I’m heading off on hols to France this week and I already know the entire holiday will be filled with amazing cheese and bread, croissants and pain au chocolats and of course some great wine. So before I go, I wanted to get my fill of great food from another country and no better way to do this than to head off on the Campo Viejo Tapas Trail and taste some lovely Spanish tapas dishes from a few of the best spots in Dublin city.
This is a yearly event in Dublin and this year also extended to Cork. Through the months of June & July, every Wednesday evening and Sunday afternoon a Campo Viejo guide takes a group to 4 different tapas restaurants where you get a glass of Campo Viejo wine and 3 tapas dishes. Before going I was sure that it was 3 dishes between each pair but no, 3 dishes EACH in each place. Christ Almighty – I can eat with the best of them but even I was stuffed!
So last Sunday on a lovely warm afternoon we met at the Market Bar on Fade Street in Dublin. We were given a nice chilled glass of cava and seated at our table where a guy on his guitar played some lovely Spanish music. There was about 30 of us in our group with a real mixed bag of young and older people. Our guide introduced herself and then the onslaught of food started!
Cava – me likey 🙂
I’ve eaten here before and from that experience I know their portion sizes are quite big as tapas goes but I expected them to be slightly smaller for the day that was in it. Not so!! We got Marinated Chicken & Chorizo skewers with a spicy tomato and yoghurt sauce, Patatas Bravas which are squared potato chips served with spicy tomato sauce and garlic mayo, and lastly, a Feta cheese and Chorizo salad. All 3 dishes were really nice, I am a massive chorizo fan and the skewer was probably my favourite here.
Chicken & Chorizo Skewer
Chorizo & Feta Salad
Plenty of red wine!
After our allocated half an hour here we moved on to Havana on George’s Street. I think it was partly due to the fact that the Market Bar gave such big portions and was so impressive that I found this place a little underwhelming. Having not been here before I wasn’t too sure what to expect.
We took a set at the window and the first dish arrived. It was a Spanish Tortilla served on a slice of bread with a small bit of tomato pesto. The tortilla was nice enough… not too exciting if I’m honest. We would have liked a knife and fork to maybe cut it up but there was no cutlery in sight.
Next up was Pan Fried Garlic & Chilli Prawns. A staff member came around with a large dish of them and we took a prawn from the dish. We were meant to get a lime and sour cream sauce and although the staff said it would arrive soon it never actually came.
The last taster here was an Artisan Spanish sausage on bread with apple sauce. I don’t like apple sauce at all but the sausage was lovely. Overall the food was grand but I wasn’t massively impressed and wouldn’t be too keen to return.
Next up was Salamanca on St. Andrew Street. This is a pretty popular place but I’m very loyal to my favourite tapas restaurant, The Port House, just a few doors up and I’d never been to any of the Salamanca restaurants before. It’s a really nice restaurant, and with the windows opened and sun shining in it all felt very authentic.
Here, we were given the 3 tasters on one long dish. A prawn Paella, some Spinach balls and yet more Patatas with Chorizo. Now as I said, I love chorizo but there was a bit of an overload by now! I felt the Spinach balls were pretty tasteless but oddly enough my friend who was on the trail with me said they were her favourite! I really enjoyed the paella. By now we were both struggling to fit any more food in – we should’ve been less piggy in the Market Bar and kept some room in our tums!
So the last stop was Bagots Hutton on South William Street. On the walk towards the venue I asked the guide if it was more savoury food or desert here – thankfully she said it was time for desert… I don’t think I could face any more chorizo!
Bagot Hutton is a lovely little wine bar which re opened last year. I’ve been here before and sampled their cheeseboard which was great so I had high hopes! I wasn’t disappointed. There were 3 different deserts for us to take, a gluten free Chocolate Brownie, an Almond & Pear tart and another chocolate sponge sort of cake – can’t remember exactly what it was. Gluten free foods can often be inferior in texture and taste I feel but this was one of the best brownies I’d ever had! So soft and moist and moreish.
Our guide gave us a brief run down on the history of Bagots Hutton and suggested we go and check out the cave which years ago brought you all the way from South William Street to the Market Bar. I was expecting a grotty dirty cave but in fact it was a dark candlelit cave with little spots for tables and chairs and then around to the back a slightly bigger seating area. I was so surprised that I never heard of this the previous times I’d been there! It’s very quirky and ideal for a nice rosemantic date.
So that was it – our day was over and we were full to the brim!! This is definitely a day to mark in your diary each year. It cost us just €20 for this, 4 glasses of wine and 12 tapas dishes – amazing value! It’ll most definitely be a yearly day out for me 🙂
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