Ok here goes nothing…I don’t like Taste of Dublin. I feel like the only foodie person this side of the planet who doesn’t like it but it’s just not for me and I’ll explain why… However I’ll start with the good things and parts of our day that we enjoyed…
1. The Iveagh Gardens
A beautiful setting, one of the finest parks and green spaces in Dublin. It’s easy to get to, including from the Luas green line, hop off at Harcourt Street stop and its a few minutes walk. Its a great amenity to have for an event like this (weather permitting!).
2. The Irish Times Secret Garden with the Dublin Wine Rooms
We debated which tickets to buy when we decided we would give Taste another go this year. We visited a few years back and thought it was ok but wouldn’t rush back. While we were thinking and looking at ticket options for this year, the Rewarding Times offer for tickets to the Secret Garden came up, access to Taste of Dublin on Saturday 14th June for the afternoon session, to the Secret Garden tent, with complimentary wine and light bites at €39 each. So we opted for these tickets and I was glad we did. Having the space and seats in The Irish Times Secret Garden was brilliant. We also got to taste different wines from the Dublin Wine Rooms. Mark and the team from Dublin Wine Rooms were really excellent and made our Taste of Dublin experience – without them, this would be a sorrier tale!
3. Sunshine and good weather…
Not something they could plan I know but Taste of Dublin is infinitely better when its warm with the sun out and this definitely contributed to making Taste of Dublin 2014 as popular as it was.
Now the not so good (for us!)…
Taste is about food, or its meant to be. I’d love to see more restaurants there and perhaps ‘better’ restaurants… I mean this in so far as it would be great to have restaurants that ordinarily are out of the reach for normal dining (special occasions aside) – places like The Greenhouse, Restaurant Forty One, L’Ecrivain, Thorntons – that kind of idea…There should be a mix of course, but would be nice to see some restaurants like this in attendance. For the size of the event, there are 12 restaurants at one time with 5 extra classed as ‘Food Features’ like The Exchequer or Salt of the Earth. This doesn’t seem enough and would love to see more.
I really dislike queuing (this gripe also applies also to restaurants that don’t take bookings!) and for any of the places that had popular dishes (Rock Lobster being the one that springs to mind) the queue was very long to get a dish. Maybe going back to my point before this, if the restaurant was something special I’d happily queue, but I can visit most of these restaurants easily enough!
Bring your money to Taste! Dishes at the restaurant stalls, vary between around 5 – 7 Florins (Florins = Taste of Dublin currency – 1 Florin = 1 Euro). Dishes are small, so you will need a few if you want it to be your full meal and along with that to have a drinks will cost around 5 Florins each. There was a good selection of drink stands, beers, wines, prosecco, gin & tonics… which was nice to see.
We arrived slightly later than the open time for the afternoon session, at around 12.45 so there was no queue going in, we walk in the gateway, picked up our event guide and wandered in the direction of The Irish Times Secret Garden so we could take a seat, have a glass of wine and read through the guide. The place was busy by this time so we had to work through some crowds as we walked the pathway, by the waterfall (very pretty). We decided to wait to buy Florins (the Taste of Dublin currency) until a little later.
We enjoyed a lovely refreshing white wine ( a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc from Terra Noble) in The Secret Garden tent, with some canapes, mini goats cheese tartlets, mackerel pate…while we looked through the guide. We picked some nice things we’d like to try but decided to leave some of it to what the queues were like at the restaurants.
We walked back towards the entrance area and to the Electrolux Taste Theatre – there was a big crowd watching here so we didn’t hang around. We heading towards one of the restaurant areas and to Matt the Thresher, where we got the ‘East Coast Scallops, served in the Shell with Cauliflower Puree, Chorizon and Almond Crust’ – juicy flavoursome scallops, this went down a treat but at 7 Florins, it was quite small. It would also be great to see some more ‘easy to eat while standing’ dishes… Brioche’s ‘Duck Dog’ would have fit the bill, but Brioche was only there Thursday and Friday so we missed out!
We worked our way back across the park, and stopped off at The Exchequer for the ‘Chorizo Lollipops with Garlic Aioli’. These were tasty delicious balls of loveliness… which I’d eat over and over again, quite happily!
Back to our Secret Garden tent, we enjoyed some more wine, both the pouring wine, a Chilean Pinot Noir for the red and the tasting wines that Mark from the Dublin Wine Rooms talked us through with paired canapes. We enjoyed chicken liver pate balls coated in hazelnuts, olive oil & lemon cakes, pork belly skewers with Albarino, a Malbec and other excellent wines.
Overall our feeling was that for the €80 we spent on our tickets and the €20 on Florins we could have spent that going to a nice restaurant for a lunch with wine that day and enjoyed it more…(I know we could have chosen cheaper tickets but we would have spent more on Florins for food and drinks as our tickets included the wine and some canapes).
Having visited Taste of Dublin twice now, I don’t think I’d go back, however there are plenty of people that love Taste of Dublin, that return time and time again and you can have a read of some glowing Taste of Dublin 2014 reviews on Kates Kabin, Babaduck, The Purple Page …just not for Gin & Griddle!