Tucked into a side road just off the Ranelagh Triangle, the opening of this cosy Gallic outpost marked a coming of age both for Brioche and chef-patron Gavin McDonagh.
Brioche began life on Aungier Street, growing from a popular lunchtime café to a busy but cramped evening spot for French tapas. The café layout and tiny kitchen were restrictive, especially for someone who is a former Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year and has represented Ireland in international competition, as well as working in top restaurants both here and abroad.
The move to Ranelagh brought a space that was tricked out with reclaimed fittings, including the floors and doors, a glowing antique stove in the foyer which makes for a warm welcome, and, most importantly, a bigger kitchen.
The main dining room is lined with banquettes and leather dining chairs; the seats are exceptionally comfortable, although the banquettes are too deep. The open kitchen overlooks the small room where a calm brigade of chefs can be watched serving up beautifully presented food.
Dishes are a little larger than starters, so ideal for sharing. There’s a great choice of interesting meat and seafood plates – perhaps pig’s head croquette or Kilkeel Harbour crab salad – but Brioche’s vegetarian dishes are especially thoughtful.
Restaurant Manager Patrick McArdle joined the team in 2015 and his front of house staff are well trained. From explaining the menu to delivering the lovely individual brioche loaves to each diner, their professional expertise adds to the relaxed atmosphere and enjoyment of a meal here.
A clever wine list has been assembled with useful headings, with almost everything available by the glass and a lovely montage of the small winemakers they source from directly.
While dessert can be a high point of a meal out for many diners, the cheese board may be the winner here - it is superb, and served with excellent homemade fennel crackers.
The lovely atmosphere, aspirations and overall good experience make Brioche well worth a punt.