The first in a line of restaurants on Howth’s West Pier, Ivans is arguably the most striking and stylish of the competition. It is named after the remarkable Ivan Beshoff, who was a survivor of the 1905 mutiny on the Russian battleship Potemkin, and settled in Ireland in 1913; fishmongers since 1914, the Beshoff family is synonymous with seafood and, prior to this foray into fine dining, were famous for their fish and chips.
The restaurant exudes urban sophistication with its industrial styling: exposed duct piping, over-sized glass lampshades, poured cement and glass sit comfortably with well spaced tables, cream leather banquettes and a smart wooden bar.
Next door to the ultra modern dining room is an authentic oyster and tapas bar in the swishest fish shop in Dublin. By day diners perched on bar stools can dine on native and rock oysters and choice shellfish dishes, surrounded by organic produce and glistening fresh fish. The oyster bar /Tapas @ The Market serves excellent coffee and pastries too, making it a popular spot for pier-walkers.
Oysters form an integral part of the restaurant menu too, together with a wide choice of other seafood specialities. Favourites like whole grilled black sole with beurre noisette or yellow fin tuna with avocado, sit alongside daily specials like whole seabream or fresh sardines.
As one would expect from the Beshoffs, the house fish and chips, served with pea and basil purée and gribiche are peerless, while a signature dish of bouillabaisse with rouille and aioli – a saffron rich broth laden with sweet fish, juicy crustaceans and delicious garlicky condiment is brilliant and worth every cent.
An imaginative wine list is easy to navigate, and offers a great choice of wines by the glass. (A full bar means draught beers and stout are available too). The dessert menu is pleasingly original, and good coffees served with pretty petit fours highlight the attention to detail at work in the kitchen.
Although there can be inconsistency in the service and the room - while pleasingly light and airy in summer - would benefit from a warmer atmosphere in the winter months, a talented kitchen team and informed staff can make for an enjoyable visit to this smart and stylish spot.