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REVIEW: One Society – “Excellent Formula of Familiar with a Side of Imagination”

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The Southside still has more choice but samey-ness abounds, while across the river, games are being seriously upped.

We popped into the bustling One Society on a busy Wednesday lunchtime. From the moment we stepped over the threshold, it was clear we were going to be those people. I had about a million faffy extra needs including a very tight window of time in which to get fed, a sleeping infant who could erupt into violent consciousness at any moment and various demands and questions about portion sizes and such. Even my companion, who purports to be my friend, looked irritated. However, the crew at One Society are unfailingly sound – or perhaps heavily medicated the better to deal with the annoying whims and vagaries of customers? It’s one or the other.

The bright high-ceilinged space on the corner of Gardiner St and Summerhill is an interesting blend of farmhouse meets industrial chic. One Society serves an all-day brunch every day of the week (except Monday) and to me, this is tantamount to public service. Dublin has been crying out for an all-day, all-week brunch since forever.

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They serve pizza at night with the atmos changing to neighbourhood haunt serving beer and wine and proper hand-stretched dough with traditional flavour combos and a few twists here and there. A vegan pizza sounds fresh and satisfying, “The Farmer’s Wife” boasts the house brisket with chilli, red onion and parmesan while the white pizza with sizzling prawns billed as ”Will’s new fav” on the menu sounds divine. The homey vibe is not some creepy affectation either, the “wife” in question is indeed a farmer’s wife and the sister of the owner, the aforementioned, Will. She’s behind the counter the day we go and cringes but tolerates the reference with good humour.

The brisket is made with beef from her husband’s farm and is very good.

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The brunch menu follows this excellent formula of familiar with a side of imagination. Pancake fans can opt for the “simple” or the “full on” versions and while the full on has the usual suspects like bacon and maple syrup listed, curious eaters can venture further from the mainstream and sample the house-made pineapple, cinnamon and vanilla compote with whipped cream. Gentle twists also wend through the other dishes, the breakfast is dubbed as the “not so classic” full Irish and includes smoked black pudding and caramelized apples, along with Mexican spiced beans.

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Given the hour, we went for the more lunchy end of the brunch menu and ordered the halloumi burger, the brisket sandwich and a salad from the extensive daily specials menu.

The halloumi burger was a down and dirty feed with plenty of colour, flavour and texture. The brioche bun was topped with a big garlicky Portobello mushroom, pickled beetroot and pretty pink hummus, all with a side of roast potatoes. The halloumi was squeaky – as all halloumi is – but it definitely seemed like a better class of halloumi than usual, very juicy thanks to the thick cut with a crispy golden finish. It brought essential substance to the burger where often a veggie burger can suffer from a lack of variety in terms of texture.

The brisket sandwich came in a crusty, rustic (crustic?!) roll, with greens and salsa verde. The slow-cooked meat was meltingly tender and the bright sharpness and heat of the salsa verde (a sauce of jalopenos, coriander and lime) cut the deeply savoury, almost-gravy of the beef very nicely.

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A simple salad of poached pear, endive and goat’s cheese was the surprising mega hit of the meal. I greedily devoured the perfectly balanced plate and forgot to leave room for dessert. This never happens full stop, never mind with a SALAD – unbelievable. I think it was testament to the fine ingredients. One Society are wisely investing in this part of their business. Provenance is clearly imperative at One Society, smoked black pudding comes from Rick Higgins Butchers, the cows offering up the brisket are basically in-laws hailing from Will’s sister’s farm in Meath. Bread is provided by Le Levain, the excellent coffee by Roasted Brown and the teas are from Wall & Keogh.

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A brief chat with owner, Will revealed passion – he dropped out of a previous career in sales to pursue this venture – coupled with enthusiasm and a genuine greedy love of food, something so essential and yet so often missing in the industry.

Despite being gloriously stuffed, a piece of chocolate cake called to me like a siren on the counter and I took it to-go. Later that night there were graphic scenes in my kitchen as I scoffed the rich fudgy slice.

We left One Society planning our return. The pizzas definitely need to be sampled, as does a divine-sounding potato skin-confit duck confection that was whispering sweet nothings to us from the specials board.

While the South City still has more choice, saminess abounds, as perhaps does a bit of laziness among the cafes, meanwhile across the river, games are being serioudly upped with Veginity, 147 Deli, Tang on Middle Abbey St and now, of course, One Society. One of the things I liked best about One Society is that it seems firmly rooted in the surrounding neighbourhood. They haven’t parachuted in some highfalutin’, impractical tasting menu or obscure, off-putting delicacies. They’re making the kind of food we all want – tasty and wholesome – and they’re striving to achieve a freshness not often seen in the average city café – farm to fork to full, happy bellies.

One Society

1 Gardiner Street Lower,

Dublin 1

(01) 537 5261

Tues – Friday 7.30am- 9.00pm

Saturday & Sunday: 9.30am- 9.00pm

Brunch: €4.90-€13.90

Starters: €4.50 – €6.50

Pizzas: €10-€14.50

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