Clipped box trees flanking the front door and a smart sign proclaiming Pielow’s Restaurant ‘Simply Good Food’ welcome arriving guests to this first floor restaurant in Cabinteely Village. The vibes are good: it may not be easy to get a table at this popular dining spot, but it will be worth persevering.
Chef proprietors Colin and Teresa Pielow have a broad fan base at this stage, having earned a following at two former restaurants in Ireland – Curtlestown House in Co Wicklow and Robin Hill in East Cork – and one in South Africa, where they have a vineyard which produces their own Pielow’s shiraz.
Now back in Dublin, the faithful are beating a path to their door and, as they operate a small hands-on business, it may be necessary to book several days in advance.
Once upstairs all their trademark signs of quality are to be found in stylishly understated quality – the long, bright room has windows overlooking the street and is set up simply with white-clothed tables of varying sizes and shapes, and comfortable high back upholstered chairs; each table sports good wine glasses, beautifully balanced cutlery, a salt and pepper mill and a single fresh flower.
Walls are covered with an eclectic collection of paintings and also the many professional accolades collected down the years, clustered around the end wall bar. It is a supremely practical space, yet uplifting and relaxing – and friendly, hard working front of house staff make sure that everyone is well looked after and having a good time.
As to the food, it is outstanding for its simplicity, freshness and flavour: anyone who has had enough of cheffy extravagances should add Pielow’s to their list of must-visit restaurants.
Menus offering a choice of half a dozen starters and ten main courses (three of each on the early menu) are not very informative, and they may include out of season ingredients (Chilean asparagus) and others that have clocked up a lot of food miles (ostrich, for example), but most are local or at least Irish.
And, once tasted, there is no questioning the quality – and the range offered includes a pleasing mix of the familiar (roast belly of pork with crackling and apple & cinnamon compote; steak and kidney pie) and the less usual (pigeon breast with port wine sauce and spatzle; wild Irish venison with juniper berry and bacon).
Freshly baked bread - a gorgeous white yeast loaf with roast garlic and rosemary, perhaps - is brought to your table on arrival, and makes the perfect accompaniment for a deeply flavoured soup which changes daily (tomato and red pepper perhaps).
Sauces are a special highlight, all made to order - hollandaise with the crisp green asparagus, for example and a light dill cream sauce with baked salmon en croute or a fish of the day, such as perfectly cooked, just flaking fresh cod.
A homely steak and kidney pie comes with a spoon to make the most of the luscious gravy, and local vegetables – a potato gratin, perhaps, and a seasonal mixture – have just the right degree of bite and are full of flavour.
And nobody is likely to leave this delightful,place without dessert - dark and white chocolate mousse is a favourite, served with a raspberry coulis, and berries preserved in rum are presented handsomely in a Simon Pearce stemmed glass. (Diners with long memories may recall this ‘Rumtopf’ from the Curtlestown days).
The wine list is predictably interesting, wide ranging, well priced and generally informative (although without vintages). An oddity is that no half bottles are offered, or wines by the glass, rather 250ml ‘carafes’ which give about two glasses.
All round, dining here is a real pleasure – as they say themselves, it’s ‘Simply good food’. And good value too.