Irish Thanksgiving Debacle

It was an impetuous decision made just ten days before the Thanksgiving holiday. I was sitting at the kitchen table, dinette really, having my cereal and checking my email when Scott said out of nowhere:

“Let’s go to Dublin for Thanksgiving.”

It doesn’t take much to get me in the travel mode. Pretty much all I need is the go ahead and I can have us there the next day. I quickly found a great last minute deal, got the seal of approval and we were booked. It was going to be a quick trip though.

We left on Wednesday night and returned Sunday, which meant a scant three and half days in the Irish capital. Of unique importance to us though was the fact that we would be spending Thanksgiving not only away from family, but in a foreign country.

Our flight was lucky to be able to land in Dublin, incredibly windy weather was to blame. When we emerged from the airport it was apparent that it was also going to be a chilly visit.

The hotel doorman kept telling us that the frigid temperatures and 40 mile per hour winds was not normal for the capital city. I believed them, but that didn’t change the fact that it was indeed both frigid and windy to the point that I expected to see leprechauns flying past.

Because we only had three days there and because I am a Type-A traveler, we were tourists on the run. I had constructed a comprehensive schedule that would ensure we saw all Dublin had to offer, with our own sanity the only thing at risk. The one thing I had not preplanned was Thanksgiving dinner.

Dublin door

We sat in our room at the immensely comfortable and well situated Westin Dublin (part of the last minute deal) pondering our dinner choices. We’d had our fill our “traditional” Irish food already and didn’t want that to be our special Turkey day meal. We finally decided that Indian would be appropriate and set out to find something suitable. Rather than consult with a concierge, or someone who actually might know, we decided to walk to an area with which we were already familiar and where we thought it would be easy to find a good restaurant. Two hours later we still hadn’t found one, we were cold and we were starving.

Finally, out of shear desperation, we said that the next Indian restaurant we found would be it. Thus entered the strange and generically named Indian Tandoori Restaurant, located in the heart of Dublin on Dame Street. (I am SHOCKED to find that it has since closed)

At first all signs pointed to dining success.  There were a lot of patrons, the aromas circulating through the dining room were tempting and in general it looked like a proper Indian restaurant. Our big mistake came when we ordered. We asked for what we THOUGHT was a very normal dish, butter chicken. You can find this dish in almost every Indian restaurant in the world and although its quality varies from locale to locale, the general culinary premise is the same. That’s why we were so confused with what arrived.

I need to say in advance that we don’t like coconut. No, that’s not accurate, we hate it and I think Scott may actually be allergic to it. So when the dish arrived and  resembled  coconut soup rather than chicken, I knew we were in trouble. Simply said, we couldn’t eat it, nor could we return it since it was our own damn fault that we both ordered it.

So, for twenty minutes, we ate a lot of naan bread, pushed the food around a bit and announced to a very surprised waiter that we were done. 40 Euro and two empty stomachs later and we were out of there. We ended up eating pizza by the slice and a gelato on the way back to the hotel. Happy Thanksgiving!

At the time I was honestly pretty upset. I really enjoy Thanksgiving and one of my conditions with skipping the normal turkey and pumpkin pie was getting an incredible meal in Dublin. This of course was not to be.

On the way home, the flight attendant asked us how our Irish Thanksgiving was, to which I of course detailed the full story of our Indian debacle. She smiled at me and said, you know what though? This will be the one Thanksgiving that you never forget.

That shut me up pretty fast and I collapsed in my seat with a great humph. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized she was right. Without my noticing, I had been dealt another great travel lesson – that in most cases, it’s the most bizarre and yes, even the worst travel experiences that stay with us forever. And you know what, that’s not a bad thing.

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

5 thoughts on “Irish Thanksgiving Debacle”

  1. The attendant was absolutely right! That’s exactly the kind of adventure that makes great stories. Where’s the fun in traveling if everything goes as planned?

    I too had a hard time finding decent places to eat in Dublin. It was either way overpriced or simply not inviting. The Hairy Lemon near St.Stephen’s Green was great, though.

  2. Wow..the flight attendant was COMPLETELY right! I find that disasters always make for good stories, memories, and laughs later. My favorite trips, oddly, are the ones where everything went wrong (okay, maybe not everything, but the bulk of it).

  3. Great story and you will tell it for years.
    It’s hard to find a great restaurant in a strange city- especially in another country. Concierges are not always the answer as sometimes they cannot come out of the mindset of recommending the hottest restaurants and not the ones that would work for you. I use a combination of concierge recommends and I talk to people on the street, in the stores etc and find out where they eat. It’s a great way to find out what’s out there and what’s fairly inexpensive.

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