A friend of mine recently started working close by which has had many benefits. Firstly, it’s always lovely to take a break from the usual office canteen chit-chat and meet a friend for lunch. It reminds me of the days pre-Baba, when I was free to go wherever I wanted without nappy bags, buggies and shouting child in tow. But what is perhaps most satisfying is the opportunity to get out and try new places, and this friend in particular is excellent at suggesting new haunts to visit.
Located on the corner of Kevin Street and Bride Street, I realised I’ve walked past it a thousand times, completely unaware of the hidden gem inside. Its entrance is on the other side of the doorway from Charlie’s Angels Hair Studio, another place I haven’t sampled.
I arrived early so thought I’d wait inside. I thought wrong. Inside it was crowded and stiflingly warm. I could see that seating was sparse and sharing a table would be necessary, but don’t mind that at all, and there was still some space available at the larger of the 2 tables. Not waiting to get in the way, I decided to wait outside. Big mistake. While I waited, two more people came along and slinked in past me, and I knew that meant the last available seats were taken, and the full complement of 7 customers were now seated inside.
When my companion arrived we squeezed inside, where one couple motioned to us that they would be leaving shortly. So we decided to wait and stood somewhat awkwardly near the counter. Actually, it was just as well we had that bit of time because we needed a translation of each item on the menu which, by the way, was handwritten on a single piece of paper. I liked that – it looked like the lists I draw up when I’m planning a dinner party. To me it showed creativity, invention and good taste. I think an ever-changing menu requires an understanding of good food and of course, an adventurous spirit, and these qualities are in abundance at Assassination Custard. To my uneducated brain the dishes seemed to be a mixture of Italian and Middle Eastern cuisines, which makes for a rich and intense collection of flavours and textures.
Our hostess very patiently translated everything on the menu for us and we selected our choices. The menu is full of lots of little dishes so we went with five choices to share between two of us. By this stage the couple had left their seats to us as promised, so we sat at the large round table by the window, joining a man and another couple who were already seated there enjoying their lunchtime delights.
Our food arrived quite promptly but not all at the same time, which I appreciated. Just as we were getting used to one dish a new one would arrive to revive our curiosity. We had a dish of bessara – a sort of hummus of fava beans and cumin. It looked for all the world like porridge but thankfully, tasted a lot better than that! We also had ndjua rolls – soft spicy bread served with ricotta, which helped to cool things down. There was something so comforting about the warm, spicy softness of the bread, and I’d happily have eaten it all day. We also had labneh (a strained yogurt-style cheese) with zhoug (a green chilli dressing) and cumin seeds, and panelle – chickpea fritters which were cut into crispy little triangles and were soft and silky inside. The fifth dish was about the only one I recognised on the menu – green beans with anchovy and garlic, which were so intoxicatingly pungent and salty.
Labneh with zhoug and cumin seeds
Green beans with anchovy and garlic
Ndjua with ricotta
I was having such a lovely time that I forgot I was on my lunch break from work. Had I a glass of wine in my hand I’d have believed I was on holiday somewhere exotic with delicious food, good company and a very chilled out atmosphere. With a quick glance at her watch my friend brought me back to reality, and my afternoon reverie was over all too quickly. We didn’t have time to try any coffee and cake, but there’s always next time.
The total cost of our lunch was €17.50 which, between the two of us, seemed very reasonable indeed. I can’t wait to go back and bring all my friends there, probably one by one since we wouldn’t all fit. I think I’d prefer to bring someone with me rather than go alone, mostly because it’s an excuse to order more food and try more of the exciting flavours on offer. Either way, Assassination Custard is now firmly on my list of favourites. Most definitely unbEATable!