4 Church Road
I have to admit, Malahide isn’t a place I find myself in very often. So unfamiliar am I with it that when I set off to meet my cohorts for this week’s Burger Club, I had to put my fate into the hands of my sat-nav – not to help me locate 4 Church Road, home of Scotch Bonnet, but to help me locate Malahide. Unfortunately I also own the world’s trolliest sat-nav – I swear there’s a box ticked in a settings menu somewhere that says “take the longest, slowest route possible” – I arrived an impressive 15 minutes late after a scenic detour during which my sat-nav eschewed motorways in favour of a slow crawl through a congested Phibsboro, Fairview and Coolock, finally directing me down a back road that was actually called “Back Road”.
Scotch Bonnet is located right in the heart of Malahide, and was busy and bustling when I finally arrived, a positive sign, especially on a chilly Wednesday night. After a gentle ribbing from the rest of the gang, who had taken bets on how lost I would get (Amanda won), we got straight down to business. We started out with a bowl of chicken wings to share, and this was the first indicator that we were in for a pretty special meal. Kirsty and I always start out with wings whenever they’re on a menu, and if we were keeping score on wings (Dublin Wings Club, expect a Facebook group by the end of the week), these would have gone straight in at the top. These were huge, succulent, delicious wings, served in a spicy buffalo sauce that was both piquant and sweet, but still mild enough so that even Rory, who has nightmares about eating anything spicier than a bag of Quavers, managed to nibble his way through a few. He was especially complimentary about the accompanying blue cheese sauce. We all really loved these – Amanda earnestly declared them “the best wings I’ve ever had” and it was hard to argue. Although I personally prefer my wings to have a bit more of a kick, the quality made up for the lack of burn, and to paraphrase Joey, I’d walk back to Malahide for another bowl of these tangy bad boys. Very, very moreish – I made such a glutton of myself I almost didn’t have room for my burger.
The burger menu wasn’t exactly plentiful, and I admit I was a little disappointed when I saw it (not to do them a disservice, Scotch Bonnet’s menu is varied and plentiful, but for this visit we were only interested in the burgers). However if we’ve learned anything since starting this blog, it’s that lack of variety doesn’t equate to bad, and loads of variety definitely doesn’t equate to good. Bunsen has been my favourite burger so far and their menu was literally the size of a credit card. We ordered three beef burgers and one chicken, with a variety of accouterments; I added smoked Applewood cheese and Scotch Bonnet relish to mine; Kirsty chilli jam, and Rory bacon.
When it arrived it looked so good, perfectly presented, and while we had to get the obligatory round of photos out of the way, my mouth was watering by the time I finally got to take a bite out of the burger. And what a bite it was – these burgers are magnificent. I’m a sucker for a chargrilled burger and these had a wonderful, smoky flavour and the indulgent, melt-in-the-mouth texture of a fresh, perfectly-cooked burger. A burger to savour every mouthful of. We eat in a lot of burger places, places that sell burgers exclusively, and so many of them serve them up covered in drippy sauces and piled 6 inches high with wet vegetables and gimmicky toppings that, as well as making the bun fall apart, completely overpower the burger itself. Scotch Bonnet don’t fall in to this trap. These burgers come with cheese, lettuce and tomato, and that’s your lot. Even the relish, which came in a little bowl that I could add to my taste, wasn’t required – in fact if anything, it spoiled it. It was nice, delicious in fact, a deep, smoky flavour, similar to chipotle, but once I added it I couldn’t taste the burger any more and that was the best part. This is a back-to-basics burger, but when the basics are done this well you don’t need peanut butter alioli and caramelised sweet potato chutney infused with pesto and Pop Rocks. Make a really good, well-cooked burger the centrepiece and you won’t go far wrong. Amanda also had a lot of praise for her chicken burger which was moist and delicious. So often these are overcooked and end up dry and chewy, but this was done perfectly, moist, juicy and tender.
We didn’t get too far into exploring the sides, but the onions rings were also excellent. They come in really light, crispy batter, obviously freshly made in-house, with real rings of onion, not smushy onion paste like the majority of frozen onion rings. The only real disappointment was the chips – bog standard frozen burger bar chips. Not badly done by any stretch, just unimaginitive and indistinguishable from a hundred other places.
Finally, a word about the restaurant itself. It’s an unpretentious, offbeat sort of a vibe, comfortable, friendly and welcoming. A lot of places we go can feel cold and clinical, and this was the exact opposite. After we finished eating we just sat back, relaxed and chatted, and enjoyed the atmosphere, something we normally go and do somewhere else. A nice place to hang out and spend time. Malahide may be a little off the beaten track, but this is worth taking a trip for. Take a drive out this weekend, (though if you’re doing that, get a better sat-nav than mine), have a walk along the coast, work up an appetite , or if you feel like enjoying a glass of wine, or some of the local craft beers they have, it’s five minutes walk from the train station. You won’t regret it.
Burgers – 9/10. The standard sesame-seed burger bun was the only let-down in a superb burger.
Sides – 8/10. Wings, great. Onion rings, great. Chips, not so much.
Service & surroundings – 9/10. Friendly attentive staff, cool surroundings, good music, rock n roll memorabilia.
Total score – 8.5/10
Disclaimer – as with most food blogs, from time to time we’re invited along as guests of the restaurant and given complimentary food to sample and review. This was one of these occasions – everything mentioned in this review was complimentary, but this in no way affected the review – we review free food in exactly the same way we review food we’ve paid for, and we never accept gifts in exchange for good reviews.