Bread and Bones
7 Millennium Walkway
Dublin 1
Phone: 085 215 2408

Irish Daily Mail
29 August 2015

In case you’ve failed to notice (and there’s no shame in that), bone broth is big. It’s happening and all that. It is, if you like, very much A Thing.

My late mother would be surprised, and on two levels. She would be puzzled as to why stock has been renamed (the reason may lie in that word’s association with “cube”) and she would be surprised that anyone other than an invalid would be interested in drinking (or, more correctly, eating) the stuff on its own.

The contemporary fad seems to have been kicked off by a bloke called Marco Canora when he opened Brodo in Manhattan a couple of years ago. I am told that the palaeo diet has been good to him; I have no idea what size he is, but his customer base swelled on account of the trend towards stone age diets and the and the religious avoidance of refined carbohydrates.

It took me a while to get to Bread and Bones. Good name, I thought and I checked the website. It was all a bit frenetic for me but I eventually rolled up there on an unseasonally chilly Monday evening and had a remarkably good time.

It’s all bare wood and tables fashioned from old palettes (the sort you stack things on, not the artists’ kind) and the staff are all touchingly young (or this maybe just my advancing age and infirmity). They are also friendly, welcoming and enthusiastic. At first glance, you reckon that this is going to be fun rather than a gastronomic experience.

And so it proves, to some extent anyway, but there are outbursts of very considerable, finger-licking pleasure involved. For example, the kimchee fries which may prove to be one of the best €5.50 worth of food I’ve ever acquired.

Kimchee or (kim-chi), as every kindergartner knows at this stage, is a spicy fermented cabbage dish originating in Korea. It’s hot and salty and crunchy and one of the most savoury things you can put in your mouth. I admire the mind that thought of topping a bowl of crisp, thin chips with the stuff; it’s a divine combination if not one that will appeal, at least in public, to the food snobs.

And then there were the pork bao: snow white steamed buns as light as little down-filled pillows, into which we piled crisp belly and equally crisp and fresh salad leaves to create one of the great street food gifts that south-east Asia has given to the world. This was a fine example and as good as any I’ve had anywhere in the world. Better than many, in fact.

This is the definition of comfort food and the abundance of green leaves (this is a self-assembly dish) distracts one’s attention from the fact that you’re eating the kind of refined carbs that would make a paleo fiend faint.

Now, I came within an ace of picking up the plate and licking off the “Asian vinaigrette” sauce (for which I dearly want the recipe) despite the fact that the chicken wings which they accompanied had that “meh” quality that is born of reheating from cold. It pains me to say this, as they had the rare virtue of being perfectly crisp.

Having said that, a pork “croquette” looked and tasted like an accident involving mashed potato and a pan: uncrisp, greasy and dull rather than actively unpleasant.

The active unpleasantness came in the form of onion kaki-age. I should explain that I have a great affection for the humble onion. Onion-based dishes and sauces are constantly amongst my prey.

This comprised a big bowl (portions are generous here) of chunks of onion sparsely covered in a wildly off-target stab at a tempura batter. The onion element had been overcooked to the point of bitterness and the patchy batter was groaning under its payload of oozing oil. A thoroughly unpleasant dish.

But were we underwhelmed? Was our evening spoiled by these disasters?

No. And this is quite an achievement, frankly. We loved the place and the staff and the menus stuck on old album sleeves from the far off days of vinyl and our youths. We loved those fries and those bao and the Asahi Japanese beer on draught.

And I’ll be going back to try the bone part of the menu in the form of noodle soups.

With a pleasant shared pineapple meringue mess, a generous quantity of beer and a couple of glasses of wine, the bill came to a very reasonable €89.