Photo courtesy of AA Secret Inspector and AAFoodies
Time (and luck) were on my side during April. I’m very pleased to say that my final event in Dublin before I landed here in Madrid (Hola!) was with the marvellous AA Foodies. And this time, the event took at Coppinger Row, right in the heart of Dublin’s Creative Quarter. If it’s good enough for Beyoncé and JayZ, it’s good enough for the AA Foodies, right?
I’m ashamed to say that prior to the event I had never been to Coppinger Row…but I knew my fellow gluttons and I were in for a treat. The AA Foodie nights are always full of surprises; nothing less than exceptional quality when it comes to the food, drink, entertainment and company – they certainly know how to pick somewhere special and are masters at working with the venue to create a truly memorable experience. And the best part? The events are open to anyone with a fervent desire to eat and drink all around them. More on that later! For now, let’s talk about Coppinger Row. I haven’t had more than a coffee yet today so writing this post is pure torture…
When we arrived we were each warmly greeted by the manager, Erica, who looked after us exceptionally well the whole night. And it was a long one! (She’s also gorgeous and very stylish..might I add.)
We began where all good nights start and finish – at the bar! All the ladies (and one fabulous gent – hi Rory!) lined up at the bar for a gin masterclass with the very knowledgable Tommy, Coppinger Row’s head bartender. We tried a selection of gins while learning all sorts about how the distillation, good accompaniments and some history on each. For instance, we tried a gin that looked particularly non gin-like in the traditional gin sense. I’ve written gin so many times so far…
Anyway, it was orange! It was saffron gin, made using…yep, you guessed it. A saffron gin; who knew?! You always learn loads at these events, little tidbits that you can then use to impress your friends and they’ll be all ‘I see why you’re at these events, you ARE food!’ Okay, well maybe not, but you get the idea. You enjoy AND learn, simultaneously. My favourite of the bunch was Death’s Door, in case y’all were curious.
Typical gin presentation at Coppinger Row. A customer ordered this during our masterclass, and Tommy multitasked. Skills. Sliced green apple and black pepper.
After sampling a few gins, Tommy made us all an aperitif – a gin and tonic made with Bertha’s Revenge (an Irish gin) fever tree tonic, fresh orange peel and a sprig or two of coriander. These were accompanied by the most incredible BBQ oysters with scallions and Merquez sausage. I’ll definitely be ordering a portion of those again, or twelve, thanks.
We were then seated in a lovely little quiet area at the back of the restaurant (maybe Beyoncés butt and mine shared the same seat!) and were soon presented with a lovely white wine and our first course, seared scallop, pork belly, pea and pancetta. Plump, juicy scallops cooked to perfection and equally as juicy and tender pork belly with not a trace of fat – I’ve never had pork belly like it. The pea was light and the pancetta was a nice crispy and salty contrast.
Course two was braised duck and Taleggio cheese ravioli. Perfectly tender duck meat and ravioli both carrying the flavours of tasty Taleggio. The portion size was ideal.
Our third course was a surprise! Fresh mackerel with Moroccan spices, olives, blood orange and baby beets. Beautiful presentation and really interesting flavours – I’ve never had spiced mackerel before! Needless to say I was very excited.
Course four – earthy, creamy and crispy. Wild mushroom filo with grilled asparagus and spring truffle. Charred asparagus and truffle on top? We were well and truly spoiled.
Course five was roast rump of spring lamb with aubergine caviar and anchovy beignets. This dish was absolutely beautiful – the lamb was like butter and the anchovy beignets made for a really interesting contrast.
On to the dessert courses. We were spoiled with not one but two desserts. The first was a honey and yoghurt semifreddo with pistachio nut brittle. The brittle was perfect. I’m not a fan of semifreddo and felt the dish was a little light on flavour but each to their own, of course.
The second dessert course I’m still trying to come to grips with. In the words of Mary Poppins, it was “practically perfect in every way” although I’m going to omit the ‘practically.’ It was perfect.
Soft, creamy, perfectly sweet, light yet rich…and the biscotti was delicious. It’s hard to describe but believe me when I say this panna cotta was unbelievable. Contradictory sentence, I know, but lets go with it. You have to try it. It’ll bring a tear to your eye. And if it doesn’t, well then, you’re a robot.
After all those amazing courses we were brought back to the bar for a final treat. Tommy made us all a Nespresso martini. The perfect way to end a wonderful meal.
Coppinger Row serve up some very exciting and delicious dishes, and I wasn’t at all surprised to see it was so busy on a Tuesday night. I will definitely be returning and highly recommend it – the food, location, atmosphere and staff are all fantastic.
A special thanks to Ed Daly, Coppinger Row’s mighty talented head chef, along with Erica and Tommy for a wonderful night.
Thank you to the wonderful Vicky of The AA for organising and being wonderful in general. Thank you to The AA’s Cathy who captured all the moments of the night which can be watched here – you should watch alone for the seriously cool editing and smoke effects!
And thank you once again to Declan Connors, The AA Hotel Inspector who has the most impressive palate I have ever witnessed. I have never known anyone to identify each ingredient in a dish so well and so confidently – Declan can identify things that went unnoticed for me at times. He makes sure all senses are engaged at the AA Foodies event and his experience makes him a great dining partner!
Coppinger Row suppliers:
All fruit & veg supplied by Keelings, Co. Dublin
Beef from Pat McLaughlin Butchers, Co. Dublin
Fish from Wrights of Marino
To get involved with the AA Foodies, simply keep an eye on their website, and apply when there’s an event. Good luck!
For more information on Coppinger Row, click here for their site (brunch, lunch early bird and dinner menus) and here for their Twitter.
♥ ♥ ♥