Food hall heaven!!!
P: Here at goFoodyourself towers we have always been big fans of Fallon & Byrne of Exchequer street and on many of occasions you may have spotted us sipping on a frothy cappuccino and perhaps nibbling on one of their wonderfully tasty cakes or tarts, and by nibbling I mean inhaling… and by one I mean TWO!
I personally love their downstairs wine cellar where I have often met family and friends for a catch up over a glass of wine and a shared cheese plate. The atmosphere is always perfect and for me I love the surrounding wall of beautifully displayed shelves of wine.
The foodhall in Fallon & Byrne is as popular as ever with those who like their shopping at the slightly grander end of the scale though I must admit that I prefer my shopping at the pocket-friendly end of this scale so I’m more likely to be found perusing the almost-expired shelf of my local Lidl! I do however like to pop into F&B when I’m in need of a fruit or vegetable that simply few other markets can supply and even as a former fruit&veg salesman myself I’m still flummoxed by some of the mysterious and exotic varieties I see here; Kiwano anyone?!
So it was with surprise and some delight that we heard that this great Dublin favourite were launching their brand new range of takeaway meals called Chef’s Corner and let me tell you, the corks in our champagne bottles almost popped with glee when we were kindly invited along to try the range at the official launch on a recent wet and windy Wednesday on that lovely street known as Exchequer.
The range itself is pretty broad with a selection including soups, salads, sandwiches, dips, mains and desserts and we were amazed to hear they are ALL prepared and packaged in their on site kitchen overseen by executive head chef Tom Meenaghan and his team. I couldn’t help thinking that surely this is a big ask if you are also simultaneously preparing food for a restaurant, wine bar, deli and let’s not forget a busy function room. The lovely marketing manager Jennifer King says that in particular they are very popular for civil partnerships and are fully licensed to carry out the ceremony. Telling us of a recent function, Jennifer casually mentioned a recent dinner for 120 where all the fillets of beef were cooked to the guests preferred temperature! Now that may not seem like a big deal but back in my waiting days if 120 beefs were going out it was medium all the way and if the guest didn’t like it they could go FOOD themselves… ahem! So needless to say I was suitably impressed.
The launch itself was held in the gorgeous wine cellar and we were tucked into the corner whilst the waiting staff filled our glasses with wine and carried around samples of the Chef’s Corner range. S arrived fashionably late by about 40 minutes which is good for him!
S: It’s always important not to look too eager and seeing as my schedule is packed full at the moment I think I did pretty well! P would go to the opening of a packet of crisps.
P: I spent the time chatting to Ms. King and had the great pleasure to meet some fellow bloggers; Loving your work DublinDiary! J
Then the real fun started and the next two hours were a blur of sheer culinary amazement and seemingly endless platters of delight where the wine flowed like an endless fountain of liquid manna from gastro heaven! I’m getting the food sweats just thinking about it!!
First up was a sample of the hummus, basil pesto, red pepper pesto, and chicken liver pate served on pieces of puff pastry. The chicken liver pate in particular served with red onion marmalade was really lovely and one I would try again.
S: I’m not really a pate kind of guy. I’m always a little concerned about what goes into them (it’s all mixed to an inch of its life it could be any auld thing!!!!). However, on this occasion I tried it and it was pleasantly surprising.
P: Small cups of soup came out then with a choice of Leek and potato, tomato and mushroom. I am a huge mushroom soup fan and no trip to the supermarket is complete without a can of Baxter’s Mushroom Potage and this one did not disappoint, possibly because it probably didn’t come from a can…! I hope!!
Next we got to try the sandwiches which included a duck wrap, foccacia with feta and a pulled pork sandwich, which I loved. We then got to try the salads of the range of which I tried the carrot which was lovely as I’m quite a shredded carrot fan and the lentil which I must say I didn’t love, but S quite liked it.
S: You can’t beat a good portion of lentils. I loved both of them and would be more than happy to tuck into them as a snack or to accompany a lunch or dinner dish. The duck wrap was divine. I was desperately trying to nab more of those little delights but seeing as my waddling gait is developing pre-Christmas, I better watch those extra portions.
P: The next array of lovelies that came our way to be shovelled into our salivating gobs were the mains, all of which were served in dainty bite sized pieces or in small plastic bowls or cubes. This was the true test of the quality of this range as I think this is where it will succeed or fail, and judging by what came out I am seeing big success in their future. There was a thai green chicken curry with rice-lovely with a strong hint of a lemongrass type flavour. Fish pie topped with creamy mash- sooo good, we actually had 3 portions. Grilled seabass- fresh and tasty and a real testament to the onsite preparation, you wouldn’t get this in Marks and Sparks! Moroccan Lamb with Tabbouleh- My favourite! YUM! Sausage & Mash- good, but not my personal fave. Lasagne- I have to say this was not great for me, I’m not saying it was poor though. Speaking to Tom Meenaghan he said that there isn’t much that can go wrong with a lasagne, so they just use the best quality ingredients they can find. This is certainly evident, but at the end of the day it’s just a lasagne and it didn’t really float my log especially compared with the fish pie or particularly the lamb.
S: At this point in the evening I was thinking to myself that I had enough wine. I was desperately trying to say no to the lovely waiters but they were so attentive and the wine was too good. I particularly liked the veggie burgers. They were crispy, filled with fresh, well prepared vegetables. If you are looking for a way to top up on those five a day, look no further!
P: Last but not least, to truly push us over the edge into sheer gluttony came desserts, which are traditionally my highlight of any meal, whether it’s a banoffi pie in Yamamori or a caramel sundae in McDonalds! I certainly wasn’t disappointed as we were shown a massive platter of bitesize editions of their Chef’s Corner desserts including chocolate mousse, vanilla bean cheesecake, raspberry mousse, caramel tart and strawberry mousse, all of which were served on pastry bases. There may have been more than this, but by this stage I’d had so much sauvignon blanc, Chateau Turcaud; Enter-Deux-Mers 2011, that the room was beginning to spin a little! The desserts were delicious to say the least and we had roughly 18 portions each!! If I had a brass neck and less dignity I probably would have put a few in my pocket for later, but who am I kidding, I couldn’t really have less dignity…
At the end of a very enjoyable evening I tottered unstably back upstairs and out into the pouring rain thoroughly impressed with Fallon & Byrnes range. It certainly beats other similar Dine In ranges that are all the rage right now from Marks & Sparks, Super-Valu, Dunnes Stores and Donnybrook Fair (Which is surprisingly poor actually, say no more!).
The real test though is whether or not the quality is maintained at home, sooo in the interest purely of completeness I purchased a mushroom soup, lamb curry and vanilla-bean cheesecake in F&B to try at home in my very own kitchen in Bootytown! Needless to say, it was all extremely easy to prepare. The soup heated up nicely and was just as good as when I tasted it on the night, and the lamb was not bad at all, though I did overheat it just a tad, so it suffered in comparison to the tasting. Again, the cheesecake had no prep at all and was even better because I got a large portion this time!
The range is not as cost-friendly as say the Marks and Spencers range but for sure the quality of the food is far superior and well worth a try, so I would say if you are looking for a good dinner option or just want to try their delicious pesto or hummus, get down to Fallon & Byrne and goFOODyourself!!
Fallon & Byrne, 11-17 Exchequer St, Dublin 2.