Tucked into a side road just off the Ranelagh Triangle, this cosy Gallic outpost marks 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 a chef who has worked in some of Dublin’s top restaurants.
His new Ranelagh space has been 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. Some plates are more successful than others, and while there’s a great choice of interesting meat and seafood plates – perhaps pig’s head croquette or Kilkeel Harbour crab salad – Brioche’s vegetarian dishes are especially thoughtful.
Staff are well trained, from explaining the menu to delivering the lovely individual brioche loaves to each diner, and add to the relaxed atmosphere.
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.
Desserts can be a weak point but the cheese board, with excellent homemade fennel crackers, is superb. While the cooking can be uneven and some dishes need tweaking, the lovely atmosphere, aspirations and overall good experience make Brioche well worth a punt.