A MISSPENT youth means different things to different generations. In the 1950s and ’60s in places like River City they had Trouble with a capital ‘T’, and that rhymes with ‘P’ and that stands for Pool!
Token, 72-74 Queen Street, Smithfield, Dublin 1,
In the 1970s it was Pinball and in the 1980s my generation had the Video Game Arcade — many a 10p piece was squandered by this writer trying to get just one more sheet on Space Invaders, up one more ladder on Donkey Kong and one more sweeping kick on Mortal Kombat.
I realise this dates me terribly but if those games are making you nostalgic and you miss the comradery then you need to visit Token the brand new retro gaming arcade/bar/restaurant that opened in June in Dublin’s Smithfield.
Officially it is in pre-launch “beta-testing mode” but seems to be onto a winning formula — it was jam-packed with happy 20- and 30-somethings when I visited on a recent Wednesday.
The brains behind Token is Nic Dimaio who set up The R.A.G.E. (The Record Art Game Emporium) on Fade Street a few years back. Token is just steps from Smithfield near the excellent Fish Shop and the Dice Bar and between Stoneybatter and the Quays — it fits right in.
We were a walk-in but booking is advisable as the upstairs room among the main arcade games is where you want to be — the downstairs section has the pinball machines and the classic warehouse feel of an arcade but it feels less comfy.
The food menu is short and has a selection of Burgers, Chicken Tenders, Hot Dogs, Tacos and Salads — all wittily named and costing from €7 to €10. We chose a Sample Menu for €30 which included two mains, two sides and a dessert to which we added an extra main and dessert.
There are some cocktail specials and dozens of beers to choose from including guest taps — during our stay we got through a couple of Danish Mikkler Sours, a Ska Pale Ale (from Colorado), a Yellow Belly Lager from Wexford and a shared Founders Nitro Raspberry Ale (for dessert).
The staff are friendly and enthusiastic and chatted wittily with us — perhaps inspired by the brilliantly written menu. Tacos are called Juans for the sole purpose I suspect of naming the varieties on offer as follows: ‘Quick Juan’, ‘Sneaky Juan’, ‘Nice Juan’ and my favourite: ‘Obi Juan Ke-No-Meat’ which contained mushrooms and avocado salsa. Our ‘I Caught Juan’ had decently made corn tortilla discs topped with chimichurri marinated grilled cod and fresh salad — perfectly fine, but our least favourite dish on the night, we both felt it needed more of a kick.
‘Out n In’ Burger was two tasty and reasonably juicy ‘slider’ style burgers with beef patty, smoked cheese, bacon jam, pickles, fried shallots and jalapeño in a brioche style bun. We could also have chosen the ‘Side Chick’ (glazed fried chicken), the ‘Funguy’ (guess) or the ‘Boar’d to Fu*k’ with Ballinwillan wild Boar and Taleggio.
From the selection of ‘Love me Tenders’ we had to choose the ‘Buffalove — doused in Homeade Hot Sauce — None of that Franks BS. With Blue Cheese Dip’. This was my best dish of the night — flavourful tender chicken breast coated in crumbly breadcrumbs with a fine spicy homemade hot-sauce.
Herb Fries had a sprinkling of parsley and were crisp and tasty but the Short Rib Chilli Fries suffered in the crispness stakes from being buried under a generous mound of slow cooked beef, kidney beans and cheese — perhaps one to have after a few beers.
Crispy freshly cooked Churros with Banoffee and Jaffa Cake Dips were excellent and Bacon Battered Reese’s Cups were sinfully good (provided you like the idea of chocolate and peanut butter).
Finally a quick mention for the extras on the menu which included a Misfortune Cookie for 50c, ‘Buy the Kitchen Lads a Bag of Cans (€5.50)’ and the brilliant Token Recovery Pack — Rennie, Diorlyte, Haribo and a can of Coke for €5.95. After our meal we spent a full 80 minutes competing on the games — despite my so-called experience my teenaged companion beat me at almost every one — there was particular humiliation on Mario Kart. We are going back soon for a re-match.
Two three-course sampler menus plus an extra side, main course and dessert plus five beers cost €72.
Games tokens cost 50c each or €10 for a bag of 22.
How to: Monday-Friday 4pm-11pm; Saturday: 12pm-12am; Sunday: 12pm- 11pm
In a Sentence: Posh fast food and dozens of retro games, what’s not to love! Perfect for a fun night out with mates or as a party venue, every town in Ireland needs a Token.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved