Chameleon – Dublin’s Intimate Indonesian

Chameleon is an intimate and cosy Indonesian restaurant serving contemporary cuisine in the Temple Bar district of Dublin. Opened in 1994, Chameleon has been very successful and has won many prestigious restaurant awards and has been included in “100 best in Dublin 2009”. This speciality restaurant has also been featured in the Bridgestone Guide’s “Best Restaurants in Ireland” every year since opening – which is something rather special for restaurant in what tends to be the very touristy Temple Bar area. Chameleon’s food and unique atmosphere have gained a well-deserved reputation and it is not unusual to see familiar faces returning each week or month to sample the authentic Indonesian cuisine on offer.

Chameleon specialises in Rijst-tafel (which literally means rice table). It is a way of serving Indonesian food that was devised by the Dutch, who first colonised these Spice Islands back in the early 19th century. Rather than eating just one main dish, each diner is served small quantities of several different dishes all at once. This is similar to the Greek meze or Chinese Dim Sum style of eating. The Rijst-tafel is comprised of appetizers, curries, vegetables, noodles and rice dishes. A selection of sambals (spicy chutneys) and pickles are also served as condiments to eat with the meal. At Chameleon, your dinner plate arrives empty, a hot plate is lit to keep the dishes warm and all the food arrives to the table at the same time.

I ordered the “Rijst-tafel Bali” which was quite filling even though it was advertisied for just one person. I was served the following 6 dishes served with steamed jasmine rice and condiments:

SATE AYAM
Free range chicken satay served with our peanut sauce

KARI JAVA
Seasoned balls of Irish lamb in a rich, spicy, Javanese curry sauce

BEEF RENDANG
Irish beef cooked slowly in a spicy coconut milk sauce with cinnamon, tamarind and red chillies

SESAME FRIED VEGETABLES
Seasonal greens wok fried with sautéed onions and toasted sesame seeds

ASINAN
Salad with cucumber, mango chinese leaves with a peanut and black sesame dressing

BAMI GORENG
Wok fried noodles with beansprouts, ginger, garlic & soy sauce

I have travelled to Indonesia many times in the past and have spent much of my time in Bali. Compared to the authentic food I tasted on my travels, I would have to say that Chameleon serves probably the best rijst-tafel I have ever tasted outside of Indonesia. The raised sitting area upstairs is a traditional yet stylish touch and allows diners to experience a sense of culture reminiscent of the Spice Islands of Indonesia. I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who is travelling to Dublin and wants to try a restaurant that stands out from the crowd.

Chameleon Restaurant
1 Lower Fownes Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Ireland
T: +353 1 671 0362
E: book@chameleonrestaurant.com

Images courtesy of the author

Dublin – More Than Just Guinness

Mention Ireland to someone and one of the first things they’ll say is probably Guinness. Ireland is famous for the land which created “the Black Stuff” and Dublin was were it all started. The original brewery near the centre of the city is now a museum – called the Guinness Storehouse – where you can learn more about the history of this great drink and even sample a pint in their rooftop bar which has stunning views across Dublin. The Guinness Storehouse is without a doubt Ireland’s and Dublin’s number one tourist attraction – and quite rightly so. But there is more to Dublin than just being the home of Guinness.

The best place to start planning your trip to Dublin is to check out the website for Dublin Tourism Board which gives full listings and guides to the city. When it comes to getting there, book a flight with British Midland International (BMI). BMI fly from London Heathrow to Dublin every day and although they might not be the cheapest, they are neither the most expensive and offer the best value for money. BMI are a member airline of the Star Alliance which is a network of respected airlines such as Singapore Airlines and Luftansa.

There has been a resurgence in the city centre thanks to the increasing amount of tourists from Europe and America who are now travelling in every increasing numbers to Ireland’s capital. The city is full of culture and you are never too far away from a quality restaurant or bar to sample the best Ireland has to offer in good food and drink. See our reviews of Pichet and Chameleon for just two examples of some of the wonderful dining experiences awaiting you. Dublin Castle is definitely worth a visit, if only to marvel at it’s technicolour walls which are unlike any other historic building you’ll be used to. The grounds outside the castle was the original home of the Dubh Linn (meaning Black Pool) where Dublin gets it’s name.

No visitor to Dublin can miss seeing the amazing Spire Of Dublin rising up to the heavens on O’Connell Street. It is also known by it’s official name of the Monument of Light. At night it looks spectacular when the top 12 metres of the monument is illuminated forming a beacon across the night sky. The monument itself is 120 metres high and is the world’s tallest sculpture.

The River Liffey runs through the heart of the city and splits the city up with the historic Georgian Dublin and main tourist attractions in the south and and the less touristy areas of the city in the north. The Temple Bar area just south of the Ha’penny Bridge is the main tourist area of Dublin and is filled with lots of pubs, bars and restaurants. The Ha’penny bridge is probably the best known bridge in Dublin and is famous for being the first iron bridge in Ireland. A good central hotel to stay at is the reasonably priced Eliza Lodge which is only a stone’s throw away from lively Temple Bar but manages to maintain a sense of tranquility by overlooking the River Liffey.

Famous Dubliners include the influential writer James Joyce, the witty Oscar Wilde (whose leering statue lies foppishly on a stone crag in Merrion Square) and of course the infamous Molly Marlone from the popular song which has become the unofficial anthem of Dublin. A buxom statue of Molly Malone is located at the bottom of Grafton Street and is fondly referred to as “The Tart With The Cart” by locals!

Discover Dublin on your next city break – it is so much more than just the home of Guinness!

Images courtesy of Alan Philippe

Pichet – French Cuisine with Irish Charm

Pichet is a friendly French bistro restaurant based on Dublin’s busy Trinity Street in the heart of the city. Pichet opened in 2009 and is owned by Nick Munier and Stephen Gibson. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal with stylish blue leather chairs and dark wood tables. Pichet has a colourful and interesting menu with wonderful presentation and exceptional taste and quality. The wine list is very reasonably priced and is concise but includes something for everyone’s taste. Although there is lots of choice on the A La Carte menu, if you’re going there for lunch, why not try the special Fixed Price Lunch menu which is only €25 for three courses between 12pm and 3pm. Here’s a sample of what’s on offer:

Starter – Salmon Fishcake with Pickled Cucumber, Watercress and Tartare Sauce
The fishcake was plump and succulent with a decent amount of fish compared to potato. There is nothing worse than a fishcake that’s all cake and no fish so Pichet got top marks for their tasty version of an old classic. The addition of the pickled cucumber was a nice modern twist but it was reassuring to have that familiar favourite, tartare sauce, served on the side. The size of this starter is slightly larger than you would expect which was great for me as my heart tends to sink when I’m served tiny portions!

Main – Daube of Beef with Sauerkraut and Colcannon Mash
The meat was meltingly tender and full of flavour. The sauerkraut balanced the richness of the daube nicely with its tangy aftertaste. No prizes for guessing that the mash would be colcannon – we are in Ireland after all! Again this was a nice mansized portion which was true to the nature of this relaxed yet stylish bistro. I recommended trying the New Zealand 2007 Pinot Noir from the Lake Chalice Estate which is a perfect complement to this dish.

Dessert – Rhubarb Cheesecake with Tangerine Jelly
An interesting take on the classic cheesecake. The dessert is served in a glass instead of on a plate with the different elements of the cheesecake piled on on top of another and topped off with a crisp tuile biscuit. The tangerine jelly was interspersed through the fruity creaminess like hidden gems of orange wobbly. A perfectly pleasant end to a perfectly pleasant meal.

The staff at Pichet are charming and friendly but the attentiveness can sometimes falter when the restaurant is really busy. However it is never too difficult to catch the eye of one of the waiting staff. Getting a table for lunch tends not to be a problem but reservations are certainly recommended for dinner. The next time you find yourself in Dublin don’t forget to visit Pichet and try their delicious French cuisine served with plenty of Irish charm.

Pichet Restaurant Café and Bar
14/15 Trinity Street
Dublin 2
Ireland
T: +353 1 677 1060
E: info@pichetrestaurant.com

Images courtesy of the author