Jolin’s Vietnamese Coffee House

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I don’t get too far from the house these days and when I do manage to venture out I tend to go back to places I know I will get a good coffee/lunch/piece of cake. Imagine my delight, then, when a new place came to ME.

Ok, Jolin’s Vietnamese Coffee House did not open in my living room, but it opened up close enough to my living room that nipping out for a bowl of Pho feels like an entirely do-able adventure. Even with a four month old strapped to my chest.

Jolin’s occupies a café space on the top of Clanbrassil Street, just before the Herald’s Cross Bridge. The space has changed hands many times in the past few years. Coffee shops have never really managed to make it work. Konkaan, the excellent Indian a few doors up, is a  huge success, so I am hoping another proper restaurant will have more staying power.

I’m a Pho fan from way back. More accurately, I’m a noodle soup fan from way back, and Pho fits that bill. We didn’t know it when we set out for a crisp autumn walk a few weekends ago but Pho was EXACTLY what we were looking for for lunch that day.

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The shop has been painted colorfully and decorated with a few Vietnamese accents. The tables have Siracha and plenty of napkins on them. The menu is larger than I thought it would be, full of stir fries and rice dishes as well as the Pho. There were also spring rolls and crispy calamari; menu items you’d find on any Asian menu around Dublin.

Don’t order the spring rolls and crispy calamari or any of the items you would find on any Aisan menu in Dublin. Stick to the Pho and the stir fries and what can be made fresh in the tiny kitchen at Jolin’s. The Pho is generous, rich and full of noodles. The stir fries looked pretty good (from across the room) as well, and we could see the fresh veggies going into the dishes as we peered into the kitchen from our table.

Jolin’s is a little bit rough around the edges but I hope it will get enough business to smooth those edges out. Because we are getting deep into noodle soup weather and it would be greta if Jolin’s stayed in the ‘hood.

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Baby’s First Vietnamese Coffee
Jolin’s Vietnamese Coffee House

Vaughan’s Anchor Inn

Everybody Photographing Food Before Eating It. #thefutureisnow
Everybody Photographing Food Before Eating It. #thefutureisnow

I didn’t grow up eating fish. The occasional fish stick was all I was served in my younger and more vulnerable years, and that was always just a vehicle for ketchup. My mother doesn’t like cooking fish because it can make the house smell. I don’t think that I would have eaten it even if she did cook fish while I was living under her roof. I was not an adventurous eater. Not even close.

Throughout college I became more adventurous. I spent the summer between freshman and sophomore year on Martha’s Vineyard. I grew to love some seafood such as scallops and crab cakes. Gateway shellfish such as muscles cooked in a rich creamy garlicky sauce became a typical order on a night out.

A Friend's Scallops at Vaughan's
A Friend’s Scallops at Vaughan’s

I believe that I can now call myself a lover of seafood. Apart from sea urchin which I cannot bring myself to try, I have tried, and like to eat, most of what comes out of the sea.

Last week in Galway and Clare it was all about the crab claws. Oh man, even writing that has made me want another plate. All in all, I must have eaten about fifteen crab claws in one day. And I still want more, greedy guts that I am.

The first place I ever ate a crab claw was at Vaughan’s Anchor Inn in Liscannor, Co. Clare. It was just over a year ago. I have thought about them a lot since then. I didn’t know that the restaurant was called Vaughan’s, so I was thrilled, when after a swim in the sea and a long day jaunting down the West Coast of Ireland, we arrived at Vaughan’s last week.

Full disclosure: on our first stop of the day, at New Quay, our happy gang of six popped into Linnane’s and shared two plates of crab claws. Just to keep us going, obviously. I have no photo of them because we ate them too quickly.

Our Little Amuse Bouche
Our Little Amuse Bouche

So when we got to Vaughan’s and were thinking about what to order, I was going to go for the fish n chips. Only because I thought I should after already having eaten crab claws that day. But the Vaughan’s crab claws really had made an impression and who knows when I will be back in Liscannor, so “F*#@k it,” I thought, “I am going to get them again.”

Happily, Fergal was experiencing the same inner turmoil in regards to the crab claws, so we came together in one fabulous order of fish n chips AND crab claws.

I Mean . . .
I Mean . . .

It was the perfect combo. Too many crab claws would have been a sad way to end a magical day. Not ordering them would have lead to months of regret. A bad food order can do that to me.

Because we were all feeling a bit buzzed after our beautiful day in the sun and sea, we also ordered starters to share: crispy pigs ears and white bait. Always a good appetite whetter, that combo.

The Fish n Chips
The Fish n Chips

The chef sent out espresso cups full of smoked eel and potato soup for us. We thought we were being rewarded for being the most attractive table in the place, but we noticed a group of golfers getting the free soup as well. Whatever the reason, it was delicious and rich and we were grateful for it.

The crab claws lived up to my memory fully. It’s almost not worth eating crab claws anywhere but on the Western Coast of Ireland. I have yet to be disappointed.

The fish n chips was also fantastic; the fish was incredibly fresh and flakey.

You would be a Super Silly Soul not to go to Vaughan’s when you are in the West of Ireland. It is worth the trip, no matter how long the detour may be.

Vaughan’s Anchor Inn