The Saucy Cow: saucy? Yes! Cow? No!
Crossguns bridge, a sort of confluence between Phibsborough, Drumcondra and Glasnevin, has become quite an impressive food corner. Within a two minute walk, you can get quality souvlaki, pizza, bao buns, quesadillas, and most notably, the most punchy vegan food you’re likely to come across.
If your Instagram algorithm is in any way food inclined, chances are you’ve already stumbled across The Saucy Cow’s profile. Every post is vibrant and mouthwatering, showcasing their finest burgers, loaded waffle fries or whatever they’re getting creative with at the time. The bright blue shipping crate of the burger joint has just as much attitude in person. Ordinarily, Eatyard would be bustling with hipsters with drinks in hand, vibing to the upbeat, romantic music blasting overhead. The music is still here, and while the yard isn’t full of attendees, it still is an impressive mosaic of graffiti and colour that manages to produce a coherent loud mood — like those club bathrooms made up to look graffitied, but in a manner just organised enough to be considered stylistic. The tone is somehow saved by a queue of beanied clientele gossipping in a line, excited for the food, and perhaps for the chance of real socialisation.
“Taking inspiration from the Big Mac pays off, and unlike other vegan alternatives, it’s familiar in its calories and has that rustic appeal that would never be conflated with the vegan-for-health style of cuisine. “
“The Big WAP” was recommended to me by the very friendly people behind the counter, so who was I to refuse? Crispy double Beyond burgers are their well established meaty beef burger alternatives consisting of tart pickles and two halves of a soft fulfilling bun make for a great mouthful. The “cheese” here takes the form of a sauce, working harmoniously to unite each flavour. Onions, lettuce and pickles take the edge off and each provide a satisfying texture as you crunch through. Taking inspiration from the Big Mac pays off, and unlike other vegan alternatives, it’s familiar in its calories and has that rustic appeal that would never be conflated with the vegan-for-health style of cuisine.
Go for the waffle fries, which are sculpted to maximise the crispness of potato. It’s all about the surface area—intense crunch, minimal fluff. Dusted with paprika, it’s a great twist on the well known. They are more substantial and irresistibly addictive than traditional chips. A great chaser to a wonderful burger, they make a complete satisfying meal for even the fussiest of carnivores.
Out of the seven or so items on the menu at any one time, they offer a couple “chicken” burgers with their soy substitute, Chick. Their spicy edition, The Hot Papi, is special. Built around the soy patty’s sublime crunchy coating, the sweet sting of buffalo sauce and creamy ranch packs in the flavour between their great bread. It mightn’t fool anyone into thinking it’s real chicken, but each bite of crunchy, creamy, heat sends you right back for another. Don’t expect to look like a cool Phibsborough hipster while eating it, it’s getting all over you no matter what.
Crossguns Bridge, The Bernard Shaw,
Drumcondra, Dublin 9
The Big WAP €12.90
Hot Papi €9
Waffle Fries €6
Bob McLarnon, instagram @barrowdublin
Village Pizza Dublin
Around the corner from Eatyard, there is a brightly coloured trailer parked on Phibsborough road. Village Pizza Dublin’s fire winks at passers-by, enticing them with its smoky and sweet aroma of top quality pizza. The queue sometimes stretches, but the joy of eating one of Dublin’s best pizzas on the grassy banks of the canal is irresistible.
Despite the small space, Village Pizza Dublin has a lot to offer. Their two charming chefs, Neil and Allegra (my housemate) dance around a wood fired oven to the beat of their ever funky playlist. The small space might be a blessing in disguise: the order may take a little longer, but this means that they can ensure that it is made to perfection. There is pride in every pizza, and it feels like an honour that each one is personally cooked. And with warming lights and hot plates, your pizza stays piping hot while the order is completed.
This personal touch is reflected in their delivery service. I often find pizza delivery to be disappointing: too often cold, and looking slightly dishevelled. Village Pizza Dublin didn’t even bother with the exasperating service of Deliveroo, knowing that their product was too precious and delicate to wait around for their drivers to (maybe) turn up. Instead, they employ their own drivers, who have a meticulous attention to detail: they have been instructed to cycle sitting upright to keep the goods level. They also slip hot plates into the bag, so the pizzas stay hot. You can book through their dedicated website, or through the phone.
“But what makes their pizzas so good? The dough follows Neapolitan principles, but is different to the pizzerias in town.”
But what makes their pizzas so good? The dough follows Neapolitan principles, but is different to the pizzerias in town. It has a perfume and digestibility which suggests the use of a preferment – this makes the dough have a distinguishable taste of its own, and a lightness that won’t leave you feeling bloated. Their oven always has a roaring flame, and this high temperature creates beautifully charred micro-blisters (aka leopard spots) which crackle and burst with flavour.
The toppings don’t disappoint either. As much as possible they use local ingredients (Irish tomatoes aren’t up to much…): Toonsbridge mozzarella from Cork; charcuterie from The Wooded Pig in Meath; Lilliput Stores olives and olive oil; and even home-grown kale. They’re treated intelligently too: the aubergines are roasted directly in the wood-fired oven, lending a juiciness and smokiness which cannot be achieved in a conventional oven.
This pizzeria is brilliant because it is not totally Neapolitan, and neither do I think it is trying to be. Take the Funghi Bianca, their best pizza; it holds seven types of wild Irish mushrooms, pre-roasted in the fiery heat of the oven (to similar effect as the aubergines), with the Toonsbridge mozzarella, and is dressed with cherry tomatoes, rocket and parmesan. Their pizzas are not pale imitations of those in Naples (which is all that many of Dublin’s pizzerias can claim); it’s distinctly Irish, and it’s all the better for it. The margherita still slaps though.