Will Monaghan’s dream has come true. Speaking to The University Times, the owner of One Society, a three-month-old cafe on Lower Gardiner St, reveals that owning a cafe has been a “lifelong dream”.
After a previous landlord pulled out of a deal for a burger and chicken wing restaurant, Monaghan’s establishment of One Society represents his first proper foray into the food world. The menu has something for all tastes, with lunch and brunch offered from opening until 3pm and pizzas served from 4pm until 9pm. I venture down with a small group to get a taste of its exciting pizza menu and am not disappointed.
The small venue sits just beneath Kavanagh Court, an ideal spot for any resident students looking for a break from the monotony of a Dominos delivery. The interior is small and cosy despite the industrial-style mix of concrete and wooden fixtures. The open-plan kitchen and the large, traditional Italian pizza oven immediately catch the eye.
Our little group are left standing awkwardly briefly until one of the staff notices us from behind the sizeable coffee machine and rushed to tend to us. The atmosphere is warm and I feel myself relax into the wooden bench lined with colourful cushions, lending a splash of colour to the brown and grey surroundings. As we scour the menu we notice some small touch-ups still being carried out, as a lady delicately paints a kite on the column beside us. We are momentarily transfixed by her attention to detail until we realise how hungry we are and divert our attention back to the menu.
Despite some slight discrepancies noted by one of my friends with regards to the pizza contents on the menu in front of us in comparison to the online menu – replacing Coolea and Brie with goat’s cheese and parmesan on the Quattro Formaggio – it all looks very interesting and comprehensive, from the classic pizza Marinara and Margherita to their own creations like the Simply Vegan and the aptly named The Farmer’s Wife in homage to the beef sourced from Monaghan’s sister’s farm.
I decide to try the spicy Sizzling Garlic Prawns pizza with a chipotle aioli, partly because I’m intrigued by how prawns, Parma ham and rocket would pair on a bianco base and because it’s labelled as “Will’s favourite” – a nice nudge toward my final decision. After a few minutes, Monaghan himself comes to take our order and notifies us that the pizzas will come out in batches of three due to the size of the oven. At first, this seems a bit of an oversight but due to the speed that the oven cooks the pizzas at, it turns out to not be of issue. The pizzas are all delivered to the table piping hot and ready to be devoured pretty much simultaneously.
Does it have a crispy bottom? Are there blackened islands that will add a bitter complexity to the pie? Do the toppings melt from the fiery forno? Yes, to all of the above. I try to “neatly” cram my mouth with my first bite as soon as everything arrives. The prawns are punchy and full of flavour while the Parma ham gives a pleasant saltiness and is only slightly warm as it was draped on top of the pie at the end. The slices of chilli bring a natural heat and there’s a slight sweetness from the plump cherry tomatoes. I am very grateful for the rocket’s inclusion as it gives the pizza a peppery bite and also a welcome bit of greenery.
The base is also exceptional. On occasion, pizzerias load the base with more cheese to make up for the lack of tomato sauce but there is a perfect amount: the moist mozzarella and dry base alternate beautifully. The chipotle aioli makes the crusts vibrant and cooling enough to fend off even the roguest chilli in the pack. Honestly, it is one of the most expertly balanced pizzas I’ve eaten.
There are some minor incidents that do escape the attention of the staff, like when one of our knives clanged off the floor but isn’t cleared away, and a seemingly long wait for another jug of water is intensified by our rampant chilli consumption. My pizza is €14.50 and the dip costs €1, but in the end comes to €13.95 thanks to the 10 per cent student discount on offer.
A small selection of beers and wines are also on offer at very reasonable prices. The coffee prices are on par with most coffee shops, especially with the student discount in effect, and you can tell yourself you’re doing some good too as they donate 10 cent to Temple St Children’s Hospital for each coffee sold.
There’s a real emphasis on local provenance. The bread is sourced from the renowned Le Levain bakery and Toonsbridge mozzarella from Cork. One Society is a real force to be reckoned with.