There are plenty of memories I’ll take away from this trip to Dublin – many of them pub-based – but the addition of the haggis-sausage hybrid that is white pudding onto a full breakfast is right up there with my fondest.
Up since 2am and suitcase-wheeling weary, the first stop – at the ripe old hour of 9.30am – was at Devitt’s; a renowned pub on our side of town and, thankfully, open.
Breakfast enthusiasts will note the over-generous portion of beans – strangely flavoured and arriving in divisive separate vessel – and an unfortunate looking sausage, but beyond these minus points breakfast at this historic old boozer is a solid effort. The Guinness is good
and just like the stuff I sup in my local.
We’re back on the same stretch of road at the other end of the day, knackered and hungry after a long day of Doing Culture. We’re reservation-less, too, foolishly underestimating Dublin’s proclivity for Sunday night revelling, (and Monday, and Tuesday…) and there’s an ominous queue snaking out of Las Tapas de Lola that almost has us heading back to Devitt’s for more white pudding action.
Fortuitously, just as we reach the door one group decides to bugger off to try their luck elsewhere, the waiting having become too much, and another is guided to a newly-vacated table, meaning that our potentially lengthy delay becomes nowt but a couple of minutes until we’re bedded in to a half-inside/half-outside table at the front of the restaurant with strict instructions that we’ve got just over 90 minutes to neck tea before we have to be on our way.
The place is boomingly busy – the blackboarded specials obscured by an endless sea of bobbing heads – and it soon becomes easy to see why. Las Tapas de Lola does things right.
A refreshing snifter of tinto de Verano courtesy of la casa is, naturally, a good start; anywhere putting booze inside you within two minutes of having walked through the door being worthy of bonus points, gold stars and my unswerving loyalty.
From there we scarf a trio of breezy ham croquettas, the filling milky-light and not a bit stodgy or stingy.
There’s a lip-staining arroz negro, the shovelful of rice blackened with squid ink and the whole lot dotted with scraps of seafood; and a moreish puck of goat’s cheese whose chalky sharpness is levelled out by a slick of toppy tomato marmalade.
We get three mounds of old-school bread – just over 2€ for good stuff bought in from one of the city’s bakeries – that are only improved by dredging through the oil left behind in a dish of plancha’d Chistorra (think pumped-up peperami or chorizo for grown-ups), and there’s aioli, of course, that we splatter on everything and whose garlic hum stays with us until two showers later. As it should.
It’d be nice to have longer to plumb the depths of this inviting menu – the lamb sweetbreads and fish platter need a going over, next time – but I (mostly) get the need to turn tables, time literally being money when you’ve got folk queueing up to hand over their brass.
Anyone can bang together a menu of stodgy, greasy, over-cooked small plates and call it “tapas”, (and, unfortunately, anyone often does,) but that’s to do the real stuff a real disservice. At Las Tapas de Lola things get done properly – croquettas perfectly filled and fried, meat and bread sourced from the right places, dishes shrewdly priced – and its undoubted popularity is justly deserved. Even without any white pudding on the menu.