The first time I went to Dublin, as a hungry college student back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, I lived on beer from working class pubs, as well as fish and chips all over the place. (If I remember correctly, if you went on the Guinness Stout Brewery Tour, you would get all the Guinness you could drink. Which at the time wasn’t much.)
The second time I went to Dublin I added Irish stew, bangers and mash, soda bread, Dingle Pie (mutton in a pastry shop) and colcannon (mashed potatoes and cabbage ) to my diet, as well as many rare and long cuts of beef – cooked slices of lamb.
I ate well. But my diet was still very blue collar. And that’s one of the joys of Irish cuisine. As culinary writer Colman Andrews finds in his brilliant volume, âThe Country Cooking of Ireland,â it’s a land of farm-to-table food, with excellent artisan butter churns, bakers, cheese makers and more. . Ingredients that dazzle diners in Dublin’s top restaurants like Chapter One. But even at its highest level, it’s casual dining.
And it’s hard to find more casual dining than the duo on Riverside Drive in Toluca Lake / Burbank, who just might be the vanguard of transforming this studio-adjacent strip into our very own Little Dublin. And maybe a little ironically, what I ate on Riverside takes me back to my college days haunting the side streets of North Inner City and Portobello.
Despite the fact that The Auld chip shop (4007 Riverside Drive, Burbank, 818 861-7777) looks like a stall that only serves fries, there’s actually a lot more going on here. Indeed, for a restaurant where you order at the counter, then find a table inside or outside, the menu has unexpected depths. It is presented as a “traditional Fish & Chips”. But even at this level, tradition is not as solid as a rock. In addition to the fries, you can order sweet potato fries. And as the menu notes, âAll fried foods can also be made gluten-free! “
The fish and chips offers a choice of cod, haddock, redfish or jumbo shrimp – all chewy and sweet in their crispy coating. But there is also a section called “Traditional Irish Fare”, where you can find bangers and mash, Malaysian curried chicken and charred grilled Atlantic salmon.
But let’s deal with the name of the dish for a moment. The first item under “Petits” is homemade fries or sweet potatoes. The menu says, “‘Sale’ them any way you want for $ 2 a sale.” And the choice of “sales” goes to curry sauce, whiskey aioli, garlic aioli, caramelized onions and both Dubliner cheese sauce and vegan cheese sauce. by Misha. Or, if you wish, you can bake your fries in a butty crisps, made with Kerrygold butter and a freshly baked ciabatta baguette, with a red or brown sauce.
There is a bunch of pies (from the shepherd, from the rooster, from the lamb, from the fisherman), a nice seafood chowder and Guinness Stout on tap. I can drink more now than I did then. But it’s still like drinking liquid oatmeal. I can feel it filling up, with every sip.
Just down the street there is Mrs Robinson’s Irish Pub (10111 Riverside Drive, Toluca Lake, 818-985-3359, www.mrsrobinsonsirishpub.com), which is as close to a real Dublin pub as anywhere I have been in town. With the exception, of course, of the sunny patio at the back, which is very rare in rainy Ireland. With sports on TV and framed scores on the walls, they don’t miss a turn here! I mean, song titles like âIreland Must Be Heaven for My Mother Came from Thereâ and âAlong the Rocky Road to Dublinâ – how perfect can that be?
There is a long bar and a small kitchen that cooks a lot of food. And a very eclectic set of foods to that.
There’s fish and chips, of course, as well as Irish stew, bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie and “Leprechaun Balls” – fried mashed potato balls filled with leeks, with mustard. Guinness house on the side. There are also fries with diced corned beef. And a good Irish breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, bangers, hash browns, baked beans and a grilled tomato. You can get breakfast for $ 6 more – a little revelation do not know.
But there’s also a Southwestern taco salad, quesadillas, and Beyond Beef sliders. Spaghetti and Beyond Meat marinara sauce too. With a gluten-free chocolate brownie for dessert. Despite that, with Guinness, corned beef hash and eggs, and Irish nachos, this is certainly a Dublin outpost. But it’s also on Riverside Drive. A taste of old grass, on a much more recent lawn. Where chewy tacos are both expected and served.
Merrill Shindler is an independent Los Angeles-based food critic. Send an email to [email protected]