The brainchild of Ann Marie Nohl - well known for many years for the delicious food and casual ambience of her original business Expresso Bar Café, in Ballsbridge, which continues to delight - this small but perfectly formed grill and wine bar is a different animal altogether, bringing a sumptuous Parisian ambience to this lucky south Dublin neighbourhood.
The gorgeous red velvet button-back banquettes and chandeliers are a stroke of genius, giving a luxurious feeling to this cosy restaurant which belies the good value offered.
As anyone familiar with Ann Marie’s food philosophy will already know, quality ingredients are at the heart of every meal served and that is reflected in menus which are not long but offer something a little different from other restaurants, and with key suppliers credited including Kish Fish and, most importantly, craft butchers Pat McLoughlin, suppliers of the superb steaks that are the speciality of the house.
At about €24 for a 10oz striploin, rising to €27 for a 7oz fillet, they’re also dearest dishes on the menu, but great value when you consider the quality - and the Steak Dinner offer is a snip at €15.95 for an 8 oz striploin complete with trimmings.
Not that chef Mark Duggan’s menus are restricted to steak, far from it. There’s a very tempting range of dishes offered on all menus, including fresh fish, and appealing vegetarian dishes such as a Spring risotto, with garden peas, asparagus, mint, shaved parmesan, micro herbs.
Sunday Brunch is quite an outing, with a brilliant selection to choose from, including eggs Benedict, Florentine et al - and also seriously delicious treats like seared kidneys on toast with wild mushroom, wholegrain mustard and red wine jus and, perhaps the ultimate brunch dish, the La Rouge Mixed Grill: medallion of beef, Hick’s pork sausage, kidneys, streaky bacon, black pudding and baked beans - it’s a carnivore’s delight and great value at €16.95 considering it will keep you going all day.
Service is, as you would expect, professionally friendly and efficient and wine lovers will enjoy dipping into Ann Marie’s interesting drinks list.
A charming place.