What’s the story?
We're really quite into this whole "dingy pub gets great pop up in the back" thing. Between Vurgerface in The Belfry and Dice Bar, Grálinn in MVP and Coke Lane Pizza in Frank Ryans and Lucky's, pub food has never been better. Another one that we've been hearing loads about over the past few months is Vietnom in the back of The Glimmerman pub in Stoneybatter, and while the idea of Vietnamese/Mexican fusion wouldn't have had us running for the Luas, after two excellent reviews in The Irish Times and the Irish Independent we had to check it out for ourselves.
Set up by chef Milly Murphy and Alex Gurnee earlier this year, the menu at Vietnom changes every week, and most things on the menu are vegetarian, with at least one vegan option. They work with what's local and seasonal, growing some vegetables themselves, buying others from organic farms, and sourcing only free-range meat and eggs. So far so good.
Where should we go for a drink first?
The Glimmerman is atmospheric to say the least, with Charlie Haughey and Margaret Thatcher in a bed hanging from the ceiling, beer mats all over the walls and more nooks and crannies than we thought was possible to fit in a single pub, so a drink here is a good shout. Otherwise you've got L. Mulligan Grocer for an immense craft beer selection,The Cobblestone for traditional Irish music, or Walsh's, which was named best pub in Dublin at this year's Irish restaurant awards.
Where should we sit?
There's loads of seating out the back, ranging from quirky to "I'm sitting on a plastic-covered leather sofa in the middle of a tip", but with the weather turning colder you'll want a good winter coat to eat outside. Luckily the pub are cool about bringing the food inside, so just sit wherever you can find some mismatched furniture.
What's good to eat?
The menu is short with three main options both times we visited - tostadas, banh mi and fried rice. Ingredient and flavour combinations change each week and we tried everything twice, loving all of it. We marginally preferred the tostada with cauliflower, peanut sauce, chilli and pickled onions to the one with squash, tomatillo salsa and toasted sesame, but there wasn't a lot in it.
We much preferred the banh mi with caramelised ginger and apple roast pork to the one with paneer, finding it lacking in flavour - the same could not be levied at the pork, and the lovely crunchy vegetables jammed in alongside it. Our only complaint is that we like a crisper bread for banh mi, Vietnom's being a soft sourdough, but they've had it designed especially for them and it's exactly what they're going for so we might be alone on that one.
Both courgette and broccoli fried rice came topped with an assortment of nuts, chillis, pickled onions, herbs and flower petals, and might have been our favourite thing here. To make something as plain as rice taste this vibrant takes skill, and the courgette in particular was verging on "food crack". There was so much food we took some home and there were fork fights over the last of it the following day.
What about the drinks?
Those clever Vietnom people, knowing the type of customer they were likely to attract with their food, convinced The Glimmerman to stock a couple of very nice, inexpensive wines to go with it. Ciú Ciú are an organic producer from the Marche region of Italy and both the white and red blends are excellent, particularly for €6 a glass. We'd go so far as to say these could be the best value wines in any pub in the city right now (accounting for the quality). If you're going to drink wine here, this is what you want. Forget the rest.
And the service?
Alex and Milly do everything themselves, with a smile on their faces, and are happy to answer questions about the food or make recommendations. We also found The Glimmerman staff lovely, particularly the younger members of the team who were just super friendly.
Vietnom alone is worth a trip to Stoneybatter. They can do as much 'fusion' as they want if it tastes this good, and with their focus on local produce, organic vegetables and free-range meat and dairy, it's fast food to make you feel good. Go soon, go often, and order everything.
The Glimmerman, 14 Stoneybatter, Dublin 7
Open: Thu - Sat 17:30 - 22:30. Sun 15:00 - 20:30.
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