This popular first floor restaurant overlooking Howth harbour appeals to all age groups but it has long been the area's first choice for families thanks to its cheerfully international food (lots of pastas, pizza and salads) the swift, good humoured young servers - and wax crayons supplied for drawing on the paper tablecovers. Even loyal locals had to admit it was getting a little tired, however, so a recent makeover was very welcome.
After a short closure it emerged with some interesting new features - the revamped entrance is now reminiscent of a trawler's wheelhouse door, and the narrow stairs are cheered by a feature wall densely decorated with shells. Once at the top, all is bright and fresh, with white painted walls, colourful mismatched chairs and pretty pots of herbs - and, in the second room, some tables have been replaced by modern tomato coloured stools for eating at bar height.
A maritime theme is subtly underlined in many details, but the feeling overall is more clean-lined and spacious and - despite the cheerful pops of colour - more grown up. Gone are the blackboard menus of old - just one has been kept as a specials board, and the end wall is now covered with smartly framed photographs - and gone too are the paper table covers, although crayons are still available on request.
The secret of this Dublin restaurants success has always been its universal appeal for all age groups and, while the lengthy menus have now been pruned down to a more manageable offering, it is still neither over-ambitious nor over-priced. And many of the the favourites that regulars have happily ordered for years without even consulting the menu remain - runny deep-fried brie with spicy chutney, big Caesar salads (possibly with slivers of chicken breast), home-made tagliatelle with mixed seafood in a creamy wine sauce - and desserts like gooey, boozy tiramisu and sticky banoffi pie are all likely to be on offer still.
Wines tend not not quite as cheap and cheerful as might be hoped, given the style of food and surroundings, but an overall feelgood feeling remains.