A popular workaday local pub and hotel, especially one named the Bram Stoker, seems an unlikely place to find a creative kitchen but that is what you’ll find in the Pepper Brasserie & Grill.
Access to the restaurant is via a dated back staircase, which eventually leads into a modern dining room overlooking Dublin Bay where you will receive a highly professional and friendly welcome while choosing between an aperitif at the bar or taking your seat at one of the specially commissioned and generously proportioned simple wooden tables.
Business partners David Dwyer and Jonathan Smartt have invested in a new restaurant and a new chef, Peter Clifford. The chef’s name is already well known to foodies as his father was the late Michelin starred chef Michael Clifford, and Peter Clifford himself has a tidy list of high-end experience too from Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and 15 by Jamie Oliver to Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud.
The grill side of the menu includes fillet, New York strip and rib eye steaks as well as beef burgers, rotisserie chicken and, unusually for its coastal location, just three fish offerings.
The Annagassan lobster burger (about €26.50) is perhaps the best expression of the two styles at play here, served in a toasted brioche bun, made on the premises, and served with avocado and lobster mayonnaise it is a luxurious yet casual creation.
The beer soaked baby back ribs (c. €22.50), with red cabbage coleslaw are a simple crowd pleaser in sharp contrast to fine-tasting starters like flame-grilled mackerel with pickled cucumber, avocado mousse and ponzu dressing (c. €8.95). Ordinary mushrooms on toast (c. €8.50) are given a bit of a magic touch as they sit on light brioche and this has become a favourite choice with regular diners.
Desserts (c. €7) continue the creative theme with the likes of clove cheesecake with maple syrup and mascarpone ice cream, while the non-adventurous will find succour in a tart tatin with spiced ice cream.
Cocktail lovers will find knowledgeable staff at a well stocked bar which includes flavoured spirits made with seasonal fruits by the bar team. The wine list is sensibly short with treats like Hugel’s Riesling from Alsace to good value Prosecco Barocco Frizzante for around €24.