I WAS called a hipster recently — I think it was my pointy shoes with the red laces. I actually took it as a compliment despite the fact that I can’t be a hipster now that I’m in my late 40s, that sobriquet is only for the young. Dublin has many hipster hangouts but hipster central has to be the Bernard Shaw pub in Portobello — they even sell PBR (Google it along with the word ‘Hipster’).
The Bernard Shaw first opened in 1895 but in 2006 it was given a remarkable makeover by Bodytonic who turned an ‘old man’s pub’ into one of the hippest spots in the city. During the day, you can order toasties, avocado sandwiches, and good coffee, in the evening you can have excellent pizza from the big blue bus parked in the large yard at the back, and at weekends, the space next door becomes Dublin’s best food court.
It was only when researching this that I realised just how much Bodytonic seems to own cool in Dublin as they also operate a number of excellent pubs (MVP and The Back Page for example), as well as running the Big Grill Festival in Herbert Park in mid August and Beatyard in Dun Laoghaire on the August Bank Holiday
Eatyard itself has regular pop-up festivals and on the weekend we visited Jameson Cask Mates were providing music and whiskey — a couple of weeks ago it was cheese and wine, and watch out for the gin festival in late May.
All the Bodytonic pubs serve a selection of Irish craft beers from the likes of Rascals, but they are also gypsy brewers with an ever changing selection of their own beers on tap. Sadly they were sold out of their own brews so we opted for Five Lamps Lager, Big Hop Red Ale from Rascals Brewing and cans of Whiplash Rollover IPA and White Hag Sour. Service is cheery and pleasant but be warned it can also be very slow.
I did the ordering and chose a random selection from the different vendors. My first stop was Kinara Kitchen who in recent years have been the star food attraction at Electric Picnic and other festivals but sadly they are not allowed cook with fire here so are unable to sell their legendary shish kebabs in freshly made naan bread. Given the meat fest (real and virtual) that we were embarking upon I ordered a portion of Chana Palak — spinach and chickpeas in a rich sauce — creamy and satisfying with light spicing.
From Box Burgers (who also have an outlet in Bray) I ordered a couple of cheeseburgers and a chicken burger — soft buns, good quality meat and tasty sauces and toppings. Pleasingly for every order you get to throw dice for the possibility of winning your burger for free. Next I ordered wings — regular and boneless from Just-Wing-It — moreish flavours and perfect with the Red Ale.
Vish Shop is an outpost of the Vegan restaurant Veginity which is currently homeless but actively seeking a new venue and they are the true star of Eatyard. Vish is a cassava based hunk of soft root veg mixed with seaweed, shaped like a wedge of fish and deep fried in ultra crispy batter. This should not work but does, mainly thanks to the batter. The texture is significantly softer than fish so I did tire of the novelty a little by around two-thirds through but I would order it again. Best of all (and the most satisfying taste of the day) were the Cauliflower Wings — chunks of cauliflower coated with Sriracha Sauce, spices and a touch of pineapple and served with Aioli and triple cooked crispy chips.
These are a genius creation — textured, complex spicy, sweet and savoury — all at the same time.
We finished with a rather disappointing selection of doughnuts from Mr Doughnut — dry and lacking in flavour.
Obviously the vendors in Eatyard vary in quality a little, but overall standards are high with the added bonus of getting to hang out with people far prettier and cooler than you.
Thursday to Sunday, noon to 10pm
A properly cool food court beside an excellent pub with quality fast food aimed at vegans, carnivores and hipsters.