Now vibrant and exciting, the Camden Street and Wexford Street areas have changed in recent years, with cafés, restaurants and bars springing up throughout this south city centre area. And a venue that has played no small part in this re-energising is Opium.
On Wexford Street and right beside the legendary music bar that is Whelan’s, Opium has attracted clients of all ages since opening in 2013 - and is now one of Dublin’s best all round entertainment spaces under one roof.
There are four spaces – an atmospheric Pan-Asian restaurant, an intimate cocktail lounge and a late night dance space offers a night to remember, while Opium Garden, over two floors and with retractable roof, is available for private hire.
Opium Lounge, the cocktail bar, is darkish and dimly lit, adding to the laid back atmosphere, and there’s an excellent cocktail list.
Downstairs and through double doors well away from the street - very welcoming on chilly evenings - the restaurant is busy and buzzy. An atmospheric L-shaped space, it has booths to the left offering privacy for small groups and sociable tables for bigger parties close to the bar.
The range of menus offered at different times - lunch, pre-theatre and dinner - covers all bases, and there is a great deal of choice on the à la carte menu.
Starters – or small plates – might offer Thai scallop and sausage or the popular panko crab cakes, served with red curry, lime leaf, coriander, Yuzu reduction, Asian slaw and plum chilli jam.
Mains include the signature dish of shaking beef – marinated Irish fillet, wok caramelized red onion, soy and mangetout – which is a good choice on a first visit, along with fish dishes like red snapper curry with Thai aubergine, sweet basil, bamboo shoots and peppers, or poultry such as Mekong duck, twice cooked duck breasts served with Asian greens. Everything is very tasty, with fresh ingredients and flavour
The à la carte provides the foundation of the restaurant offering, so many of the dishes on it are also available on the set menus - and, whether you're a seasoned heat-lover or a bit wary of spicy food, it's great to find that everything is marked with the degree of spiciness/ heat to be expected.
Desserts are a bit out of the ordinary – you might choose a chocolate brownie and peanut butter cream pie, for example, or a coconut and passionfruit panna cotta with lychee jelly, mango coulis and crumbed meringue. Or perhaps just a glass of Prosecco instead?
There’s an excellent drinks menu - cocktails, interesting spirits and craft beers, as well as a wide ranging wine list - with prices to match, and the excellent staff do a great job to ensure that everyone has a good time.
Opium has everything for a great night out in the city.