The tasting bar at 3fe has always been a place for us to give customers a little extra in terms of tasting. They often get thrown samples, asked to taste things side by side and generally used as guinea pigs for us to try new things out with.
Lately, some of our more frequent customers have gotten to the stage where they don’t even ask for a coffee, because they trust us enough to decide for them and over the last 18 months we know exactly what sort coffees they enjoy. They just sit down at the bar and we let them know whats coming and make sure its good.
Asking for recommendations is not a new thing, but I’m constantly surprised at how badly its done in this city. What tends to happen is that you ask for a recommendation and the person serving you will simply list the choices to you. This frustrates me because whenever I’m asking for a recommendation, its usually because I haven’t a clue what I’m buying so listing the options is of no real benefit to me.
Once this has been done they’ll unfortunately suggest something that is so run-of-the-mill and inoffensive that you possibly couldn’t dislike it, but its not going to satisfy the sort of person who asks for a recommendation in the first place.
I no longer drink, but when I did I really enjoyed going to L Mulligan Grocer in Stoneybatter and just asking them to pick for me. The choice was usually good and even when I wasn’t mad about it I never felt short-changed. Some of the most interesting conversations I’ve had with Colin et al were about drinks I hated. I’d pay the money for the taste experience rather than the drink itself.
Sheridan’s cheese mongers on South Anne Street is another place where they’re happy to lead you down a path with a recommendation. Fallon and Byrne’s wine cellar, Murphy’s Ice Cream, Hollands of Bray and Drink Store are other rare examples of places in Dublin that will take control of your tasting if you ask them to. I’ve also been assured that Lilliput Stores will do the same but to my shame I have yet to visit. I know.
There’s something very reassuring about someone who’s so passionate about their trade that they can have the ability and confidence to select something for you. Lately I’ve given up on asking for recommendations and started asking them for “something you’re not entirely sure that I’ll like”. The results have always been interesting, usually been tasty and I’ve consistently come away with an experience.
So, where else am I missing? Is there other places in the city where this sort of thing happens? I’m compiling a list of places for tourists to visit entitled “Tasting in Dublin” so all suggestions will be tested and tasted. I will also happily post the list once its compiled so pop your suggestions in the comments box!