Gather The Coven - A Neighbourhood Bistro In Harold's Cross Is Pure Magic

This is what Irish food is all about

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It's rare that not only is a restaurant so good you'd happily eat there every single weekend, you'd also be tempted to move nearby just to make that an option.

Harold's Cross, I hope you welcome me with open arms one day because thanks to Craft, I'm fully obsessed.

A "neighbourhood bistro" (are all restaurants outside of the city calling themselves this recently?), Craft is run by renowned chef Philip Yeung and has a shiny reputation among Dublin's restaurant scene for serving the best local ingredients, cooking them with flair and - most importantly - whopper flavours.

Awarded Michelin Bib Gourmand status in 2018 for its "modern and creative" dishes with "vibrant colours and fresh, natural flavours", I've high hopes.

What's the vibes?

A bright blue exterior hints at the good things to come inside. Craft is on that stretch of antique businesses near Harold's Cross Park and it sticks out like a very pretty thumb.

We'd booked for 8pm and grabbed a table right by the window, which had light streaming in thanks to that glorious heatwave. Four tables at the front of the room surround the wooden bar, which I can easily see myself eating at on my lonesome over the next few weeks, while a cosier room through a walkway is at the back.

Dark navy paint, golden-y hanging lights and a decent splosh of chalkboard paint sum up the interior. Want inspo for your home? You'll get ideas for living room decoration and dinner party eats all in one here.

Friendly staff keep up that neighbourhood vibe but one glance at the menu reveals this is no ordinary local eatery.

A casual restaurant has slipped in some serious food.

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What's on the menu?

In a move that's seriously unlike me, I hadn't looked at the menu before heading for dinner so - for once - I didn't know what I was going to order. It looks like it wouldn't have mattered either way though, as Craft change their menu more than the seasons themselves, so the menu online isn't always accurate.

We had missed the Neighbourhood Menu, a steal of two courses for €23 or three courses for €29 (available Wednesday-Saturday 5:30pm - 6:30pm), but sure look, there's another excuse for a next time.

A simple sheet of printed paper reveals such treats that I'm raging there's only one other person joining me for dinner. Food this good needs at least four mouths to order one of each option and pass the plates around to share.

Craft doesn't have a full spirits licence FYI, so beer drinkers will have to make do with ale. Vino fans such as myself are well looked after with a nice little wine list.

A glass of a fresh Pinot Bianco (which turned into two by dessert) and an O'Hara's Pale Ale kicked things off, and after ordering from the menu a portion of treacle bread with samphire seeds and a whipped buttermilk butter was dropped to the table. Salty and sweet, the ideal combo.

Starters of Gubbeen bacon (€10.50) and a rare seared tuna (€12.50) sealed the deal that this place is pure magic

Gubbeen bacon, that gorgeous dry-cured meat from Cork, was paired with softly cooked eggs, a creamy puree and tiny wild buttons of St.George mushrooms.

The crispy salted bites of the bacon were balanced by the buttery mushroom in the comfort food dish.

Seared tuna with a gazpacho dressing and smoked almonds has to be the most colourful plate of food I've seen all year. "I could eat 20 pieces of these", my boyfriend says.

Calm down mate, these are mine, all mine.

Looking more like a Miro painting than a plate of food, the dollops of bright green gazpacho and chunks of yellow pineapple were the crunchy acidity needed to complement the rare tuna. To be fair, I could eat 20 pieces of these too.

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Mains were the market fish of the day (€26) and a spring lamb (€24)

Buttermilk is having a real moment here, coming this time in my main as a delicate froth ladled over crispy hake, chard, leeks and smoked mussels.

Unlike the majority of froths, this actually had a taste - light and ever-so-creamy. Charred leeks were delectable stems of green goodness while the smoked mussels added some welcome earthiness to the fresh hake.

The rump of spring lamb and shoulder was, we were told, best cooked medium-rare, so that's how we got it. The chef is always right about this.

Ingredients of carrot, courgette, pea and mint don't sound the most exciting written down, but cooked in the kitchen at Craft they take on new life. Mains come with a side of roasties cooked in dripping and these almost stole the show.

"They're addictive", our waitress said. Considering we'd eaten them in five seconds flat I'd have to agree.

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What's the damage?

Throwing in a plate-licking dessert of sweet Gariguette strawberries, puff pastry, white chocolate and strawberry sorbet to finish things off, dinner came to a satisfying end.

I was tempted by the Shepard's Store sheep cheese with rhubarb chutney and house crackers but knew I'd be going overboard with greed. Next time.

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Our dinner of two starters, two mains, one dessert, two beers, two glasses of wine, a large sparkling water and an espresso came to €117 not including tip.

Three hours well spent in this suburban haven that already has me planning a return, whether it's for brunch, lunch or another droolworthy dinner.

The best cooking can often be found outside the city, and Craft is the proof. Go alone, go with a gang, but please - just go.

Craft is located at 208 Harold's Cross Road, D6.

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