drinks: €2.50

No doubt I’ll be checking out lots of restaurants and eateries in the near future but I thought I’d start with a special new burger joint. It’s called Dash.

While I do love burgers, something has been bothering me with quite a few of the ‘newer’ joints — well, two things really. First, brioche buns have become too sweet and too soft. And second, some burgers are too darn big to get my hands around, never mind my gob. Bigger is not always better. So the question must be, is it possible to make an innovative burger and not just another novelty? The answer is definitely yes — and Dash is doing it.

Instead of simply frying, a pair of 2oz patties are ‘smashed’ with a heavy-duty spatula onto an oil-free screaming-hot griddle for about 30 seconds. Unlike normal burger-cooking methods, the smashed patties are actually meant to stick to the griddle. Apparently, by intensifying the contact between meat and heat you create a special dark brown crust that makes smash burgers taste so very different. That seared crust is where the flavour magic happens. More crust = more flavour = more satisfaction.

Next, season and flip patties, top one with a slice of cheddar and cook both for another thirty-ish seconds, then place the second patty onto the first, thus melting cheese on both sides which also helps to bind those extra-slim patties together before assembly.

Finally, stack patties onto a bun with pickles, shredded lettuce, tomatoes and a sauce of your choice. In my experience, it is important to keep toppings few and simple. After all, this is a burger where beef is the star performer. And that’s it — Bob’s your uncle.

As for the taste, wow. I’m now a total sucker for smash burgers. Perfectly seasoned yet still surprisingly juicy. Even with a dash of smoky chipotle, the beefiness is enhanced rather than overpowered. While this smashed cooking style is not anything particularly new, it is a fantastic proven way to nail-down flavour and drastically cut waiting time. Also, the contrast in texture you get to regular cooked burgers is close to mind-blowing.

Extra bonus points for manageability and especially for that toasted buttered potato bun. Bye-bye brioche. The only slight downer are the Parmesan-dusted truffle fries. Maybe it’s the cheese: whatever the reason, the fries are far too dry. I think I’ll be sticking with the regular skinnies in future.

So when it comes to innovative burger deliciousness, Bunsen better beware — there is a new kid in town, and the top slot is open once again.

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