Famous chips and famous faces

When Justin Timberlake’s parents were there, where was Justin? This is a legitimate question when you look up at the Leo Burdock’s Hall Of Fame. Justin’s parents are listed on the wall, while he himself is notably absent.

The chipper is renowned for pulling in big names and listing them proudly on its wall. Spandau Ballet, Ray Charles, André 3000, even Edith Piaf. A possible supergroup?

Bruce Springsteen is something of a regular customer. The Boss is known for his love of fish and chips and Leo Burdock is just a short stroll from one of his favourite watering holes – The Long Hall.

The chipper pulls in other names too. Local ones, maybe less well known, who come time and time again. Then, there’s the tourists who go out of their way to pay a visit to the tiny chipper, which is a superstar of Dublin’s food and drink scene available to gastronomers of every budget.

list of names in wall at leo burdocks dublin

The story of Dublin’s oldest chipper

Open up the bag, and let out that quintessential chip smell. You hurriedly blow on the contents inside to hasten the cooling process. No, you’re going to have to wait. But the sooner you do that, the sooner you can feast on the goodness inside.

There’s those seriously crispy, golden chips that are oh so soft in the middle. And not forgetting those strips of fresh fish in that glorious batter. Or the crispy bits thrown in on top.

Leo Burdock’s is Leo Burdock’s. The chipper is known the city over. It’s just one of those things in Dublin, like a piece of furniture that’s always been there. You don’t remember the first time you saw it because it’s always been a fixture. But what is it about the place? How’s it been there so long? Dublin.ie is on the case.

darren salmon wear white chef's coat and holds a takeaway box

Darren Salmon

We’ve got Darren Salmon on hand to help us. A good name to have in a chipper, he quips. Mr. Salmon has been here for almost 30 years. He began as a runner, bringing the potatoes up the hill to the original Leo Burdock’s here at Christ Church on Werburgh Street.

He’s worked in some of the other Burdock’s chippers too, but he’s been manager at Christ Church for the last 13 years.

Dubs will always have their chipper preference, but Leo Burdocks is quite a name. Does he feel any pressure?

“It’s a big name to behold,” says Salmon. It’s older than the state. There’s been revolution, a civil war and two world wars since then.

During the second one, the chipper had to close its doors due to shortages, but they reopened soon after. Governments have come and gone. It’s seen recession, boom and bust, but they’re still there serving those all important fish and chips.

Burdock's turns 100

RTÉ News report from 2013

Where to eat your Leo Burdock’s

Darren’s years as a runner brings up the subject of the hill they’re planted on. Walking up the hill’s steep sides from either Dame Street or Werburgh Street, you almost have to earn your fish and chips. A minor workout. A pilgrimage of sorts.

There’s St. Patrick’s Park just at the bottom. The perfect place to enjoy an impromptu meal al fresco on a sunny day. Or you could venture to the Wood Quay amphitheatre. Or sit on a bench at the cathedral across the road.

grey fountain, yellow flowers and green grass at st patricks park

The Central Fountain at St Patrick’s Park by Eric Jones, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Because it’s not just about the fish and chips, it’s also about how you enjoy them and where. And there’s quite a few spots nearby that will enhance your Burdock’s experience.

Christ Church is one of the most historic parts of the city. The cathedral itself dates back to the year 1030. You’ve even got the remains of the original Viking settlement just down on the quays. It’s really the ideal place to enjoy the city’s oldest chipper.

And not much has changed in what they do. Technologically speaking, Leo Burdock operated one of the last coal fire pans in the British Isles but, Darren tells us, they now use gas. They’re serious when they say not much has changed.

Something we didn’t know about Leo Burdocks? “If I told you, I’d have to kill you,” chimes Darren, with a sly laugh. But in earnest that’s it, there are no secrets. After more than a century, we know what we’re getting. We know what we’re ordering. We know what to expect – just like the Boss.

Burdock’s now has eight locations across Dublin. See its website for details.

Dave likes words. Big ones, small ones, bad ones and beautiful ones. But most of all he loves using them to talk about his favourite things – many of which happen to be right here in his hometown.

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