McAteer’s Food House is on Clanbrassil Street in the centre of Dundalk. This one stop gourmet goodie store is a bakery, a delicatessen and artisan shop, and a café all under one roof. On a seriously wet and windy day it is also a very cosy spot for lunch and a bit of browsing.
McAteer’s is a foodie business, run by partners Jerome and Bobby and their team. Some years back they opened a restaurant in Rathmines called Mash; the food here was honest and vibrant, and they quickly became a local success, with a loyal following among people who wanted good cooking without the inflated prices that pre-dominated during the early years of the boom. I ate there several times, and liked it a lot; but that was almost ten years ago, and the two have moved on to McAteer’s.
McAteer’s is a veritable Aladdin’s cave of good food. Freshly baked bread is available, alongside some fine wines and speciality teas and coffees. If organic honey or locally made jams or marmalades are your thing, you will find them here. The deli has a huge array of freshly made salads, or the staff can make up hampers to suit most occasions or pockets. The store blends old fashioned service with a great array of carefully sourced products, and the result is a food emporium of which any town could be proud.
The restaurant is at the back, and does a busy trade from breakfast through lunch. The menu is long, and different sections list sandwiches, wraps, healthy options, lunches and homemade burgers that are available.
I took a seat at the back, as far from the rain as possible, and enjoyed a homemade pate with a selection of breads and crackers. The pate came in a jar, on top of a large breadboard, with the bread nicely arrayed around. On the side there was a little ramekin of sweet Cumberland sauce. To add a savoury element, this was balanced with a red onion chutney which had an almost smoky flavour. The creamy pate was cut by the sweet or sour condiments, and the range of breads lent another element. This was a well put together dish, and certainly a light meal in itself; I had to forgo scoffing the lot to keep some room for my main course.
In amongst sirloin steak or fish and chips, a beef burrito of a pan friend hake, a crunchy topped haddock caught my eye. I got a large piece of fish, perfectly cooked with a zesty herb crust, sitting atop sautéed Savoy cabbage, a white sauce and creamy onion mash. This was a perfect comfort food dish; the delicate fish was cooked au pointe, and complemented perfectly with the crispy topping. Beneath the spring onion mash was sinfully creamy, while Savoy cabbage is underrated and underused; I struggle to remember a dish in which it hasn’t worked well.
I finished with a good coffee, and on the way out the staff were getting the shelves restocked for the winter. McAteer’s was a treat; fine food and friendly service is a good combination, and if you need to stock up on goodies, or have some good, honest food, they are hard to beat.