UK celebrity chefs are all about Middle Eastern food and exciting flavours at the moment.
You could probably call it the Ottolenghi Effect. The middle class can’t get enough fatoosh, lentils or tahini. Salads and pulses are cool again. Cauliflower no longer gets covered in cheesy mornay sauce, but rather gets ground into pizza bases and baked whole with spices.
In short, our taste buds are expanding as we see an influx of influence from Middle Eastern cuisines. One prime example of this trend is the yoghurt-based café at the top of Dawson Street called Tang.
“What the feck is a yoghurt-based café?”, I hear you ask.
Tang comes from the guys behind the wonderful Yogism, the froyo place that’s so popular over in George’s Arcade. With plenty of yoghurt on their hands already, they took the natural next step and started cooking with the stuff.
The premises is on the top corner of Dawson Street, which until recently was an ice cream shop. They’ve stripped it back and given it a casual minimalist feel, with little or no fanfare. It’s a lovely place to sit and people-watch as a mixture of suits, tourists and stern-faced commuters battle their way across the lights, dodging cars by inches.
The food comes in a few basic forms: Middle Eastern-style flat breads, salad boxes to go, rustic soups, delicious cakes, and damn fine cups of coffee.
Their big selling point are the salads. Freshly made and bursting full of tangy flavours. Mine had everything from roasted carrots through to apple, beetroot and tonnes of herbs. I topped it with some minty lamb and a basil hummus. There was so much happening in that salad that it should’ve been a over-complicated disaster, but it wasn’t – it was divine.
The flat breads are warmed in front of you and the dips, sauces and extras make every mouthful taste like a small piece of heaven on a spoon.
This for me is real summer food (bar the big chunky rich soups which will be amazing in winter) and it’s perfect to grab on the go and enjoy in one of the nicest parks in Europe: St Stephen’s Green.
They’ve some brilliant simple egg and pancake dishes as well, that are a wonderful change from the heavy booze-fuelled brunches we all tend to go for. Throw in one of their healthy juices and you’ve a perfect weekend kick-starter.
I love places like this, places that take a simple unit and pack it full of imagination and new thinking. Tang is a wonderful addition to Dublin, bringing a little corner of the Middle East to the top of Dawson Street.