This decidedly cool restaurant, featuring Asian and American style food, a full late bar and an enviable list of cocktails (which are outselling wine by two to one), is the brainchild of Marc and Conor Bereen, of nearby Coppinger Row restaurant, and Oisín Davis, the talented mixologist from the Sugar Club nightclub - and, with this trio behind the venture, it’s quickly become one of Dublin’s hippest spots.
Sun lit during the day, dim and funky, with accents of neon and backlighting, at night it’s an atmospheric venue, and table settings are simple, almost stark, in a retro style in keeping with the “diner” theme. If that all sounds too cool for comfort, a friendly reception by warmly professional staff soon sets new arrivals at ease.
Closely following the trends for this type of food in London and New York restaurants like Momofuku, the menu, split into three sections – “In A Bowl”, “From The Grill” and “Bites” – offers a total of 18 mains, with additional sides and desserts, and works particularly well for sharing a variety of dishes amongst a group of diners.
Except for rib eye steak, at about €22.50 the most expensive thing on the menu, most plates are in the €10-15 range and individual dishes are good value - but take care not to over-order as you could quickly end up with a steep bill.
It’s a pity that no provenance is given, but there’s a very interesting mix of dishes, all handled with equal confidence. Choices include a Thai-influenced fish chowder, steamed mussels (also with an Asian touch of chillies, soy sauce and ginger), Louisiana crab cakes, slow-roasted Siam pork, barbequed pork chop on the bone, and Asian ribs.
Vegetarians are also well catered-for – the luscious mushroom burger and the breaded courgettes are both outstanding dishes, and would satisfy the most dedicated carnivore.
With a choice of just four, the dessert menu is concise but impeccably focused and reasonably priced (from about €4.50); sorbets, simple or boozy, are perfect for a light refreshing end to an excellent meal here, or you could have an old favourite like chocolate fudge brownie - or a more unusual choice of char-grilled skewered chunks of spiced rum pineapple served with an exotically creamy coconut ice cream.
Not just a really hip, buzzy place - the food in Damson Diner is seriously good.