Starting a new venture in recession is a brave thing to do, but it deserves to pay off for owner/chef David Corbett, as he has brought something new and fresh to the Limerick dining scene with this chic contemporary two-storey restaurant and bar.
It’s in the dramatic modern Riverpoint development which overlooks the river at Shannon Bridge and - at 7ft higher than the nearby Clarion Hotel - is now Limerick’s tallest building. With acres of glass – especially the curved glass walls of the upper storeys - creating its own dynamic, what more exciting place in the city could there be to dine?
Well known for cocktails and an extensive (non-Irish) craft beer list, the ground floor lounge bar overlooks the road and is also used for smart-casual informal dining (‘small plates’, cheese & charcutiere). A feature fire on the back wall is very welcome on chilly nights - just the kind of quiet time when the highly polished tables are likely to be set up with fine glasses and white linen napkins for dining.
Upstairs, the much larger restaurant follows the curve of the building and has a high proportion of window tables, some with access to a balcony where tables can be set up in fine (and not too windy) weather, others with views across the river to the hills of Co Clare.
Menus offered include an early bird with a good choice of seven or eight dishes on each course, and a short à la carte offering some additions and variations. The stated aim is to showcase west coast seafood and Munster’s finest meats, yet – except for a welcome declaration that all beef, pork, chicken, duck and lamb are Irish - there are no specific references to provenance on menus.
A missed opportunity to engage the diner as, on inquiry, you will find that a careful sourcing policy is in place – thus the Guide’s ‘crayfish bisque’ was actually langoustine bisque on the day and made with local Dublin Bay prawns, and the venison in an excellent hot water crust game pie came from down the road at Kilmallock.
And, while menus offering popular starters like confit duck leg, steamed mussels and goat cheese baked in filo, and mains of char-grilled 8oz beef burger, slow braised shank of lamb or pan fried sea bass may give little away, the cooking has real finesse.
Foil butter packs may come as a surprise, but the accompanying seed bread is good. Each dish is simply but carefully presented on white plates, allowing it to have full impact, and the textures and depth of flavour should impress – equally in side dishes, such as a gorgeous mash (really smooth and creamy) and less usual vegetables like red cabbage, which have plenty of flavour and a bit of bite.
The dessert menu offers half a dozen tempting treats – a Valrhona molten chocolate cake is sure to please – or there’s a selection of Irish and continental cheese, and four dessert wines offered by the glass.
Covering all bases for the style of restaurant, the wine list includes several bubblies, eight well chosen wines by the glass, a few half bottles and some ports and sherries.
This stylish restaurant conveys a sense of occasion, prices are reasonable, and willing, and helpful service is backed up by some very good cooking – it deserves to do well.