Every week, Lovin’s food writer Sarah Clayton-Lea scours the streets for the best eats in the whole of Dublin. From market stalls to six-course tasting menus, consider our review series, The Dish, your one-stop guide to all things tasty in the city.
This week’s review of all things delish is Octopussy’s Seafood Tapas, a rustic haven right on Howth’s pier serving up seafood that is fresh AF.
Small but mighty, it’s well worth making a day trip out for a meal here…
What’s the vibes?
The words “License To Chill” painted across the front sign of this teenchy tapas restaurant are a clear sign of the laid-back beachy atmosphere to be found inside. A local favourite, Octopussy’s is always, and I mean always crowded everytime I walk by, and with good reason: its fish is supplied from their own fish shop next door, Doran’s On The Pier, which brings in fresh catches daily from the bay.
With cute wooden benches outside and a Cali-style sea shack vibe indoors (we’re talking about brightly painted wooden fish hanging on the walls, twinkling candy-coloured fairylights and bare wood), it’s a casual space, but with a seriously great menu.
We got pretty lucky on the day I visited, managing to get in without a minutes wait and grabbing the last free seats at the window counter which looks right out onto the West Pier.
What’s on the menu?
The drool-worthy menu is divided into Prawns, Fish, Oysters, Lobster and Non-Fish (which is just chicken wings and brie, so non-seafood lovers get outta here), with fresh Irish ingredients making up Mediterranean inspired dishes.
Food here is meant for sharing – think leaning over the table kinda style to grab a huge Dublin Bay Prawn from your friend’s plate, and stainless steel bowls on the table to chuck cast-off shells into.
I went with a Mixed Shellfish Platter of gambas, crab claws, whole dublin bay prawns and a bowl of mussels in creamy white wine sauce, served with homemade brown bread.
The prawns put the majority of dishes in Dublin city centre restaurants to shame. These guys are pink and juicy and slathered in garlic, true plumply perfect little sea creatures just waiting to be devoured. The crab claws flaked off beautifully, mussels were herby and fresh, and the only slightly off thing was that the bread became soggy underneath the gambas and claws.
But hey, that just meant I ended up tearing it into chunks and dunking it into the mussel sauce, which was creamy and yum.
An order of Octopussy’s famous Fish ‘N Chips, which is a choice of fresh or smoked fish (my bf went for fresh haddock), deep fried in a beer batter and served with home cut chips and tartare sauce.
Chips were golden fried, the batter was light and crispy, and the tartare sauce tangy. So far, so great.
A side order of Chorizo Bravas, potatoes fried with chorizo, filled the never-ending carbohydrate hole in my life. The bravas were CRISP, but in a good way y’know, and the chorizo oil oozing all over them added intense flavour.
What’s the damage?
Munching on expertly cooked seafood on a sunny day in one of Dublin’s prettiest villages didn’t cost an absolute bomb – surprising considering the area is one of the most popular spots for tourists in the summer.
Two ‘tapas’ (Octopussy have a different idea of tapas than I do, ‘cos these plates are big enough as a main), one side dish, a diet Coke and a 10% automatically included service charge came to €41.80.
Throw in your dart fare, a free walk along the cliff path, and that’s a fairly good bargain for a full day out, no?
Octopussy’s pushes the standard of village dining to a whole new level, without taking unnecessary gambles with their menu, instead focusing on simple dishes cooked just right. Sure, you might have to wait a while for a table here on a nice day, but I can promise the grub inside will be worth it.
One of my favourite places on the northside? You betcha.