In a great first floor location overlooking Trinity College’s playing fields, this Dublin restaurants two bright and contemporary dining rooms enjoy wonderful natural light and simple, informal décor. Ornamental pigs line the shelves behind the little service bar and inject a touch of humour.
Tables are generously spaced and plainly set, but there’s nothing plain about the food. Head chef Stephen McAllister, well known as a TV chef, has an impressive CV that’s seen him work in the kitchens of many of Dublin’s leading restaurants, including One Pico, L'Ecrivain and Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud.
A champion of Ireland’s finest produce, Stephen revels in taking traditional Irish favourites and presenting them in fresh, creative ways. Modestly billed as ‘no frills’ food, this understatement belies the wonderful cooking using world-class ingredients. In Stephen’s hands a simple piece of organic Irish salmon will be elevated to star status, thanks to smart accompaniments like Mourne's smoked haddock, broccoli, samphire and potted brown shrimp and caper butter.
Ditto a piece of pork belly from TJ Crowe's, may be slow cooked and served with the freshest and best seasonal offerings – perhaps Jane Russell's black pudding and an earthy bend of pear and barley. Signature shepherd’s pie is made with Lough Erne milk fed lamb and is especially popular.
Dishes are handsomely presented and the beautiful tableware adds a touch of contemporary swank to the traditionally inspired cooking.
Tasty desserts are also inspired by tradition – maybe steamed Guinness and date pudding with vanilla ice cream and candied pecans – while the Irish cheese selection comes with oat crackers. Not everyone will like their dessert served in a kilner jar, but few will argue with the Siúcra sugar bag that doubles as a cheeky sugar bowl!
The wine list offers plenty of choice across a wide price range, with well-chosen wines by the glass, and there’s a choice of beers on tap.
This comfort food at its best, and a terrific showcase for Ireland’s producers. Service is efficient and attentive although it sometimes lacks the charm and passion of the cooking. The food is delicious and the excellent value offered is sure to please a wide audience.
*NB - Above the restaurant, on the second floor, a stylishly spare room offers 'The Chef's Counter', where a special 12 course tasting menu can be prepared with 24 hours notice. While designed to be informal - there are six counter seats as well as one large table for eight - this is sure to be a memorable dining experience.