The graffiti and pocked cement exterior hint at the cool and interesting happenings inside this once anonymous building. Transformed by Declan O’Regan, the clean-lined buzzy bar and restaurant is a stone’s throw from his other hospitality successes – namely L’Gueuleton, Kelly’s Hotel, the No Name Bar and Hogan’s.
At ground level you’ll find a lively bar with large windows, honey parquet, high ceilings, a mix of seating and a well stocked bar. Tapas and cocktails are the MO, although there’s also an impressive collection of whiskeys, artisan beers and more esoteric spirits. Food is optional but upstairs is a full service restaurant.
The food promises big Italian flavours with a New York edge, quality ingredients and lots of creativity. The well-balanced menu means that meat eaters and seafood lovers are equally well served, as are vegetarians who can choose from six à la carte dishes.
Starters might feature a rabbit and apricot terrine, bresaola salad or plump king scallops with artichokes. A main of crisp and light fritto misto – a thoughtful mix of whitebait, squid and Dublin Bay prawn – might come with squid ink aioli or maybe a classic osso bucco with risotto Milanese.
Cooking is, for the most part, accomplished. The ever-changing vegetables of the day are brilliantly creative – perhaps a chard and parmesan gratin or sprouting broccoli with almonds.
The house tiramisu is especially recommended, as are the signature lemon and elderflower martinis. Service is swift but may lack engagement - The Guide found restaurant staff distracted and hurried, unlike their friendly counterparts downstairs.
The option to dine early and retire downstairs to the bar afterwards is a novel concept and one Dubliners have adapted to quickly. Despite the exciting food and lively buzz the bar and restaurant’s acoustics are a weak point and diners can expect a seriously noisy environment as the night rolls on.