Monday, 3 November 2014

Distractions in Dublin: Evolved eating and sciencey stand-up

What’s a scientist to do with their elusive downtime in downtown Dublin? If you answered along the lines of ‘stuff yourself silly then laugh your eyes out’, then I have a treat for you!

This week, I hit up one of Dublin’s best steakhouses: Darwin’s. After a singularly delicious meal, I made my way down to Vicar Street where none other than Dara Ó Briain is kicking off his new tour: Crowd Tickler.

The evening started off at Darwin’s Steakhouse on Aungier Street. Named after the great naturalist and author, Charles Darwin, Darwin’s proudly offers locally sourced beef cuts for a small range of delicious steak options. Being an evolved eatery, Darwin’s also has a rather sumptuous vegetarian menu that will even have the most hard-core carnivore's mouth watering.

After a warm welcome, we were seated in a cosy, if cramped, spot that can only be described as a corridor to the back room. This is a small price to pay for a last-minute seat in one of Dublin’s best steak restaurants. The interior is themed on the evolution of man. There’s nothing quite like having a beautifully stylized painting of Homo habilis staring down at you noshing away at your perfectly cooked New York striploin steak and side of delicious garlic button mushrooms.

This meal certainly didn’t break the bank, but the price range of €30-50 was fair for what you get: a precision-cooked steak, manageable sides, and courteous, attentive waiting staff. Make no mi-steak, Darwin’s is worth the voyage!

As the old saying goes, “Laughter is brightest where food is best” and there’s no better place for both than Dublin. Along narrow streets in the pouring rain we trekked up Dame Street to Thomas Street, where the drab buildings gave way to the red bricks of Jury’s and juxtaposed against a depressing sky. Finally, after what seemed an age, we reached a little slice of heaven: Vicar Street.

On the stage tonight is one of Ireland’s famed comedy sons, Dara Ó Briain. Dara is also a favourite font of comedy to us science folk for his rants on the utter uselessness of homeopathy, appearances on laugh-a-minute quiz show QI, and his co-hosting of Star Gazing Live with Professor Brian Cox.

Dara is currently in Ireland kicking off his new tour, Crowd Tickler. A diverse crowd is in tonight. Old biddies were climbing up flights of stairs to the standing area, the middle class of all ages had taken the best central seats, and of course students were dotted everywhere. I had seen Dara on his last tour, Craic Dealer, some years ago. His stage presence and quick-fire joke style have not diminished one iota since then.

Once the laughs started, it didn’t stop. During an old joke (the only old joke of the night) I made a run for the bathroom. The chatter in the men’s room was all praise for the lively comedian. The topics in the second half ventured into the scientific, as I’d secretly hoped. Only Dara can make the impending Helium shortage, the consequences of misused antibiotics, and the dangers of anti-vaccination opinion seem hilarious. The red thread running through his comedy all night was also based on brains, minds, and psychology – interesting, informative, and side-splittingly funny.

At €30 per ticket, this was a great night spent and judging from the crowd, they loved it too. Dara’s Crowd Tickler tour is continuing soon in the UK and is well worth attending.

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