Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hoping for the Luck of the Irish at Dublin 4

Dublin 4 Gastropub
26342 Oso Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92691

I love getting tips about places from people. This little gem comes from a great friend of mine that comes into my work, nearly everyday. Her name is CJ, and she definitely has some high standards when it comes to food. She makes a lot of great dinners at her house, makes her own pastrami, and has given me some tips in the past that have turned out to be some great spots. She had told me about this place over a year ago, and we are finally making the short trek from our house to Dublin 4 Gastropub.

Dublin 4 has been open for over a year now. In that time they have received some great press from a lot of the culinary media in OC. Named after a postal code in upper, middle class Dublin, this was the area of Ireland that owner Darren Coyle hailed from, before immigrating to Mission Viejo with his wife, Jean. Dublin 4 is located next door to their first business, Wineworks For Everyone. I have not been inside that business, but from what I can gather from their website, it is part retail store and part bistro, where they attempt to pair their wines with the food that they serve. After looking at their Wineworks For Everyone menu, I am looking forward to coming back and trying that restaurant as well. For now though, we are focusing on Dublin 4.

Getting to Dublin 4 can be a little tricky. They are located right by the on ramp for the 5 Freeway going north, on Oso Parkway. This is a small center, that features a Starbuck's, and very little parking in front. We valeted our car, just so we did not have to hassle with the cramped parking situation in the upper portion of the parking lot. We got to Dublin 4 on a Saturday night at about 6PM. Rookie mistake, we did not have reservations, and they were booked until 8PM. Luckily we were directed to two open seats at the very busy bar.

The decor at Dublin 4 is not over the top with Irish paraphernalia. There are portraits of Irish writers on the walls, but not a four leaf clover in sight. They definitely pack the people in here, and the room is a little on the loud side. Dublin 4 is a little brighter than most gastropubs we have been to. Customers were mainly middle aged, with a good number of regulars at the bar, mixed in with us common folk that did not have reservations. The bartenders really took good care of us, and took our orders promptly. After a quick glance at the menu, this is what came out for us.

I had checked Yelp before we had gotten here, and the D4 Reuben Rolls ($12) got some pretty high praise. These are kind of like a Reuben sandwich in egg roll form. The corned beef that they use in these is cured in house, and joined by sauerkraut, Blarney cheese, and a D4 sauce, that resembled a richer thousand island dressing, without the pickles. I really liked this twist on the classic Reuben sandwich. The egg roll was not too greasy, the meat brought a nice saltiness, and the Blarney cheese was very subtle, and just added some creaminess to the mix. Nicely done appetizer.

The first item listed on the Dublin 4 menu was this Beer Blessed Cheese and Potato Soup ($9), and I knew as soon as I saw this item, we would be splitting a bowl of this. The cheese used in this is an aged Irish cheddar, with smoked bacon, and a toasted wheat slice of baguette floating on top of the soup. This soup was not as cheesy as I thought it was going to be, thus it was not as rich and heavy. I did not detect too much in the way of the bacon or potatoes, but maybe the potatoes were in there and helped to mellow out the soup. The creaminess of this soup was spot on, and the floating slice of bread was great for dipping into the soup. I would definitely get this soup again

Katie seemed to take a long while deciding on what to have at Dublin 4, finally settling on the Free Range Brick Chicken ($24). The chicken was nice and tender, had a good flavor, and left Katie very satisfied. She was not too keen on all the skin that was left on this, but it would not prevent her from getting this again. The roasted garlic reduction went very well with this chicken. Grilled asparagus and a white truffle Parmesan polenta joined the bird on the plate. The asparagus was predictably fresh, while the polenta was flavorful, but not too rich, even with the truffle used in it.

Again, because of the strong Yelp reviews for an item, I went out of my comfort zone slightly, and ordered the Prime Colorado Lamb Burger ($16). I can honesty say that this lamb burger was one of the best I have had. The meat was nice and juicy and had a good meaty flavor. The burger was topped with fire roasted red peppers, a goat cheese, pickled red onion, arugula, and a roasted garlic spread. With all of these condiments I thought the burger would have been overwhelmed, but it enhanced the lamb. The peppers and onion added some texture, the goat cheese added creaminess, and the roasted garlic provided a flavor blast to this burger. The bun was very sturdy, and held the contents of the burger well. It is no wonder this has become a favorite of so many people coming to Dublin 4. The fries here were white truffle thyme frites. A little on the skinny side, these had a nice mellow flavor even with the inclusion of truffle used in these.

Even with all of the food we had eaten, missing out on dessert was not an option. Of the three desserts listed, the House Churned Guinness  Ice Cream with Cacao Chocolate Lava Cake ($9), was the one that sounded the best to us. Katie detected the Guinness in the ice cream a lot more than I did. It might have been because the chocolate really overwhelmed this dessert for me. If you are a chocolate lover, this is for you. The cake was good, but I expected a little better. It would have been killer if this had been heated up a bit. Also, a little more ice cream would have helped this out as well.

I was very satisfied leaving Dublin 4. I left feeling full, and almost all of the food really was done well, and with fresh ingredients. The only minor quibbles that I have with this restaurant was the lackluster dessert that we had, and I thought some of the meals were a little on the high side. If you do not mind paying for quality, this could be the place for you. We sat at the bar, and the two bartenders that were there took great care of us. Next time we come to Dublin 4, we will definitely make reservations so we can sit in the dining room. See CJ, we really do listen to your tips, it just takes us a long while to get around to trying them.

Out of five band aids, (because the South Side of Dublin is covered by the Dublin 4 postal code, and Bob Geldof is a famous resident of that area, and also wrote the famous Christmas song , "Do they Know It's Christmas", sung by Band Aid), five being best to zero being worst, Dublin 4 gets 3.5 band aids.

Dublin 4 does not have a web site, but you can find info and reviews here:

Dublin 4 Gastropub on Urbanspoon 

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