For more than 25 years there’s been a restaurant at 1 Windsor Terrace, offering some of the nicest views in Dublin. Locks in Portobello plays such a part in Dublin’s dining history that its recent resurrection after a brief closure was greeted with much delight.
All stalwarts of Dublin’s thriving dining scene, chefs Keelan Higgs (ex- The GreenHouse and Chapter One) and Connor O’Dowd (also ex Chapter One, and Dax) have teamed up with silent partner Paul McNamara of Etto to breathe new life into this beloved city dining room.
The décor of this Dublin restaurants not been altered with too much, which is no bad thing: the cosy two-storey set up now includes brightly coloured dining chairs, colourful French tableware, vases of wild flowers on bare-topped wooden tables and there’s been a fresh lick of paint out front. The cartoonlike swan logo suggests a more casual approach to things, although there’s no hiding the fine dining credentials of the talented kitchen crew.
The focus is on modern Irish fare with a short daily Market Menu that runs weekdays, offering a choice of three starters, three mains and three desserts, alongside a few interesting snacks, perhaps lamb sweetbreads or oysters. It’s priced at €22 for two courses and €28 for three. There is also a nice little Kids Menu and the weekend sees a fuller à la carte offering in the evening, as well as lunch menus (Friday to Sunday).
Although there's no mention of provenance on menus, there's a clear commitment to quality in every aspect of the new Locks and and all is revealed on the website, where suppliers are enthusiastically credited.
Dishes may sound simple but are conceived to delight. A starter of chargrilled squash with creamy sheep's cheese, a perfectly runny poached egg and spiky mustard leaves is both fresh and elegant. The rustic sounding steak and kidney suet pudding is a comforting triumph of succulent meat, hearty flavours and perfect pastry. A dessert of peaches and cream will deliver so much more, comprising superb pannacotta, zesty peach jelly and excellent ice-cream topped with crunchy honeycomb.
Staff are charming and chatty, making the space convivial and relaxed. They’ve been well trained and create a sense of calm and control in the bright and comfortable dining room. Dishes are presented with a flourish on beautiful tableware, with ingredients vibrant and attractively popping with colour.
The detail in each dish demonstrates the real value for money here and this delicious food is matched by a quality wine list, with a good selection available by the glass, cocktails, and an interesting choice of sherries,ports and dessert wines.
With its combination of a great location, delicious and well-priced food and engaging staff, Locks’ future is in safe and capable hands.