In the centre of Drogheda town, Sonia Micalef and Damien Leddy’s relaxed basement restaurant and wine bar is the kind of place that will put you in a good mood even when your day is not going according to plan.
With its mis-matched furniture, a promising collection of bottles, temptingly displayed speciality foods to take home and a funky outdoor yard area at the back, there is plenty to entertain and please the eye... but most of all the feel-good factor is down to the obliging, good-humoured staff, who ease customers into the relaxed way that things are done here.
And the food is good too, in a wholesomely simple Italian style that is full of flavour and makes a welcome change from fussy foams and dribbles.
Begin, perhaps, with real minestrone soup, or antipasto misto, a good selection of cured meats, parmesan cheese, grilled artichoke hearts, roast peppers and olives, served with deliciously rustic bread – and available as a bigger ‘board to share’ for groups, or as a vegetarian selection with extra vegetables (Italian beans, rocket, grilled courgettes and aubergines) to replace the cured meats.
There are casual dishes – various bruschetta, a range of salads – and hot blackboard specials that may include pasta dishes (with Italian beans, perhaps - gluten free pasta on request), risotto, chicken and fish, also hearty Toulouse sausages and tartiflettes in winter.
Delicious desserts, good coffee, French music and the sound of happy people relaxing all add to the good humour.
And then, of course, there’s the wine list: arranged by style, it’s interesting, informative, well-priced and includes some surprises – and offers a good choice by the glass too, kept fresh by the ‘Le Verre de Vin’ system.