Eating Out: WWF Royal Rumble and bacon-battered desserts – what more could a 30-something ask for?
72-74 Queen Street
00353 1 532 2699
YOU might not like Token. You probably shouldn’t like Token. Or you might looooooooooove Token. It could be the place of your cold-sweat, waking nightmares. Or it could be the place of your misty-eyed nostalgic dreams. Me, I’m a dreamer.
I’m also a 39-year-old man, which is one of the key demographics they’re going after. More specifically, the type of 39-year-old man who, a quarter-of-a-century ago, would have considered a place like Token the very apex of civilizational development.
It’s in the Smithfield area of Dublin, not far from the Liffey and nothing outside much suggests you’ll get something to eat inside. The windows are almost completely blacked out but if you press your nose to the glass you can just about make out what looks awfully like an amusement arcade. Head inside and that’s exactly what you get.
The distinctive soundtrack of tones, beeps, bleeps and music more familiar to your pre-teenage self than anything on Top Of The Pops tells you you’ve fallen down a rabbit hole to your youth.
There’s also a bar and tables that tell you there’s more to spend your pennies on than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Street Fighter 2.
“Table for two?” asks the cheery server. “Yes, please,” replies the googly-eyed man-child.
All the staff are cheery, all are helpful, all are perfect for this place. The type of food they serve is a perfect fit too. Burgers and tacos and hot dogs and barbecuey things; fries with all sorts of gooey stuff slathered over them; lots of craft beer.
The menu is printed on a few A4 sheets on the front of a ’90s game magazine and is one of the reasons you shouldn’t like Token. It’s a bit smart arse, a bit unnecessarily crude, a bit too cool for school. Jokes about sausages, stuff like that.
They make their own hot sauce for their Buffalo chicken – “none of that Frank’s BS” the menus smugly declares, missing the point that Frank’s hot sauce, the original one used when Buffalo chicken wings were invented, remains a perfect spicy, vinegary base for Buffalo flavoured anything.
Just because you can get it in corner shops here now doesn’t make it a bad thing. But I’m knit picking here: They’ve got WWF Royal Rumble!
What’s that? The food? Oh, the food’s bloody great. With so much else going on (there’s pinball machines downstairs as well) you might wonder how much attention is being paid to what’s being served.
But strip away all the rest and what you’re left with is well worth sitting down for. All joking aside, the sausage in the chihuahua dog would stand up for itself on any plate, holding its own here under braised short rib chilli, bright, sauerkraut slaw and punchy raw jalapenos.
The chicken tenders were crisp but still perfectly juicy and, although their hot sauce is tasty it doesn’t have the zip you associate with the classic Buffalo they’re so dismissive of. It’s a bit darker, a bit smokier. Still good.
Thin, crispy fries came with bacon jam and Parmesan. Probably awful for you. Gorgeous. Speaking of which…
One of the dessert choices would probably be best filed under “morbid fascination”. Not the churros, which were hot, crisp and pillowy with a jaffa cake dip that was a bit too thick but ended up being scraped out of its pot to within an inch of its life and a banoffee one that wasn’t heavy enough on the ‘offee’ part of the equation.
Now, take these words and make something out of them: Cup, peanut, Reese’s, butter, bacon-battered. It was ordered without any expectation it would be finished. It was gone in 60 seconds.
The terrifying prospect turned out to be essentially two little, hot doughnuts full of chocolate and peanut butter. I couldn’t detect the bacon but some palates obviously just aren’t refined enough for that type of subtle flavour construction.
Maybe not subtle – it’s not the word that springs to mind in Token (the bill, which included a smashing take on a bramble from the cocktail menu, came in a game cartridge box) – but really good. If you’re game.
Chihuahua dog €8.95
Buffalo chicken tenders €7.95
Herb fries €2.95
Bacon Parmesan fries €5.95
Peanut butter cups €4.95
Gamma Ray bee €6.50
Cammy’s Hat cocktail x2 €19.90
Rum Can cocktail €6
Total €69.10 (£60.77)