Monday 22 October 2012

Chameleon, Lower Fownes Street, Dublin 2

Eating ethnic food can make you travel, far from our current cold and grey Dublin. This time we fly to Indonesia, but more particularly in a little Indonesia in the heart of Temple bar.

Chameleon serves Indonesian food in its unique way. They do “rijst-tafel” (rice table) to describe simply it’s like tapas: loads of small Indonesian dishes served on your table.
When you sit at your table, the waiting staff  ask you if it’s your first time in and explain how it works.

Basically you choose one “rijst-tafel” per person from the 7 listed on their menu. A “rijst-tafel” is composed of 6 to 8 small dishes and costs between €24-€33.50 per person. Order different ones between you so everyone can try as many dishes as possible. Then, the waitress brings you empty plates and lights a hot plate in the middle of your table.

A few minutes after we ordered, we were brought our multitude of plates, the table was almost too small for all of them.

I ordered “The Komodo” (€25), here is the list of what’s included, hold your breath: chicken satay skewer with a peanut sauce, crispy marinated squid rings with a sweet chili dip, balls of Irish lamb in a rich, spicy Javanese curry sauce, slow confit of Fermanagh black pork belly, wok fried noodles with bean sprouts, ginger, garlic & soy sauce, seasonal greens wok fried with sauteed onions and toasted sesame seeds. Mr. FFID ordered “The Bali Tafel” (€24): chicken satay skewer with a peanut sauce, crispy fried pork wontons with spicy dip, beef cooked in a spicy coconut milk sauce with ginger, garlic, lime leaves and chili, salad with cucumber mango, Chinese leaves with a peanut and black sesame dressing, seasonal greens wok fried with sauteed onions and toasted sesame seeds. They also served jasmine rice and condiments on the side.

It’s lot of food but a nice selection full of different flavours and textures. Mr. FFID loved the pork belly which melted in the mouth, but I found it a bit too fatty for my taste. My favourite was the lamb in the Javanese curry sauce, so creamy and lovely to eat with the rice. The spicy fried noodles brought me back to South East Asia. The wontons were crispy. We both found the food excellent. Sampling loads of small dishes gives you a great overview of this type of cuisine.

If you think the “rijst-tafel” would be too much to handle they also have a la carte dishes, with starters (chicken satay, sweet potato spring rolls, pork wontons), main courses (fresh fish baked in a banana leaf, slow confit of black pork belly) and also rice /noodles dishes. Their early bird is €16.95 per person and available all evening Sunday, Tuesday to Thursday and until 6.30 Friday & Saturday.

The setting is intimate and cosy. If booking a table, ask for one in their room upstairs, it’s so atmospheric. Their decorative colour scheme is warm, with low tables and cousins you can seat on. Chameleon is a perfect place for a date or a romantic meal with your other half but also for a catch up with friends you can nibble away with. Their waiting staff are attentive and helpful and will guide you through the menu. They surely deserve all the awards they have won.
The exotic names and flavours of the dishes brought me back to Bali, its beautiful temples, smiley people, rice fields and gorgeous beaches without having to leave Temple bar.

1 Lower Fownes Street,
Temple bar 
Dublin 2
01 671 0362

This is an independent review, I paid for my meal.