We'd take Porterhouse home to St. Louis if we could—lacking any good way of doing it, though, we content ourselves with another meal there. This time, we don't waste time on sampler-sized drink; Tom gets the Irish Red, and I opt for the oyster stout. The place is nearly full to capacity, so we're up on the third floor this time, at a table next to a huge copper still, which has been given a new life as a piece of furniture. The ceiling above it is also polished copper—incredibly beautiful. Through the window, we can watch a mother magpie feeding her nestful of babies, and watch the traffic about on Parliament Street.
The view inside is just as interesting: tonight, there's a female academic from Chicago loudly holding forth at a table otherwise full of students from the UK, who don't seem to have been to the US. This poses no problem, since the lady possesses the ability to chatter (loud, quacking voice) without any need to draw breath. She gives St. Louis a pasting, and pours scorn over Omaha—neither, according to her, is as stellar as Chicago...though I greatly wonder at her need to inform a tableful of intelligent people that Lakeshore Drive actually runs along the shore of Lake Michigan. I've nearly decided it would be worth whatever punishment assault gets, here in Dublin, for the pleasure of dumping my beer over her head, when we notice the two French girls (dark, exotically pretty) at the next table seem to think as little of Suzy Chicago as we do.
While I'm most sincerely sorry to note that the prettier of the two is drinking bottled Corona—surely a punishable offense here!—they're interestingly intense and expressive. Their conversation is fast and emphatic,and, while I haven't had French since high school, it doesn't take any doing at all to understand "Ce soir? Avec lui??? JAMAIS!!!"
Dinner arrives just about then: fish and chips for me, a Porterhouse pie and salad for Tom. The pie is a cute little thing, perhaps 5 inches across and1.5 inches deep, browned so dark its surface is nearly black. It's filled with chunks of very tender beef and a few veggies in a thick brown gravy. Fairly highly flavored with onion, it's delicious—so much so that the bite I do get I swipe while Tom is covertly eyeing the French girls. (Cherche les femmes, messieurs!) The beer for both of us was the Oyster we'd had the last time we were here.
My fish is a huge slab, elegantly enrobed in a golden batter. It's fried crisp, with no oiliness clinging to it, and the fish inside is moist, flaky perfection. It's perched on a huge pile of chips, thick-cut—gold-crisp outside, and mealy-good within. A full quarter of a lemon arrived with it, and, squeezed over fish and potatoes, it's the final touch required for dining delight.
There's a small pot of traditional British 'mushy peas' next the fish. These are the mushiest I've ever seen; perhaps the descriptor should have been 'mushed peas.' But they taste good, and I get around them in record time. I've also got a portion of salad—greens, garnished with slivered carrot and a splash of vinaigrette. The greens look alarmingly like dandelion leaves, and have a distinctive, spicy taste, and the counterpoint they make with the fish is stunning.
We have room to split a dessert, and opt for the bread-and-butter pudding. This is no dodge to use up stale leftovers—the bread is a challah-like triumph of the baker's art. It would be a proud addition to any Sabbath table, so, as a foundation for bread pudding, it has no rivals. Dense, sweet, and yellow with eggs, it's enhanced, rather than disguised, by caramel and chocolate sauces, cinnamon, and a handful of sultanas. A restrained scoop of caramel ice cream and halved strawberries complete the presentation, and it's so rich we can hardly finish it. Good? 'Good' describes this dish in the way a candle would be suitable metaphor for the blazing noonday sun. It was awesome, fantastic, magic.
Followed by a walk home across Temple Bar, it was perfect.