Monday, August 28, 2017

Review of American Social, Brickell

If you look up places around Brickell, American Social seems to pop up constantly. They’ve a cool insta-page and it kind of feels like an A&F type place. Myself and guest star Carl were in search of weekend sustenance before a day hitting the shops in Sawgrass Mills. We strolled down to the venue which overlooks one of Miami’s many waterways, which is nice.

After being redirected to a nearby coffee shop for 30 minutes until the system came up and they could seat us..we went back around to the still empty American Social and were told to see the hostess for seating, who then told us to pick a seat in the center.. Several minutes later we were told we had to move as someone had booked this table, (It’s worth noting, at this point, Matt got a little snappy with the waiter and later apologized). What was killing poor Matt was that there was seating for maybe 150 people, but we were the only people there AND still needed to be moved!

 - Rant Over -

The food….

American Social offers punters access to unlimited omelets for $21.50… I mean how many omelets could someone really want? We decided to go with the default brunch option the world over – Eggs Benedict. I like when places try to add a twist to a classic dish to improve or make it stand out. BUT – if you are going to do this, you need to get the basics right first. It’s like the Walk-Off in Zoolander, you must first duplicate, the elaborate!

The problem with their Benny was primarily a lack of care. The muffin/crumpet was too tough, so that when you tried to cut through it with a standard knife, you make a mess trying to separate the piece you want to eat – from the rest. It’s just laziness from the Chef and staff. If the bread is tough, consider a serrated blade.

Apart from the bread, the other issue was CD-sized disc of tomato they had wedged in there too. Tomato doesn’t belong in an Eggs Benedict. It’s too watery and doesn’t add anything to the dish. (BLT – completely different story).

The highlight of the dish was the home fries, which vary in interpretation from place to place in the states - much like the Eggs Benedict. They were hot, sweet and cooked very well. There was either cinnamon or caramelizing of the potatoes and onions which gave them a soft/sweetness which lends itself well to a brunch dish.

The other major highlight of the dining experience was our waiter, also named Matt – who was a great sport, put up with Hangry Matt and joked with us throughout the morning. Really decent guy.

All in all, the place is a bit too big to care about an individual. You get the sense that it’s quite corporate, again the use of terms like ‘The System’ never bodes well for me when it comes to service. If you are with a bigger group who just want a big open outdoor space with good views to hang out and eat some food, this place is for you. It’s not a little hidden gem that will surprise you. 

It’s a safe bet.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Threefold Cafe, Coral Gables, Miami

Review of Threefold Café, 141 Giralda Avenue, Coral Gables, Miami

Okay, so it’s been about 4 years since we posted…… so apologies, we’ve been living and eating!

A lot has changed but a lot stays the same like finding a gem of a place or a super deal. One thing The Early Birds are probably doing a lot more of though is eating healthier or being more aware of the good, the bad and the ugly food wise.

After a few years living in the Caribbean, Matt has recently moved to Miami. Mostly for Instagram posts followed closely by work.. Getting the lay of the land of Miami eateries is tricky, there are many distinct genres that are distinctly of Miami. Cuban food seems to have evolved in Miami (along with very their good and sweet coffee).

Brunch is an event in Miami, and many of you who have been to 'Western' Hotels in Dubai or Vegas will know about bottomless Mimosa Brunches that can rage on for hours. It also happens here.
My new current favourite is the @Threefold Café in Coral Gables. It offers what I would consider a ‘Traditional Brunch’ – basically creative names for bastardised Eggs Benedict and adding ‘Smashed Avocado’ to most things on the menu.

Threefold Café does really, really good coffee. Probably the best I’ve had in the Miami /US to date. Which isn’t that hard, given the reheated sludge that’s regularly passed around in vats. This coffee is ground fresh for every cup by a very cool Barista guy, which is noisy due to the polished concrete floors – but definitely worth it, even if you have a hangover. Which you almost certainly do.
I’ve been here 3 times and ordered the same thing each time, which as a food blogger, is a bit limiting.

The Smashed Avo (obviously) includes; ‘Smashed Avocado, feta, lime and basil, butter & thyme roasted mushroom on ZTB bread [Add 1 (or more…) soft poached eggs* for $2.0 each] and is really well done. I think what makes this dish stand out from many other similar attempts is the mushroom and the lime. There is a freshness that comes through the feta & lime that lifts the dish from being a bit of a chew with the sourdough bread and avo, to something a lot lighter. I asked for the Siraccha hot sauce which (for me at least*) sets off the dish. I added a soft poached egg to it, because you can’t have brunch without eggs.

Price $13 + $2 for the Egg + $3 for an excellent Americano coffee + a tip round it to about $22.00. I know it sounds a lot, but again, this is Miami..

To sum up; great coffee, great service, straight forward menu, hip place. Go.

*After 2+ years in the Caribbean, I have become somewhat addicted to Hot Sauce / Hot Peppa / Scotch Bonnet.

As always - contact us on the twitter if you got some comments or even just memes to share!

Stay Classy
The Early Birds

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review of Dillingers, Ranelagh

Review of Dillinger's, Ranelagh

On a rainy Tuesday evening – what better way to round of the evening than a sneaky dinner out in Ranelagh. Ev and I said that we’d get the LUAS as we fancied some booze! We meandered past Pinocchio's, Kinara Kitchen, TapHouse and came across Dillinger's. Reading the menu outside we saw ‘Super Nacho Tuesday’ was on and knew we had found our newest haunt.

We were greeted upon entry and sat down at a rickety table that was soon steadied by the helpful waitress with the help of some corks. For those of you not familiar, Dillinger's is a kind of cool, modern bar that serves food and yum cocktails.  A place with a very trendy vibe, and considerably busier than we expected on a November weekday evening.

Supernachos – a huge sharing main course of nachos topped with mince, guacamole, salsa, cheese, jalapenos and sour cream – is the special on Tuesday at €10, so we naturally chose these to split as a main, along with individual starters – gnocchi for Matt and pork belly for me.  We rounded our dinner off with a cocktail each – whisky sour for Matt and a classic margarita for myself.

Drinks (€10): The cocktails were well-made and nicely presented – it was clear they had lashings of alcohol, always a bonus.  My margarita came with loads of salt around the glass (a good thing, for the girl who loves salt) and Matt’s blend of wild turkey bourbon, lemon, orange, sugar and bitters was tangy and refreshing.


On to the starters (€7-10): My spicy pork belly was glazed in ginger and soy molasses and served with a mint salad and crushed peanuts.  It was a nice portion size – not too big, considering we knew the Mexican feast which was to follow – and the flavours really blended well together.  I especially liked the accompanying salad which was crisp and fresh.

Matt had the sautéed potato gnocchi, artichoke heart with parmesan cream, spinach and truffle.  It was covered in a foam emulsion which while appealing and ticking the ‘fancy-food’ box disguised the neat presentation of ingredients underneath. Taste wise, delicious. Gnocchi (never know how to pronounce this correctly – assuming ‘knocky’) was tender but not soggy or glupey, Parmesan and spinach flavors were not overpowering but ever present.. overall great dish that I didn’t want to share. ( - he really didn't. Ev)

Nachos: Normally with nachos, the first ½ is brilliant as you’ve plenty of toppings but then you run out and it’s like eating original flavour Pringles…not the case here – plenty of cheese, sour cream, guacamole or guac as I've heard it referred to as. We had originally ordered sides but the waitress advised against it due to the size of the main dish, we took her advice and were glad.

Overall: Very happy with the experience – a sharing mains for €10 in Ranelagh – how could you go wrong and who doesn't eat nachos? Cocktails were made with love and had none of this premixed bullshit. Nice staff. 

As always get in touch for recommendations, follow us on the twitter etc..

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Review of Ouzos, Dalkey

As part of our anniversary weekend away, now re-branded as a romantic –mini-break (Twenty twelve fans…) we decided to start as we meant to continue. Ev had finished work in Killiney so we headed down to Dalkey village on Sunday afternoon. Matt had timed parking in the church car park perfectly to coincide with a communion/mass exodus. After 10 minutes of waiting ‘patiently’ in the car for the OAPs to get their dinted Jaguars out of the spots (Dalkey) we parked up and began our stroll.

We came across Ouzo’s on the main street. We had been advised to check them out previously in Blackrock but hadn’t had a chance.

2 Course lunch for €18 seemed agreeable and the environs were lovely.

We were greeted at the door and shown to our own booth- which is great because I hate those dinky 2-seater tables that mean you get ass-bumped by the waitress every 5 minutes. Live lobster cages on the way in – for some reason always gives me a good feeling about ordering seafood.

Ev ordered:


Chicken Liver & Brandy Parfait
“Our rich and smooth parfait served with a red onion, apricot & pecan compote”

Fun Food fact: The difference between Pate and Parfait, Parfait is sieved pate which makes is smooth (parfait is French for perfect… don’t ya know!)

Comments: Very tasty and smooth parfait with crisp delicate melba toast. Tangy flavoursome relish (compote) topped it off. What was nice about it was the individual portion of parfait served in its own bowl. I like it like this (same with lasagne... none of this ‘cut it from the bigger one’)


Chicken Ballotine

"Breast of chicken stuffed with spinach and goat’s cheese, served on mixed vegetables and potato rosti in a tarragon cream sauce"

Comments: Overall lovely. The cabbage/lettuce throughout was quite stringy and didn’t quite lend to the dish: would’ve preferred pureed carrots (think Roly’s)

Matt ordered:

Potted Crab & Shrimp

“Fresh Irish Crab meat with Boston shrimp in a creamy dill and mussel sauce topped with a Parmesan crumb”

Comments: very tasy, well presented. The Crumb had a crunch and was Parmesan-y and the crab was light and fresh. Lemon squeezed on top was all it needed.

Ouzos Fish“n”Chips.
“Fresh Haddock coated with a light tasty tempura batter seasoned with a hint of chili and fresh parsley and deep-fried. Served with sweet pea puree and Ouzos homemade fries”

Comments: Delish. Batter was spot on, really crisp and not gluey on the inside and you didn’t have to go looking for the fish inside it either. Mushy pea puree was very good (almost luminous green) although I think I prefer the texture of the mushy peas rather than a puree form… anyway the tartar sauce was very good and zingy and it all went down a treat.

Nice addition: waitress asked whether I wanted skinny or fat chips. Great to have the choice, but I like them big. (chips J)

Overall: Service was exceptional. Can’t fault the ladies who attended to us, we also got a ½ litre carafe of Sauvigon blanc for €15 which made the lunch even nicer. #boozylunch

Forgot to mention the breads that we were served were delicious (homemade brown x2 and cheesy doughy ones x2). Ev as you may have gathered from previous posts loves her carbs J

Appreciate that it was an expensive lunch 2 x €18 (food) + €15 for vino, but for the weekend that was in it, well worth it.

As always - happy to get feedback and mail us with any recommendations of places to review!

The Early Birds.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review of Aprile Ristorante, Stillorgan

Probably one of the best value eateries around, Aprile is situated above the chipper of the same name in Stillorgan village, where I spent perhaps too much time during my college years.. however don't let this put you off going!

Aprile has a superb early bird menu all week with Monday-Thursday offering 2 courses and a generous glass of vino or bottle of beer for €15.90! You also usually get a complimentary shot of limoncello as a digestif (always good!)

The menu is extensive, the staff are friendly and attentive and the food is great. We've eaten there probably 5-6 times in as many months and haven't had a bad experience. The place is always packed out too!

Recommendations & Descriptions below;

Matt's picks: Calamari Fritti & Penne Mare e Monti

Ev's picks: Bruschetta Al Pomodoro & Rigatoni All'Amatriciana

Penne Mare e Monti
Penne pasta with strips of beef, succulent prawns and rich tomato sauce, finished with cream and basil pesto.

Rigatoni All'Amatriciana

Another well known traditional Italian pasta dish with our tasty Napoletana sauce, Italian pancetta, shallots and cherry tomatoes.

Food is excellent and flavorsome, portions are generous and it's great value.

Can't go wrong folks!

If you've any comments, queries or suggestions where we should go, let us know!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Review of Tribeca, Ranelagh

TRIBECA, Ranelagh – Like Honestly?

Fetch the Mont Blanc, I feel a letter to the Times coming on!

Readers of Ross O’Carroll Kelly will hopefully appreciate the reference and hence the urgent need to inform the public of the sham that is Tribeca.

Tribeca is an institution in SoCoDu, nestled in lovely Ranelagh, easily accessible via the nice LUAS and has 24hr pay & display on street parking available.

We walked in (without a reservation- as it’s Wednesday night) to a fully-booked ground floor dining room. The waitress/Maitre'd with clipboard in hand escorted us upstairs to the bar/dining area B where there were several tables neatly arranged with nice lighting and comfortable seats.

The problem with Tribeca is simple, the food is bad and cheap. Cheap in terms of quality-where the ingredients are sub-prime. This is the type of place that will give you re-constituted chicken and pasta and charge you €16 for the privilege.


The wings are good, firstly because you get a large portion and secondly because they’re wings and everyone loves wings. At €12.95 you are entitled to a good sized portion and we split it between 2! The hot sauce was nice and the blue cheese dip was good- neither were overpowering. The wings were on the small side, there was lots of them but they are not very meaty and you spend most of your time nibbling the bits of the end of the bones.

After we finished the wings we bathed our fingers in the lemon-water cleanser and then dried our hands in the napkins provided. Point of note, the napkins came apart when you dry your hands which compounds the belief that the place is cheap. You can get a large 650g box of wings in Tesco for €2.50, so don’t tell me they’re not.

Matt ordered the Rigatoni with Slow Braised Lamb, Tomato and Wild Mushroom Ragu & Parmesan Cheese. On the face of it I was excited. Not too often have I had lamb with pasta and combined with the ragu and pine nuts spelled winner in my book.

Thoughts: Lamb looked like Tuna Flakes (that is the cheap tuna, below tuna chunks). It was really bitty and stringy and could have come from anything. I expected pieces of Lamb not a minced-paste of the dregs.

Ev ordered from the “Specials Menu” which detailed her dish as “smoked chicken with cherry tomatoes, chilli, extra virgin olive-and-garlic-oil, baby spinach and mushrooms with a Parmesan crust.

Thoughts: Not enough Pasta, Chicken came from a packet (as in the sambo-ready M&S pack) tomatoes were not ripe, Parmesan crust was only breadcrumbs and the balance of ingredients/quantity did not justify the €16 price tag.

We finished quickly, got the bill (below) and left, slightly shell-shocked at what was Tribeca. As we walked back to the car we past a host of other eateries such as the Butchers Grill, Cinnamon and Eatery 120. The latter having a 2-courses for €22 menu- which in hindsight would have been a better choice.

Other Recommendations

Main courses at MAO in Dundrum are of a similar price and better quality.
Mario’s in Ranelagh does good grub too!
JD’s Steakhouse in Terenure- A true Dublin gem.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review of Busaba Eathai Thai Restaurant (London)

Busaba Eathai

busaba, thai, london,

Continuing on with the London theme as I'm sure some of our readers have now emigrated! Apparently Busaba is a chain of Thai restaurants that I suppose us plebs would typically compare to MAO or Wagamama

Myself and Ev were walking down Oxford Street doing a bit of shopping when the expected pangs of hunger started.. Having experience of Wardour street where we had eaten previously at Wahaca, we thought it would be a good place to start! A few mins walking and eyeing up the competition, we settled on an unknown symbol which was busy and had cool communal seating.

We were greeted by some uber cool guy with slick back long hair who signalled for one of the lesser waiters to bring us to our table. We were sat around a corner of one of the tables so Ev was to my right.

As we were famished (as normal) we ordered quickly. I went for Chicken Satay in peanut sauce £4.95 to start followed by the  Pad Kweito (sen yai noodle, smoked chicken, prawn and holy basil) for £8.30. Ev ordered the Spring rolls, because it’s Ev and she always orders spring rolls… (unless there is only veg ones) and the Fried Chicken (classy bird) with Lemongrass, chilli sauce, shallot and daikon- now you know!for £7.70 accompanied with Jasmine Rice (£2.20). 

We also took the initiative to order 4 glasses of fresh Thames tap water as we were informed the food was very spicy. Bring it on I say! After about 15 minutes we were delivered all of our food at the same time which was good because we didn't scoff down the starters straight away.

Busaba, Thai, eat thai, wardour, london,

The Chicken Satay was very good, the chicken was real and plentiful. Low point I thought that the peanut sauce wasn't very runny or viscous (if you prefer) so you had to mash the chicken into the bowl to get it out #firstworldproblems

The pad Kweito was very good, the noodles were sweet. Areas for improvement would be around number of large prawns and chicken. There was a lot of veg.

The spring rolls were nice, crisp batter to which was also dunked in my peanut sauce! And the fried chicken was really flavorsome  When you really bit into the batter you tasted the chili and lemongrass and they gave you LOADS of rice (Ev is happy)

All in all a very good experience and would recommend the place to people. The service around water top-ups could have been better and I don’t like when places charge separately for rice. A few more prawns and we would have been smitten!

Not too bad value either, we tipped in cash! :) 

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