Dublin Dining: Mussels pot, prawn cocktail & more, Matt the Thresher

Dublin Dining chronicles my food & drink experiences during six months living in Dublin, Ireland.

Prawn and lobster cocktail, Matt the Thresher
Prawn and lobster cocktail with iceberg lettuce and Marie Rose sauce

I knew I wanted seafood during my first week in Dublin, and the seafood at Matt the Thresher impressed both in quality and quantity. We began with a prawn and lobster cocktail with rosy-colored Marie Rose sauce, which is apparently a traditional preparation in this region. It was lovely to look at, vibrantly colored and served in a martini glass. I was also glad to see that the seafood wasn’t too heavily dressed. It wasn’t until later that I learned that Michelle Obama and the girls ate here during their visit to Ireland in 2013, and that Sasha and Malia chose this same appetizer.

And then came the main event: the mussels pot. Underneath the heavy iron lid was easily the largest portion of mussels that I had ever been served (the photo doesn’t do it justice). I lost track of how many of the petite, meaty mollusks I pried out of their shells, but they were so fresh and simply prepared that it was well worth it. And then, of course, dunking the crusty garlic bread into the white wine broth completed the whole experience.

Mussels pot, Matt the Thresher
Roaring Water Bay mussels pot with white wine, cream, fresh herbs, and garlic bread
O'Hara's Pale Ale, Matt the Thresher
O’Hara’s Irish Pale Ale (and the ubiquitous brown bread)

I decided to eschew the Guinness and instead tried a pale ale from O’Hara’s, a popular Irish craft brewery. It was quite easy-drinking and paired excellently with the mussels. I also kept getting distracted by all the details in the restaurant’s interior, whether it was the stained glass windows overhead, the sprawling, spiral-shaped light fixture over the bar area, or the multiple seating levels with tables tucked into every curve.

Stained glass windows, Matt the Thresher
Stained glass windows above our upper-level table
Storefront of Matt the Thresher
Storefront of Matt the Thresher

The details: Matt the Thresher, 31-32 Lower Pembroke Street, Dublin 2, Ireland.

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This week’s Best Bite: Musclemen ramen, Oiistar

Musclemen ramen with mussels, onion, chili pepper, scallion, and bonito miso
Musclemen ramen with mussels, onion, chili pepper, scallion, and bonito miso

Why it’s this week’s Best Bite: When a ramen craving struck me on a snowy afternoon, I popped over to Oiistar, a relatively new Wicker Park spot I’d been eyeing. Bypassing all the tempting varieties of bao, and even the avocado tempura – next time! – I zeroed in on a mussel-centric ramen. Besides at least a dozen plump mussels, the giant bowl also contained an umami-rich seafood broth with chewy noodles, two kinds of onion, and tons of garlic. Moderately spicy chiles also upped the soup’s warmth factor. Happily rotating between slurps of noodles, mussels, and broth, I settled in with a book and soaked up the sounds of the restaurant’s catchy R&B playlist.

The details: Oiistar, 1385 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago.

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