Review – a Tale of Two Cheese Toasties

Maegden (Bushmills) and Loose Canon (Dublin)

April was a real treat of a month for me and my social life. I honestly don’t get out much, but in the past few weeks I’ve managed an overnight in Portstewart with a few gals and an overnight in Dublin with my husband and some pals. Don’t stop me now, I’m heading to Manchester and Stoke for a grand day out with my bestie on Monday morning! (Look out for the Manchester blog!)

I like simplicity. I love cheese. I love bread. They are two of life’s greatest pleasures. If you’re offering a deluxe cheese toastie made with quality Irish cheese – I am here to support you and give you all my money. When I was in Bushmills I had lunch in Maegden. When I was is Dublin I had lunch in Loose Canon. Im going to have to hold myself back as I write this review because I could wax lyrical about both these places, they are both simple, beautiful places, that celebrate quality produce.

Let’s start with Maegden. 

Menu – Maegden has a simple menu of toasties, and a beautiful selection of baked goods at the counter. Their suppliers are carefully chosen for quality and locality. The drinks menu has delicious coffee options and speciality soft drinks including Karma cola and Long Meadow apple juice. Simple, but so effective. 

Food – I ordered the special that was on at the time, which was an Indian inspired cheese toastie with spiced spinach and a carrot chutney on the side. My fellow diners ordered the classic Maegden cheese toastie. The bread is beautifully crisp sourdough with the perfect amount of body and flavour to stand up to the filling. The filling is a rich, and I mean really rich, blend of oozy cheese. The flavour is sharp and salty, and each bite is as delicious as the last; the large toastie does not become tiresome as it might if it were made with lesser cheeses. What takes this toastie to the next level are the homemade pickles served alongside. I really enjoyed the sharp and juicy pears that cut through the richness of the toastie. As I’ve already confessed, I’m a cheese and bread person… so I was in lunch heaven. If you demolish it all like I did, you’ll need to walk it off. But don’t worry, you’re in the right place for a good walk and some sea air.

Ambience – Maegden also has a fantastic deli and shop, which is like an Aladdin’s cave for food lovers. So many artisan sauces, chutneys, chocolate and more. I got some Harry’s nut butter and some Lemon Drop Chilli Jam… neither lasted long in my house. `The dining tables and benches are casual and relaxed, and the whole shop puts a smile on my face. To conclude, if I lived in Bushmills I would be broke, fat, and happy. 

Now to Loose Canon.

Menu – Loose Canon is really all about the wine. They offer a large selection of natural wines by the glass and by the bottle. To go along with this they have a small, but thoughtfully designed, menu of toasties, cheese plates, and charcuterie plates. 

Food – I ordered a glass of red wine and a cheese toastie. In terms of the wine, it was lovely, and I’m afraid to say that’s about as far as my wine knowledge goes. I enjoyed it. We all commented on the cool wine glasses that are hand illustrated, and a pleasure to drink from. The toastie was made with a light, granary batch loaf. Its filling was a rich blend of cheese, with the addition of scallions and béchamel sauce. The filling was delicious, but so generous it spilled from the sides of the bread with each bite, and unfortunately I was left with a good bit of melted goodness remaining on the plate. Without bread to soak it up it became just too much to finish. Although this toastie was a simple celebration of really great quality cheese, I would have enjoyed a few pickles, or a chutney on the side, as an occasional palate cleanser on an intensely cheesy plate. 

Ambience – The best thing about Loose Canon is its location on Drury Street. Sitting out at the front in the spring sunshine, watching the world go by, was a real joy. I had to put my glass at my feet on the pavement as I ate my toastie, and although this level of relaxed dining suits me just fine, I realise it’s not for everyone. Some people may prefer to wait for one of the few tables or benches in the small shop to become available. We were there for an early lunch on a Friday, and as the wine bar began to gain momentum in the afternoon, there was a really lovely, casual, urban community spirit, as people rubbed shoulders and spilled on to the bustling street. 

For me, Loose Canon is great a great place to stop for a glass of wine and to soak up the atmosphere of a vibrant part of Dublin. The cheese shop stocks Ireland’s finest produce – but I wouldn’t rush back for a toastie.