Tuesday, February 26, 2008

If you like fried sh!#, you'll like Eamonn's

You wouldn’t ordinarily think about writing a restaurant review about a place you visited following a root canal, while your mouth and tongue were still numb. But Eamonn’s: A Dublin Chipper is no ordinary place.

Having not eaten for most of the day due to the aforementioned dental work, I was really hungry. But I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money on a meal that I was unlikely to be able to fully taste. I had heard about Eamonn’s a while back, in some review that raved about the fried Milky Ways and Snickers. No, you don’t have to travel to a Midwestern state fair to have fried candy bars -- they’re accessible to you any time during regular restaurant hours right here in Old Town Alexandria. I had been wanting to check it out sometime, and when contemplating my dining options (and being stuck at the stoplight right in front), I decided tonight was the night.

Eamonn's is part of the Armstrong family's growing restaurant empire: there's Restaurant Eve, The Majestic, and Eamonn's, named after Cathal and Meshell Armstrong's son, Eamonn (Eve's little bro.) Eamonn's is the least upscale of the batch: as their website says, "If it's fancy yis want go to Restaurant Eve. You'll find a few stars." At Eamonn's, you'll find fried shi!#, and that's pretty much it. But that's okay -- it's really good sh!#.

It was pretty quiet -- just one guy using the free wireless access, another having the battered sausage, and the guy at the counter (the owner, perhaps?) who was standing on a bench dealing with the overhead lights when I arrived. I’ve heard it can be quite crowded on the weekends, so it was nice to enjoy my meal in relative solitude. The music playing was from an iPod -- not sure if that complies with copyright law in commercial establishments, but it was good music anyway.

The menu is pretty simple, with the most expensive selection setting you back $8.00. Basically, it all amounts to battered and fried sh!#. The focus, of course, is fish and chips: battered cod and French fries. There’s a slogan on the door which if I remember correctly says “thanks be to cod.” (Or something like that.) I didn’t thank cod tonight (I rarely pray to deities OR marine life), but went for the batter burgher instead. (I guess the added H makes it more Irish.) And the fried Milky Way -- I just had to have a taste for research purposes. I first had a battered candy bar (a Mars bar) on Bondi Beach in Sydney -- long before they were a staple at state fairs in farm country -- and have had fond memories ever since.

I perused my surroundings while I waited. There’s a FOD (fish of the day) which today was grouper. There’s also battered shrimp and shrimp salad, as well as chicken bites. Sides include cole slaw, baked beans, and "mushy peas." (I didn't have the chips tonight, but really, why would you order anything else?) Also included among the fried desserts (all quite the bargain for $2.50) were Snickers bars, bananas, and “dough balls.” I’m not sure how those differed from donuts, but perhaps that’s just what they call them in Dublin. At the register, there was a selection of unfamiliar candy bars which looked like they might be made by Cadbury and distributed in Great Britain.

In the beverage case, there were a number of canned beverages, which also must be imports from overseas, since they didn’t look familiar. The bottled sparkling water was from Ireland, and perhaps so were the rest of the selections. I sipped my wine, which was a decent Pinot Noir for $5.00, even if it was provided in a plastic cup like I was at a college (undergrad) party. All the booze (their word and mine) was $5.00 apparently -- hopefully the beer came in a larger glass, or it would be overpriced. The wine value was just right.

It took longer than I expected to batter and fry my meal, but it was definitely worth the wait. The burgher came with a sauce -- I picked curry, which was so excellent I took home the leftovers (be sure to order that with your meal, as it comes hot -- there are six other selections of mayo-based sauces as well). The thick batter was a little hard to penetrate with the plastic knife and fork, but I managed somehow. It was hot, but not painfully so (not like I would have felt it anyway) like most hot fried food. While the burger wasn’t very large, the batter and sauce made it quite filling, and I scarfed it down pretty quickly.

It was now time for the Milky Way, which was as heavenly and celestial as you could imagine. I was only going to have just a bite, but soon one became three, four, five…but I still managed to turn away from half of it or so (but just barely.) Of course, on a less restrained evening, I would be compelled to eat all of it, and steal bites of my friends’ fried bananas, compare it to the Snickers, and find out exactly how dough balls are different than donuts. But only when I can taste it all…

Rating: 4 bamboo stalks out of 4

Pros: relatively fast, inexpensive, and FRIED CANDY BARS

Cons: the selection’s not huge, but you don’t really need it to be.

Bottom Line: If you like fried sh!#, there aren’t many better ways to get it.
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