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Thursday, 12 March 2009

RESTAURANT TENFOURTEEN

We ate in this restaurant last night having first eaten there a couple of weeks ago and so good was it we couldn't wait to get back. First, a little about this unique restaurant.

It is run entirely for and by a charity, CASA ~ Caring And Sharing Association. From their website:

"CASA (Caring And Sharing Association) is an Irish Charity, which for over twenty-five years has been providing social outlets, friendship, and one-to-one care for people with disabilities.

With 450 volunteers working in 20 separate groups CASA is active throughout the country providing one-to-one care to those who need it most. It also organises holiday breaks; currently CASA operates two respite houses, a holiday centre in Dublin, and arranges an annual pilgrimage to Lourdes for our members who are terminally ill or have severe disabilities.

Since it's founding in 1981 CASA has proved itself to be progressive and forward looking. In June 2008 it took brave new step: Restaurant TenFourteen, situated on the Clontarf Road opposite the Bull Wall, is a local eatery serving high-quality lunch and evening meals in a relaxed atmosphere with friendly, efficient service – and it is wholly owned by CASA. All profits from Restaurant TenFourteen go directly towards supporting their activities in the community."


Is that not amazing? And pretty unique, certainly in Ireland.

I'd first heard of the place on RTE radio last year and at the time I thought it was a brilliant and very good idea but I'm embarrased to say, I'd sort of imagined, totally wrongly as it turned out, that it might be a bit, well, good heart but no substance, food wise. How very, very off the mark I was there.

We were in Dublin a couple of weeks ago and thought we'd give the place a spin. I think being in an economic downturn makes you focus more on exactly how you want to spend any money you do so this restaurant fitted my bill in that all the profits go to charity, we get to eat dinner, and even it it was a bit ropey hey ho. But further from ropey you could not get.

The staff, the place, the food, everything is excellent. And the location! Clontarf is a beautiful seaside town just 3 and a half miles/5.5 km from O'Connell Street, Dublin city centre. These are photos of Clontarf I took earlier this year:



Here's the Bull Walk (which leads to Bull Island) which is just across the road from Restaurant TenFourteen ~ imagine have a post luncheon stroll there to walk off all those delicious calories?



So, our meal last night in Restaurant TenFourteen. First, the welcome was just as friendly as our first visit. And I love their decor, check how they decorate the fireplace:



We were seated and our menus and wine list were propmptly delivered and our drinks order taken. Delicious home baked bread with butter was left with us to start us off.



And my g&t, presented in a pretty glass (and husbands scotch on the rocks but my g&t was prettier in my opinion!



Another thing they do in this restaurant, and something I wholeheartedly approve of, is that they come round regularly with jugs of iced water and top you up if you so wish. No pushing expensive bottled water here.

Along with the menu, they also have a chalkboard showing 'today's specials' kind of thing. Last night's board:



Something that made me smile last time I was there and indeed this time, is the entrance into the restaurant proper. You go in the front door and then there is a curtain curved out from the door, obviously in place to make sure no drafts annoy the guests. You pull aside the curtain and make your entrance. And me being me, with my very fertile imagination, I imagine a Vaudeville group striking up and me tap dancing my way in, bent sideways, arms outstretch and hands fluttering to the music. Thankfully I got control of myself, and this imaganitve entrance remained where it should ~ in my head. Still makes me smile though. If you look to the right of the chalk board picutred above, you will see the curtain I refer to. *Thinks* a man could enter to the tune of Hey Big Spender. But I digress.

Our meals. I had been looking forward to a starter of their delicious scallops since booking earlier in the day and I was so disappointed to find there was no scallops on the starters menu. I asked the friendly waiter if it was at all possible if the kitchen would allow me to have scallops as a starter. He checked and was back promptly to say 'yes' (and I expected nothing less than a yes from this customer friendly eaterie so I was not disappointed). And the scallops were delicious I'm please to report. Last time I had the scallops starter I could have licked the plate so good was the dressing on the accompanying salad and it was just as good this time. Thankfully, as with my tap dancing Vaudeville entrance, I managed to resist licking the plate. But had I been at home ...

My husband had the chicken & bacon terrine served with slow roasted tomatoes, caramelised onion and parmessan salad and declared it moist and tasty.

Just before our starters were served we were given an amuse-bouche, in this instance a little ring of perfectly cooked calamari with another very moreish dressing.

Our wines, as last time, were served at perfect temperatures. I had a beautifully chilled Sancerre, he had a warmer fruity Bordeaux.

My scallops:


His terrine (I'm not 100% sure of the addition of the tiny gherkins though):


Between courses we were served a pretty little berry sorbet which we ate at the tables outside so mild was the weather. In Ireland, in March!



For our mains we both chose dishes from the chalkboard. I had the hake, and he had the aged Kerry beef. Both delicious. The beef just fell apart and the hake was moist, tasty and perfectly cooked. They also serve a little dish of veg & salad so there is no need to order 'extras' which can quickly notch up the bill in a lot of places.

My hake:


His Kerry aged beef:


We skipped dessert and asked for an americano and a cappuccino to be served at the outdoor tables.

We had a bit of craic with other diners out there. Some local ladies told us of other excellent restaurants in Clontarf and I'm sure we will try them in due course ~ if we can pass Restaurant TenFourteen that is!

A little while later the chef came out and got chatting to us. What a nice chap he is. His name is Gaz and he is of Irish decent but was born in Oxford, England. He told us more about the restaurant and something I didn't know about. Apparently they close to the public one nigh a month and treat people who are assisted by CASA to a meal there. How lovely is that? He very kindly treated us to a couple of brandies, which arrived in warmed glasses. Excellent.

Later Gaz was out again, now dressed for home and was chatting to another member of staff, Chef de Partie, Jack. It turns out that Jack is one of 3 Jacks in Restaurant TenFourteen. There's Big Jack (here pictured with Gaz), Medium Jack, and Little Jack ~ we got to see all three as they bade us a cheery farewell later.

Big Jack and Gaz:


Here I must add an apology to Gaz's wife for delaying him in chit chat. He was on his way home to cook a meal for his wife. There are pluses and minuses to being married to a chef: the minus, long, late hours (especially when engaged in conversation with guests!), and the plus ~ he comes home and cooks you a meal. I think the plus outweighs the minus. And congratulations to both of them on their new baby.

I'd recommend this restaurant if you are in Dublin (obviously just stopping over on your way to Donegal!).

You can contact them by email at margaretbutler1014@gmail.com (Margaret wasn't there this time but she was last time and she's good craic too), telephone 00353 (0)1 8054877 or view their website and read more about them at http://www.restaurtant1014.com

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