Dublin City is full of hidden gems and is now also home to many different ethnic cuisines. Going out to eat should be an experience, rather than a chore. It’s important to break out of your comfort zone once in a while and try something new, something unique. Transport yourself to Morocco at Dada Restaurant with its Moorish-style dining place and its delicious, spice-infused dishes.
Not many people would pass through South William Street unless they specifically needed too. The hidden location is less than a five-minute walk from busy Grafton Street and it adds perfectly to the eccentric feel of the restaurant. Just down the street from the popular bar/club ‘Pygmalion’, the location is perfect for an escape from the busy streets of the city. The opening hours range from 4pm to 10.30pm on Saturday and Sunday and 5pm to 10pm on weekdays.
From the exterior to the interior of Dada, you are exposed to the beautiful culture and rich heritage of the Middle East, Southern Spain and Northern Africa all combined in one. The wooden tiled flooring, Moroccan lanterns, dimmed lighting and intimate seating offers a beautiful interior. The sultry, middle-eastern atmosphere is the perfect setting for couples or for a first-date.
Reservations may be required on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings as it can get very busy during this time. Otherwise, it’s unlikely that you will get a table without a booking.
The restaurant also offers an intimate bar downstairs, ideal for parties and celebrations. Ziryab bar offers a cosy atmosphere, in tune with their upstairs Moroccan décor and is open for group bookings every night of the week. The name of the bar was inspired by an incredible Iraqi singer, composer, musician and teacher named Ziryab, also known as Pájaro Negro (blackbird) in Spanish.
You haven’t truly tasted the depths of Mediterranean cuisine unless you have eaten at Dada Restaurant. The menu provides a variety of dishes to choose from. As I had visited for Valentine’s Day, I received a shared platter of different appetisers from the menu to try. The platter included the grilled aubergine pate, saffron marinated chicken kebab, fried spinach, fried chicken liver, hummus and salad on the side. Each appetiser was extremely delicious, but I would recommend the succulent chicken kebab or the grilled aubergine pate.
For the main course, I ordered spicy kofta meatballs tagine with tomato sauce and egg, served with a side of tasty bread and a glass of sauvignon blanc. I have to say these were some of the tastiest meatballs I have ever eaten. The thick tomato sauce acted as a beautiful dip for the meatballs and bread, while the egg cracked on top gave the dish that extra bit of flavour. Other dishes ranged from fish, lamb, and chicken. All of their dishes are dairy free, apart from the desserts. There are also many gluten-free and vegetarian options available, providing customers with various dishes to choose from to suit their dietary requirements.
After the two courses, I ordered the white chocolate and berry cheesecake and received a complimentary Moroccan mint tea. The mouth-watering cheesecake did not disappoint and the refreshing mint tea was the perfect way to end the meal.
When entering the restaurant, I was greeted and seated by the manager of the establishment. His warm, friendly smile set the scene for the rest of the night and experience. He was extremely accommodating and made sure his customers were comfortable.
The waiting staff were not any different either. They tried really hard to ensure the satisfaction of each customer, even though it was such a busy night. They managed to keep on a friendly face while under pressure to clear off tables before the next couple arrived. They were non-intrusive yet very kind and helpful, which is something very important when eating out.
The only downside was that after the first-course was served, the service got slower and slower. However, I wouldn’t hold this against them as it seemed to be one the busiest nights for the restaurant.
The prices aren’t the cheapest but it also isn’t the most expensive you’ll find in the city. Nonetheless, the cost makes it the perfect place to splurge for a special occasion and it will not disappoint. If you plan on having a two or three-course meal, expect to pay about €25 to €35. However, if you’re early enough, you can choose from the Early Bird menu from 5pm to 6.30pm, which includes a two-course meal for €19.95 and a three-course meal for €22.95. The Early Bird prices are very reasonable and perfect for just about anybody wanting to treat themselves.
Overall, the Mediterranean cuisine, sultry atmosphere, ethnic décor and attractive pricing combine together to make Dada Restaurant the ideal place for dinner if you are looking for something a bit unusual and unique.
Venue and Atmosphere: 9/10
Value for Money: 7/10