Smithfield Square

Dublin 7

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Tonight is Burns’ Night in Scotland, which, if you’re not familiar with, is the day when Scots toast the great poet Robert Burns with a traditional “Burns’ Supper” of haggis, neeps and tatties, a wee glass of whisky and a ham-fisted attempted to recite a Burns poem or two. It’s a sort of a St Patrick’s Day-lite, a celebration of Scottishness, and there will be ceilidhs tonight the world over in honour of “The Bard”. Given the date, and given that 50% of Burger Club is Scottish, it seems appropriate to open this week’s entry in that great Burns’ Night tradition of mangling a line of Burns poetry, so here goes – “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Ging aft’ agley”. For those of you who have never known the refreshing freedom of going commando under a kilt in the heart of a Scottish winter, that translates as “The best-laid plans of mice and men / often go awry”, and that’s exactly what happened to us this week. Our best-laid plan all week had been to have this week’s Burger Club in Block Burger at East Point – it has been highly recommended to us, their adverts are all over Facebook,  and they’re currently offering burgers for a fiver, which is appealing any time of year, but especially in the last week of January when everyone is broke and counting down to payday (come onnnnnn Friday!) So off we all trotted towards East Point, and it was only when visiting their website to get their address that I noticed an anomaly. See if you can spot it:

A quick phonecall confirmed the worst – they are not open for dine-in on Sundays, only collection and delivery. You’re very bold Block Burger, and you’ve made a life-long enemy in Rory who had made it all the way to East Point before checking his messages and seeing the bad news.

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Thankfully the rest of us were still in the city centre waiting on a Luas, and since we didn’t much fancy trekking all the way down there to sit and eat burgers in Rory’s car we had to call an audible and ended up on Smithfield Square, which as it turns out features an impressive four restaurants which serve up burgers, including a branch of Jo’Burger that I had no idea was there. Jo’Burger is on our list of places to review, and I’ve called dibs on writing it since I hold the city centre location in high regard, however given the terrifying state of my bank balance, the pricey Jo’Burger was put on the backburner for this week, along with My Meat Wagon and Oscars, all of which will reviewed in future blogs.

Generator is a youth hostel-cum-bar, and I admit, wouldn’t have been the first place I would have thought of when on the prowl for burgers. Although I’ve been in a few times to their weekly crafts market, I didn’t even know they served food, and it was a colleague who put me on to the fact and spoke highly of them. Even Googling it, there’s very little information online about food besides an outdated Zomato menu, so it was a pleasant surprise when we arrived and found an interesting, if slightly limited burger menu. Six burgers, chips, and sweet potato fries are your lot, but if I’ve gleaned anything from the hours I’ve spent obsessively watching Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares, it’s that a small menu done well always trumps a vast menu done poorly.

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Burgers

These were very decent burgers, a big, thick wodge of meat, piping hot and served in a soft white bun, very similar in style to Bunsen (love you bae). Rory and I opted for the Smokey Joe burger, which was excellent, topped with sweet barbecue sauce, American cheese, bacon, crunchy pickles (seriously, not enough places do pickles, moooaaarrr pickles), and what they called “Beefy Onions”. I’m not sure what makes an onion beefy – perhaps I’m being overly-simplistic or not down with the kids or whatever, but I presume ‘beefy’ means ‘like beef’, and they didn’t look or taste or smell like beef, so fuck knows. They were very tasty however, simply soft, sweet onions. Kirsty tried the Lucha Libre, which came with avocado, chipotle, bacon and cheese, and was very impressed with it, although felt that the one huge hunk of avocado in the burger was a little undignified and could have been cut a bit thinner and spread out. Both Kirsty and Rory’s burgers were well-cooked, nice and pink in the middle, I’m not sure what happened to mine however. The outside was certainly well-seared but from the very first bite I was slightly perturbed at how immediately pink it was, and by the time I got to the middle that baby was out-and-out raw. I should have sent it back, but I confess it was so tasty and I was so hungry (as well as being broke I’m on a miserable post-Christmas diet) that I couldn’t face the wait for a replacement, so I picked away the worst bits and just carried on eating. So that one’s at least partly on me – I can’t complain about undercooked food if I didn’t give them the chance to rectify it.

Sides & Drinks

Hit & miss. The chips were advertised as “triple fried chips” but appeared to just be standard frozen skinny chips, albeit slightly crunchier, and covered in a paprika shake, which granted, was nice. I also discovered a smattering of weird little burnt lumps in amongst my chips, possibly the breading off some sort of chicken product, which put me off a little bit and suggests that either everything is fried together or the oil isn’t very clean, or both. 

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With bonus crunchy bits

For an extra €2 you can swap the standard chips out for sweet potato fries, which normally I shun like a wayward Amish, but these were absolutely marvellous. Gone are the days of squishy sweet potato fries; these bad boys were huge, crunchy, and seriously tasty – well worth the extra €2, and I confess that after finishing my own food I polished off half a portion of Kirsty’s leftover sweet potato fries as well.

I really wish I had been able to have a beer while I was there, because there was a mega selection of craft beers in the bar. I noticed two fridges full of Irish favourites such as 8 Degrees and Trouble Brewing and many others, and a few on draught too, and I am going to make a point of going back there for a few quiet beers some evening to try a few out. As it was we ordered a round of soft drinks, all served from a gun, all flat and watery. “Soda water with a hint of 7-Up” was how I described mine.

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Service & Surroundings

It’s counter service, so there wasn’t much interaction, but everyone we dealt with was smiling and personable. The place itself was impressive, huge, spread over 3 levels. We opted to sit in the bar which was spacious and airy with a huge high roof, a TV was showing US sports, and there was a live band playing at just the right volume to be enjoyed without being too invasive. All in all, a really nice place to relax and wile away a few hours. This was on a Sunday night however, it may be a little more boisterous on a Friday or Saturday night.

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Value

A mighty tasty burger and chips for between €10-€12, you won’t find much cheaper in Dublin. Not to be sniffed at. I would recommend spending the extra €2 for sweet potato fries however.

Scores

Burger – 8/10

Sides & Drinks – 5/10

Service & Surroundings – 7/10

Value – 9/10

Total Score – 7.5/10

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