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“Amazing night!!!”

Chameleon Restaurant
Ranked #131 of 2,639 Restaurants in Dublin
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $12 - $36
Cuisines: Asian, Indonesian, Contemporary
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Restaurant details
Good for: Special occasions, Business meetings, Large groups, Romantic
Dining options: Lunch, Late Night, Dinner, Breakfast, Delivery, Reservations
Neighborhood: South City Centre
Description: Chameleon in Temple Bar is an intimate, ambient restaurant that specialises in Indonesian rice-table (set menus) as well as a large selection of tapas dishes with the flavours of South East Asia, from Javanese short rib to our super tasty steamed bao to free range chicken satay to our delicious desserts, all made in-house! Since opening in 1994, its owners, husband and wife team, Carol & Kevin have made a point in using as much locally sourced Irish produce as possible, including only using free range Irish chicken and locally caught, seasonal Irish fish.Chameleon is ideal for a romantic get together or indeed, for your birthday party or Christmas party, as they can cater for groups of up to 40 in our private dining rooms. 100 Best Restaurants in Ireland 2013 - 2017
Reviewed December 1, 2013

Just held my 40th birthday celebration in Chameleon last night! All my guests raved about the food and the setting. Kevin and his crew could not have done a better job of looking after me & all my friends and family. Among the group were some loyal fans already but i can assure you there will be many more. This was the perfect venue to have celebrated my event, we went for the Rijst Tafel menu which offered lots of variety and was so, so good! i honestly don't think i could have been looked after any better. Kevin and Nikki and team, thank you so, so much for making my night so wonderful!

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Thank Annmarie G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviews (727)
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440 - 444 of 727 reviews

Reviewed November 29, 2013

We went to Chameleon with high expectations because of the reviews. It is possible to order rijstaffel PLUS tapas if you ask. We asked one waitress for a tapas menu and were shuttled downstairs to the 'tapas' area instead, giving us the impression it was a rijstaffel Or tapas option. Thankfully this was cleared up and we were allowed to order both the rijstaffel and ala carte dishes from the tapas menu.

Ambience: Cosy seating, and I mean Very cosy. When we were initially upstairs we were given a table between the opium seats, a standalone heater (right next to my seat), and another table barely two feet away from us. There was so little space, you couldn't walk between the tables. Needless to say, private conversations were not really in order. Same thing when we went downstairs. There was a man seated by the window next to our table, and if I leaned over a little I could probably see what he was doing on his mobile. Throughout dinner we were also privy to the employees' constant chatter in the kitchen.

Food: No greatness there. Our favorites were the perkedel (a spiced potato-chickpea-veg cake) and the delicious, flavorful fried rice. Also, our pisang goreng (banana and chocolate spring roll) dessert was nicely crisp outside and soft inside. It was served warm with pineapple compote and vanilla ice cream. It isn't the same fried banana fritter you'd find in Indonesia, but it was done well and the whole dish tasted very good.

Now, the reason why I wasn't wowed was: I've been to Indonesia and spent years living with Indonesians. The meal at Chameleon was at worst a proper meal to fill the stomach, and at best a hit-and-miss attempt at Indonesian cuisine. I couldn't call it authentic. The sweet potato spring roll we had was alright, and the Balinese yellow curry was okay. The spices were very mild, and the asinan salad was kind of plain.

I felt let down by the squid, which I had heard so much about and had looked forward to trying. Note that the restaurant is no longer serving squid rings, as is currently stated in their menu. Instead, they give you an entire squid, cut into slices. It was done perfectly, in terms of texture. Not rubbery, not mushy, just the right level of chewiness and spring so you knew it was fresh and well cooked. But the taste... What taste?? It was supposed to be marinated, but it was as if they had forgotten even to put any salt on it. Squid on its own has hardly any flavor, so I ended up dousing the squid with condiments (the Kecap Manis, or sweet soy sauce, in my opinion made a better dressing than the chilli sauce that came along with the squid). If I was told to expect one plain squid, and the way to eat it was to mix it with condiments, I think I might have been less disappointed.

We did see people who were repeat customers, so I think the restaurant does cater to taste here. However, one mark of authenticity for me is the number of locals that patronize a restaurant. It was a busy evening and there was only one Asian among all the customers. That, for me, confirms that it'll take more searching here to find authentic Indonesian cuisine. All things considered (including good, attentive service and a bill of about €50 for two) the meal was fine.

My husband and I agreed once was probably enough at Chameleon.

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1  Thank MrsSq
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Carol W, Owner at Chameleon Restaurant, responded to this reviewResponded December 1, 2013

Thank you for your detailed review, we have discussed it with our team and always try to improve and make changes wherever possible. Indeed, the building is a small one (over 170 years old) and while it is cosy we try to make it special.

The Spice Bar on the ground floor is for our tapas diners mainly and would have the chatter from a busy kitchen and bar area. We introduced this area in 2013 for our customers who want to pop in for a bite rather than a full rijst-tafel.

We are Irish chef/owners who also love Indonesian and South Asian cuisine and it is our love of Irish produce married with Asian spices that has kept us passionate and still going 20 years in Temple Bar. We have never claimed to be 100% authentic Indonesian, it is our interpretation and they are our recipies.

We make all our sauces and pastes from scratch and have verying levels of intensity from sweet mild to very hot spicey.

The squid is a very popular dish and needs the hit of the mango chilli jam, which again we make ourselves, we also make a belado chilli (very hot) but we feel this overpowers the squid.

We thank you for trying our food.

Regards
Carol

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Reviewed November 14, 2013

The food in this restaurant is really good BUT the service leaves something to be desired, at least if you are not a sufficiently large group to matter to them.

We made our reservation several days in advance and requested an opium table. We received an email confirmation that an opium table was available as long as we could vacate by a certain time, to which we agreed. Nowhere in this email (or on the website's reservation page) was it indicated that the table might be un-reserved for us if a larger group requested it, but that is apparently what happened: a few hours before our reserved time, the restaurant phoned to let us know that an opium table would not now be available for us.

Unfortunately the table we were given instead was extremely unsatisfactory - small and jammed in between an opium table and the entrance to the room. We were almost literally on top of the opium table, so close that we could hear every word of those diners' conversations (and they ours) and even so close that I could smell the foot of the nearest opium table diner when she took her shoes off and sat on her cross legs. Needless to say, this was a bit unappetising.

I understand that those tables are made for larger groups and that the restaurant wants to make money. However, I think we should have been told when making our reservation that the table was not guaranteed. I also think we should have been compensated by being placed at a decent non-opium table, instead of being squashed in there like sardines. Although we really enjoyed the food, we got the feeling that our custom wasn't particularly valued.

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Thank dandelion7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Carol W, Owner at Chameleon Restaurant, responded to this reviewResponded November 20, 2013

Thank you for your review, it is not true that we do not appreciate our customers or smaller parties, we are sorry you did'nt get the opium table you requested. It is difficult to keep these tables for two people on weekend nights. We really do our best to accomodate our customers requests. I will speak to the Manager today about this issue and again apologise that your table was not the one you wanted. We are glad however, you enjoyed the food. We hope this will not put you off coming in to us in the future.

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Reviewed November 11, 2013

You can either have your dinner sitting on comfy cushions or sit at a normal table .
The cushions are great for an intimate couple experience or for a large group get together.

the food is priced OK for Dublin (things are expensive generally in Dublin) and the wine is also Ok priced.
You get a large selection of dishes all with fabulous and unique flavours - and also plenty to eat ++

it was a great night out experience with some very memorable food

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Thank Lord_Blackadder
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Carol W, Owner at Chameleon Restaurant, responded to this reviewResponded November 20, 2013

Thank you very much we really appreciate you taking the time to write a review and for those nights when you want something less expensive, try the Spice Bar menu on the ground floor dishes from €4.95

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Reviewed November 10, 2013 via mobile

This old reliable Indonesian is still serving up great grub year after year. It's not the most comfortable restaurant in town, but is a relaible and welcome change. Like visting an old friend.

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Thank canyonaro
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Carol W, Owner at Chameleon Restaurant, responded to this reviewResponded November 20, 2013

Like visiting an old friend, thank you very much for your kind words, indeed we will be twenty years old in 2014. Hope you keep visiting us.

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