Grub Spy: Squeal McCoy

Grub Spy  Alan Kelly dishes the goods on Ireland’s tastiest dining destinations

The tasty beef stew

The fun interior

The exterior of The Cheeky Piglet

I was just thinking, as I ambled down James Street and Thomas Street the other day, choc-a-bloc with new coffee shops, bakeries, fancy pizzerias and restaurants all over the shop, how it can sometimes feel like the Liberties is being gentrified at an unstoppable rate. It shouldn’t be surprising so, that some locals believe that’s a lamentable situation rather than a welcome change.

In purely eating-out terms I think there is always a strong case for the introduction of new blood. A pal of mine, who is not from the area but has been living just off Meath Street for over three years now, loves what is happening quite literally on her doorstep. For her (and for me) this is an area that is defined by the character of the locals – the very essence of the real Dublin.

THE CHEEKY PIGLET Fumbally Square, Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8 4.5 stars Food: €20.50; Drinks: €3

Having said that when I consider the sheer quality of what I’ve experienced around here in the last few years, I think the Liberties, so far, is adapting more than adequately with the changes.

The Cheeky Piglet on Fumbally Lane just off New Street is a fine example of what I mean. This is how my pal described it in her text “it’s a kind of full restaurant that does breakfasty stuff, lunch and dinnery stuff as well as beer and wine, but closes 4-ish.” As a bare-bones description it is not at all inaccurate.

Bright and modern, slightly off the beaten track, with a fantastic varied menu and super friendly staff, would be much closer to the mark. When it comes to lunch, portion size is almost as important as taste. Far too often restaurants get it wrong i.e., I don’t want a dinner for my lunch. Today I am undecided between the Gnocchi Gorgonzola Prawns and the Guinness Beef Stew. I go for the stew, which scores high on all fronts. Gorgeous buttery mashed spuds, ladles of glorious gloopy stout-y stew sauce, beautifully done fall-apart cubes of housekeepers cut, soft chunky carrots, topped-off with a lash of fresh peas. I have no hesitation in saying this is the best beefy stew I have tasted in yonks. It is skirting scrumptiously close to perfection. Sublime just about covers it. Luckily I have enough room left for a dessert. I say luckily because my slice of apple tart with cinnamon pastry and caramelised apples and ice cream could easily become a compulsion. I don’t check the supplier, but the coffee too is up there with the best.

A near constant flow of takeaway collections only confirms my lofty assessments. The offices and workplaces around here are certainly eating well. The post-covid world is by-the-day a cheerier looking place.

The gist of what I’m talking about is that the Liberties is fast becoming a good bet for hungry diners who just want to be properly fed. If you get a chance check it out. Breakfast, brunch or lunch, it is already a delicious hinterland of the city.

The Cheeky Piglet is mostly a walk-to destination – but so worth a leisurely stroll. So far it is one of the nicest eateries I’ve been to in 2022.

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