A Fishy Dishy Adventure in Carlingford
When anyone asks us where we live, we always say “about halfway between Dundalk and Carlingford”. Nobody ever says, “I had a great weekend in Dundalk once”. People do tend to say I was at a stag party or a hen party in Carlingford and had a great weekend. The last person I spoke to on this topic was raving on about the village and how great it was. It set us in a mind to have a night out there.
Whenever we are going out to eat, we tend to head for Dundalk. It’s a habit as much as anything else, but it was formed from a couple of bad experiences in Carlingford. We have landed there early in the week to find every restaurant closed for their day off. We have arrived later in the week but also later in the evening to find them all closed for the night. We have timed it spot on to be there earlier on a weekend evening only to find them all booked out. We managed to get a table one night in a restaurant to be told they only accepted cash. This is in a village with no ATM. We eventually gave up.
Last night we decided to give it another go and this time we messaged Fishy Dishy on Instagram earlier in the day to reserve a table. They never replied, but we were determined so we phoned them when they opened at 5pm and a table was secured for 8pm. We took cash and card and we hopped into our 1971 VW Bus named Blue because it is red, and we are hilarious. Blue is even more hilarious and decided to go on fire about half-way to Carlingford. The cabin filled with smoke and after I managed to get the many latches and buckles of the 52-year-old seatbelt undone I sprang into action with a fire extinguisher. I pulled the bonnet open just as a very nice couple walked past and decided to stop and tell me how much they loved our van. “Great, I said, let me just put the fire out and we can chat”. Anyway – it turns out that there was no fire – perhaps the complicated and ancient heating system that uses exhaust gases to heat fresh air for the cabin has finally rusted through and is sending exhaust gases into the cabin and fresh air out the tailpipe. Who knows. We restarted and opened some windows and headed on towards the village.
The gentleman who was the inspiration for our visit after he raved on about Carlingford had shot down my negative suggestions that it was full of drunken stag parties and hen parties and a rather unpleasant place to try and drive or even walk through on a Saturday night. He said he was there for a long weekend and never saw a single learner driver sticker. I only mention this because we had plenty of time to ponder his words as we travelled down the main street at 2mph behind a drunken best man and a group of women with half of the Woodies DIY party section hanging off their boobs.
We got parking and arrived at Fishy Dishy for 8pm on the dot. Now I bet you have read this far, and you are expecting this rant to go into overdrive. But no, we were greeted and looked after all night by exceptionally pleasant and efficient staff. The restaurant was spacious, well maintained, and has great views of the kitchen. The menu was fish heavy as you might expect but there were a couple of steaks on it. I never order steak in a restaurant. Any meal that starts with the waiter asking me how I would like it cooked is just setting expectations that can never be matched. If I was to order a steak my answer would be “Can you please ask the chef to select the best steak he has and then cook it as he sees best to intensify the flavour, render the fats, find a balance between tenderness and texture, and provide a contrast between the charred bark and the mouthwatering centre. If he could please source the steak from a local craft butcher and use a lightly smoked sea salt for seasoning and beef dripping as the oil that would be great”. But on the rare occasion I have ordered a steak I have just said “medium please” and even that has often worked out poorly for me.
Seems I did make this into a rant, but not about Fishy Dishy, I was going to say that based on the absolute perfection of the fish we ate I genuinely believe this might be a restaurant where you would be in great hands with the steak. Any chef that can consistently and repeatedly turn out a variety of different sea foods all cooked to brilliance is probably the right man to handle your meat. And since this was an open kitchen, I did only see men cooking, I am not being sexist.
Laura had lemon sole, and it was probably the best fish I have ever tasted. It came with a lemon and thyme sauce and lots of dill. For sides she had perfect restaurant chips. I had the monkfish on a bed of spinach and mash. It was perhaps the second-best fish I have ever had. Unfortunately for you I am not a huge fish eater so the league table is a short one – but after last night I may be a convert. For starters we shared a prawn Pil Pil and a fish cake. The fish cake was full of very tasty fish, which may seem normal to big fish eaters, but for me my experience of them is a lot of potato and not much seafood. The Pil Pil was perfect for me, but Laura wanted more chili in it. For dessert we shared a rather delicious plate of profiteroles. The only part of the meal I didn’t enjoy was the Heineken 0.0%. Christ that stuff is muck. But that’s hardly the restaurant’s fault – it is 100.0% Laura’s fault for making me drive.
Highly recommended. So is Carlingford – it’s a lovely little village really and has one of the best butchers in the county in it – Olive Savage - which is where Fishy Dishy get their steak as it happens.