You may have noticed The Cheese Pantry in Drumcronda as you’ve sat on the airport bus on your way to warmer and more affordable climes. It looks nice, doesn’t it? My friend Fiona and I made a trip out to Drumconrda on the Number 3 to see if it lived up to its welcoming exterior.
Fiona’s family home is but a half hour walk away and her local friends had raved about the restaurant to her before our trip. A tip they gave her was to look out for The American Waitress, who was said to know her wines and have a charming dose of stateside service awareness.
Imagine our joy when we were welcomed at the door by a friendly woman with a definitively American accent. We gave each other a sly thumbs up as she led us into the room.
The Cheese Pantry is a cheese shop, a cafe and a restaurant. It’s been with us since 2007 in the premises that was the Youkstetter Pork Butchers featured in Joyce’s Ulysses. As you come through the front door, past the few seats outside under a generous canopy, you’re greeted by walls of wines and chutneys, and your eye can’t help itself but focus on the cheese fridge, which is also packed full of cheese-based desserts. Our American Waitress led us through a long, bright hallway, at the end of which we could see the naturally lit and bright dining room.
We were there for the evening menu, where three courses are €22 all night every night. The menu is local and seasonal, with a hefty choice to suit cheese lovers and cheese sceptics alike.
For starters, Fiona went for the Grilled Asparagus, which was wrapped in pancetta and drizzled with a lemon and caper butter while I had the Pressed Ham Hock Persadille which came with a mesculan salad and piccalilli. Both were simple and straightforward, yet devoured with aplomb.
Fiona kept it simple with the Chargrilled Hereford 10oz rib-eye steak while I went for the Roast Barberie Duck Breast. Fiona had ordered her steak medium-rare and although it arrived well on its way to medium-medium, it didn’t hide the fact that this was a quality piece of meat. I had a few mouthfuls and, being a crisp-loving gal, adored the pomme gaufrettes (a bit like posh crisps) while the accompanying garlic butter were more of a hit with Fiona.
Our American Waitress had told me upon ordering my duck that it would arrive pink and would that be ok with me? I replied I wouldn’t have it any other way. Which is why when it arrived I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t really very pink after all. It didn’t spoil my meal too much. One look at my empty plate after I’d scoffed the lot, including the accompanying herb mash, fine green beans and red onion marmalade, was testament to that.
For dessert, we went for the smaller 3 Cheese Board, which boasted a Wicklow blue, a brie and a pecorino alongside some grapes and oatcakes. Perhaps it was my duty to ask, but I would have liked our American Waitress to give us more information on the cheeses, it being The Cheese Pantry and all.
Our bill came to €88.75 which included a bottle of Cotes du Rhone, at €23 one of the cheaper on the extensive list. A good choice by our American Waitress.
I liked The Cheese Pantry very much. Simple, casual and enjoyable to hang out in. I would, however, like to see more provenance on the menu. The Cheese Pantry fit in to the category of small Irish businesses that have to work really bloody hard to survive. It would be great to see a list of their local suppliers on their menu. It’s a small point that would make a passionate Irish food lover return to The Cheese Pantry again and again, taking place alongside the locals that no doubt feel blessed to have such a lovely little spot at their disposal.
The Cheese Pantry
104 Upper Drumcondra Road