I’m stalking Gay Byrne. Not literally, you understand, but I am developing a fondness for Howth that means I see the great man more often than previously. Howth is one of the few places that feels like a fishing village. The trawlers are all tied up alongside the docks, and seals swim in and around them as children throw them fish heads, which they have got from one of the many fishmongers running down West Pier. On a Sunday the place is packed with shoppers going to the farmers market in front of the harbour, the restaurants are all full of people, and the fishmongers are all open, doing a roaring trade as people buy their fish for the week at very reasonable prices.
This isn’t the scene form some imagined Howth Festival, though they do have one, this is any and every week. As I stand there I get seriously ticked off that there is no corresponding place on the Southside, it’s not like we don’t have a coastline. One of the places to grab a bite on a day out is The Bloody Stream, just outside the Dart station.
The Bloody Stream is a more than a bar that serves food. By this I mean it has a proper menu both for lunch and dinner and the service and interior has more in common with a restaurant than a pub. The interior is very long, rather dark in a comfortable sort of way, and the décor is heavy on the wood. Some of the flooring is made of stone flags - a response, I learnt, to the occasional flooding by the eponymous stream itself, which flows right under the building.
Deirdre and myself found our way in one Sunday afternoon, having shopped for vegetables and fish along the pier. The place was packed but the waitress found us a table upstairs pretty quickly and left us with the menu cards. The Bloody Stream is heavy on the seafood, it is owned by the Wrights after all, so we decide to stick with the fish. Starters include fish cakes, crayfish salad, calamari and seafood chowder all priced at between €4 to €7. Main courses offer catch of the day, fish and chips several ways, oak smoked salmon and large bowls of mussels, either tradional or Thai scented. The prices here are mostly around €10.95. We both fancy the crayfish salad, and Wrights smoked salmon must be good, but outside it is cold and wet and we both decide to go for comfort food, so it’s a bowl of seafood chowder for Deirdre and calamari with mixed leaves for me. For the main courses we both decide to have the mussels, one traditional, one Thai, with side orders of fries and spicy wedges. Large sparkling water completes the order.
While we wait we check out our fellow diners. As well as the couples and groups of friends there are several large groups, a local rugby team are in for some post match food and drinks, and just as our food arrives a group of Danish hill walkers sit down at the next table. The place is very full now, and even with the big gangs the floor staff seem to be coping well.
The calamari rings are very tasty, nice light batter and a chili dip. Deirdre’s chowder is thick and creamy with plenty of fish. Perfectly satisfactory. The two bowls of mussels arrive and they are generous and not overcooked, I probably get the better of the two with my Thai scented broth, but Deirdre happily finishes hers as well.
We finish with coffees, and get the bill, which comes to just over €50 to which we add €5 for service. There are plenty of restaurants in Howth, and in fairness some of them are better than that Bloody Stream - but this is a bar, and the food is pretty good, the service is quick, and hey, you could even bump into some Danish hill walkers. What’s not to like!