The Daily Spud

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Spud Sunday: Skinflint Saturday

Yesterday, I decided that I should let somebody else cook the spuds for a change. Seems only fair, no?

It’s not like it was a difficult decision. Joe Macken, serial restaurateur and the man behind (among others) the ever-popular Jo’Burger in Rathmines and CrackBird, the restaurant that popped-up-and-stayed, had invited a small band of bloggers to visit his latest Dublin eatery, Skinflint, to see his operation and (of course) try the food.

To be honest, the mere fact that there was a potato pizza on the menu meant that I was in like flynn. I’m easy like that. At least when it comes to spuds. And the opportunity to eat, among others, with Aoife from I Can Has Cook, Catherine from The Runcible Spoon and Bill and Sharon from Gunternation was not one to be passed up either.

skinflint sign

Skinflint, Crane Lane, Dublin 2

As for the restaurant, Skinflint is a cool, casual joint. Unsurprisingly, given the name, it boasts a value-for-money menu, which is based around creatively designed grilled pizzas. They make their dough using flour from Irish millers Odlums, and ferment it for three days to develop its flavour. It’s passed through a roller to create an oblong pizza base, and then grilled on a large roller grill. The toppings, which for this type of pizza must be pre-cooked, are added while the dough sits on the grill and it can all be put together very quickly. The restaurant also features a meatballs dish, which changes daily, and a one pot wonder from Mondays to Fridays, as well as snacks like hummus and an excellent beetroot caviar.

Skinflint pizzas

A selection of Skinflint pizzas (which, if you were wondering, are named after staff members' mothers):
the eithne (butternut squash, rosemary, ricotta, capers)
the sadie (roast garlic confit, toasted hazelnuts, tomato, fontina, spinach)
the tess (pulled pork, fennel seeds, braised fennel, mascarpone)

Behind the scenes, the kitchen is small, simple and functional. “I don’t usually let photographers in here,” Joe said, just as I had come in to watch the creation of my potato pizza, the Maria. And granted, there really is nothing flashy about the kitchen space, but that, to me, was neither here nor there. I was more concerned with the progress of my pizza, as it was scattered with slices of potato, mushrooms and mozzarella, and drizzled with truffle oil and cream. I beat a swift path back to my seat once it was ready and got stuck in. At Joe’s recommendation, Skinflint’s chilli-spiked honey, Firebee, was providing a popular finishing touch to pizzas all around the table.

Skinflint kitchen

Inside the Skinflint kitchen:
the roller for the pizza dough, the dough on the grill, the array of toppings and the finished Maria pizza

Joe sat with us for a while as we munched, though truth be told, you quickly get the impression that Joe does not sit still for long, if ever. His enthusiasm, drive and inescapable hipness give both energy and style to his various eateries, and he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. “In the office, we’ll have ten different mood boards with different restaurant themes,” he tells us, and though Skinflint is only newly open, there are exciting plans in the works for parent restaurant Jo’Burger, as well as another new project which he can’t tell us about – so hush-hush, in fact, that even close associates don’t know the details yet. All in all, it’s not the kind of story we’re used to hearing about in these tortured economic times.

“I am a skinflint,” Joe laughs, “and recession sharpens the mind.”

His businesses have to make commercial sense, so they are conceived with a keen eye on cost. Keeping things simple helps – in Jo’Burger, it’s all about burgers, in CrackBird, it’s nothing but chicken, in Skinflint, it’s grilled pizzas that can be turned around very quickly. Acutely aware, too, of the importance of sustaining the local economy, Joe is big on sourcing from Irish suppliers where at all possible – “if you’re not doing that, you may as well forget it.”

Plenty, then, to chew on over lunch and even after the pizzas were long gone – pizzas which, to judge by the satisfied looks on everyone’s faces, had gone down an absolute treat.

19 Comments

  1. I would spend every last dime at Skinflint, it sounds (and from your photos, looks) so good! Actually, all of Joe’s places found fantastic and adds to my general feeling that the hubs and I MUST return to Dublin as soon as possible!

  2. I’ll have to go here the next time I’m in the big smoke. Pity I wasn’t there to go with you guys…

  3. Daily Spud

    Monday, December 12, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Tangled Noodle: you know you need to come back – I think we’re amassing quite a list of places that you’re going to need to visit when you’re here!

    Sharon: definitely a pity – do check it out when you’re up next

  4. “In like flynn”… I love it!

  5. Daily Spud

    Monday, December 12, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Ha, glad you liked that Jane!

  6. Love the concept, love the food; but music at ear-splitting volume means I eat somewhere else.

  7. Daily Spud

    Monday, December 12, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Ah, the music wasn’t at anything like that kind of volume when I was there – don’t know if that changes in the evening time though…

  8. Where exactly is the restaurant? Is it where the old Crackbird was?

  9. Daily Spud

    Monday, December 12, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Yep Stef, it’s at no. 19 Crane Lane, where the old CrackBird was

  10. Good stuff, that pulled pork pizza sounds absolutely amazing.

  11. Daily Spud

    Monday, December 12, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    The pulled pork pizza definitely seems a popular choice Stef, enjoy!

  12. I can vouch for the pulled pork pizza–all the fennel gives it a porchetta vibe and it is really delicious. I fell in love with the eithna, though. I would never think of pairing butternut squash with capers but it’s a great combo. And with the Firebee honey? *shudder*

    So great to share another meal with you, Aoife! All we had that night for tea was a slice of toast we were so stuffed.

  13. Yeah Bill, the first thing I thought when I saw it was porchetta; it also reminded me that it’s about two years since I last made that, I’ll have to change that soon!

  14. Daily Spud

    Monday, December 12, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Bill: agree with you on the eithne – I love both butternut squash and capers and will be putting those two together in future, I can tell you (along with a good drizzle of that Firebee honey – so happy to have a personal stash of same!)

    Stef: sounds like you have some cookin’ to do there :D

  15. Sounds (and looks!) like an excellent place. I can’t wait to try it next time we are in the East. It sounds like he has great business sense when it comes to feeding people!

  16. Daily Spud

    Monday, December 12, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    I think you’re on the money there, Móna – he does seem to possess a keen sense of what can work well when it comes to feeding people alright

  17. What great flavor combinations in the pizzas! Looks like all manner of Keen Stuff is going on in the Irish Food World these days! And, what a fun group of folks you got to eat with. That always makes a meal even that much more Fantastic!

  18. Curious to know what is in the works — I love soup and proper peasant food…beany stew, lentil soup, and tomato soup especially (pret does gorgeous tomato soup).

  19. Daily Spud

    Monday, December 26, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Jenni: couldn’t agree more – good flavour combinations are great, but good company is even better :)

    Colleen: I’m curious to know the full details myself! I’m sure all will be revealed in due course…

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