Dillinger’s gritty New York vibe made it an instant Ranelagh favourite since opening in 2009, but savvy restaurateur John Farrell (of 777 and The Butcher Grill) doesn’t rest on his laurels.
A complete revamp has turned the edgy space into a retro diner, all black and green décor. There’s a glossy bar that takes up a considerable part of the room too, and despite the floor space looking smaller, the combination of bench seating, regular chairs and bar stools means Dillinger’s can now accommodate more people at peak times.
Fans of Dillinger’s signature nachos will be disappointed they’ve been dropped from the menu, but the “American-influenced progressive Irish cuisine” features lots of stateside favourites, including home made hot dogs, sensational rare grilled tuna tacos, Hereford cheeseburgers and barbecue baby back ribs.
The décor may be basic but the cooking is anything but. Cheffy touches include starters like caramelized calf’s tongue with lardo di Colonnata, fennel, tomato and garlic or soy and ginger noodle broth with fried chicken wings, Szechuan salt and pepper.
For some of the best value in seafood, the sharing platter for two (served only on Mondays and Tuesdays) is a feast, loaded up with grilled market fish, oysters, langoustines, prawns and clams. Served with dips, a great house salad and bread it’s €40 between two, making it superb value and a novelty in suburban Dublin.
Dishes like exceptionally tender American hangar steak (the only meat that isn’t Irish on the menu) can be jazzed up with interesting sides, although the accompanying house salad is pretty impressive. Each dish has original and thoughtful accompaniments, and portions err on the generous side.
The dessert menu is perhaps a work in progress although they make excellent ice creams in house.
Drinks offerings are interesting, and while the wine list is short-ish, with only six offered by the glass, there’s a good choice of beer, cider, specialist juices and cocktails. The up-beat tunes, cocktail bar and dining specials like Foot-long Friday (a foot long hot dog with side of chilli and a whiskey sour for €15) aim to make this a cool drop in joint for Ranelagh’s discerning patrons.
Just like the original incarnation, Dillinger’s’ appeal lies in its quirky menu, fun atmosphere and excellent staff. The food is fresh and exciting and offers an affordable and hip dining option.
* See their sister restaurant across the road, The Butcher Grill