When researching restaurants I look at the photos to give me an insight into what to expect. I find they tell you way more than menus, customer reviews or the opinions of friends.
"A picture paints a thousand words" is a phrase that's actually truthful.
Pictures are especially useful when it comes to finding great pizza. Are the crusts properly cooked? Is there a wood fired oven in the background? Is the mozzarella oozing as it should?
I haven't been spending much time in Dublin over the last few months so when I spotted Coke Lane Pizza in my feed my curiosity was instantly piqued.
My first thought when I saw it online was 'that looks like really fucking good pizza'. I'd had a long day of traveling but with my tongue hanging out of my mouth with the hunger and anticipation rising I jumped in a cab and headed down to Frank Ryan's.
If you're not familiar with the pub you really shouldn't be walking around Dublin saying you know the city inside out. Frank Ryan's is without doubt one of the greatest pubs in the city, which is saying something given that Dublin is a city known around the world for its pubs.
I'd have it in my top three in town - possibly even in top place fighting off close competition from the Dice Bar across the road.
On a dark cold evening in early January this lane felt even more like New York than it normally does. Most people were taking part in "dry January" but pushing the door into Ryan's the place was packed.
It feels like a proper old den of iniquity. Dark yet lively. The sort of place where you'd love to see the smoking ban reversed to add even more character.
Enough about the pub. Take my word for it and go spend a night there, you'll have one of the best nights with friends you could imagine. In a time of million Euro fit outs and when everything is either a chain or modelled on a 1920s speakeasy Frank Ryan's is the exception.
The real deal.
They've only gone and made it even better though with Coke Lane. It's essentially just a marquee tent out the back in the smoking area with a pizza oven and two enthusiastic staff churning out piping hot pizzas to the punters inside and outside the pub.
You walk up and order from a menu of four pizzas and they all cost in and around a tenner. They're cooked up in front of you and in less than 10 minutes they'll bring your pizza to you in the pub.
The end product is outstanding. An absolute delight and straight up there with the other best pizzas in the city.
I ate mine in the smoking area looking at other happy faces around me.
Dublin is changing in front of our eyes and money is washing through the streets sucking creativity out of the bars and restaurants as chains swoop in. As I stood there eating my €9 pizza I just thought to myself that this was the Dublin I love. A gritty lane, people swilling pints and having the craic with a cigarette in one hand and a pizza on a paper plate in the other.
Coke Lane pizza will without doubt get bigger and find a permanent home. I could see it as a chain one day. Make sure you go down and experience it where it lives at the moment though. A triumph.