If you’re like me, a lot of your really vivid memories will revolve around food. I can still remember every last forkful of the delicious linguine with broad beans and cream I ate in a San Francisco restaurant we happened upon on our honeymoon. As a child I was less discerning. One of my favourite meals was breaded turkey and cheese burgers in a bun with plenty of ketchup. Not something I’d eat now, but I remember the joy of each cheesy, rubbery bite! I loved those overly processed burgers, but I remember how much I hated coconut milk the first time I tasted it as if it’s yesterday. Thai restaurants weren’t as ubiquitous then as they are now, so a visit to my uncle’s house for a takeaway was my first introduction to a Thai green curry. It tasted like sun cream.
These days coconut milk is a staple ingredient in our house. It doesn’t taste like sun cream any more! My go-to curry is a duck massaman from Diep at Home. It’s thick and luscious and very few places do it as well. This means that when I find a good one, it stays with me for a long time!
Opium on Wexford Street managed just that.
Opium is a Pan-Asian bar and restaurant that has been open since late 2013, and somewhere I’ve wanted to visit since then. It was worth the wait. Its low, warm lighting gives it a cosy and luxurious atmosphere. The dark wood and tan booths further enhance this.
Choosing from the Dinner menu, 3 skewers of tender Beef Satay were thinly sliced and cooked pink. I was impressed. They were served with a generous bowl of silky peanut sauce. It could have been slightly more spicy, but the addition of crunchy peanuts contrasted nicely with the melt in the mouth beef.
Claypot Lamb was up next. This is described as a slow braised massaman curry and you can tell. The lamb fell apart in the mild, rich sauce, and the baby potatoes and cashew nuts added texture. It was as good as my Diep favourite, and maybe even better.
At this stage I was full, but I was intrigued by the Chocolate Brownie and Peanut Butter Cream Pie. A pie it was not. A flourless brownie was topped with peanut butter cream with vanilla ice cream on the side. When it comes to brownies, I know what I like. It was very good. Not the best I’ve ever had, but still very good. The cream didn’t have enough peanut butter in it, but it paired nicely with the rich brownie.
A couple of Sex in the Forest cocktails (a refreshing mix of blackberry and citrus flavours) rounded off the meal nicely.
The staff are amazingly friendly and welcoming. The restaurant and bar were packed on a Thursday evening, and it’s not hard to see why. The Early Bird and Taste of Opium menus look like excellent value, and I’ll be back again to try them out.
26 Wexford Street, Dublin 2.