Overlooking the estuary from the Portmarnock coast road just outside Malahide, the McNulty family's seafood bistro combines the charm of a seaside café with the cosiness of a neighbourhood restaurant. On a fine summer evening tables are in demand on the outdoor terrace, while the nautically-themed dining room inside has year round appeal.
This County Dublin restaurants low-key maritime decor is realised with subtle lighthouse wallpaper, and an abundance of sailing accessories dotted about the room. Tables are quite close together – overlooked by an open-fronted kitchen and small bar – and the room has a cosy continental feel.
Established by Marie (the chef) and John (your host) McNulty in 2005, a board outside on the pavement proclaims the specialities - fresh fish, shellfish, lobster, Irish beef & lamb - and, while there will always be other choices, these are the key players. Seafood plays a leading role in the repertoire, even in winter when the choice is more restricted, and - although you may sometimes find seafood from afar, such as tiger prawns - there is in general a strong emphasis on provenance.
Pride in using quality ingredients and cooking them from scratch is seen in a statement in which it is pointed out that dietary requirements can easily be met as everything is cooked to order - and valued suppliers are credited in a list that includes Robinson Meats of Chapelizod (Irish grass-fed beef, Irish lamb and poultry), fish and seafood from four different suppliers (Dorans of Howth, Dillons of Skerries, Celtic Spirit of Howth who supply the lobster, and Glenmar Shellfish of Union Hall, Co Cork) and fruit and vegetables from Keelings at St Margaret's near Dublin airport.
The daily specials’ board is in effect the main menu and features fresh fish from the nearby ports of Howth, Skerries and Clogherhead, while lobster can be chosen from the tank beside the door and signature starters like oysters à la Seabank or Seabank chowder have a loyal following.
Non-fish eaters can expect plenty of choice too, with vegetarian options and favourites like rack of lamb, fillet beef or crispy duck featuring on the printed menu; a children’s menu is also offered, emphasising Seabank's appeal for family groups of all ages.
Consistently excellent cooking is a key reason for this small restaurant's enduring popularity, plus generous portions and friendly staff who are well-versed in the menu, should you need help when ordering.
Imaginative desserts are chalked up daily on a board - expect classics like a well-made creme brulée, and perhaps some dishes not often seen in other restaurants such as a light and juicy apple strudel.
A short wine list offers well chosen bottles to match the food, along with craft beers and ciders - some of them locally produced - listed on a blackboard.
Prime ingredients, and especially seafood, are expensive and this will be reflected in the bill, but the early evening menu offers great value and guests may be offered complimentary sambuccas after dinner, highlighting the good customer service you can expect from this reliable Malahide restaurant.