We are delighted to announce that Aoife Cox, award-winning blogger at The Daily Spud, will be joining us in the Bridgestone parish to bring her unique and witty wisdom to shine on our culinary culture. www.thedailyspud.com
Hear that? The sound of a distant but distinct 'na na na na nah!'? That'll be the sound of Drogheda residents and boy, but do they have good reason for a touch of smugness. They have the chic, smart Eastern Seaboard Bar and Grill on their doorstep and - sorry 'n' all - but you don't. What's more, since last year, they have added Brown Hound - arguably the prettiest bakery in the country - and the far from ordinary Mo's To Go takeaway to their good food tally. All three are thanks to husband and wife team, Reuven Diaz and Jeni Glasgow - I'd christen them Smart and Smarter but that would belie the fact that this is a marriage of equal, and different, talents - he the master in the kitchen, she with the razor sharp eye for design. Whoever supposes it folly to start a business (or three) in the midst of a recession - not to mention siting a hip, sophisticated eatery in the decidedly incongruous surroundings of a housing estate on the outskirts of Drogheda - will have at least a couple of weeks to reconsider their position when they find that that is how long it will take to get a buzzy Friday or Saturday night table at Eastern Seaboard.
While it's easy, once you have secured your spot at the restaurant, to become preoccupied with the clipboarded pages of Eastern Seaboard's extensive menu, don't forget (as I did, last time 'round) to check the additional items chalked on the specials board. Our order was away to the kitchen before I spotted a starter of smoked eel risotto with scallop coral butter - it was duly filed under the dish that got away. Still, there is much else that is good, starting with the slice-it-yourself salted, seedy breads that arrive at every diners table. These white yeasty creations are loaves to love, a signal that you should expect good things from the kitchen.
Crab cakes, with roasted pepper and garlic aioli, were all about the crabmeat, which is how I like them to be. The pig cheek terrine, which came with apple and celeriac slaw, wanted perhaps a dollop of sweet and tangy chutney to complete it. The portobello 'steak', with a profusion of slowly roasted cherry tomatoes, crowned with lacy onion rings and drizzled with a balsamic reduction, looked like some intricate, abstract sculpture on the plate. I could have dined, and dined happily, on the delicately battered onion rings alone, but the mushroom and tender, buttery kale and spinach ordered as a side were equally good. The other side order - you get a choice of two with most mains - was a pail of chips and a far more generous portion than I could manage. While the chips, in this case, were less starring than supporting, €10.50 for everything on that particular plate was a steal. While I was busy oohing over my onions, a chunk of medium rare venison with game chips, apple, gravy and mash was declared perfection across the table.
Afterward, while we, technically, did not have room for dessert, we invoked the different compartment rule, and ordered anyway. Coffee jelly and vanilla ice cream – the most intriguing dessert on the menu and a dish popular in Japan – makes an entirely adult dessert out of an old-fashioned combination. The crème brûlée, with thin pistachio and candied orange biscotti, had, as it should, a satisfying burnt caramel lid, while teas from Galway company, Solaris, were a cut above your average herbal offering.
While Eastern Seaboard may have a sense of American style, flick to the back page of the menu and you’ll see a long list of Irish suppliers, graciously acknowledged. You’ll see local influences on the menu too, with items like the newly added and wonderfully alliterative Bellingham Blue Burger. It’s also extremely good value for money. No wonder the locals like it.
They also like Mo's, which brings some of Eastern Seaboard's cooking, as well as a few additions of its own, to a takeaway audience. The first time I visited, you could, for €1 a pop, slurp on spankingly fresh Carlingford oysters while waiting for your order. With items such as corn dogs, hush puppies, popcorn shrimp and baby back ribs on the menu, as well as fish, chips and salads, it's safe to say that this is not your average Irish takeaway joint. Neither, for that matter, is Brown Hound your average Irish bakery. Imposing glass display cases elevate baked goods to the status of art exhibits. Sandwiches perch on individual stands, pecan slices are bound with candy-striped twine, cookies - peanut butter, chocolate chip and others - reside under glass domes. You'll find the Eastern Seaboard's popular salted, seedy loaf here, as well as a killer chocolate banana bread. You will admire and want it all. Bag one of the limited number of seats to enjoy some of the goods on the premises or, as with Mo's, you can take some (or all) of it home with you. No two week wait for a table required.