“This could become the Spanish Quarter of Dublin,” my fashionista friend says to owners Anna Cabrera and Vanessa Murphy when we arrive at their new Spanish cellar, La Gordita (Little Fat Man). A decade ago, the duo, partners in business and life, opened Las Tapas de Lola on Wexford Street, which has since become one of Dublin’s busiest spots.
With all the drama and trauma of lockdowns, staff shortages and rising prices, anyone will think twice before setting foot in a new restaurant. But with the closure of the legendary Gerry’s café on Montague Street, a narrow alley lined with colorful art graffiti just around the corner from Las Tapas, the temptation to make the next move was too much to resist.
There are a few tables just inside the door, the open kitchen fronted by a raised platform at the end of the room, and a long stretch in the middle with an imposing marble top and comfortable leather bar stools. On their menu they require that “for survival” diners eat at least two courses (not counting the pica half bite), including one from the segundos (main course), so here’s not what you can eat in an hourMore A place to linger for a few hours for a few snacks and a glass of cava. Since space is limited, it’s only fair that they state their case in advance.
Chef María-Luisa Moraleda was previously the head chef at the two-Michelin-starred restaurant Amelia in San Sebastian. Here, her pica-pica collection offers a wide selection for all pockets. Indulge in Riofrio’s organic caviar from Granada (€65), served with chips and crème fraiche, or eat in moderation with boquerones (€10), delicious white anchovies marinated in vinegar, garlic and parsley .
Entrantes (small plates) range from bombitas de morcilla (Spanish black pudding and goat cheese) with tomato jam (€9.75) to carabinero (huge pan-roasted prawns split down the middle) with olive oil, garlic and parsley (30 euros).
These are just some of the temptations we face, the fashionista with a glass of Cornelio Dinastia Crianza and me with a glass of Gran Barquero 25 Year Oloroso.
Difficult to decide, but winning the toss are two things we rarely see here these days – mollejas, which are roasted, silky cuts of lamb fried with garlic and lemon (€12), and verduras fritas for comparison Bright flavors and textures con huevo y gulas (15 euros) – crisps of fried beetroot, candied beets, sweet potatoes and potatoes, topped with a soft fried egg and strewn with tiny strands of eel.
The power supply is also desirable, These include galtas (€29), which are bone-in pork cheeks; costilittas de cordero or lamb chops (€29); plus two sharing dishes, the chuletón – McLoughlin’s bone-in ribeye steak (€78); or lubina a la sal (€60) – sea bass grilled in salt. Both are served with potatoes and peppers.
Our eyes were glued to two fishy dishes, both amazing. Pata de pulpo (€33), perfectly grilled tender octopus tentacles with romesco sauce and potatoes, and a pot of bogavante de Formentera (€37) — a finger-licking half lobster fried and cut into chunks served with crispy potatoes, Padrón peppers and a fried egg.
Desserts (7 to 12 euros) are again tempting. Steer clear of the torrijas – bread soaked in almond milk and almond cream – fashionista has tarta de manzana (€12), Spanish apple tart with rum and raisin ice cream, and I have crema de queso de cabra (€8.50) — – No quips please, cabra means goat in Spanish – goat cheese cream with caramelized walnuts and quince puree is absolutely delicious.
So with two glasses of Cornelio Dinastia Crianza, Tempranillo (€12.50 each), Oloroso (€9) and plenty of water (€15.80), our service bill came to €185.
All I can say is Olé olé! Ladies, when can I buy that corner table for two again?
6 Montague Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: (01) 531-3303