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Sandwiches never tasted so good

One month, two of greater Dublin‘s best sandwiches a week.

My brother loves sandwiches and has spent a great deal of time eating them and making them. Get him onto the subject of a sandwich and he will happily wax lyrical for hours. He works in financial services but honestly we know more about his ideas for his eventual sandwich shop than we do about what his current job actually entails. There are jobs and then there are passions. Food, and more specifically the sandwich, is his passion.

So, when I pondered what to get the man who has everything and who is also a known shopaholic, for his birthday, I came up with the idea of sandwiches. Not any old sandwiches though, greater Dublin‘s best! Two a week for a month, chosen by me, collected by me and delivered at lunchtime by me. It was quite a commitment but I’m nothing if not determined and motivated when I decide I’m going to do something. I researched, I sampled and I drew up a short list of contenders. I tried to vary the flavours, beef couldn’t follow beef, chicken couldn’t follow chicken. I lamented the fact that I could not find a great egg mayo sandwich in any of the great sandwich joints in all of Dublin! He loves egg mayo and it was a shame not to include one in my list.

Cauliflower sandwich from Little Pigeon at The Pigeon House, Delgany

He never knew exactly what days the sandwiches would arrive. I sent a WhatsApp on each morning that I chose, asked him to confirm a time and where he’d be (office or home) and off I’d go. Holidays got in the way, so did Covid but a couple of weeks ago his final sandwich was delivered and he named his top 3!

There were some really strong, really well reviewed contenders. It was so close. All the sandwiches deserved a top 3 finish so the margin between what won out and what didn’t was so so slim. One was a little accidental as I happened to be in Co. Wicklow and my daughter ordered a sandwich she pronounced to be the best she’d ever had. I returned two days later and picked up one for the brother but not the one my daughter had had. A risk but incredibly it ended up being his favourite! An unusual, bold, vegetarian option that blew his mind.

But in reality there was a hare‘s breath between these three, all very different but all very worthy of high praise. My brother reluctantly placed them in order but, as he said, that order could so easily have been different depending on his mood on any given day so I've listed them in no particular order.

Smoke-roasted dexter beef sandwich from Tír Deli, Baggot St, Dublin 2. Photo shows sliced bread rather than ciabatta (they have changed their bread).

Little Pigeon at The Pigeon House, Delgany

Cauliflower, feta and red pepper on Firehouse bread

Sadly when I contacted the Pigeon House to ask exactly what had been in the sandwich they couldn’t recall because they create their sandwiches from scratch and depending on what ingredients they have on the day! But take it from me they are ALL exceptional, unusual and with beautiful, considered flavour combinations. These people know how to make a sandwich. I actually returned to Little Pigeon to get a chicken and pesto sandwich for my brother after my daughter raved about it. The very helpful assistant mentioned that they had a vegetarian option and upon hearing cauliflower I was sold. I hadn’t yet got him a vegetarian option. This was as good a place as any to start! Little did I realise just how good.

Tír Deli, Lower Baggot St, Dublin 2
Smoke-roasted dexter beef, onion marmalade, Irish cheddar, horseradish mayo, salt & vinegar crisps, Bretzel ciabatta.

This was the first sandwich I got and my brother liked is so much that he went there himself and got another a few days later. The beef is succulent and tender, the sharpness of the horseradish tempered by the mayo, the sweetness of the onion marmalade, the all-important addition of crisps that give that lovely layer of texture and a little vinegary zing and a delicious firm ciabatta from the Bretzel Bakery that carries the weight of flavours so well. This is a sensational sandwich. All ingredients are locally sourced, the beef is roasted in-house, onion marmelade and aioli made in-house. This is top quality food.

Porchetta sandwich from Mister S, Camden St, Dublin

Mister S, Camden St, Dublin 2

Porchetta, salsa verde, roast garlic aioli, leaves on house foccacia.

I waited a week for this one! A special edition sandwich first showcased during lockdown, it was advertised as only available on a particular Friday a few weeks ago and only a limited number. I hadn’t yet been able to procure a porchetta sandwich (I found one advertised in Hush in Rathmines but sadly when I went to get it, I discovered Hush was no longer…that was a massive disappointment) so I was determined to get this one and get it I did. I pre-ordered to be certain. Because I couldn’t actually taste it in advance, I got one for myself too. First of all, what a delicious focaccia. I’ve tasted a lot over the years. This was as good as I’ve had. The salsa verde trickled through the yeasty layers, the roast garlic aioli coated the surface and the tender herby porchetta was actually better than any I’ve had in Italy, cooked to perfection and generously heaped atop the salsa and aioli. This was simplicity at its best…an unfussy, pared back thing of beauty, of seriously exceptional ingredients. My brother LOVED it. I LOVED it. If this was a regular thing, I would walk 500 miles for it.