Stoneybatter has come a long way. It was always a rundown but charming part of the old city, but in recent years it has been injected with new energy and a dollop of sophistication that seems to have extended its coolness down as far as the quays.
Seven Social on Benburb Street declares on its website that it is "Dublin's best-value restaurant" and encourages us to "come for the food and stay for the vibe".
Although technically not in Stoneybatter, I suspect this is where most of its clientele come from for a bite to eat before heading to the Dice Bar on Queen Street to dance on the tables late into the night.
My dining companions, V and A, have lived in Stoneybatter for a number of years, so I arranged to meet them in L Mulligan Grocers for a couple of pints of cask-conditioned ale from the excellent Dungarvan Brewery to get ourselves in the right mood.
Seven Social is an unfussy and relaxed place and our two waiters were friendly and welcoming. One waiter was working his first shift and so was very anxious to please (he succeeded). We were encouraged to try the wine of the week, a light, crispy Picpoul, and we later followed this up with a litre carafe of house wine, which was also fresh and zesty and, indeed, excellent value at €20.
While we waited for our starters we munched on some spiced nuts, that were more sweet than spicy, and some marinated green olives. The olives were as tasty as you could hope for, given that they had been de-stoned.
On a side note, when I get to be king I will be banning the removal of stones from olives, such is the damage this does to their flavour.
Our two starters to share were a nicely presented and tasty modern take on the Caprese salad, with a 1990s-style "tall food" stack of beef tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella interspersed with some sweet, charred chicory, topped with excellent pesto.
Our second starter was even more of a charmer -- a jam jar filled with chopped prawns and topped with a marie rose sauce, which had a nice fresh flavour with just a hint of whiskey.
Slow-roast Rabbit Ragu Linguini was more of a winter warmer dish than we were expecting and its rather sickly sweet taste and strong carrot flavour made it one of the more disappointing dishes of the evening.
Sea trout with crispy sauteed potatoes and good salad was much more successful and my roasted chicken leg with a butterbean and chorizo "medley" (the 1990s again) was also good. The leg was succulent and enhanced by a good mix of flavours from the beans and chorizo.
Jam jars made another appearance with the three desserts that included flavours such as banoffee, peanut-butter fudge and chocolate cheesecake, all of which were licked clean.
Seven Social is exactly the kind of restaurant you would expect to find in this area -- trendy yet charming, funky yet somehow unpretentious and good value. This is honest food and I recommend that you go along and be charmed.
Don't Miss: Taste of Dublin runs from June 14-17 at the Iveagh Gardens, Dublin 2. Visit www.tasteofdublin.ie