Review: The Ugly Duckling

The Ugly Duckling; Rory Clarke discovers it’s not so ugly after all.

Dublin’s foodie scene has bore witness to a growth in the number of over-the-top sandwich shops, where full meals are served between slices of bread. Derek Marsden and Darragh Nugent have become masters in this growing area. Marsden and Nugent have reopened their sandwich business The Ugly Duckling in The Hill pub in Ranelagh. The business is most known for serving mammoth sized and truly delicious sandwiches.

These sandwiches are guaranteed to fill any customer’s stomach, the food is gloriously indulgent. The Pittsburgh sandwich is a steaming, barbeque-sauce laden shrine to pulled pork. Plonked elegantly on crispy garlic bread, with lettuce, herb-roasted tomatoes, shoestring chips and colourful coleslaw. Make sure to request the steak knife, if not given. It will save your arm much sawing and your clothes many flying spots of sauce. This sandwich is not for the faint of heart and will require some serious skills to eat. Rest assured the taste will be well worth the pain in your jaw that may linger after eating. The pulled pork is moist and almost melts in your mouth. Truly it was a mind-blowing experience.

These sandwiches are guaranteed to fill any customer’s stomach.

The rest of the menu is equally attractive. The ‘Brisket’ is served with the finest beef, topped with strands of candyfloss-esque fried onions and smothered in gravy.  In the past its spectacular presentation has caught the eyes of many patrons and has surely been a factor in the popularity of the sandwich. The ‘Po-Boy,’ a deep-fried prawn sandwich is a staple amongst regulars, however it was not my favourite. Vegetarian options are scarce with only one veggie main which consists of deep-fried pickles and cheese. It is, perhaps understandably, not very popular.

Arrive around 7.30pm to get the best ambiance and atmosphere. The bar won’t be too crowded and you should be able to secure a nice booth before the pub dwellers arrive. Operating out of a pub also offers a selection of traditional and craft beers to pair with your monstrous sandwich.

The Ugly Duckling is a pleasure to visit time and time again. The menu is great and will give you many opportunities to taste all the delicious sandwiches that The Ugly Duckling has to offer. Although your waistband may not thank you for regular visits, your taste buds certainly will.