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14 August 2009

The Blackboard Bistro, Dublin


Jean and Pierre are doing all the right things in Dublin's little Blackboard Bistro.
Caroline Byrne admires the cooking and the value.


I went here last Thursday for my weekly early bird with my brother and I was very pleasantly surprised by this little place. Even my brother said it was his favourite of all the French places I’ve brought him too, and that’s really saying something coming from him!
It has the kind of cosy, little-French-bistro-atmosphere that would happily accommodate a couple on a special night out – of which there were a few – but also the right tempo for a group of friends catching up over dinner – also present the night I dined.

The food reminds me of what I ate when I travelled in France during college years – simple, inexpensive but really good. Think tabouleh, risotto, butter beans and Mediterranean/Proven├žal flavours that you find everywhere from Nice to Nancy. Although it offers French classics, such as French onion soup and pan-fried pigeon, it serves a lot of Mediterranean or north African inspired food, which is indicative of its Mediterranean influences and the wide mix of cultures and cuisines that exist in France. From the a la carte, mains range from E16 to E28 and the starters are between E7 and E12. There’s great value to be found on the early bird, which offers two courses for E20, and they also have a value menu for lunch.

Given the value and the perfectly interesting selection on the early bird we both chose from there. Creamy smoked bacon and leek risotto was scrumptious and just the right side of al dente – although we both noted that the portion could have done with being a little bit more generous. And the “baby lasagne” was cheesy and light, with a single sheet of pasta (not fresh) and a tasty meat sauce underneath. It did exactly what it said on the tin, although many have failed to where this dish is concerned, especially at the less expensive end!

For mains, Adrian’s beef burger (cooked well done because the establishment doesn’t do medium) was served atop a mound of mash and crowned with onions in a red wine sauce, with a fried egg on top. I had fat strips of perfectly chargrilled chicken fillet on couscous with grilled vegetables and a light sun-dried tomato pesto, finished with torn fresh basil.
As with the starters, our plates were taken away spotless, which says it all. Everything was tasty, well cooked, well presented and we felt we’d had a very nice experience, yet again, for great value.

Including one dessert of passion fruit sorbet with macerated red berries, and one glass of aligote (chosen from a concise but good selection of wines all by the glass or bottle) the bill came to E47. I don’t know whether I’m looking for the best ‘value for money’ place or the best French, or both, but I think I keep getting closer all the time.

The Blackboard Bistro
The Basement,
4 Clare Street,
Dublin 2

T: 01 6766839
Tue - Fri (lunch and dinner) Saturday for dinner only and closed Sunday and Monday