THE DISH: This Tiny Hidden Restaurant Needs To Be On Your Radar
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 we fiiinally get to check out much raved about Assassination Custard, a true hidden gem on lower Kevin Street. This family-run spot has just two tables, but unlimited amazing dishes.
What's the vibes?
Walking past this teenchy-tiny cafe on the corner of Kevin Street, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was yet another greasy spoon type serving fried bacon sambos for nearby construction workers. The place is popular with builders, sure, but here they munch on Panelle, a chickpea fritter hailing from Sicily.
Assassination Custard is, and let me emphasise this again, tiny, with only two tables in the small room, a round wooden one crooning out for communal dining, and a cosy table by the wall for two.
Run by husband and wife team Ken 'n Gwen, the place is a mish-mash of their kid's drawings bluetacked to the walls, a large watermelon as a table centerpiece, and random records. We're sitting underneath a 'Happy Birthday' banner, and having wanted to eat here for aaaages, it's even cuter than I'd imagined.
You won't find any fancy frills or fake fuss here: they open only from 12-3pm, and the menu, which changes daily, is hand scribbled on a brown envelope and thoughtfully explained to you by Gwen.
What's on the menu?
Throw some tangy Middle Eastern flavours into a pot with South Italy, add in a creative mix of locally sourced fish and organic veggies, and you have the bare bones of the ever-changing menu of Assassination Custard.
This is the sort of place where you ask the person you're eating with if 'we should just get one of everything?', and lads if you're hungry enough then please do, because each dish is an absolute delight.
We went with Pickled Cucumber to chomp on first, an 'Nduja Roll - a heavenly doughy ball stained orange from the oils of the spicy Italian 'Nduja sausage baked through it, and a Labneh yogurt dish, with Dukkah (a Middle Eastern Nutty Spice) and Mint. The Labneh helps cool down the roll, but long after all the crumbs have been gobbled up you'll be using your finger to scrape any last swirls of the creamy dip.
Courgette Fritters, perfectly crispy and fried with a Curry Aioli on the side is their take on a Currywurst, except that this doesn't taste like regret on a Berlin street at 5am. This tastes fresh and feckin' fantastic.
A grilled plate of Radicchio with homemade Date Butter (yes yes, real butter cooked with juicy dates), steals the show and my heart.
The menu includes a few wild cards, such as Ray Jowls, aka good ol' fish cheeks, with an Arabic Seven Spice and Lime. Soft and tender, a bit like flakier scallops, these were a real treat.
Gwen pops back and forth to check in if everything's good, clearing plates and bringing new ones, while Ken chats about their new delivery of fresh organic tomatoes, all covered in knobbly bits which they plan to simply slice up and serve with olive oil and salt.
Goat Heart with Sage & Dried Anchovy are a new one for me, but they were meaty and soft and the saltiness of the anchovy goes perfectly with the vibrant flavours of the meat.
What's the damage?
Surprisingly, the damage is eh, not damaging at all. A crumbly Bruttibuoni, a kinda chewy meringue which translates as 'ugly but good' finished off the perfectly cooked and ultra satisfying meal, along with two Americanos served in extremely cute blue china cups and saucers.
Seven dishes, one dessert, and two coffees came to €50.50 not including tip.
Assassination Custard is the kind of place I wish I lived right beside, so I could go in every day and just be fed blindly whatever they feel like cooking that day - I'd happily eat in pure faith that it was gonna be yum whatever is coming out of that creative kitchen.
My only regret? Why TF did I not check this spot out sooner. You'll 100% be thinking the same.