Wednesday, 29 June 2016


There were exciting times last week as I took my very first trip over the Irish sea to the capital city of Dublin and such a special city break away demanded an equally special evening meal to celebrate. Having been online to hunt out some fabulous places to go for a nibble, we spotted Cleaver East, a restaurant right in the heart of the city centre created by chef Oliver Dunne. We decided that it looked like the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing dinner in the city especially after spending most of the day traveling over from Liverpool and so we headed off to see if the goods on the menu were as delightful as they sounded.
Traveling to the city centre on the LUAS to Jervis station and then crossing over the Liffey into Dublin's famous temple bar area, we walked up the stairs into Cleaver East on a warm Monday evening to be greeted by the friendly host who took us straight over to our reserved table. The staff at Cleaver East certainly have all the charm you would expect from the Irish and they were more than happy to chat and discuss items on the menu with us with a fantastic depth of knowledge for the dishes, even recommending their personal favorites. Nothing was too much trouble for them.

The decor inside Cleaver East is sophisticated with a slight touch of the old world about it. lots of wooden features including the central island which acts as the bar and cast iron cleavers lining the windows which all help to create an intimate atmosphere which on a quiet Monday evening was perfect. With two pints of Morretti and sparkling water brought to our table it was time to get down to the business of ordering our food. The menu is a mix of Irish and European dishes with ingredients sourced locally. It all sounded fantastic, I was struggling to decide what to have!

I was feeling most peckish after all of the traveling from Liverpool so I went for the ham hock croquette as a starter. Cleaver East proudly talk about how they source local ingredients on their literature and this is evident in the quality of the ham hock. Juicy insides with just the right about of saltiness you would expect from a good quality ham, this was well balanced against the sharpness of the little tiny pickled shallots the croquette proudly sat on top of. The breadcrumb coating was golden brown and crispy making the dish a little plate of pure scrumminess.

Next up came the mains and first up came the deep fried mac and cheese ball. I was expecting a couple of little deep fried balls but what arrived was a monster. Certainly lots of mac and cheese for your euro, as you cut through the once again perfectly cooked crispy outsides into the cheesy innards the steam practically burst through the shell to reveal perfectly cooked cheesy pasta. The ball sat on top of a spicy arrabiata sauce which was the perfect match for the slight sharpness of the cheese used for the sauce. This was mac and cheese on steroids and it was gorgeous.
Cleaver East prides itself on its meat and so it seemed silly for me not to go for the pork belly and boy it was good! The sticky and sweet glazed pork belly fell apart so easily as I glided my knife and fork through it and it was cooked to absolute perfection. I had some more of those delicious sharp pickled shallots on my plate too which were quickly becoming my new favorite thing in the world ever until I had a taste of the chorizo croquette. Stunningly soft and fluffy potato with all those gorgeous paprika spices running it through it made it a joy to devour! I wanted another one!

Onto desserts and whilst I normally turn my nose up at deconstructed courses on menus I may of been converted with Cleaver East's offerings. First up came the deconstructed Black Forest gateaux which may not look anything special when you see it presented too you but under that rich, smooth, slightly erotic chocolate sauce and dollops of marscapone is an equally sensual chocolate sponge flavored with the classic cherry flavors one would expect on a Black Forrest gateaux. A true masterclass on how to bring an old classic right into the 21at century.

My dessert was the tiramisu. Enthusiastically recommended by our server, I couldn't wait to try it. Deconstructed again but that really didn't matter when it looks this good. The marscapone in the centre of the place acts like a smooth, creamy and delicious sun whilst around it orbit little coffee beans that give a satisfying contrasting crunch to the dish alongside the chocolate and almond crumb sprinkled over the top. The balance in the strength of the coffee in the beans and espresso gel couldn't of been anymore perfectly balance, enough to give you that coffee punch whilst not overpowering the chocolate and cheese. A work of art in my eyes! 

I was more than happy to pay the bill and thank the staff as we walked out. My first night in Dublin had been wonderful and Cleaver East was the highlight. Astonishingly good locally sourced food in such delightful surroundings all served with a warm welcome and a smile, it was a really special evening. I hope Cleaver East never gets the chop, it deserves to stick around for a long long time.

The best thing you will do today if you're going anywhere near Dublin is book a table via Cleaver East's website here.

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