herald

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Our man checks out tiny diner that made it into posh nosh guide

One of the problems about publishing a book called The Dubliner 100 Best Restaurants 2009 is that there simply aren't 100 restaurants in the capital good enough to warrant inclusion.

It would be more correct to call the much-hyped annual 'Dublin's 30 Good and 70 Very Average Restaurants' but even I am marketing-savvy enough to realise that a tome with this title wouldn't make publisher Trevor White any money.

All the same, how come a truck stop on the fringe of the roundabout leading to the East Link bridge makes it on to the Dubliner's fave raves?

At Deek's Diner, lorry drivers were tucking into burgers, chips and beans, all with mugs of tea.

"You've come on the wrong day, buddy" said Frank, one of the drivers. "The waitress, she's only bloody gorgeous, has phoned in sick."

Jackie, his mate, quipped: "You'll have to put up with this miserable bugger," jerking his thumb in the chef's direction. Chef "Deek" was christened Tony McDonald, he says.

"My first job as a chef was at the Killiney Court Hotel. Later, I went round the world as a chef with Irish Shipping. I can chop onions listing at 45 degrees in a Force 8 gale."

The experience did not lead to any international dishes on Deek's menu. His food is firmly rooted in the "big feed" idiom beloved by the guys who wrestle lorries for a living. "It's good, plain and honest" was the ringing endorsement from the regulars. I had to try it. Verdict: my quarter pounder was no gourmet burger but decent enough. The chips, properly cooked in fresh lard til crisp and tender, were a revelation. Fried onions were tasty, too. The tea bags were of decent quality.

"I can do the other stuff," said Deek, "but there's no demand." I believe he could. On the shelf above the stove I found a well-thumbed copy of HP Pellaprat's Modern French Culinary Art.

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