Gastro pubs may not yet be as popular in Ireland as they are in the UK, but places like the Exchequer suggest all that is about to change.
With a smarter than average interior and a decidedly clubby feel, diners can take their pick from three rooms, each offering a different vibe: you can perch casually on tall stools in the front bar with its sculptural ribbed ceiling, for example, snuggle into slouchy leather sofas or cosy booths in the middle bar, or sit more formally on extra comfy bucket chairs in the back room, where a swirling Camilla mirror (à la Philip Treacy) and wonderful portrait of a bodhrán player set a slightly more formal tone.
The palette of warm coral, pistachio green, rich leather and slatted wood make the three interconnecting spaces seem warm, intimate and buzzy. Cool tunes linger in the background, perfectly pitched to avoid drowning out conversations.
The menus are as one would expect from the best gastro pub: prime cuts, succulent roasts, hearty casseroles and pies and moreish comfort food. There’s plenty of Irish produce on offer, and seasonal treats may include a tasty wild venison pie with forest mushrooms wrapped in excellent pastry and served with a thoughtful salad of organic beetroot. At around €12 it makes for good value dining too.
Fish specials may include cockles and mussels, a seafood casserole or signature ling fingers battered in Hilden Belfast Blonde beer and served with good homemade chips, pea purée and tartare sauce.
This type of hearty food fares well when accompanied by a refreshing pint, and The Exchequer doesn’t disappoint. A broad and varied beer menu includes a pleasing selection of European brews and ciders while their wine list offers several choices by the glass, with bottles fairly priced. There’s an exciting cocktail list too, averaging about €9 a glass.
What sets The Exchequer apart from other pubs serving food is the level of attention to detail. The coffees are excellent, the service is restaurant-efficient, and the dessert menu is worthy of a finer dining establishment.
The chocolate platter, a dessert for 2 priced at around €10, features 5 exquisite confections, including chocolate tart, fondant, white chocolate mousse, hazelnut truffle and organic chocolate truffle ice cream.
With food this good you know the kitchen is run with as much care and dedication as the stylish and welcoming interior suggests.