A story to dine out on, Sunday Business Post

The Business Post’s food critic Jordan Mooney was eating in Dublin hotpsot La Gordita when she literally bumped into Leo Varadkar – but, mortifying incident aside, the night went swimmingly

Food and wine business post

I must apologise to Leo Varadkar for almost taking off his head in the bathroom of La Gordita, Dublin’s hottest new restaurant.

It was last Friday night, and I was dining with a friend to review the bodega-style Spanish restaurant on Montague Lane.

La Gordita it is the second restaurant from Anna Cabrera and Vanessa Murphy, who also own Las Tapas de Lola on nearby Wexford Street.

The tightly packed La Gordita offers three styles of seating – there are a couple of tables at the front of the restaurant, followed by a long, glamourous bar with counter seating, and high tables at the back that overlook the busy kitchen.

On the night of my visit, I’d just about managed to secure one of the latter tables and there were bums on every seat in the restaurant when I arrived – including Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who seemed to be having a grand old time at a prime window-side table with three friends.

Small isn’t the word for La Gordita – tiny might be better. It’s definitely tight, but the atmosphere is really nice, with everyone treated like a friend of the show. It feels cosy, like you’ll be looked after well.

We had booked for 8.30pm and during the evening I got up to go to the toilets, which are gender neutral.

The doors into the toilets are at a right angle and as I was going in and Leo was coming out and I absolutely walloped him with the door. Had he not been so tall, I would have hit him square on the face.

The mannerly Taoiseach held the door for me and nodded me to go in without saying a word. He returned to his table, but I could not stop laughing.

As for the food, the gilda (€3.75), a classic Spanish pintxo of a skewered olive, anchovy and piparra pepper, was spicy and salty perfection that left us wondering why we’d only ordered one each. Mojama (€12.50) was a surprise winner, consisting of Almadraba cured tuna that had the appearance and texture of bresaola with the briny bite of the sea.

The segundos (main courses) included several sharing options that sounded fantastic but ultimately, we decided to divide and conquer. Both opting for Spanish signatures, her pata de pulpo grilled octopus (€33) was incredibly tender, with an intensely-flavoured romesco and luscious potato purée offering a sense of luxury.

We left about 10.30pm and noticed that the Taoiseach and his party left around the same time.

But that mortifying incident aside, it was great to enjoy a night in a lovely restaurant.

Speaking to the Business Post, Murphy said that while business is good, neither restaurant has been immune from the challenges facing the economy.

We’ve gotten a huge amount of support from existing customers which is great, but we’re also seeing lots of new faces too, which is lovely. But any business, whether it's a restaurant or an accountancy firm or a plumber, we're all facing the same problems at the moment.
Vanessa Murphy

“We've had huge issues with our utilities and prices have been skyrocketing. But we are very lucky from a staffing perspective; we managed to hire some amazing team members. But it's tough with the rising costs - butter, flour and eggs have all gone through the roof, and they're just the basics.”

Las Tapas de Lola is ten years in business this month. “Our team at Lola’s has pulled in behind us to focus on opening La Gordita, which is brilliant, but the hope is that once everything is settled we can go between the two,” Murphy said.