Chef-proprietor Stephen McArdle has a loyal fan base at The Arch Bistro in Churchtown, and now he’s taken his flavour-packed cooking to the urban masses, opening a second venture, Stanley’s, in Dublin 2.
Downstairs is a cosy wine bar serving nibbles and light lunches, but upstairs the magic happens in a smart dining room that reflects Stephen’s style of cooking: contemporary with a classic grounding.
Stephen’s charming brother, Patrick, ably runs front-of-house in the smart first-floor room that’s dominated by a beautiful leaded bay window and witty oil paintings of David Bowie and Bill Murray as British Admirals.
The small room features a mirrored wall behind comfy banquettes; the pale grey panelling, wooden floor and sculptural chairs lend a cool Scandinavian vibe. Despite large candles burning in the window and elegant copper lights it can feel a little dark in the evening.
Menus are reassuringly seasonal with interesting dishes like roast wood pigeon served with butternut squash, heirloom beets and a spiced game broth. A simple dish of smoked trout might be paired with, apple, avocado, yoghurt and mint to deliver a fresh, vibrant plate of food.
Mains like braised shin of beef on black truffle polenta with glazed carrot and cavolo nero are perfect comfort food while showing off real creativity in the kitchen. Dishes are beautifully presented and served with flair.
While Stanley's is not alone in describing itself as a restaurant and wine bar, it is one of a growing number of excellent wine bars making a special contribution to our wine-drinking options here in Ireland. But where Stanley's excels is in going not just one step but several steps further, thanks to the passionate leadership of Wine Director, Morgan Vanderkamer, who is keen to encourage her customers – and indeed her team of well-trained staff – to develop a sense of adventure, not least with tasting flights of the likes of skin-contact white wines.
The restaurant also runs its own wine club with regular wine tasting events that give wine-lovers access to unusual and carefully sourced treats. Then there are the regular wine-pairing dinners, the exclusive and intimate tastings with visiting wine-makers, the active Facebook page featuring short educational video blogs on under-appreciated wine styles...All of which explain why Stanley's was selected for our Wine Award 2016.
Aside from its particular interest for wine lovers, Stanley’s holds regular special dinner events, a blues brunch on Sundays - and there is a private dining room too, on the second floor.
Despite the volume of competition in the area, this intimate dining room has earned its place as a favourite with savvy diners looking for a fresh new dining experience in the city centre.