Dera, Dublin, Ireland
Lovers of the famed Lahore and Tayaabs restaurants in London should know there is a welcome bedfellow across the Irish Sea. The Dublin curry scene is generally not that good and over-priced but Dera is one that hits the mark.
Smarter and smaller than its London-Pakistan counterparts, Dera offers all the usual curries (Dhansak, Jalfrazi, Balti etc) and a good vegetarian selection (Shahi Paneer, Channa Masala, Mushroom Bhunna etc) but as when visiting its more famous friends there is only one way to go – the BBQ meats.
For anyone who has had a lamb chop or Sheehk Kebab (probably as a starter) in another restaurant, please wipe your memory. Most are just pale imitations of the Pakistani-run restaurants.
The Sheehk Kebabs (€9.99) are large and meaty, and are delicious with a bit of the creamy mint sauce smothered over them. The Lamb Chops (€9,99) are so beautifully marinated that they require little more than the odd mouthful of the crunchy salad and a tear of naan. And the Chicken Tikka (€9.99) will have you wondering exactly what it is that you’ve been eating up until now. All of these dishes are served with either pilau rice, naan or chips so are meals in themselves. Especially as the popadoms and pickles are complimentary.
Lamb Chops and Chicken Tikka. Skip the curry with the usual sauce and get stuck in.
Frankly, you should look no further, at least on the first couple of visits. However, if you are one of those people who insists that “a night out for curry” is not a curry without that tomato/onion sauce over your food then there are are starter portions of these same dishes before you tuck into the old-school favourites. Better, would be to get a group of friends together, order a couple of the meaty platters to share and add in one or two curries or side dishes. I usually go for vegetable options like Paneer Karahi (€9.99) or Bindi Bhaji (€7.99) when I go down this route, to ensure there is plenty of room for the meat. If you are really in the communal spirit there is a raised area in Dera by the entrance where you can eat cross-legged or lounge against cushions while you swap dishes.
The restaurant does not serve alcohol but the Sweet or Salt Lassi (€2) or Afghani Green Tea (€2) makes a nice change until your drift back into the Dublin air and its 1001 pubs.
Dera, 138 Parnell Street, Dublin 1, Ireland. Tel: +353 (0)1 5388-800 or (0)1 5388-900. Open: daily 1pm till late.
Scores on the Tandoors
Service and friendliness 7
Vibe 6 (Tuesday night)