Usually I plan my holidays based on the vegan options, but my Easter trip to Dublin was a rare occasion when there was a different main attraction: it was the only Arcade Fire date that fit with Dr HH’s school holidays. (Of course, they announced a show in Prague several months later, but at least we got a good holiday out of it.) The second attraction, of course, was Sova Food Vegan Butcher, whose dishes I had been enjoying on Instagram for quite some time.
The menu has big hearty dishes, along with some more fine dining elements, like these scallops. As a keen Masterchef viewer, I’m always on the lookout for a vegan version of scallops, but this was only the second time I’d found them.
They were good! The scallop itself was a good juicy bit of mushroom, sitting on a potato cake and topped with kelp caviar. The black pudding was delicious (I’m crazy about vegan black pudding), and the little bits of pickled cauliflower were a real treat. Everything was so well seasoned, I wouldn’t have changed a thing!
Dr HH had to admit that my starter comfortably won: his was these polenta and chickpea balls in a creamy sauce, accompanied by a sourdough crostini. He felt that the balls were less exciting and flavoursome than falafel would have been.
We both felt like we won the main courses though, which is always a good sign. There were a lot of great choices, but Dr HH eventually narrowed it down to the chicken dish. The seitan chicken was rolled up with a delicious herby stuffing, and he loved the overall meatiness of it. The accompaniments (sweet potato puree, gravy, asparagus, broccoli, and rocket salad) were all solid but not mind-blowing: the chicken itself was really the star of the show.
I ordered the soy schnitzel, and this was not what I expected it to look like!Goodness me! There were four pieces of the schnitzel, which was a really tender meat in a light, herby batter – just like Dr HH, I found the meat to be the star of the show, which seems apt for a place with”butcher” in the title. The spiral of potato is apparently called duchess potatoes, and it was the most fun way I’ve ever been served spuds. There were various mushrooms and broad beans underneath the schnitzel, which were nice, but I only had eyes for the meat and potatoes! And there was also a pot of tartare sauce, which is probably necessary for such a dry dish – personally, I can’t stand the stuff though.
We were pretty well fed by this point, but we thought we might as well have a pud. There were only two options, and we both thought the strawberry cheesecake sounded a bit dull, so we got the alternative, which was a coconut shortbread which a quenelle (more Masterchef points) of chocolate avocado mousse, adorned with orange jelly, a tart raspberry coulis, and candied walnuts. It was indulgent without being too heavy, and we both loved it. It was €25 each for three courses, which we felt was pretty decent value for money. We left feeling pleasantly full, and really enjoyed the creative, ambitious menu and well-seasoned dishes.
I had also been looking forward to returning a couple of days later for Saturday brunch, but I felt so ill I almost didn’t make it. A short sit in the fresh air at nearby St Stephen’s Green restored me a bit, but I couldn’t really make the most of the menu.
I’d planned on trying something more exciting, but could only manage the mac and cheese in the end. Besides that hideous pile of rocket on top, it was lovely, and was perfect comfort food. Smooth, creamy, and medicinal – what higher praise could there be?
So, should you go to Dublin just to visit this place? Quite frankly, yes!